Archive for January, 2018

Nautilus Change of Charge

On January 21, 1954, Nautilus was christened and launched into the Thames River. On January 17, 1955, the message “Underway On Nuclear Power” was sent and changed the Navy forever. The world’s first nuclear powered submarine, Nautilus will forever stand as a testament to innovation and the incredible advancements in technology made after WWII. It is well known that besides being the first nuclear powered submarine, Nautilus was also the first vessel to pass under the North Pole, making history with the message “Nautilus 90 North” Her achievements have forever been immortalized at the Submarine Force Museum. The museum preserve submarine heritage. It is the only place in the world where someone can gain a first-hand look at this historic landmark. Nautilus was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior on May 20, 1982.  On April 11 1986, eighty-six years to the day after the birth of the Submarine Force, Historic Ship Nautilus was opened to the public.  The role of maintaining and running the nautilus and the museum falls to the Officer in Charge. As we celebrate the 64th anniversary of the nautilus christening, we also say goodbye to one officer and welcome another.

According to the United States Navy regulations in Article 0807, the Change of charge ceremony has the outgoing CO call all hands to muster and reads the order of detachment and turn over the command to his or her relief who will then read the orders of relief and assume the command. The new commanding officer will salute the outgoing officer and say, “I relieve you sir.”  To add to the events of list of events in January for the historic ship, such change of charge occurred on January 16th, as her crew said goodbye to LCDR Reginald Preston and welcomed LCDR Bradly Boyd.

 

Lieutenant Commander Reginald N. Preston

LCDR Reginald Preston came to the Nautilus in April 2016, following in the footsteps of the directors before him who took on the task of maintaining the legacy of one of the most important submarines in the US Navy. Originally, from Lyman, Nebraska, LCDR Preston received his commission through the Naval reserve Officer Training Corps in 2003. Following the completion of nuclear power training, he reported to USS Helena in San Diego, California. Qualifying in Submarines on Helena, he served as the Chemical and Radiological Controls Assistant, Assistant Operation Officer, and interim Engineer Officer. In 2010, he reported to the USS Chicago where served as Engineer Officer.  While on the Chicago, he would help transform her back into a warship ‘certified for tasking’ in the Seventh Fleet area of responsibility after a homeport shift to Guam. He would go on to serve as both the Operations Officer at Submarine Group Two and the Chief of Staff for the enlisted Women in Submarines task Force. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and navy Achievement medal. During his time at Historic Ship Nautilus, LCDR Preston has only maintained the excellent recorded of OIC’s at the museum. His work at the museum only furthered the museums mission to be a highly regarded museum and a must stop for those traveling in the area. LCDR Preston also “led a team of experts in rewriting the technical requirements for nautilus which previously necessitated the ship to be maintained at a level nearly commensurate with operational submarines. Preston’s revised requirements not only allowed for cost-wise upkeep and maintenance at a level that preserves Nautilus for futures generations, but did so with the expectation the ship would continue to host more than 150,000 visitors annually.” He was also “instrumental in laying the groundwork to establish a future water taxi dock at the museum. As one of almost 20 Historic and cultural sites on the banks of the Thames River, the Submarine Force Museum is one of four anchor sites in the Thames River Heritage Park.”[1] His next tour will be as the Director of Submarine On-Board Training at naval Submarine Base New London. While the crew and staff will miss him, they wish him well in his next placement and look to the future with LCDR Bradley Boyd.

 

Lieutenant Commander Bradley Boyd

LCDR Boyd, a graduate of Ohio State University, received his commission through the naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2004. In 2011, he earned a Master of the Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. In 2006 he reported to the USS Dallas, (one of the older submarines in the fleet) as the Main Propulsion Assistant, Damage Control Assistant, Quality Assurance Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, and interim Weapons Officer. In 2011, he reported to USS Bremerton in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii as the Navigation/Operations Officer. LCDR has been awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal and various campaign and unit awards. During the speech at the Change of Charge ceremony, LCDR Boyd remarked how he went from one old boat to another, the Dallas to the Bremerton. He went on to say how it was only fitting to end up at the oldest Nuclear Powered submarine the Navy had. Both Preston and Boyd remarked at the difficult task running a museum ship can be. There is no training for such things in the Navy. Despite the learning curve and the difficulties that arise, both officers emphasize the importance of the museum as a place for submarine history to be preserved. It functions as a learning environment for those new to the force to see the greatness that they have entered into as well as a place for veterans to come and honor their past. It also serves as the bridge for those outside the service to understand the achievements and sacrifices these sailors have made. LCDR Preston was stated how he was honored to have served in such as position and Boyd is excited to step into the shoes and help usher the museum forward.

