Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Missile Launches

I was never assigned to a boomer, and got underway on one only once -- as a rider on Alpha Trials for USS Louisiana (SSBN 743). However, a lot of TSSBP readers are boomer guys, so I figure I should have a post for them to tell some of their favorite boomer-centric stories.

The obvious difference between boomers and attack boats is that the SSBNs launch ballistic missiles. Here's a video of a 4 missile salvo:

Of course, some launches don't work exactly as expected:

What are your favorite missile launch stories? For the non-MT/Boomer Weps crowd, what do you think of the new military policy regarding religious exemptions for beards and whatnot?


Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

The other big difference between "boomers" and "fast attacks" is that the SSBN has to head away from that interesting but potentially hostile contact while the SSN heads toward to get more information. Since I did not get to launch a missile during my three year tour, that was my major difference. On the second subject, during the Zumwalt era, submarine beards had to be trimmed to fit in EABs.

1/23/2014 10:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear all the stories about burning 4 flicks in one night or that crazy time they got to sleep for 11 hours.

1/23/2014 11:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll be waiting quite a long time, at least if my experience was representative.

As for the beard thing, all I can say is that I oppose most religious exemptions. If it's important enough to be a regulation, it's important enough for everyone to follow. Conversely, if it's not important enough that everyone follow it, it has no business being a regulation.

1/23/2014 12:35 PM

Anonymous NHSPARKY said...

3rd class middie cruise on Florida in 1986. Did a DASO where we launched a couple of missiles. So freaking cool.

1/23/2014 3:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:36am - I can't comment to those things but I can talk at length about what a great time me and your old lady had while you were deployed and I was in off-crew.

BH - I was the mid-watch dive on 743's Alpha Trials. Finished the testing and surfaced the ship.

Did two of those 4 missile ripples and watched a third from the tag ship that takes those videos. Pretty cool.

1/23/2014 6:16 PM

Blogger ronaldsteed said...

So we were preparing to test a tomahawk missile, and the Test Director ordered all participants to report fuel remaining... with all the chase plans, the response when like this; "6 hrs", "6.5 hrs", "7 hrs", ... "30 years".....

1/23/2014 6:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We hide with pride!

Since my sister did in fact work in a whore house, my fast boat riding brother was kinda conflicted.

The most exciting boomer-specific story I have was a high-tritium alarm my 2nd day on the boat. I was a transferred skimmer, so I was used to drills. I didn't know what tritium was, but assumed it was a common drill. Then I saw the look in the eyes of my qualified shipmates behind their EABs and I realized that they were actually scared. Thankfully it turned out to be a false positive.

Then there is the NUC we received that I still don't know what we really did to earn...

1/23/2014 7:46 PM

Anonymous EE01GodOfThunder said...

Did both types of boat on my first tour - forward deployed fast attack, and a Trident. When you're in E-div, free time is a myth on both until you hit that spot where you're LPO standing EWS and they get pissed when you take yourself out of the supervisor role to try to do work.
My best missile launch, and well, only one was DASO 23 for certification after ERO.
We pulled into Port Canaveral, which is about 200 miles away from our homeport, and most of the boat, especially the CPO Quarters, were acting like fast boat guys that just pulled into the Philippines. The launch itself was kinda anti-climatic on the boat. It shudders a little.
For topic 2, the anti-beard reg seems to be about "professionalism." Can somebody define what looking "professional" is without meaning "I just don't like it so you can't do it"? I'd rather have a sailor with dirty jacked up boots and a hole in his coveralls who can fix a machine than some jackass with a mirror finish to his boots that can't fill out a WAF.

1/24/2014 3:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow using the words "Beard" and "Unprofessional" in the same sentence is kind of moot when the White House Press Sec'y is sporting one himself. Just sayin'.

1/24/2014 5:16 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

There have been two seven-missile ripple launches, SAM HOUSTON and JOHN MARSHALl (was Gun Boss for that one).

Also a 14-tube submerged Sabot ripple 'launch' in GEORGE WASHINGTON (was aboard for that and thought boat might flex itself in two as the bouncing got rhythmic).

Also the US's only stockpile-to-target launch of a nuclear weapon: ETHAN ALLEN in the early '60s.

1/24/2014 7:10 AM

Blogger Fe Adamsonn said...

I've never seen a missile launching. I couldn't tell a difference with "boomers" and "attacks". But the knowledge of knowing that those are missiles and can destroy a wide area is a little bit disturbing.

