This item addresses if visual and open documentation info is available the submarine disasters that I can locate on line. Examples, Scorpion, Thresher, San Francisco, Kursk, etc. For the laymen—-the service has lost many boats since we started going under…..but a few have been photographed after the disaster…..only a few……and fewer still have actually been salvaged from the thousands lost by all nations. The most complex salvage operation was the raising of the USSR boat from the Pacific by the CIA in……..
Salvage of the Kursk submarine. The salvage of the Kursk is a good example of the skills and ingenuity of Mammoet’s engineers and operatives. This nuclear submarine sank on 12 August 2001 in water with a depth of 108 meters, with the loss of all 118 navy personnel on board. The submarine then settled about two meters into the seabed mud.
In May 2001 the Russian government awarded the contract for the salvage of the Kursk to Mammoet and Smit Internationale. Mammoet provided the heavy lifting system while Smit provided tugs and the Giant 4 pontoon which was used as a working platform. This project required lifting a 9000 ton load from a depth of 108 meters and it was estimated that another 3000 tons force would be needed to pull the Kursk free.
Mammoet designed a salvage system based on a set of 26 of its powerful strand jacks which allowed accurate control of the high lifting forces. The jacks were combined with heave compensators to offset the wave motion of the pontoon for improved safety and better control of the lifting process. Twenty-six holes were cut in the hull of the Kursk to accommodate lifting plugs which expanded on the inside of the hull. Each plug was connected to a set of strands which rose to the surface where they were gripped by a strand jack.
On 8 October 2001 the Kursk was pulled free of the seabed and brought to just below the surface, hanging below the Giant 4. Tugs then towed the pontoon and the submarine to Murmansk where the Kursk was transferred to a dry dock. The Russian navy then recovered the bodies of the victims and the load of weapons.
The challenge of this project was to develop a safe and effective system for the recovery of the submarine in a short time and then implement the plans safely and efficiently.
USS San Francisco SSN 571
Los Angeles Class Attack Submarine: Laid down, 26 May 1977, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, VA.; Launched, 27 October 1979; Commissioned, USS San Francisco (SSN-711), 24 April 1981. San Francisco is assigned to Bremerton, Wash.
Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 6,000 t., Submerged: 6.927 t.; Length 360′; Beam 33′; Draft 29′; Speed, Surfaced 25 kts, Submerged 30+ kts; Depth limit 950′; Complement 129; Armament, four 21″ torpedo tubes aft of bow can also launch Harpoon and Tomahawk ASM/LAM missiles & MK-48 torpedoes; Combat Systems, AN/BPS-5 surface search radar, AN/BPS-15 A/16 navigation and fire control radar, TB-16D passive towed sonar arrays, TB-23 passive “thin line” towed array, AN/BQG-5D wide aperture flank array, AN/BQQ-5D/E low frequency spherical sonar array, AN/BQS-15 close range active sonar (for ice detection); MIDAS Mine and Ice Detection Avoidance System, SADS-TG active detection sonar, Type 2 attack periscope (port), Type 18 search periscope (starboard), AN/BSY-1 (primary computer); UYK-7; UYK-43; UYK-44, WLR-9 Acoustic Intercept Receiver, ESM; Propulsion System, S6G nuclear reactor one propeller at 35,000 shp.
In Dry Dock SS711
Close up view of the bow of the Los Angeles class attack submarine San Francisco (SSN-711) in dry dock in Apra Harbor, Guam, Jan. 27, 2005, to assess damage sustained after running aground approximately 350 miles south of Guam Jan. 8, 2005.
This was forwarded to me from a Submariner from his buddy who was the Diving Officer when they hit the sea mount. Interesting reading! There are quite a few amazing stories that have come out of this event.
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 turd 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 traveled 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, they 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 otay, 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.
SF In Dry Dock with New Sonar Dome
Shipyards Design The Boats, Build Them and Fix Them….THE CONSTANT
Official Position USN
USS San Francisco Investigation Completed
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) — The U.S. Navy announced May 9 the completion of the investigation into the Jan. 8 accident aboard the submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711) that claimed the life of one Sailor.
San Francisco struck an undersea mountain about 360 miles southeast of its Guam homeport because its leaders and watch teams failed to develop and execute a safe voyage plan, the command investigation into the incident concluded.
“The findings of fact show that San Francisco, while transiting at flank (maximum) speed and submerged to 525 feet, hit a seamount that did not appear on the chart being used for navigation,” the 124-page report said of the incident in the vicinity of the Caroline Islands.
“Other charts in San Francisco’s possession did, however, clearly display a navigation hazard in the vicinity of the grounding,” it said. “San Francisco’s navigation team failed to review those charts adequately and transfer pertinent data to the chart being used for navigation, as relevant directives and the ship’s own procedures required.
“If San Francisco’s leaders and watch teams had complied with requisite procedures and exercised prudent navigation practices, the grounding would most likely have been avoided. Even if not wholly avoided, however, the grounding would not have been as severe and loss of life may have been prevented.”
Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Joseph Allen Ashley, 24, of Akron, Ohio, died aboard the submarine Jan. 9 from an “inevitably fatal” severe head injury sustained during the accident.
“Earlier evacuation or arrival of medical officers would not have changed the outcome for [Petty Officer] Ashley” the investigation said in regard to the two additional medical personnel flown aboard by helicopter and two attempts to medically evacuate him by helicopter.
Another 97 of 137 crew members reported injuries ranging from minor bruising and muscle strains to two who suffered dislocated shoulders. Sixty-eight of them were evaluated and treated aboard, while the remaining 29 were treated at Naval Hospital Guam when San Francisco returned to port under its own power Jan. 10. Just three of them were admitted overnight for further evaluation and treatment.
As a result of the collision, U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert relieved Cmdr. Kevin Mooney of his command of San Francisco Feb. 12 following non-judicial punishment proceedings in Yokosuka, Japan. Mooney also received a letter of reprimand.
But Greenert, in his endorsement of the investigation, also praised Mooney’s prior record and performance following the impact.
“Although the grounding incident compelled me to punish [him] and remove him from command, in my opinion it does not negate 19 years of exemplary service,” the admiral wrote. “Prior to the grounding incident, USS San Francisco demonstrated a trend of continuing improvement and compiled an impressive record of achievement under [Mooney’s] leadership. Moreover, the crew’s post-grounding response under his direct leadership was commendable and enabled [the sub’s] recovery and safe return to port.”
Greenert also criticized the executive officer and navigation team for their share of the responsibility, saying their “failure to adequately and critically review applicable publications and available charts led to submission of an ill-advised voyage plan and hindered the commanding officer’s ability to make fully informed safety-of-ship decisions.”
Six crew members were punished March 22 by Capt. Bradley Gehrke, commander of Submarine Squadron 15 on Guam, to which San Francisco was assigned. None were identified due to privacy reasons, but they included enlisted, senior enlisted and officer. The punishments included reduction in rate and punitive letters of reprimand.
San Francisco remains in drydock in Apra Harbor, Guam, under repair.
Author’s comment: Because of the exceptional design and construction of this boat SSN 711 many lives were saved. The training and professionalism of the crew also saved many. A sub traveling a flank speed essentially hit a wall that did not move…….amazing the outcome. The water depth below was thousands of feet…….no recovery would have been possible. After repairs it rejoined the flee and served for many more years.