 

Image courtesy of Naval Submarine Base New London

LCDR Preston and LCDR Boyd during the Change of Charge Reception. Image courtesy of Naval Submarine Base New London

[1] https://m.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/new-leader-for-uss-nautilus.html

The Submarine & The Sea Mount

This week we remember the tragic submarine accident that occurred on January 8, 2005. Submarine accidents are extremely rare. The development of nuclear powered submarines led the Navy to develop rigid standards that are followed to the letter to prevent fatalities at sea. But to error is human and while we think we can have the ocean floor completely mapped out, as the USS San Francisco learned, that is not always the case.

USS San Francisco was launched on October 27, 1979 and commissioned on April 24, 1981. She would be stationed in Pearl Harbor until 2002 when she would move to her new homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam. During her time in Hawaii she would earn a Navy Unit Commendation and her crew was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal in 1988. In 1994, she was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation while completing a Western Pacific Deployment. When she moved to Guam, she would gain a new Commander, and a history of issues on the boat would quickly become that of a “Cinderella Story.”[1]. On January 8, 2005, Commander Kevin Mooney and the crew of SSN 711 were sent on a port visit to Australia. They were passing through the Caroline Islands when all of a sudden, at 525 deep down, they came to a stop. The 137 crew members were at a loss for what had just occurred. What they would later find out was that the submarine had struck an uncharted undersea mountain. It was in these initial moments that bravery and resourcefulness kicked in. Much of the crew had been thrown about the compartments due to the collision. In the end there were a total of 98 injuries – one of which would later lead to a fatality. For those who were still able, they quickly began to take stock of the damage. The biggest fear in those first moments was the fear of flooding. At 500 feet deep, the water pressure is 16 times what it is on the surface. While some sailors tended to the most serious injuries, others began an emergency operation in which they would pump air into the submarine’s ballast tanks in order to surface the boat. Senior Chief Danny Hager recalls, “I told them 525 feet O acceleration. And I’m waiting, you know, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, I don’t know how long it was, you know, 525 feet, 0 acceleration. And it was just absolutely silence in control because they’re waiting for me to report that we were accelerating upwards.”[2] Unbeknownst to the crew at the time, most of the front ballast tanks had been destroyed in the crash. After what felt like hours but was in actuality just minutes, they were finally able to begin raising the sub. But they had no idea what would happen when they surfaced. Twenty of the crew members were so severely injured that they were unable to operate their stations. The rest of the crew was battling injuries of their own as well as everyone coming to the terrifying realization of the situation at hand.

The most serious of the injured was Petty Officer Joey Ashley. He had been thrown the farthest during the crash, some 25 feet, and had a serious head injury. The crew would take turns staying with Ashley, holding his hand, and taking care of him. An attempt to airlift him off the ship was unsuccessful. Ashley would survive 24 hours before passing away. Despite the heart wrenching situation, the crew had to press on. Once they were able to stabilize the sub enough, they sailed for Guam at 10 miles an hour. It would take the crew 52 long and hard hours to make it back to Guam. They were left to contemplate how such an accident could happen. And in the same breath, realized that the damage could have been so much worse. As the San Francisco’s left port on January 7th, the crew was using a single set of charts. Most of the time, submarines run true to the motto – run silent, run deep. Sonar gives off a distinctive ping which would give away a boat’s location, a problem a submarine does not want to have. The ocean is vast, and while much of it is charted, back in 2005, the area of south Guam was not. When the San Francisco came upon the Caroline Islands mountain chain, the charting crew believed the path to be clear in front of them. At 11:30 A.M., a sonar reading confirmed what the team was reading on the charts. The ocean was 6,000 feet deep. At 11:38 A.M., the decision was made to go to 525 feet. Another sounding was suggested, but Lt. Cmdr. Bruce L. Carlton, the navigation officer, didn’t think it was necessary. The crew’s training took over and by 11:44 A.M. the submarine was surfaced, and the captain was scanning through the periscope. Mere minutes had changed these men forever. The first rescue ship would not arrive until 4:30 A.M. on January 9th. As the San Francisco pulled into port on January 10th, the other submarines in port had their flags at half-mast and the crews were lining the decks in tribute. The San Francisco accident occurred at a time before satellites made navigational fixes precise. The lack in technology at the time caused the chart that was being used on boat to be inaccurate. Upon investigating the situation, Mooney, Carlton and Lt. Cmdr. Rick Boneau were relieved of their duties and three enlisted men were reprimanded. Mooney has taken full blame for the accident. He says he should have been going slower, that he should have better looked over the charts. “Had I appreciated that the charts really are not that accurate, then I would have navigated my ship more prudently.”[3] He knows, just like any other Navy Commander, that they are the highest authority on that vessel, and if something happens, it is on them. They are held to a high standard because they must be, and as Mooney states, “we can’t afford to have another San Francisco.”[4]

