What a great time to have been a submariner… Riding the 711 Boat 3

What a ride

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Of all the adventures in my short life, the one that will always rise to the top is not just one single adventure, but a collection of adventures over a four year period that have one thing in common: They are all related to being a crewmember of the best submarine a man could ever hope for. The USS San Francisco (SSN 711) begins a journey towards her new life as a Moored Training Ship (MTS) on Friday November 4th. There are rumors that she might be delayed a bit, but her path now seems pretty clear. This mighty war ship will be partially dismantled and used to train the next generation of technicians and officers for their roles in the fleet.

The boat was launched on October 27, 1979 in Newport News Shipyard

Just a few days before she was launched, I reenlisted in the Navy after an absence from active duty of a few years. I was newly divorced, tired of living from paycheck to paycheck and ready to try my hand at being a sailor again. The Navy was a life saver for me since the economy in our area was in a serious mess and the prospects of a great future were non-existent. Three things happened in the year that would follow. I would join the crew of the pre-commissioning ship San Francisco, Ronald Reagan would run for President and ultimately win, and I met and married my beautiful wife Debbie. These three events made the adjustments in my life that helped me to achieve many of my unfulfilled goals.

Plankowner

I missed the launching but didn’t miss anything else related to outfitting the ship. As a member of Auxiliary Division, I helped to put together the non-nuclear machinery thsat would support the ship’s operations and life. I discovered a love for developing and delivering training that would later transfer over to my achieving Master Training Specialist and a Bachelor of Science degree in Workforce Education Development. But I also learned to be a sailor and operate a ship that could do some amazing things.

He ain’t heavy, He’s my Brother

One of the other reasons this was a special assignment was that I was able to serve with my youngest brother Tom. We had a lot of crazy adventures together and one of my favorite memories was pinning my original pewter back Dolphins on Tom when he became qualified in submarines. I would later pin my San Francisco Dress Dolphins on my nephew Artie Anderson who followed in the family tradition of becoming a Submarine Auxiliary man. Tom’s son Theodore was a submariner as well but somehow we lost him to the Nuclear program. But we were very proud of each of them as they found their own paths.

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In the 36 years San Francisco has played a role in defending this country, she has had her share of good fortune and stark terror.

One of the most memorable of course was the collision that occurred a number of years back. I asked the author of the book  Making a Submarine Officer – A story of the USS San Francisco (SSN 711)  Alex Fleming: for permission to post just a small part of that story.

Note:  You can order your own copy here:  https://www.amazon.com/Making-Submarine-Officer-story-Francisco-ebook/dp/B0052YQLWA

January 8th, 2005, 1142 hours, near the Caroline Islands

           : There is a low rumbling which sounds to some like “God crushing a beer can,” and the ship slows instantaneously from 30 knots to 4 knots. The boat is well stowed for sea, so there are no projectiles, but every single person is thrown forward into the nearest vertical object. The people in the chow line end up in a huge pile in middle level. Rome and Litty are on the starboard side of the Diesel in lower level and they land in a heap on the deck. The OOD is thrown out of control, shouting Emergency blow even as he hits his head on a computer screen. The DOOW, Senior Chief Hager, is up out of his chair to update a status board, and he is thrown onto the ships control panel, shattering a gauge. His chair is thrown forward, breaking his leg. The Quartermaster flies fifteen feet forward and lands on the stern planesman, breaking the back of his chair. The JOOD is thrown forward onto the fire control displays in front of him, hitting his head and neck. The men in the smoke pit land on the pumps directly in front of them, except for Ashley, who is thrown forward 20 feet and hits his head on a pump assembly. Every single plate of food is thrown all over the galley. In the wardroom, one officer shoves his fork through his lip, and the Captain watches as one of the mess cooks flies over his shoulder and lands on the flat screen TV on the forward bulkhead.

            The Captain is pinned in his chair, but quickly recovers and runs up to control to find out what happened. He gets there after the Chief of the Watch has already thrown the emergency blow handles, but the ship is not going up. The DOOW is back in his chair, not saying a word about his broken leg, shouting out depths. The ship has a down angle, and it is clear from indications that something serious has happened to the forward ballast tanks. Matt Priests quickly recovers from being slammed against his stateroom wall, and runs back to the ER as he hears an emergency report of “Flooding in the ER.” He knows this is the most serious situation that a ship can have, underwater, doing an emergency blow with flooding in the ER. No submarine can get positive buoyancy with the ER filling with water, and for a moment, Matt is sure that they are all going to die. He quickly finds that the report was an error, and the water is just a leak from a cracked freshwater pipe.

            The Captain and Chief Hager in control are still watching the depth gauge, waiting for it to show upward movement. Finally, after almost a minute, the ship begins to rise, breaking the surface at 1143:52. The next forty minutes are a chaos of emergency reports, calls for the Doc, people trying to respond to ten different casualties, and people trying to care for injured shipmates. In shaft alley, an electrician named Brain Barnes does not know what else to do, so he holds Joey Ashley’s hand and talks to him, waiting for Doc Akin to arrive.”

You will have to buy the book for the rest of the story. I will also be adding the book to my Now Read This section of the blog.

On Friday November 4th, the change will start taking place. It will probably not be dramatic except for all the ghosts who I am sure will be on the pier. I earlier had thought I would not be allowed to go because of my heart issues. But frankly, my heart has never been the same since I left the San Francisco. Service on board her changed my life. I am pretty sure a lot of other people can say the same. It will be my greatest honor to stand on her decks one last time.

Thanks to all those who kept her going all these years. I am proud to have been called shipmate and even prouder to call all of you my shipmates.

Mister Mac (AKA Big Mac)

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225,000 Visits… Nicely done! 2

The leansubmariner just went over 225,000 visits today. That’s pretty cool. I can’t tel you how much I appreciate your visits and those that come back for a second and maybe even a third look.