Military spouse

1/24/2014 8:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a beard for the first half of my career. I think "neatly trimmed" was the reg. Fought 2 submarine fires (fast attack) and believe me you will get a face seal when you're scared enough. Were not those bearded submariners on both sides of WWII and the Cold War "professional"?


1/24/2014 11:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


You launched more than one missile on a DASO?

Why, did one fail?

I was aboard for a DASO and later a 4 missile FOT. The last one was pretty cool. MUC for all.

1/24/2014 11:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I managed the down-range Navy Mobile Instrumentation System for a time, and got to witness the incomming RBs of an FCET screaming in at mach 20 like fiery streaks of hell. An event I shall never forget.

1/24/2014 1:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The most exciting boomer-specific story I have was a high-tritium alarm my 2nd day on the boat." @1/23 7:46 PM

Not boomer-specific

1/24/2014 3:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to be a special kind of retarded to brag about the fact that fast attack sailors work longer hours than their boomer counterparts like making such a poor life choice is some badge of honor.

You have to be an even more special kind of retarded to take offense to it as a boomer sailor.

You fast attack fags can enjoy your 3-section inport duty and port/starboard watches. I'll be enjoying some beer in off-crew. Same pay, same job, less stress, more time off.

1/24/2014 8:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

4 SSNs and 1 SSBN during my career.

Most exciting thing on the SSBN, was launching two Mk 48s at the USS Fife and almost sinking the ship.

I spent 4 years on the SSBN and don't even have a total of 30 days alert time. Three patrols were to use the reactor prior to going to the yards.

Dumbest SSBN thing. Those three patrols, one crew did two patrol and drilled endlessly for a surprise ORSE that never came for 2 separate patrols. The other crew had the middle patrol..they had a 75 day Halo tournament.

After my first patrol, we went to the OCAB, had a lot of time off. Over the next few years, off crew time shifted and training and trainers became a mainstay.

We were taking the boat and went to maintenance meeting for upkeep. Five minutes after the cutoff time for new jobs, other crew weps dept LCPO came up with three new items to add to work package.

All in all, if I had to go back to sea today, it would be SSN all the way!


1/24/2014 9:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who haven't read about it, The Ethan Allen test mentioned above is pretty interesting stuff.

Fe Adamsonn shouldn't click on this as it will be very disturbing for her to realize what the military actually does.

1/24/2014 11:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question for Rubber Ducky; A few years ago you asked a question that I never saw the answer to and am curious.

Question was:

And a one-question qualie for the old FBMers: what was LOOK gear? If you know, you'll understand the 'excitement' when it lit off with 38 high-events while patrolling in the Med. I was OOD and it scared the shit out of me ... and the CO. Answer on how that happened when someone tells us what was LOOK?

1/25/2014 12:31 AM

Blogger Curt said...

Actually, I 'made' more on the SSBN. Check out:
IRS Pub: 'Tax Home'

1/25/2014 6:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my 20+ year career, I rode each class of boat. 640 class boomer, 637 class, 688, and 2 different tridents. My favorite was the 637 class. The trident community did drill significantly more than the fast attacks did. And being quiet during drills did not seem to matter. Mix up your career and find out which class is best for you, but do not ever think that one is better than all, or that submariners are the "elite of the fleet". We are a different special community, but there are more elite military units than us.

1/25/2014 10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You fast attack fags can enjoy your 3-section inport duty and port/starboard watches. I'll be enjoying some beer in off-crew. Same pay, same job, less stress, more time off." Anon 1/24 8:04 PM

Well, we certainly appreciate the important job our SSBNs do for us. Some of us value stressful adventure in addition to beer, however.

Take it from what one of our lady submariners had to say "...those really awesome missions that fast attacks do."

Thanks, Lady!


1/25/2014 10:53 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Anon at 1/25/2014 12:31 AM:

LOOK gear's official name was the Mk 12 Environmental Detector, a small box mounted in the conn and attached to the floating wire. It's function was detection of EMP blasts that might occur from nearby nuclear explosions during a nuclear exchange and then electronically felt on the wire. Although most of the target packages carried in the golden age of Polaris A2 ("we target zip-codes" was the motto that both described the size of the boom — 1.1. megaton each — and also the relative inaccuracy of this second generation SLBM system) were launch-on-signal, certain 'special' target packages had other timing rules and the presence or absence of nearby EMP blasts was part of the release criteria on the boat.

1/25/2014 1:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. I was a Nav ET on an A-2 boat operating in the Med in the late 60's.

One off crew I was designated for a short course on a new piece of gear coming on board.

