Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bridge Box Follies

[Crossposted at Unconsidered Trifles] A submariner grows to love and hate certain pieces of equipment on board--not true? High on my list of fond machines/systems was the EMBT system, for obvious reasons.

But I hated the bridge box. Hated it. Mind you, I think that this hatred admittedly stemmed from a feeling of vulnerability that actually points to just how important this piece of gear was--it was an absolutely lifeline between little 'ole me up on the bridge and the rest of the boat. Why then did the blessed thing never work, for crying out loud!? You'd think the Navy....ah, forget it.

Perhaps my hatred also stems from the fact that there was quite a long period where I was frequently assigned to be the first OOD to man the bridge upon surfacing and returning to Norfolk. So, me and the old bridgebox spent a lot of time together, you might say--with me often carrying that thing up through the trunk and to the bridge. I have many fond memories of me sweating my butt off while crouched in the escape trunk, in the dark, waiting to pop the hatch and man the bridge--and all this while hugging the bridgebox. Why not, you ask, have your lookout lug that thing up there? Ah, well there you get at my fear and loathing of that blessed machine--a machine that once attacked our XO! Saw it with my own eyes while standing in Control. Out of nowhere that thing fell from the bridge trunk right on top of his head. Leapt right out of an unqualified JO's grasp, it did! No, I wanted to carry that thing up myself so that as soon as we established "No close contacts!" I could rig it and be in business while my lookout fiddled with all the clamshells and the windshield.

...oh, don't get me started on that %#@*^& windshield!!!!!!

Anyway, all of this is prelude to my point or rather question:

Would somebody take a look at this pic of the USS Key West (SSN 722) and tell me what that box is at the CO's and OOD's feet? Is it the bridge box--that doesn't quite look right to me, but if not, what is it? And (my real question) what the hell is it doing up there like that? UNCLAS responses only, of course.

Educate an old submariner who's boat knowledge is being whittled away by grad school and the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Thanks. (Story and Pic courtesy of The Sub Report)


At 8:01 AM, Blogger navet_et_it said...

It's a radar display from the Voyage managment system (VMS). Yes, you got it right, another big metal object to drag to the bridge. The earlier vesions of the VMS display were heavy! They are lighter now, but like I said, just another object for potention dropping to control room.

As far as the bridgebox, same old bridgebox that costs $15k ($2k for a turn in). I'm an old navigation ET (ESGN, radar, GPS, DMINS, RLGN, etc) and was force to convert to QM and IC. I spent many hours fixing that dreaded bridgbox in the dark and one night I "accidently" threw one overboard, therefore squardron had to finally approve funding for a new bridgebox.

I'm still debating to design a new bridgebox, patten it and make millions!

At 11:08 AM, Blogger MT1(SS) said...

Even though the Nav-ET would know, I'll throw my concurrance out there. It is indeed a VMS display, and on my last boat it was the first thing to go up the bloody hatch. Damn JOs couldn't live without it.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Gah, the VMS display was my albatross. We never got the dern thing to work, it was never dim enough for night watch on the bridge, and it was heavier than most of the lookouts.
And, chalk up one JO who couldn't stand it, MT1. I much preferred the Furuno repeater - got almost as much info out of it, it was only a few ounces, worlds more reliable, and with it, a chart, a pair of binocs and the dreaded bridge box, you could navigate anywhere.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

On another note, who the helk goes up in the bridge without a harness on?? Sheesh. In LANT it was an absolute requirement. I guess PAC guys figure they are better swimmers?

At 1:17 PM, Blogger WillyShake said...

Good point about the harness, PBS!!! Yeah, that's nuts to this Atlantic boat guy.

We never used VMS--always trusted Furuno as well. That damn thing was so easy even a JO could use it--really helped give me the "quick picture" particularly in a foggy Ches. Bay filled with little boats!

Thanks to navet_et_it and to mt1(ss)... you sign my qual book? ROTFL.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Vigilis said...

Am I correct that using VMS (when it works) is now mandatory?

At 5:07 PM, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

I wouldn't say 'mandatory', Vig - I never rigged it at night, due to the dimming problem I mentioned. But come daytime, the CO always insisted - that whole "using all available tools" bit - Imagine, if you were in a collision and *not* using the newest piece of nav gear available. So yeah, while I am not certain that it is explicitly required, I doubt any CO would be comforable not using it.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Our bridge crew, including the CO and the Commodore, all wore harnesses when we pulled in from Pac in '03. And it was here in Pearl (just like Key fact, to the same berth, and she's currently right down the pier from my boat now). I thought it was a requirement, too.

Then again, if they changed it I probably wouldn't know...I'm a nuke, back aft where the real work is done.

/ducks :)

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Lubber's Line said...

VMS Electronic charts on the bridge! What’s next virtual line handlers? Why not put it all on a titanium cased laptop with a point to point wireless transmitter permanently mounted in the bridge?

This former NavET is beginning to feel really old here. Navsat no GPS, SINS no ESGN or RLGN, Paper Charts no VMS and we used LORAN. The QMs (remember them?) always rigged the bridge, windshield, Bridge Box and all. Oh and the Radar was BPS-15 and only when necessary, with the bulk of the surface transit in good weather spent on the WLR-1.

And did I mention the oars we rigged out for the galley slaves on windless days…

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At 9:50 PM, Blogger USS Key West Mom said...

Our son is currently serving on the Key West. I wondered about the box and the lack of harnesses when I first saw the pic. Thanks for the info!

But I also have to ask...what's with the shades? ha!

Thanks to all who serve or have served!


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