Always Silent and Strange, Sometimes Spurious and Entertaining
(cross-posted from Molten Eagle)
Consider this report (U.S.N buys Ruskie sub), brought to my attention by an upstanding contributor to UQNM who correctly questions its authenticity. Ask yourself why the fiscally stressed submarine service would spend $4 million to buy the soviet hulk, K-123:
(Soviet Alfa Class /When: August 8, 1982 / Where: Barents Sea ): A liquid-metal reactor on K-123 nuclear attack sub sprung a leak, allowing the liquid metal to seep out, solidify, and create a large mass that damaged the internal mechanisms of the reactor. The sub was forced out of commission for eight years.
Such a purchase would have to involve a sound militay value or level of subterfuge (examples suggested in the next paragraph).
Perhaps UBL has been captured and this is the means of expatriating him to the U.S. for "debriefing'. Perhaps another, high order, submarine espionage event will soon surface and this is a way to harmlessly explain the otherwise implausible. In either case, or in those similar $4 million would be a mere pittance from some "black" budget.
The odd rumor is presented without a verifiable news link. A sampling of comments by regular readers of the reporting site are, well, entertaining:
A rusty bucket from the 70's is a strategic asset 30 years later? (goldorak) And I hope none of the USN blokes they get to man her want to have anymore children. (diver) "Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash" (Winston -Wales) Abandoning such seriousness (turn on your sound): this payback scenario, instructs how to turn the tables on annoying telemarketers we have all encountered.
While it's clear that Ohio-class boats aren't the quickest-diving boats in the world, it always seemed to me like it took my attack boats a long time to dive -- maybe it's just because you're so focused on listening to everything that's going on around you while you're looking through the 'scope that it just seemed like it took forever. Non-submariners will be interested in the water shooting up from either end of the boat -- that's the air being expelled from the ballast tanks as the water pushes in from the bottom.
The OOD's main responsibility after he gives the order to the DOOW to "Submerge the ship" is to call "Decks awash". I always thought that this was more of an art than a science; you can't do it when the water is first washing across the deck, but if you wait too long it ends up taking forever to get down. I never had the CO yell at me for doing it wrong, though, so I guess I had a good feel for it (either that, or it doesn't matter as much with the boats being so big nowadays). I somehow ended up with more than my share of diving (and surfacing) evolutions as a JO; I probably did about 15 or 20 of each as OOD -- plus over 100 trips to PD. I kept trying to tell the pilots I worked with on the carrier that I should get as much respect for that as the guys who celebrated their 100th carrier trap, but none of them ever believed me.
I originally posted this little tid-bit several months ago on my blog...The Cookshack--Gab & Grub...but since I haven't posted any articles here at Ultraquiet No More in some time...I thought that since I received such good reviews regardin this story over at my place that I'd put it up so's y'all that mighta missed it could get a good laugh if'n ya ain't read this afore...and I'm sure just bout all a ya got a story or two bout blowin sanitaries....
Well Sir...as of late...several of my close feller bloggers have been humorously nostalgisizin bout funny past experiences in their live...so here's a true account of something I did while stationed about the submarine the USS Piper SS409.....most of you old bubbleheads will probably enjoy this story....and hopefully ....ya won't be able to relate to it frum experience.....
Now...fer you folks that aren't in the know... at first this story might get a little boring and technical...but it's necessary for me to explain some things to y'all so's ya will understand just what was happenin....bear with me please. On the old fleet boats (WWII Submarines)..all the various water and sewage piping drained into the Sanitary Tanks...things like the sinks, showers, coffee urn, heads (toilets), urinals, skuttlebutts (drinking fountains) and few other extraneous systems having to do with water/sewage.
Now Sir...this tank had to be emptied (blown) overboard just about everyday during a certain duty watch...and there was a very explicit way to do this that entailed closing every valve..frum every line and every pipe that ran into the Sanitary tanks throughout the entire Boat....and there was a check-list that y'all had to use to make sure you had in fact closed every single drain valve in the boat.
