Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Submarine News

Did you hear about this? 

The USS Georgia, a guided-missile submarine, was coming back from maneuvers last year on Nov. 25. Into its home base at Kings Bay, Georgia. Where its crew had been a bazillion times before.

USS Georgia (SSGN-729)
Beautiful, isn't she...

(Okay, it was late at night, but that shouldn't have mattered.)

So what did the sub do?

Hit a buoy and grounded itself. 

Repair bill: an estimated $1,000,000.  (At least it was just damage to the outer hull.)

The Georgia's captain, Dave Adams (blue crew), was relieved of duty and immediately reassigned. To his credit, Adams took responsibility for a stupid mistake that no doubt was made by one -- or more -- of his crew members. His statement:

     "The actions that hazarded Georgia upon a scheduled return to port in the dark on the morning of 25 Nov. were mine alone. I ask that my lapses not be used to denigrate the terrific service of the sailors and families of Georgia Blue. After 30 years of serving in the world's finest Navy, my only regret is that I will miss sailing with them again to stand against our nation's enemies."

With 30 years experience under his belt, that says a lot. (He could have just blamed it all on them.)

We have had a special interest in all things submarine since the Brick's six years in the Navy -- and a share of that stationed on the USS Batfish. His brother Jim spent nearly all his career on subs, as well, including a number of years as commander of the USS Pennsylvania. (On the gold crew, if I remember correctly -- subs have two crews that alternate, gold and blue.)

The Batfish was stationed in Charleston, SC, a harbor notorious for shifting sands and currents (so changing depths). Therefore, the Brick was not that shocked, hearing about the Georgia. According to him, a fair amount of the ocean charts they had, anyways, were not complete. And he'd known about at least one incident where a sub nearly smashed itself into an underwater mountain that the current chart didn't show. (Oops. Hopefully that was fixed in the next edition.)

"A million dollars damage?," he snorted. "That's nothing to subs."

And before the Brick's time on her, the Batfish herself ran 'hard aground' 22 January 1973, while headed out to sea. (They pulled her off and towed her back for repairs.)

No doubt that makes Captain Adams feel better about the whole business...
          but it still was a foolish thing to let happen.

Ironically, the Georgia and her then-crew were featured in a 1993 Disney documentary, Submarines: Sharks of Steel. Made the sub look invincible, no doubt.

Ah well.  They can't all be the Batfish.

(The old WWII Batfish (SSN310) can be toured, by the way, at the Batfish War & Memorial Park in Muskogee, OK. The Brick was on the 'new' version (SSN681), which was decommissioned in 1999 and scrapped, sadly, in 2002. The Brick can't talk about his time on board without having to kill you...but you can find out some of the crews' stories here, including a rather creepy story about tracking a Soviet sub with 16 missiles, headed for the East Coast.)

Batfish (SSN-681), March 1995, western Atlantic Ocean.
The USS Batfish -- also a lovely, sleek boat

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