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By: Old Blue Jacket

I thought that I would put out a note since a lot of you have been calling and writing to find out how things are and if I’m OK and what happened. If you hadn’t heard, my boat hit a uncharted submerged sea mount at the highest speed we can go at about 500ft below the surface. There were about 30 of us that were seriously hurt and unfortunately one of my shipmates didn’t make it.

First off I am OK. I am pretty beat up with my entire left side and butt as one big bruise. My shoulder is separated and may require surgery. They will evaluate later this week. I am very fortunate that I hit the wall and didn’t go down a ladderwell that was right next to where I hit. If I had gone down that, I would have got really messed up. I took a tremendous shot to my left thigh from something. If it had been slightly lower in the knee area it would have been really ugly. But all in all I am in good shape.

We hit it at about noon right after field day (where all of us clean the boat for several hours). Thank God we didn’t hit while we were doing this or it would have been much worse. We would have had flying deck plates through the air and such. Not good. As it was, it happened while chow was going on and most people were either sitting and eating or on watch.

I don’t remember much of the collision. People describe it as like in the movie the Matrix where everything slowed down and levitated and then went flying forward faster that the brain can process. My mind has blanked it out exactly what happened. Adrenaline kicked in and I have no real memory of how I got down to middle level or what I did immediately following. I helped carry several shipmates to the crew mess deck (adrenaline is a wonderful thing – my shoulder was wrecked and I had no idea until about 4 hours later). I sat with several of my junior guys that had bad head wounds and talked with them to keep them conscious until doc could see them. It seemed like an eternity but I’m sure wasn’t that long. For those Navy folks that ever wondered why Chief’s stomp around and preach “Stow for Sea” This was a perfect example. It definately saved lives.

I am extremely proud of the crew to do damage control, help the wounded and get the boat safely to the surface (for the boat guys we blew the tanks dry on the emergency blow but unbeknownst to us we were missing some ballast tanks/some didn’t have integrity). The ship’s control party did every thing exactly right even though they were hurt as well. The Diving Officer of the Watch had just unbuckled his belt to update a status board and hit the Ship’s Control Panel hard enough to break some of the gauges. To add insult to injury his chair came up right behind him. Several people were injured in the Engine Room Lower Level area. Lots of metal and sharp edges in the area as well as that’s were the boat’s smoking area is at. Several crew members are reevaluating that habit now.

Once again we got lucky in the fact that we had an extra corpsman onboard.

One of our officer’s was a prior enlisted corpsman that was a Fleet Marine Force medic so he was a Godsend for us. Our Corpsman did an outstanding job getting everyone stabilized and did the best he could for our fallen shipmate. I am surprised that he got him to hold on as long as he did. Our corpsman is definitely a hero in my book. He didn’t sleep for 2 or 3 days.

We finally put him down when the SEAL docs helicoptered in to help. Like I said, I am extremely proud of my crew and how they handled themselves. My Chief of the Boat was an inspiration of what a leader should be and my Captain was as well. My XO took out an EAB manifold with his back but still managed to help coordinate things. No matter what happens later, these men did a superior job under difficult circumstances. I am humbled by the entire crew’s performance from the CO down to the Seaman that I was checking in two days before.

For those of you wondering, I am sure there will be an investigation into what happened and no I was not part of the navigation preps for this voyage.

I work on the inertial/electronic navigation and interior communications part of my rate and didn’t have anything to do with the conventional navigation part of it. I will be lending support to my comrades who were to help them prepare for the pending investigation.

I thank you all for you concern and appreciate your prayers not only for myself, but for my shipmates. We are doing well, we band of brothers and will pull through just fine.


Brian Frie Chief Electronics Technician Submarines

USS San Francisco SSN-711

An Email Written By The DOOW

Subject: Fw: San Francisco Update – DIVING OFFICER

To say that I’ve had a bad year so far would be a little short on the tooth I think. Last year was a good one for the boat. After spending 5 months away from home in drydock (Sandy Eggo) we got our second BA on ORSE (bad juju), received the highest score in PacFlt for a submarine TRE inspection, aced our mine readiness inspection with 4 out of 4 hits, completed 2 outstanding missions (will have to shoot you), and completed a early ORSE just before Christmas with an EXCELLENT. It was also the first year that Auxiliary Division had a Christmas standown since coming out of the yards in 2002. A-division also took the CSS-15 Red DC award for the second year in a row. My retention has been 100% since I checked onboard in Oct 2002 amongst 1st/2nd and third termers.