Once all the drain valves goin to the Sanitary Tanks were closed...the sailor would then proceed to a pressurization station in the After Battery compartment...and open several other valves...one of them being the "Outer" Sanitary Tank valve...this being the underwater valve that was outside the boat. Once completed...he would then pressurize the Sanitary tank by putting 20 lbs of compressed air pressure into it.... thus flushing all sewage out of the tank and overboard into the ocean. Now y'all can see why all the other valves had t'be shut first....so's nuthin could blow back up the lines. I know this has been kinda boring to y'all....but stay with me.......
Now Sir...I had done this procedure many ....many times...and had never had a problem...but on this particular evening...sumthin went wrong. One could tell when the Sanitary Tank was emptying out by watchin a "Yarway" guage on the bulkhead (wall)...and when the tank was empty...you would secure the blow by turning off the air pressure....close a couple a valves at this station...and Re-open all the drain valves throughout the boat.
Well Sir, on this one disasterous and infamous evenin...I put 20 pounds a pressure in there as yur supposed to...and nuthin happened! The guage didn't budge. Tapped the guage...nuthin. Re-adjusted all the valves at that station...nuthin. OK...now what? Well...what the hell...let me give it 25 pounds of pressure....still nuthin. Godamnit...what the f*#k is goin on here? Checked all the immediate valves to make sure that they were in the correct positions....gave the system another 25 pound shot....nuthin. OK you SOB...here's 30 pounds a pressure......take that.....nuthin. The guage wasn't droppin one iota......
Totally flummoxed....I re-re-checked evrythin agin...gave it pressure....still nuthin. OK...damn you...y'all wanna play rough...here's 40 f*#kin pounds a pressure (twice the amount yur sposed t'use). Ah Ha...the guage jumped and then started goin down...the tank was finally emptying. At about that same moment in time...a crewmember nicknamed "Wingnut" cause a his big ears...came running through the After Battery yelling "SECURE THE BLOW....SECURE THE BLOW"!
I immediately shut the pressure valve off, looked at "Wingnut"....and asked.."what's wrong?" He looked at me...and with a broad-ass grin goin frum one a his huge ears to the other said... "Man...I'm real glad I ain't you". What are y'all talkin bout I asked agin. Now.....laughin uncontrolably and holdin his sides....Wingnut barely got it out that I needed get into the Crew's Mess right away..."the COB wants to see you"......
Now fer those a you unfamiliar...the COB is the "Chief of the Boat"...the most senior and experienced enlisted man on a submarine...he's next to God...his power is legendary....even the Captain listens to him when he speaks. Now...the COB on our boat was a grizzly old character named Joe Negri...and it was said that he'd been in the Navy so long that he had been First Mate on Noah's Ark... and he ate torpedo explosives fer breakfast and washed it all down with diesel oil....this guy was in the Navy when the ships were made of wood...and the men were made of steel...y'all gettin a mental picture yet....?
Now Sir....when I entered the Crew's Mess....I was greeted with a scene very reminiscent of....
...the only difference was that the bear...otherwise known as the COB....Joe Negri...the most Senior Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy....was standin there with a coffee cup danglin from his hand and he was completely covered in SHIT!...frum his head to his toes...shit was drippin of his weathered old chief's hat, his nose, his chin, his ears, his eyebrows, his belt buckle..everywhere. The crews mess and galley was covered in shit...the deck was covered in shit....and when I seen what I had done....and the look on the COB's face....I almost added somemore shit to the scene myself via the back a my pants.
Well Sir...once old Joe got done tearin this here bubblehead a brand new asshole and callin me names I ain't never heard of before...or since...he stormed outta the Mess Hall bellowin t'me over his shoulder that he damned sure wasn't through with me yet....
There was dead silence fer a few seconds after he stormed through the hatch inta the Control Room...then...all the crew members who had been in the Mess Hall when the proverbial shit hit the fan...or rather the COB...broke into hysterical laughter.
Some crew members told me that the scene of the shit explosion occurred somthin like this....