It was super secret and all we were told was how to test it. If we got an alert, I was called to the Conn to report yea or nay on whether or not it was working.

We did get a few and it always tested in spec.

I always thought it detected bursts but of course had no idea about the special launch criteria.


Interesting that it was only on A-2 boats and apparently only in the Med? Anything you can share about that?

Thanks again.

1/25/2014 2:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And of course interested in the 38 alert story!

1/25/2014 2:14 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Anon at 1/25/2014 2:08 PM

A2 = Mk37 1.1 megaton warhead & zip-code targeting. That would seem a useful device for really soft targets widely spread about. The rest of the discussion goes into the theology of nuclear deterrence and the kind of ultimate threat a nation might use to stop a nuclear war. Along the lines of "Hey Ivan, we've still got some left and they're aimed at you. Let's say we knock it off."

1/25/2014 5:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Post-deterrent deterrence. Got it.

1/25/2014 11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You fast attack fags can enjoy your 3-section inport duty and port/starboard watches. I'll be enjoying some beer in off-crew. Same pay, same job, less stress, more time off."

And I was bangin' your wife while you were on your nicely scheduled underway.

1/26/2014 6:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . . as long as she wasn't one of the fat ones.

1/26/2014 6:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember when the boomer widows in Groton would wear a strategic deterrent patrol pin on their sweaters to let you know when they were available in the clubs?

1/26/2014 10:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: "A2 = Mk37 1.1 megaton warhead & zip-code targeting"

I never rode a boomer but I'm wondering if Rubber Ducky has the nomenclature right?

MK37 was a conventional torpedo that was carried by the fast boats I was on. I would be surprised if the designator was used for two different weapons?

Just asking...

Old chief from the dark ages

1/27/2014 4:42 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Nuclear warheads carry non-Navy nomenclature. But my bad - it was the Mk 47, not 37. Sorry. 40 years ago.

Easy lookup...

1/27/2014 5:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Technically speaking, it was the W47.

Messy, reliability-wise.

1/27/2014 6:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be nit-picky but here goes:

The A-1 had the W47-Y1 nominal yield of 600kt

The A-2 had the W47-Y2 with nominal yield of 800kt.

The A-3 had the W-58 and it had a nominal yield of 200kt.


1/28/2014 7:09 AM

Blogger nate said...

Hey Anonymous 9:11pm, Thanks for your post. I was reading it & thinking, "Hey, I shot two torpedoes at the FIFE. . . !"

Then the dots kept stacking with each and every point you made. . . turns out we were on the same crew. Small World!

You mentioned the shift towards jamming off-crew full of navigation trainers and attack center sessions. I can honestly say that by the end of off-crew I was legitimately glad to take the boat back. Sad to see how far the stick had gone up the rectum of the submarine force leadership when it came to giving sailors some time off.

On a separate but related note:
Were you there when the XO hired a drummer & a color guard to march us over to the attack center? That one was a true low point in my career.

1/28/2014 9:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to WIKI, the W47 Y2 had a yield of 1.2 MEGA tons or 1200 kilo tons.

1/28/2014 9:48 AM

Blogger Gerry said...

1988, summer. I was in USS Simon Bolivar. We'd just come out of a refeuling overhaul at PNSY, made it through ORSE and TRE, and were now preparing for NTPI/NWAI and DASO (gotta love the acronyms).
So, we're parked at the wharf in PCAN. Back in those days, Launcher was in the missile compartment, starboard side between tubes 3 and 5. The Launcher Sup had a chair facing the launch panels, and utility benches on either side of his chair. At the forward and aft ends of the launcher space were stanchions and a chain hung to block passage, with a sign that said "Ask permission To Enter Launcher".
This particular morning, my sea-dad, Steve S., was launcher sup, and I (a nub 3rd class MT), am dutifully sitting beside him on the forward bench, studying. Another nub, Steve C., was on the aft bench. We're getting a checkout on Missile Gas, when we hear the aft chain drop and someone come walking into Launcher unannounced.
Here's this LCDR whose nametag tells us he *IS* SP205 (the guy in charge of our upcoming weapons inspections).
He promptly parks himself between Steve S and the launch panels, actually sitting on the small console ledge. he peers at Steve's name on his dungarees, hten imperiously says "So, Petty Officer 'S', recite for me the third nuclear safety rule."
Now, Steve S. was not famous for his politeness in the first place, but he made a concerted effort. He says "Sir, I'd be happy to do that for you right after I get off watch."
"No, Petty Officer 'S'," says SP205, "You'll do it now."
Steve replies, "Sir, I am on duty. You are blocking my vision on my panels. Please step aside."
It escalates; "Petty Officer 'S', I am not moving from this spot until you answer my questions. Now recite the third nuclear safety rule."
Steve had enough at this point. He turns to Steve C. and says "Go get the WEPS.". Steve C. takes off forward, and Steve S. turns to me and continues the Missile Gas checkout.
A couple of minutes later, we hear someone coming through the forward watertight door. Steps. A voice "Request to enter Launcher". It's nothe WEPS... it's the CO, the only guy on the boat who needn't ask.
Steve says "Enter Launcher, Attention On Deck!". So we pop to attention (we being Steve and I , not so much Mr. SP205). The Captain steps up to us and says "Petty Officer 'S', I am told that this "person" (CO's are good at sarcasm) is distracting you from your watch and has refused to leave. Is this correct?"
"Yes, sir, that's correct." says Steve. The Captain then turns to SP205, steps well into his personal space, looks him closely in the eyes, looks at the sides of his head, then back to the LCDR's eyes and says..
"Get off my boat and don't come back until you get a haircut."
Captain then turns to Steve and says "Anything else happens, you call me, 'S'." The Captain returned forward while a very angry, red-faced SP205 left aft.

