Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Unkind! Submariner's Quote

If it were not so true, I would be reluctant to identify the author (a submariner) of a quote like the following:
"i sailed aboard a rustbucket submarine, the good old pierwolf SSN-575. pierwolf because she ALWAYS found a way to delay getting underway, unable to let go of the relative comfort and safety of a shipyard homeport pier. " - US Navy submarine veteran who a works at a research reactor for a california university.

Now, before anyone draws false conclusions about the legendary 575 boat being welded to any pier, you will find her mentioned in Blind Man's Bluff, and here, here, and here.

See the crumpled bow from her unofficial ship's stationery (above)? The Wolf was damaged in a collision with something underwater (very nerve shattering). This was after its dangerous, liquid-sodium coolant nuclear reactor had to be replaced, but before compound malfunctions (not a drill) and a most fortuitous recovery saved the ship and crew from a submariner's worst nightmare (you had to be there).

The Wolf was in commission (useful for taxpayers) for 30 years and a day, longer than most boats before or since. Besides some classified missions and modest notoriety throughout her life, she was also a platform for many, bold experiments (photo). Not all worked this well, but some directly benefited our early space program. By the time bothenook served aboard her, she had been used very hard and saved from several awful fates with much difficulty. A rather special submarine, Seawolf went on to complete still more important missions.
From my friends in the day, I am fairly certain the majority of submarines and submariners have fairly similar and hair-raising experiences throughout their useful lives.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 29 November, 2007 21:05, Blogger bothenook said...

yup, she did have a great and long history. probably the greatest thing i can say about serving 6 1/2 years onboard was that she always got us home, no matter how hinky the mission, or the circumstances.
being associated with the wolf either as a crewmember (from 74 to 81) or as a nuclear shift test engineer (84 to thru decommisioning) gave me about 15 years of her 30 years to see her at her best, and her worst.
but thru everything, the one constant was she always had a shit-hot crew, capable thru necessity of handling any and all conditions and emergencies.

At 29 November, 2007 22:14, Blogger reddog said...

Long ago, on a top secret mission that would become the longest submerged deployment, up to that point, in US naval history, a small group of men, serving aboard a submarine so outdated and poorly conceived, that it should have been decommissioned a generation before, chain smoking cigarettes lit right off the oxygen candles, rebuilt a main turbine steam generator, while underway, so that the mission could continue. This was not a job that was ever expected to be done outside of a shipyard. The men that did it, completed the task and then returned to their more mundane duties of trying, on a daily basis, to keep the old dog from breathing her last. None of these guys received any medals for their work. They were happy with an extra slice of pie in the crew's mess and another of the seemingly endless replays of "Steelyard Blues". Given their body fat ratios and military bearing, many, if not most of these fighting bluejackets would find no home in today's naval establishment.

The mission was completed and deemed a great success. Many men received awards and commendations for their part in that mission. Perhaps they were the wrong men. The efforts of the Seawolf Light and Power Company, on that mission, are the kind of heroism that should be celebrated by the erection of monuments, the composition of songs and taught to the young worthies at the Academy down through the years, to demonstrate the true spirit of the naval service.

Shit-hot crew doesn't even begin to tell this story. Go NUCs!

At 30 November, 2007 00:24, Blogger Vigilis said...

Yes, my shipmates, and we are still leaving out a bunch!

At 30 November, 2007 08:26, Blogger bothenook said...

an extra piece of pie, and they let us sleep a couple extra hours when we finished. hmmm, 52 hours up, 10 down. that's fair.


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