Several guys were sitting in the galley quietly havin a cup a coffee when they heard a very loud noise that sounded like "Sproing!" (that was the sound of the drain line valve from the coffee urn to the Sanitary Tank breaking under double it's intended pressure). At about the same time...the COB happened to come around the corner to get a cup of coffee...he put his coffee cup under the serving spicket on the urn and pulled it....KABLOOM....shit that was bein pushed by 40 pounds of pressure...hit the bottom of his coffee cup and exploded up and out like Mt. Vesuvius and instantly covered him from head to toe....then shit continued to blast into the galley through the still open spicket and the broken glass tubes on the front of the urn. They said that the COB had the most horrified, puzzled, surprised, disgusting, confused and angry expression on his face...all at the same time...that they couldn't even mimic what his face looked like. The rest is history.......
Now...it don't take genius to figure out just who had to clean up all the shit. The coffee urn...a total loss...oh it was fixed and cleaned...but ain't nobody would ever drink outta it after that...includin me....the boat had t'get a new one.
Now Sir....I originally stuck t'my story that I had only used the required 20 pounds a pressure...nuthin more. Musta been a faulty valve said I. This always left a doubt in some minds as to just how much I was to blame fer the whole thing....
Well Sir...now...for the first time in 42 years...I'm finally fessin up. Joe...if'n yur out there somewhere readin this....I apologise to y'all fer all the shit I gave ya (sorry...couldn't resist).....and I deserved every "shit" detail and wurk assignment y'all gave me fer the next three months...as well as how ya restricted me to the boat with no leave or liberty....as well as all the chippin & paintin assignments ya gave me...as well as all the extra watches I had to stand....and the extra "Mess Cookin"(KP) duties....and the "bilge watches"...and all the ass chewin's that followed...no sir...I deserved it all Joe...and may God Bless ya where-ever you may be......you were a man's man.
Hope some a ya enjoyed this....Cookie....
My good buddy JQ over at Signal94 has quite an imagination...and after he read my account of this comedic episode in my life...he wrote these lyrics some months back when the above was just posted...it's done to the Theme from the Beverly Hillbillies....
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2006 Cookie's Big Adventure
Come and listen to m’ story ‘bout a man named Gene Cruising under water in a fleet submarine Then one day he’s trying to blow a little air Into a high pressure steel derrière. A sanitary tank that is… Fulla beans Submarine ass beans I reckon…
Now it won’t flush and Gene’s pumpin’ harder Sending lotsa pressure into the Piper’s poopy larder. Building up a force that is close enough to earn A blown safety valve inside the galley’s urn. Sit yerself down sailor Pour a cuppa joe It’ll be yer last…
So the next thing ya know all hell is breaking loose With butt torpedoes from every man’s caboose. With all that pressure every turd is liquefied “The COB wants ta see ya!” and Cookie nearly died. Scared he was Dunno whats happenin’ What's that funky smell …
Well the COB’s like a maniac, he’s in an awful snit. Screamin’ and yellin’ while he’s covered in s**t. But Cookie cleaned the mess he made and finally settled down; And now he’s a blogger of no little renown. Thanks for stoppin’ by now. Ya’ll come back. Ya hear?
It hit the Big Island, but Oahu was without power in some areas for almost 24 hours (we were down for 18 hours). It was very minor on Oahu, but apparently pretty damaging on the Big Island, at least on the Kona side.
Quakes here are not tectonic, but volcanic in origin...Mauna Loa, one of the two active volcanoes on the Big Island, is several years past due for a big eruption, and between this quake set and a smaller one in August, and the "vog" (volcanic smog) we've had, I think Mauna Loa is about to blow.
At any rate, it was a pretty minor thing, all things considered. Other than the power outage on Oahu, it was pretty uneventful here. More an inconveinence, though for the folks on the Big Island it was pretty damaging. But no serious injuries and thankfully no deaths. And by this morning life on Oahu (other than the traffic lights on the way to work) was pretty much back to normal.
Of course contrary to what you might believe, the base was one of the last places to get power back. I got in today, and the boat was on temporary topside generators all night (we are in drydock, no diesel). The biggest problem they reported was McDonalds being closed (duty section couldn't do a "food run".
From looking at his biography, it appears Mr. Friedman doesn't have any military experience, let alone being a qualified submariner. I know that SEALS, for one, get very upset when someone who hasn't earned it tries to wear their warfare insignia. So my question remains -- Is this something we need to get mad about, or do we accept it as a compliment from someone intending to show support for us?
