Friday, June 05, 2015

Answers to Yesterday's Submarine Questions of the Week

Background

Related information, photos and links for questions are found in original posting.

Questions of the Week with ANSWERS

1.  How could we have known, contrary to the caption in the photo (above),  that USS Sargo (SSN-583) did not embark a king on a cruise around Oahu as planned and publicized? ANS:
From naval archives.  If repairs took three months (see last sentence) Sargo could only have embarked the king and queen of NEPAL before the explosion Excerpts follow [color and underscoring emphasis added by M.E]:
"On 14 June 1960, SARGO was alongside a pier at Pearl Harbor taking on oxygen charging her tanks in preparation to take the King and Queen of Thailand on a cruise the next day. The oxygen line, which entered the stern room through the deck hatch, suddenly developed a high pressure leak. Machinist’s Mate third class Smallwood, in charge of the procedure, realizing the danger woke the only other man in the room (the stern room has some berthing) and told him to get out as he (Smallwood) attempted to isolate the leak. As the sailor cleared the hatch, the room erupted in an oxygen rich explosion with flames and smoke shooting hundreds of feet in the air.  Smallwood died instantly with the fire so intense it blistered the paint on the adjacent engine room bulkhead even as water was played on it. Two torpedo war heads detonated “low order” as the fire raged. Unable to extinguish the fire from ashore or by fire boats, a decision was made to breast the stern out from the pier and sink the after end of the submarine, flooding the stern room which finally put the fire out.

The stern was raised the following morning and the stern room was pumped dry. An EOD (Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit) officer entered the submarine, emerging shortly to report the torpedoes were still hot, smoking and dangerous with some explosives in a molten condition.. The skipper ordered the stern room again flooded. Twelve hours later, the room was cool enough to recover Smallwood’s body. Smallwood was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroic actions.

SARGO’s stern room was extensively damaged and she was immediately moved into a waiting drydock. Repairs took three months, cost not reported." - Universal Ship Cancellation Society Log, May 2015, pg 12; Peacetime Submarine Accidents, USS SARGO (SSN 583)  Bob Rawlins 

2.  Our second question had asked, "What was the name of this king with no navy?

Our answer was:  King Mahendra of Nepal.  Was that answer correct?  ANS:  YES, and note that this Haze Gray (DANFS) article for Sargo (SSN-583)  agrees was it the King of Nepal but corrects the chronology by stating that the excursion took place at the end of April (two months before the explosion on Sargo):  
"Repairs took SARGO into April.  At the end of that month, she resumed operations in the Hawaiian area with a demonstration cruise for the King of Nepal.  On 14 June, an explosion and fire in the stern room, while the submarine was charging her oxygen tanks from the dock, killed one crew member and put her back in the shipyard for the remainder of the summer.  From October through December, she again conducted type training exercises."
Confused yet?  Here's a third version in a current (as of this writing) Wikipedia article about USS Sargo that states:
Repairs took Sargo into April. At the end of that month, she resumed operations in the Hawaiian area with a demonstration cruise for the King of Nepal.
On 14 June, the submarine was docked in Pearl Harbor, preparing to take Bhumibol Adulyadej and his wife Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, the King and Queen of Thailand on a cruise the next day. Sargo was charging her oxygen tanks when the oxygen line, which entered the submarine through the stern torpedo room hatch, developed a leak and a fire ignited. 
Let's check a newspaper (Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1960):
"When the fire broke out, the Sargo was being readied to take the King and Queen of Thailand [Siam] on a cruise around Oahu. The royal couple had arrived in Hawaii Tuesday night to begin a visit to the United States."
The late Capt. Rawlins's article was 100% correct, as usual.  I, for one, will miss his excellent input to the U.S.C.S. Log.


3.  Identify a related source of misleading information about the subject king. ANS:  There is NO misleading or inconsistent information in any of the preceeding excerpts, if the Chicago Tribune and HazeGray articles are both correct,  I have full confidence based upon Robert (Bob) Rawlin's article that they are all correct.

The Universal Ship Cancellation Society, Inc., a non-profit, tax exempt corporation, founded in 1932, is seeking to expand its membership.  Readers interested in naval or maritime history should consider becoming USCS members. Information is available here.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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