Sunday, June 01, 2008

Submarine Mystery - Answer: Not ice

Last week's Mystery Question was:
What explanation is given for the USS Nautilus's sail damage?
Curiously, Wikipedia's article on the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) does not even mention the Essex collision, at least as of this writing). It gives this milestone about 6 months prior, however:
On 2 May 1966, Nautilus returned to her home-port to resume operations with the Atlantic Fleet, and at some point that spring, logged her 300,000th mile (555,600 km) underway. For the next year and a quarter she conducted special operations for ComSubLant and then in August 1967, returned to Portsmouth, for another year's stay, following which she conductedexercises off the southeastern seaboard. She returned to New London in December 1968.
Notice the book cover above. Undersea Encounters is 200 pages of description, analysis and photos published by the Submarine Research Center, Bangor, Washington. The book, which examines the causes of over thirty collisions and groundings, may be purchased directly from SRC, Amazon.com, or at most submarine museums for those interested in (Book Descriptions):
American submarine accidents and mishaps from 1903 to 2005 are described in vivid detail from records and memories of crew members who endured the trauma of colliding with an unknown object. Fishing net ensnarements provide true and exciting humor for the reader at the expense of the unwitting fisherman dragged through the water by monsters from the deep. Find out why such accidents happen when least expected. Examine the causes and learn how courts have looked upon our submarines as unfriendly vessels operating in a hostile environment.
United States Navy submarines have a history of colliding with a variety of obstacles including surface ships, fishing nets and cables, other submarines, rocks, reefs and sea mounts. It cannot be denied that submarines can be dangerous in peacetime as well as war. Mistakes are sometimes made by submariners, but often the tactical nature of a peace time exercise demands aggressive action with commensurate risk. The result can be a collision at sea and nothing can spoil a submariner's day worse than a collision at sea.
Some of you may prefer to chance unofficial research in an attempt to save the $19.95 (try a good library). On the web at Pictures of Damage to the USS Nautilus from the Essex Collision are six, very interesting color photos of the damaged Nautilus at dock. The photos, one of which is described as 'Bill Putt standing where the bridge used to be', are also credited to Bill Putt. There is definitely something cartoonish about the web site hosting Putt's photos. Some of you probably noticed already (hint: notice the web address in your browser). It has nothing to do with this one, either. ..........................................................................................................
ANSWER to WEEKLY MYSTERY (short explanation given for the USS Nautilus's sail damage):
November 11, 1966 - 350 miles east of Morehead City, NC - USS NAUTILUS collides with the USS ESSEX (CV 9) while running submerged during underway replenishment exercises. Both ships return to port unassisted. The submarine receives extensive damage to its sail area and goes to New London, CT. The ESSEX sustains an open hull cut in the bow area and proceeds to Norfolk, Va. source
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Longer explanations cite numerous course changes by multiple ships as contributory: During fleet exercises, USS Nautilus closed Essex (CVS-9) to conduct a simulated attack but rapid course changes by multiple ships resulted in a collision with the carrier, heavily damaging the submarines sail. ..........................................................................................................................................
For submarine crew member's account and photos of our brothers don't miss this History of the Owl page. Quotation:

It was on the 1966 Bermuda trip that we got involved in a life changing event for most of us. During a 'war game', the Nautilus was run over by
the aircraft carrier USS Essex....

Did all this occur in the Bermuda Triangle? Submarines are always silent and strange.

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4 Comments:

At 08 February, 2009 01:06, Blogger SJBill said...

Check the USS ESSEX web pages. I submitted a scanned jpg image of the paper photo to the ESSEX association.

http://www.ussessexcv9.org/images/SSN-571-%20Bad%20Day%20at%20Office.jpg

Not even the Nautilus Museum had the image. They do, now.

V/r
WG Schultz
San Jose, CA

 
At 27 February, 2009 10:22, Blogger Vigilis said...

Certainly a fine photo. Many thanks, WG!

 
At 23 January, 2010 13:55, Blogger Jerry said...

My father was a photographer on the USS Essex at the time of the collision. He has several pictures of the damaged Nautilus that I will be donating to the Nautilus museum in the coming months.

 
At 03 July, 2010 12:59, Blogger Vigilis said...

Thank uou for the heads-up, Jerry.

 

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