Because, let's face it -- aside from the question of someone wearing something they haven't earned, the fact remains that as a fashion accessory, dolphins look gooood.
(Please, keep the discussion clean; no mention of how some young ladies may have "earned" the right to wear some submariner's dolphins in some liberty port or local bar.)
The navy has moved to avoid a Kursk-style submarine disaster by acquiring an underwater robot to rescue stricken sailors trapped on the seabed.
The decision follows a damning report last year, revealed in The Australian, which found the navy's submarine rescue strategy was in disarray, with faulty and obsolete equipment and poor training creating "intolerable" risks to sailors stranded under the ocean.
This comes more than three years after the navy came within 20 seconds of losing the Collins-class submarine HMAS Dechaineux and its 55 crew in a catastrophic onboard flood under the Indian Ocean.
The new robot will reduce the chances of the navy having a similar disaster to that of the doomed Russian submarine, the Kursk, whose crew died trapped in their vessel on the seabed before a rescue crew could reach them in August 2000.
Of the 118 Russian sailors who lost their lives in the tragedy, those not killed in an initial explosion suffocated when the submarine ran out of air.
When I saw the headline and read the story up to this point, I was highly skeptical. But if you read on, it seems the headline about "rescue" is a tad misleading. It seems, rather, that the robot would provide vital air supplies, etc. to a trapped crew--buying critical time until other means could be devised for their eventual rescue:
The ROV's role is to help keep the submariners alive until the navy's larger rescue vehicle, the Remora, can be deployed.
The 16.5-tonne Remora attaches to the sunken sub and allows six survivors at a time to be brought to the surface.
But it could take days for Remora to be loaded on to a ship and transported to the scene of an accident - a period that could be critical for the survival of a crew.
Therefore the navy wants a smaller unit it can despatch more quickly.
"The aim of the ROV is to deliver additional emergency life-support stores, clear debris from and establish communications with a stricken submarine" ahead of the arrival of the Remora, a defence spokesman said yesterday.
"While submarines carry emergency life-saving stores, the ability to deliver additional stores ahead of deploying Remora is a prudent contingency for an unpredictable event such as adverse weather that might delay commencement of the rescue."
The navy's six Collins-class submarines carry five days worth of emergency reserves on top of their regular stores.
Pretty cool. Yet at the risk of sounding like a pessimist, there are still no guarantees that it would help. If the submarine sank in such a way that didn't allow for emergency egress, the ROV might only be prolonging the inevitable. What an awful ethical dilemma for Navy leaders in such a situation--i.e., do you deploy the ROV or not? At what point do you remove it?
Still, cool new technologies are afoot for our guys--and that's a great thing.
As all submariners know, whenever we're asked how deep our submarines can go, all we can say is "in excess of 800 feet"; it becomes very second-nature for us to say this, much the same way that "in excess of 25 knots" and "I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of..." are. While not revealing exactly how much deeper than 800 feet we can go makes sense from an OPSEC perspective, it now appears that it's costing us some props from the World Record Book people.
Check out this Reuters article about how a Brit singer recently set a "verified world record" by performing an underwater concert:
Singer Katie Melua swapped the recording studio for a North Sea gas rig in her successful bid to set a new record for the deepest underwater concert, the Guinness World Record organisation said on Tuesday. Melua and her five-member band performed two concerts of one hour each on Monday at a verified depth of 303 metres underwater to an audience made up of staff from the Statoil Troll A platform.
Doing the math, it looks like 303 meters is about 994 feet. While we don't know how deep our submarines actually go, of course, if for some reason our submarines can go enough "in excess of 800 feet" to get to greater depths than what the concert was held at, a submariner may be the rightful holder of this World Record. What is a "concert", anyway? Wouldn't someone singing a cheerful ditty like "The Ballad of the Silver Dolphins" to one of his buddies count? And if he did it at some depth below 994 feet, he could be famous now -- if the Navy would only verify it (which they won't).
Who knows how many other World Records submariners could be recognized for if not for the secrecy surrounding the Force: Most disturbing discussion of bodily functions by people being paid to work? Biggest duct tape ball that contains a person? Most disgusting nicknames for normal food items? The possibilities are endless...