We were going to our first true liberty port 2 weeks ago, heading for Brisbane and fun in the sun. As this WOG knows, we were getting ready for our crossing the line ceremony and the crew was really upbeat, and hard charging, we had just completed a great year for the San Fran. To say the world went to shyte in a hand basket would be an understatement. I would put it closer to a nightmare that becomes reality. The seamount that is a large part of the discussion the last 2 weeks is un-named. The charts we carried onboard were up to date as far as we can tell. No modern geographic data for this area was available to us onboard as it is a remote area not often travelled by the Navy. We have one of the BEST ANav’s in the fleet onboard, a true quartergasket that takes pride in his job. We have RLGN’s onboard, when they are running, are accurate as hell for our position, they also drive Tomahawks. We knew where we were. All of my depth gauges and digital read the same depths as we changed depth to our SOE depth for flank. I can’t discuss alot, because I’m still a participent of at least 2 investigations….LOL.

I was the Diving Officer of the Watch when we grounded. If you read the emails from ComSubPac, you will get some of the details, from flank speed to less than 4 knots in less than 4 seconds. We have it recorded on the RLGN’s-those cranky bastages actually stayed up and recorded everything. For you guys that don’t understand that, take a Winnebego full of people milling around and eating, slam it into a concrete wall at about 40mph, and then try to drive the damn thing home and pick up the pieces of the passengers.

As for the actual grounding, I can tell you that it was fortunate that myself and the Chief of the Watch were blessed by somebody. I was standing up, changing the expected soundings for a new depth on the chart (yes, we had just moved into deeper water) leaning against the ship’s control panel with a hand grip, and the COW was leaning down to call the COB on the MJ. The next thing to cross my mind was why am I pushing myself off of the SCP and where the hell the air rupture in the control room come from? I didn’t know it, but I did a greater than 3g spiderman against the panel, punched a palm through the only plexiglass guage on the SCP and had my leg crushed by the DOOW chair that I had just unbuckled from. The DOOW chair was broken loose by the QMOW flying more than 15 feet into it and smashing my leg against a hydraulic valve and the SCP. I don’t remember freeing myself from it. If I had been buckled in, I don’t think I would be writing this. The COW was slammed against the base of the Ballast Control Panel, and only injured his right arm. He could of destroyed the BCP, he was a big boy. Everybody else in control, with the exception of the helm, was severely thrown to the deck or other items that were in their way, and at least partially dazed. Within about 5 seconds of the deceleration, we blew to the surface, it took that 5 seconds for the COW to climb up the BCP and actuate the EMBT blow. We prepared to surface right away and got the blower running asap, I didn’t know how much damage we had forward but knew it was not good, I wanted that blower running. I would say that about 80% of the crew was injured in some way, but do not know the number. We grounded in the middle of a meal hour, just after field day, so most of the crew was up. Once we got the boat on the surface and semi-stable with the blower running the rest of the ship conditions started sinking in to our minds. We were receiving 4MC’s for injured men all over the boat. I was worried that those reports were over whelming any equipment/boat casualties that could make our life worse. I had teams form up of able bodied men to inspect all of the forward elliptical bulkhead, lower level, and tanks below those spaces. I couldn’t believe that we did not have flooding, it just didn’t fit in. At one point I looked around in the control room, and saw the disaster. The entire control room deck was covered in paper from destroyed binders, and blood. It looked like a slaughterhouse, we had to clean it up. I knew that Ash was severly injured and brought to the messdecks, he was one of my best men, and one of our best sailors onboard, he was like a son to me. After surfacing I was the control room supervisor, I had a boat to keep on the surface and fight and knew that if I went below to see how he was doing, it would teeter me on the brink of something that the ship did not need, the ship needed somebody who knew her. I have to say that the design engineers at Electric Boat, NavSea and others have designed a submarine that can withstand incredible amounts of damage and survive. We lost no systems, equipment, or anything broke loose during the impact. The damage to our sailors was almost all from them impacting into the equipment.

The crew is a testament to training and watch team backup. When a casualty occurs, you fight like you train, and train like you fight. It kept us alive during that 2+day period. I’ve just returned from the honor of escorting my sailor home to his family. God bless them, they are truly good people and patriotic. The Navy is doing everything they can for them and they are learning how submariner’s take care of each other. During the memorial and viewing on Saturday, CSS-15 provided a video from the coast guard of us on the surface and the SEAL/Dr. medical team being helo’d in, the family had this video played on 2 screens in the background. It was a sobering reminder of what a hard woman the ocean can be. We had to call off the helo because of the sea state, it was becoming too dangerous for the aircraft, we almost hit it with the sail a couple of times. The sea would not allow us to medivac in our condition and that sea state. I was one of the 23 sent to the hospital that Monday. I was fortunate, my leg was not broken, just trashed/bruised. I walked on that leg for almost 24 hours before it gave out on me and they had it splinted. The SEAL made me promise not to walk on it, how do you refuse a SEAL? LOL. So I hopped around on a single leg for awhile, the other chief’s were calling me Tiny Tim, LOL. “God bless each and every one! Except you, and you, that guy behind you!”. The COB threatened to beat my @ss if I walk onboard before my leg is okay, he’s about the only man onboard that I’d take that from, hehe. The crew is doing better, we’ve lost a few due to the shock of the incident. We will make sure they are taken care of. The investigation goes on, and I have a new CO. I will only say that the San Fran was the best damn sub in the Navy under CDR Mooneys leadership. We proved that. God bless him and his family no matter what happens in the future, he is truly a good man.