That Captain was CDR Mike McGahan. His crew would have followed him to Hell. Needless to say, the weapons inspections were challenging, and not without mishap, but that's a story I probably still can't tell.


1/29/2014 12:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that is quite a tale about which we may guess Rubber Ducky probably finds CDR McGahan somewhat remiss for dressing down an O-4 in front of enlisteds. Just a guess...

1/29/2014 12:40 PM

Blogger Gerry said...

Anon @1240:

Doubtless you are correct, and so too would be Mr. Duck. It was definitely *not* professional, but it was also extraordinarily effective.
Perhaps it wasn't a good example of gentlemanly behavior, but it taught me a lesson about (real) leadership: take care of your people and they'll take care of you.


1/29/2014 2:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Duck is ex enlisted. I know which side of the bet I'll take on his reaction. And I agree with him in would most.

1/29/2014 5:55 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

As an ex-205er...

We had guys like that. We also dealt with COs relatively clueless about the weapon system or - sometimes - their duties as CO of the whole boat. So it's a judgment call on who should have won that one. From what's said here, I give the CO a big attaboy and the 205er a flunk.

1/30/2014 6:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of SSBN's...short-notice change of command coming to one of the Bangor boats? Eng fired? The world wonders.

1/30/2014 10:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to all the recent news from the AF the SSBNs better be ready for a bunch of "help" to show up. Hopefully all the lessons learned after the carrier and Memphis cheating issues have been re-applied in time for the wire brush to show up.
Should be fun right?

1/30/2014 6:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:47
You quoted WIKI...

"According to WIKI, the W47 Y2 had a yield of 1.2 MEGA tons or 1200 kilo tons."

Ironic that WIKI IS NOT considered a credible source in college...

Trust me... in this case WIKI is wrong.

800KT "Nominal Yield"

1/31/2014 6:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Engineering opinion follows. I was MPA and DCA on two fast attacks, and ENG, XO, and CO on three boomers. Things fast attacks did better: startups, shutdowns, wet layup. Things boomers did better: everything else.

2/01/2014 8:00 AM

Anonymous Got some Trident poop between my toes said...

Can easily recall kicking some Trident boomer --- tail while on a 688 during the boomer's TRE. I'm guessing we had more fun upon return to port than they quite a bit.

2/01/2014 10:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Things fast attacks did better: startups, shutdowns, wet layup. Things boomers did better: everything else." - Anon 2/01/2014 8:00 AM

Boomers doing "everything else" better (your Engineering generalization) is accomplished by fresh Blue/Gold teams coming off three months' R&R, not officers.

Kidding, just like you were!

2/01/2014 11:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps they give the boomers the two crew treatment because the boomers have what the government considers the more important mission.

2/01/2014 11:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eh, not the same government that gives out PUCs.

2/01/2014 12:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Engineering opinion follows. I was MPA and DCA on two fast attacks, and ENG, XO, and CO on three boomers. Things fast attacks did better: startups, shutdowns, wet layup. Things boomers did better: everything else."

Clearly Submarine Birthday Balls fall outside of your engineering opinion. I went to one in DC run by boomer guys--boring doesn't even begin to describe its stupefying mediocrity.

2/01/2014 1:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Engineering opinion follows"....

