I think every sub guy has his favorite boat and as I have indicated before, my favorite was the USS San Francisco (SSN 711).
Maybe it was because I was on the pre-com crew and saw her come to life. Maybe it was just the combination of characters that served on her (many of us for four years). Maybe it was the way she was configured to carry conventional weapons and act as a true hunter killer. But whatever the reason, she was just an awesome boat.
Like any submarine, we drilled and prepared for any number of routine and emergency operations. I loved being in the control room and I especially loved being the Chief of the Watch. Everything around you is carefully rehearsed and its like a symphony of activity where each instrument adds something to the spirit of the evolutions. Even seemingly routine evolutions like snorkeling have a touch of excitement as you remember that you are on a moving boat under water in a sea that could contain any number of surprises.
Any failure of any of the numerous safety devices could send the boat on an unexpected depth excursion.
A stuck induction valve could result in thousands of pounds suddenly rushing down into the ventilation system resulting in a disastrous outcome. In many cases, the ability of the crew is the only thing that spells the difference between survival and death. The halls of submarine history in the cold war are filled with stories of recovering from the unexpected. Even the San Francisco survived an almost unimaginable tragedy.
It was not surprising though that the Navy kept her alive after the event that nearly sank her. It is a testament to the shipyard who built her and the men who have maintained her all these 30 plus years. The clip below is a recent visit with some civilians that show her importance even today:
One of the exercises the visitors got to experience was something called angles and dangles.
These events help the submarine and her crew to practice for a number of casualty responses. They also serve another key purpose besides testing the ship and crew. They are used to shake out the things which are not stowed for sea.
Stowed for sea
Everything on a submarine has its place. Every big thing has a proper way to be stowed. The best way to test whether or not the crew properly did its job is to subject the boat to twenty degree excursions (both up and down). High speed turns also cause the boat to do some pretty unusual things. Anything that is improperly secured will be dislodged and cause a good deal of embarrassment to the division and individuals who took short cuts or didn’t do the right thing. Fleshing out these imperfections is a tradition as old as submarines.
Discovery at the wrong time can be fatal
As embarrassing as it is for a heavy tool or piece of equipment to go flying during angles and dangles, imagine what it would be like for that to happen in the heat of the chase? Sound transmits very well through the water and even a dropping hammer can warn the enemy of your presence. The results can be devastating in times of critical national danger.
I hear a lot of people complain about how the Republicans are tearing into each other during the current primary process. There may be some excesses but truthfully, I want there to be an honest vetting of all of the candidates. You can bet that any loose ends will come undone during the actual election and its just too important that all of the flaws and weaknesses are revealed now. There needs to be a solid alternative offered if the country is to get past the current regime.
Sit back and enjoy the ride. If you need to go to your rack,
don’t forget your speed strap.
ORO EN PAZ, FIERRO EN GEURRA