I just need to get my leg healed and get back to fighting my favorite steel bitch.

The Facts:

According to various sources the accident was caused by this “seamount” – suddenly appearing out of “nowhere”. The sub was allegedly at flank speed over 30kts (appr. 35mph) at a reported depth of 500 feet below the surface, although no official confirmation due to “classified”). The submarine was on its way to Brisbane, Australia (for a routine port visit) and ran into something which stopped the vessel almost to zero speed – reportedly back to 4kts. This was about 350 miles south of Guam in the area of the Carolines East of the Yap Trench, which connects to the Marianna-Trench. Due to info of various sources of the Marine-command and emails of the crew, there where two impacts – the first was very hard and the second was a smaller bump.

Photographs of the USS San Francisco returning to Apra Harbor in Guam last Monday showed the submarine’s sonar sphere and forward ballast tanks heavily damaged. The sonar dome, which is always flooded, probably absorbed enough of the impact to keep the pressure hull from cracking, allowing the crew to save the ship. The reactor, located amidships, and the rest of the propulsion plant in the rear of the ship were undamaged, the Navy said.

One man was killed in the collision, and 60 others from the crew of 137, suffered a range of injuries, including broken bones, lacerations and a back injury, making the incident one of the most serious undersea accidents in memory.

Submariners say the area where the sub was traveling is notorious for no-warning sea mounts. The water depth can change 1,000 fathoms in seconds.

“We know more about the backside of the moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean,” said retired Navy Capt. James Patton, president of Submarine Tactics and Technology in North Stonington.

The area in which the San Francisco was traveling, through the Caroline Islands chain, is one of the worst, with dozens of islands rising out of the water and many more uncharted seamounts between them.

“It’s just bad water,” Patton said.

Another retired Navy Capt., a previous commander of the Undersea Surveillance Program in the Pacific. – Raymond D. Woolrich of Waterford, stated: “One of the things I found running the undersea surveillance system is that earthquakes happen all the time in the Pacific, and that’s how the earth changes. Could there have been an unknown, uncharted seamount? Sure there could have been.”

The submarine managed to make its way – using its own power – back into Apra Harbor/Guam and was moored at Sierra Pier, where dozens of family members of crewmembers waited. This itself was a great undertaking of the CO and the crew – managing to keep the heavily damaged boat afloat – and manouverable.

When asked how could a high-tech submarine hit something underwater, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the U.S. Navy Pacific Submarine Force said, “I wouldn’t want to speculate on the cause. We are going to have a complete investigation. We are going to look at this very, very carefully, make sure that we have all the answers, and try to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

No action has been taken against any crewmembers, pending an investigation.

An investigating officer will likely be appointed to look into the cause of the accident, Davis said. One of the things they will look into is whether the San Francisco or any other submarine has taken that route before.

He said the Navy could not release what speed the submarine was going or what depth it was in during the accident.

“There will be classified and unclassified components of it. Things like depth, we guard pretty closely,” Davis said.

The Speculations:

There have been a lot of quakes in the area, starting with the Tsunami-quake on 26th Dec. and shown by the eruption of the Anatahan on Marianas (see my related posting) on the 7th Jan., around the time of the accident of the Sub, indicating lots of possible geological activity…

Due to a (even small) tilt of the Earth axis (the Tsunami and the 26 Dec-quake indeed caused a “irregular” wobble, that’s confirmed…) the Equator shifts a bit and as well the depths in ocean – as the oceans don’t flow and behave exactly the same way as the crust. Did you once try to serve a plate full with soup?? And imagine this plate itself made of rubber (the crust) 😉 So the crust reacts – but the water has more inertia and all at sudden the relations of depht, location, etc. could have changed…

Assuming that the Submariners are no “gamblers”, the question arises WHY they want at flank speed KNOWING of imminent quakes and possible connected topographical changes in the area as reported in comments of highranking officials and former retired captains.

– Did they try to escape a “shadow”, another rogue Submarine?

– Where they moving away from elsewhere than the reported “Guam”, perhaps they came from the Indian Ocean?

– Why were they reported to make a “routine-visit” to Brisbane, when the whole Pacific fleet is on alert and two battle groups are at “humanitarian assistance” in the Indian Ocean? No “better use” for this Sub? The battle Groups CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln and LHD-6 Bonhomme Richard are conducting the Operation Unified Assistance at this time, bringing aid to the victims of the Tsunami – but also ‘securing’ the whole area by immense military power…

Questions, questions, questions . . . .