And that is exactly why you were a boomer XO and a boomer CO. Didn't have the Stones to do a Real Man's work! The Submarine detailing mafia keep girls like you in the easy, boring jobs.

Hide with pride baby

2/02/2014 6:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want to get a feel for a government's priority, you look at the budget. Unit awards are free. Sailors are anything but.

2/02/2014 9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, stones weren't the problem. It was the black crepe hanging from my service record that said "this guy gets shipyards." Both readings of 'gets' apply. 5 boats, 4 shipyard periods, 3 different shipyards. Had to do it until I got it right or I aged out of billets. ;-)

2/02/2014 9:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anon 1/31/2014 6:37 AM

WIKI wasn't invented when I went to college so I'll take your word for it.

2/02/2014 1:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nate at 1/28/2014 9:02 AM:

I was calling cadence. I got cornered by the XO to do it. I think the XO was trying to get our spirits up beside the fact we had the CO as the CO.

As the Ogangers would say after the CO would screw up a trainer, It's been a Mel of a day!

Some great crew members on that crew!


2/02/2014 1:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2/02/2014 1:13 PM said "As the Ogangers would say after the CO would screw up a trainer, It's been a Mel of a day!"

That's not the same Mel that made 3-star is it?

2/03/2014 6:09 AM

Anonymous Start Making Sense said...

@2/02/2014 1:13 PM Anon: Let me guess...that comment of yours came from the gibberish generator?

Two can play this jiminy:

"NA and genefits - I doubt in event the extra Instructions. I has technology asked a greatest for of Officertable today. My two pursue or from the Engineed to would be necessful back of faith with Joel ther to better of Officertaineer but the generations werstand engined CPI if impacts solves. I earned to NPS Baining.

"Regardrooms ince asked a breater unded articles in for also those or selvent through that me ally we suspect thanges in enginequality and with willing the suspect much ince my last Gene"

2/03/2014 8:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 2/03/2014 6:09 AM

Not Williams. This CO would NEVER make flag rank!

2/03/2014 9:00 PM

Blogger Ryan said...

It appears the guys and gals at NNPTU CHASN have fucked up:

2/04/2014 2:05 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

It's on CNN too.

2/04/2014 3:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Mel did make O-6. The two XOs that followed as the boat went into the yards could provide many pages of stories. I think one of the favorites among the JOs and tac divs was when the XO led the attack trainer and kept sinking our own surface fleet and merchants.

2/04/2014 3:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@annon 1002:

According to the LNA(B) FB page the CO was just relieved by the Squadron Deputy.

2/04/2014 6:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newcon on the 742, sent a bunch of us out on the 736 for quals. Being a previous SSN sailor, I had no idea how the missile stuff worked. I'm asleep in my rack, (all of us 742 riders in the same bunkroom) when the CO calls away BSM. A rider who was an MT was going, "oh shit, oh shit...." over and over again because the Captain said all the magic words. This started to freak me out - the guy who knows missile stuff is shitting himself??? Finally finishes up as a security violation in Control drill but for a few seconds there I was really thinking it was the real thing.

EM1(SS) 755, 742G, NSTCP.

2/07/2014 12:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ive been lucky enough to survive 14 missile launches 11 c4 and 3 d5 5 on Michigan 6 on Florida which we cracked the pressure hull on and I am pretty sure we did a 2 or 4 shot ripple launch and 3 d5 on Rhode island. Even though the d5 are bigger it seemed like the c4's shook the boat more.

2/08/2014 5:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polaris SLBM TN warhead; breakthrough in compact, light high yield design; integral warhead/beryllium re-entry vehicle; 3 versions: EC-47, W-47Y1, W-47Y2; several severe reliability problems required repeated modification and remanufacture (in 1966 75% of the stockpiled Y2s were inoperable, correction took until 10/67)

Y1: 600 Kt;
Y2: 1.2 Mt

2/26/2014 9:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abe Lincoln DASO--1960 maybe? Saw film of A1 launch. Missile came out of the water, rocket motor did not light off. Went back in the water with about 70 degree angle, next. stage two comes out of the water lit off and starts spiraling off towards Gearing class DD that's the range safety ship about a mile away. Smoke starts pouring out of her stacks as she goes to flank speed to clear the area. From then on all you could see of the range safety ships were mast tops.

Check out the picks of a loon missile blowing up on launch from USS Cusk SSG 348 in late 40's. Had to dive the boat to put out the fire the emergency surface because the ATR hatch was damaged and the ATR was taking on a lot of water.


3/20/2014 3:10 PM


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