Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Stubborn Collision Course with a Merchant

A navy band played 'Anchors Aweigh' as we departed State Pier in New London. There was no welcome home when we got eventually returned.

As soon as the brow was in place, stewards carried the Lieutenant's belongings across and he left with unceremonious dispatch to his family's lone, waiting car.

About 30 minutes later the CO announced what was happening. A few of us needed no specifics.
I remembered the CO's standing orders from my 0400 - 0800 watch earlier that morning. I also remembered the radar operator's report of a vessel whose closest point of approach was not only inside our CO's "no closer than" range, but on an intersecting course. Sonar had also identified contact Romeo-4 as a merchant.

Unfortunately, the OOD when reminded of CO's standing orders neither changed our course nor speed. According to lookouts on the bridge, he explained that our navy sub was visible to the merchant and we clearly had the the legal right-of-way.

Sounding the Collision Alarm turned out to be the Lieutenant's strike three. Who could forget our CO launching out of his stateroom in skivvies racing frantically up the ladder to the bridge?
Strike two had occurred on an earlier cruise when, as Communications Officer, this Lt. had managed to lose an incoming crypto message. No need to bore with strike one. His demeanor and credentials were otherwise unsurpassed, and he was known and respected at levels well above squadron. More importantly, our crew liked him, although we could never figure out how he could ever have gotten himself into so much trouble. That is all I will say to people who were never there.

The next day (I had never seen such before or again) there was a large tent pitched in the pier's small parking lot.

One-by-one, a few of us were called by JAG officers to give depositions. It was one of the two saddest things I ever had to do during my military service.
Today I learned I need not have been so sad. According to his 2010 obituary, found minutes ago, the Lt. continued his active duty service (SSBNs) and eventually retired with the rank of Captain USNR. At one point during his civilian engineering career that followed he also appeared prominently in a Discovery Channel documentary. I plan to see that documentary for old times' sake.
------------------------ ON A LIGHTER SIDE
Was always in duty section one (single guys) whenever we arrived in a port. Fondest memory was passing along casino operator's offer of night on the town to my buds after arranging an abbreviated belowdecks tour for him and his young son.

They all showed me respectable pictures of themselves with leggy dancing girls at the casino the next day, and I wondered if their wives would later see these photos. Later, during a visit to my bud's family housing, I found he had actually framed his photo and displayed it on his living room wall! His wife, a lovely mother of 2, was totally cool with it!
Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 01 February, 2011 14:56, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Upon reading your story, I too am flummoxed as to why he did not follow the direct orders(Commandments) of the CO. His orders ALWAYS took precidence.

Secondly, his "SitRep" must have reflected his "faux pas" thus begging the question "How did he progress to the rank he did?

Thridly, we had an Ensign report aboard who was pure "Spit & Polish", sorta like the XO in the movie "Down Periscope". Not a good thing to be on an old "Pig Boat". Before long, the constant harassment regarding un-shined WORK shoes and unkempt WORK uniforms took its toll on the crews morale and attitude. He was talked to by the XO & CO that "Quals" were the more important area and for him to focus on for both himself and the crew. He didn't. Last I knew he was transferred to the USS Missisinuwa, an Oiler out of Naples in the Med. Some folks never learn to adapt to their situations.

At 01 February, 2011 17:54, Blogger Cookie..... said...

BTW, that should have been "FitRep".

At 01 February, 2011 20:11, Blogger Vigilis said...

Cookie, thanks for your colrful commentary. It is how things were at the time, and somewhat unlike the present day.


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