Since the accident, satellite technology has gotten more precise and greater mapping of the ocean has been completed. The Navy has also briefed hundreds of officers on how to avoid such an event from ever happening again. It wasn’t until the submarine was placed in dry dock that many of the sailors aboard could really face the damage that had occurred, and how close they really came to losing it all. To the crew of the San Francisco, the death of Petty officer Ashley will forever taint how they look at the collision. However, the fact that the San Francisco was able to surface and make it back to Guam is a remarkable feat. This is due to safeguards put in place back in 1963 after the loss of the USS Thresher. This incident led to the creation of the SUBSAFE program which would ensure that no matter what, the hull could maintain structural integrity under pressure and that a submarine would be able to surface. In situations like that of the San Francisco, the main goal was to have the hull, ballast systems and reactor working properly. If these parts remained intact, the crew would have a chance. In 2013, an admiral was quoted as saying that, “were it not for SUBSAFE decades earlier, USS San Francisco might have been lost.”[5] The San Francisco would return to sea three years later with a new nose. The bow of the USS Honolulu, which was set to be retired, was taken to repair the crushed vessel. She would serve for another eight years before heading to Norfolk to be transformed into a permanently moored training vessel. This week, and always, we remember Petty Officer Ashley, and the brave men who stayed by his side, making every effort to try and save his life. We also remember their strength as they sailed the long road home after enduring so much. We take the lessons learned from this tragedy to make a more efficient and safer submarine force.

Joseph “Joey” Allen Ashley, Machinist Mate 2nd Class (U.S.N.)

 

 

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/18/us/adrift-500-feet-under-the-sea-a-minute-was-an-eternity.html

[2] Martin, David. “Who’s to Blame for Sub Accident?” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whos-to-blame-for-sub-accident/

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whos-to-blame-for-sub-accident/

[4] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whos-to-blame-for-sub-accident/

[5] Mizokami, Kyle. “In 2005, a U.S. Navy Submarine Ran into a Mountain- The USS San Francisco didn’t sink, and that’s no accident.” http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a24158/uss-san-francisco-mountain-incident/

New Year’s Deck Logs

Happy New Year everyone! We hope you enjoyed your holidays and are looking forward to starting off the New Year with a bang. As we watched the ball drop from the comfort of our living rooms and enjoyed our holiday parties, our military maintained their ever-vigilant watch. Holiday or not, they are always steadfast in their duties, even when it comes to something as simple as correctly filling out the deck log. But on New Years’, the ever-rigid Navy lets its sailors have a little fun in the New Year’s Eve deck log.

Ensign A. Jackson writes 2014’s New Years Day deck log entry for USS Cape St. George (CG 71).

While most naval ships keep a running record called a “log”, only deck logs on a commissioned naval vessel are retained for future viewing. The purpose of a deck log is to maintain a chronological account of events, serve as reminders to the deck officers of various duties, and as potential evidence if ever needed in a legal proceeding. The log is kept by the Quartermaster of the watch and by the OOD- designated Officer of the Deck. Each month, the logs are sent to the Washington Navy Yard where the Naval History and Heritage Command retain the records. Each log is meticulously maintained and written by the letter of the rules laid down by the Navy. The deck log is not typically where a sailor gets to let their inner poet shine…that is, until New Year’s Eve. While not officially documented anywhere, it is known that on the first night of the new year during the mid watch only (midnight-0400), the OOD can record this entry in verse. Regulations are still abided, making sure that all required information is written in the log. Such required information includes the weather, position, and speed of the ship, changes in personnel and bearings of objects sighted. These regulations present a creative challenge to the author on the midwatch. Two examples of some OOD’s creative works are listed below.

