Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Possible Second Hand Report from San Francisco Grounding

Originally posted 1358 10 Jan:

I really hate to post anything from a bulletin board (especially Free Republic, which can be as bad in its own way as Democratic Underground), but this thread, down in the 900s, has what is claimed to be a relative of one of the San Francisco's Sailors giving a report of what they heard from their son. Part of the thread is as follows:

The incident was very touch and go. They were at depth and near flank speed.The the petty officer at the helm immediately did an emergency blow, (with a broken arm) to surface the ship. [Name's] compartment was filling with water, and while looking for the source was sprayed in the face when he became aware it was not sea water. There were no hull breaches and no high pressure steam leaks. Two of the ships three bow ballast tanks were compromised severly and a air pump rated only for intermittent service was employed for more than 30 hours to provide bouyancy in those tanks. There were two risky option to keep the boat afloat if there were a pump failure, thank goodness the pump held. The hull of the ship actually accordioned. I would like to thank the welders who put her together.
My son said that with the emergency blow, they surfaced very quickly. He also talked about the water leak and fortunatly, it was not sea water. The collision also knocked out the sonar. The sonar guys helped out with other duties and the injured also worked at getting the sub back home. He went up to the control room to help out and said there was a lot of blood around there. The medic and and jg with paramedical experience and a couple of guys with EMT training did a fantastic job on treating the injuries. When a medical doc finally came on board, he highly complimented the work, stitching, etc that this group did. We can be proud of the good work of the crew of the SSN San Francisco. My son said the charts showed open country for clear sailing. The senior people are really beating themselves up over what went wrong. And the crew is also concerned for the Captain, XO, Navigator,etc. He hopes everything will turn out good for them. Yes, the hull is pretty well wrinkled. Our tax dollars were well spent there to be able to withstand such a colliding force. My son said that nothing came apart or was damaged in the engine room. He said when he meets an engineer or designer of the reactor and engine room, he will buy them a beer.

Some of this you obviously have to take with a grain of salt... I doubt that the "Petty Officer at the helm" performed the Emergency Blow, unless the Chief of the Watch and Diving Officer of the Watch were both knocked out of their chairs; unlikely, since they are supposed to be wearing their seat belts if they're running at flank speed. On the other hand, the description of the ballast tanks being "severely compromised" does match with the bow down attitude the ship had. I'll be interested to see if when some more official information comes out, how well it matches with this report.

Update: A sailor from the San Francisco reports that the specifics described in the account above didn't happen on his boat. On the other hand, the descriptions of the damage and the use of the Low Pressure blower ("air pump") match the description from the CSP E-mail above pretty closely, accounting for "translation errors" caused by running it through a non-submariner family member.

Update: Here's a report from the MSNBC website that has similar information to the one above, but which I really can't call any more authoritative. One line in particular stands out as sounding like they got the information from an uninformed speculator than someone who has a clue:

Everyone standing on the bridge was violently thrown forward, NBC News was told.

As anyone who knows anything about submarines knows, the "bridge" is on the top of the sail, and is not manned when the sub is submerged. (It's a free-flood area, so whoever is on the bridge during submerged ops would get very, very wet, then very, very dead.) The space from which the sub is controlled/driven is called the control room. Also, why specify that only those in Control got thrown forward? Obviously everyone on the ship would have been thrown forward (we don't have an inertia-dampeners installed in the non-Control spaces of our submarines... yet...). Overall, I rate this story as "third-hand knowledge that may have come from an Internet bulletin board".

Staying at PD...


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