Live has been pretty interesting lately. The place where I have been working is in the process of mothballing due to changes in the sales in our market. At first, it was pretty disheartening since I was comfortable and I was looking forward to a day sometime in the future when I could write full time. That may come sooner than I had expected but I am still measuring the impact of the shrinking workforce.

I have been very busy this spring so far posting on my World War 2 in the Pacific page on Facebook. Every day, there are entries from historic records and sprinkled in between are letters from my Dad to his parents during the same time period. If you get a chance, check it out. I intend to continue posting stories there until the anniversary of the end of the Second World war in the Pacific.

https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

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Thanks again for the visits. I will be back with more submarine stories in the very near future.

Mister Mac

Mesothelioma – A Sad Legacy for Too Many 3

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One of the things I have been very involved with in the past few years is identifying resources for Veterans and their caregivers. In a perfect world, the same government that sends our men and women into harm’s way would move heaven and earth to preserve the rights of veterans and protect those exposed to so many potentially life changing things.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where politicians run at the first sight of conflict and do anything they can to stay in power at the cost of those very veterans who served this country. That is one of the reasons I support the VFW, American Legion, MOAA, Navy League and USSVI. Public awareness is critical to gathering the support we need.
Recently I got a note from Nick Berez, an Awareness Advocate at the Mesothelioma Group.
Bob,
I’m part of the awareness advocate team at the Mesothelioma Group. We are a charitable organization supporting the VFW and American Legion. With over 30% of all mesothelioma patients being Veterans, a main part of our mission is to spread mesothelioma awareness to Veterans and their family members. The reason this cancer targets so many veterans is because of the extensive amount of asbestos used in past military equipment. Our goal at the Mesothelioma Group is to increase awareness, improving survival rates and life expectancy.
I’m pleased to see you have a remarkable Veteran’s Resource Links page at https://theleansubmariner.com/veterans-resource-links/. However I noticed you don’t have any information relating specifically to mesothelioma or the dangers of asbestos. I believe our Navy Veterans and Asbestos page at www.mesotheliomagroup.com/veterans/navy would be a valuable addition to your links. Our support community provides step-by-step guidance, Veteran support, and up-to-date resources, all for free.”
I will be adding this link to our resource page. But I wanted to encourage all of my readers to be aware of the issues regarding this disease. I do so because I was involved in decommissioning a few vessels where asbestos was present (sometimes in large quantities). The Navy put me on an asbestos monitoring program but at one point the program just disappeared. I hope that the need for these programs never comes into my life. But frankly, I am glad that there are groups that care enough to be there for those that do.

Mister Mac

How to fight a war… or conquer the enemy in your life Reply

WarInst

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I read a lot. Maybe too much according to my wife. I have been chronicling the events of March 1945 on my Facebook page “World War 2 in the Pacific

https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

Some of the reference materials are amazing in their accuracy for challenges we face today. I truly wish that the powers that be could read and understand these simple truths. Frankly they come right out of Sun Tzu’ works on fighting war. They come from the previously classified instructions from 1944 called War Instructions for the United States Navy under the direction of Admiral King.

How to fight a war

  1. The following specific tactical doctrine governs:

(a) Plan and train carefully. Execute rapidly. Simple plans are the best plans.

(b) Act quickly, even at the expense of a “perfect” decision. This is preferable to hesitation and possible loss of boldness and initiative.

(c) Never remain inactive in the vicinity of the enemy.

(d) Make the most of the few chances that arise to damage the enemy or destroy his ships without waiting for a better target, unless required by orders to do so.

(e) Endeavor to bring a superior force to bear upon that portion of the enemy force which for the time being cannot be supported.

(f) Go into action with your entire force and keep tactically concentrated until the enemy has become disorganized.

(g) Deliver the attack from such direction as to gain the advantages of favorable wind, sea, and light conditions, if possible without delaying the engagement.

(h) Sink enemy ships. It is usually better to sink one than to damage two.

(i) Never surrender a vessel or aircraft to the enemy. Sink or destroy it if there is no other way to prevent its capture.

(j) Use all weapons in effective range, with the maximum intensity, and continue the action until the enemy is annihilated.

Personally, I will be reviewing the recommendations for the next two weeks as God works his way with my life. I am grateful as always for the men who followed these instructions well and won the Second World War. I hope the men who fight the third will be as wise and committed.

 

Mister Mac

Submarines : Documentary on the Submarine Wars of the Cold War (Full Documentary) 1

1395190_10201730056564944_611884660_n If you ever lived on one, this will make you homesick. If you never lived on one, it might make you jealous. In the beginning scenes one of my colleagues Mark Keef is featured in a submarine missile launch. 1983 Debbie, Bob, Mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj6VaV6-d6Y   Enjoy

Mister Mac

In honor of the day… the top five posts on TLS Reply

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What worked best in the past three and a half years? Not surprisingly, submarine sea stories were the most popular.

I am grateful to the folks who have contributed as much as I am to those that have visited. So here they are as of today (January 31, 2015)

1. https://theleansubmariner.com/2013/11/24/id-like-to-be-a-submariner-how-hard-could-that-be/

2. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/02/21/hey-you-have-the-next-watch/

3. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/02/16/ever-a-submariner-by-jody-rurham-mm2ss-a-gang/

4. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/12/24/did-it-matter/

5. https://theleansubmariner.com/2014/07/29/just-let-it-go/

One that did not make the top five was one of my very favorite posts and truly shows the bravery of a generation that is fast leaving us: https://theleansubmariner.com/2011/10/25/taffy-3-courage-beyond-measure/

As always, thanks for your visits.

Did your favorite make the list? Let me know what it was and why it was something you liked…

Mister Mac