At 8kts, steaming with Hanson in stride,
Richmond K. Turner serves country with pride.
Dangerous waters are these on the coast,
Rimmed with Viet Cong who are hardly our host.
Nothing must daunt on this New year’s night,
This year, as last, we must concentrate might,
Fighting aggression, and guarding our home,
Wary, lest Commies try farther to roam.
This ship is darkened as Hanson is too,
Hiding the fact we’re on 020 True.
SOPA and Officer in Tactical Command-
Captain of Turner is much in demand.
His is the judgment, on which we rely,
He calls the shots, and TE 77.0.1.2 does comply.
COMSEVENTH Fleet has positioned us here
Near North Vietnam, where our purpose is clear.
USS Richmond K. Turner (DLG 20)
1 January 1967

And moored pier side a little closer to home…

I’d like to say ‘Happy New year to you’
And tell you our ship is moored starboard side to
Berths Mike and November, and here’s the location:
San Diego, California at North Island Air Station.
As an added precaution again any trouble,
Our mooring lines are, not singled but doubled.
Our broilers are cold at the start of this year
So we must receive various services from the pier.
To lost all ships present indeed would be hard
But Oklahoma City (CLG 5) and Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31)
Are two of the ships, one forward, on aft
The others are various yard and distract craft.
SOPA Admin said tonight, and I quote,
‘COMFIRSTFLT is senior officer present afloat.’
He’s presently embarked in Oklahoma City,
But being aboard tonight, what a pity.
The night has been long, but would you believe,
That this watch is over – I stand relieved
USS Constellation (CVA 64)
1 January 1968

While the exact origin of the New Year’s mid-watch deck log is unknown, it has become a tradition that has endured following the First World War. By the time of the Vietnam War, the practice was so ingrained into the naval tradition that a New Year’s Eve contest was promoted by the Navy Times. Today the tradition has dwindled to fewer than 20 written in 2017. However, for those who keep it going, it brings a little frivolity to a sometimes-mundane task. We will leave you will the deck log from the USS O’Kane as it crossed into 2018.

LTJG Naylor here, ready to assume OOD, duties as assigned,
The New year is near its on all O’Kane watch standers minds,
Of the year past: the port calls, the dining-ins, the long underways,
That one funny story, that training moment, and the weekend getaways.
Of Hawaiian Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, (its really all the same)
Surely…but, oh surely this has been the year of the mighty Dick O’Kane!
The New year is nigh! And I have the watch, oh! So late.
To Be out at sea with 2018 close by, it must be fate!
But before I get too excited, I must log how our plant is lighted:
2A, 1B engine fired burning while the shafts are turning!
As split plant, of course, but wait there’s more!
2,3, and 5 Sea water Service Pumps are at full operation,
Number 1 Reefer, cold as can be, thank goodness for refrigeration!
1, 2, and 4 Acs are running, cold air and berthing shall be met,
No sailor asleep shall break even a sweat!
To Combat Systems, my log must continue,
For Alpha Uniform has mandated O’Kane is in a BMD window!
SPY is high power, 360, oh my!
If any hostile misses are spotted, we’ll shoot them out of the sky!
5 Inch is loaded to shoot Illum fireworks out to the stars,
There’s a steel beach celebration on the flight deck, everything is grand so far.
The Captain hums, “Auld Lang Sybe” whilst making a toast with CMC by his
Side,
“O’Kane, 2017 has been one hell of a ride!
We’ve had a few lows,
But the highest of highs,
We’ve sailed to the edges of the Mighty Pacific,
From Alaska to Guam, it’s all been terrific!
And into 2018, O’Kane’s story will go on,
Our saw will sharpen and we will strengthen our bond!
Through the end of Deployment until we sail into Drydock,
Oh, by the way that’s soon, so submit you 80% lock!
Ok back to the fun stuff, let’s hail the New Year with a bang!”
And with that the crew shouted, their voices shrill as they rang,
“10, 9, 8, 7, 6…
5,4,3,2,1!”
And with that, I give the watch team a smile,
2018 is here, The deck log is done, at least for awhile…
Lt. j.g. Steve Naylor*
1 January 2018

*Steve Naylor is from Waterbury Connecticut. The USS O’Kane (DDG-77) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroy named after Medal of Honor Recipient Rear Admiral Richard O’ Kane who commanded the submarine tender USS Tang.

 

[Photo Credit and deck logs credit to http://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/12/28/the-navys-tradition-of-the-new-years-day-deck-log/ and http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/12/31/uss-okane-crosses-into-2018/]