Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Submarine QOTW (Out of Uniform / No Hull Number): 11 FEB 2014

Out of Uniform

Vigilis is only aware of two uniformed, undercover types aboard one of his assigned submarines. The first was an unqualified sonarman third who always wore work uniforms stenciled with a name other than his own.  He had bold explanations for all of his unorthodox behaviors: why his uniform name was discrepant;  why he needed to borrow money; why he was not qualified, which deployed SSBN sailor's wife he was living with until its patrol ended, why he preferred hanging out with younger crew members, etc.  He often threw batchelor parties attended by the younger enlisteds. Eventually, some of them missed muster due to being processed out for illicit drugs. Shortly before the PO3 had been transferred to a SOSUS station in California. 

The second undercover guy was an interim CO while we were pierside.  In the few weeks he was assigned, he managed one-on-ones that would have seemed more like chance encounters than interviews had he not been surprisingly familiar with our personnel files. Lets just say he might have been working with another agency to update background checks on people with unusual clearances.

None of this is particularly unusual for submariners who in Vigilis's time were rarely told the truth about upcoming port visits and who learned that spooks do not parade around in their actual dress uniforms in certain liberty ports. Certain ratings badges could expose our sailors to undesired attention of foreign intelligence agents. The precaution is merely an extension of the practice submarines regularly use for stealth purposes like painting out their hull numbers to thwart foreign agents and combatants.  Surface vessels and air units mostly display such identifiers.

Questions of the Week

1.  The arctic passage of USS Nautilus (SSN-571), an historic first, was cloaked in mission secrecy.
Nautilus first left Seattle for a falsely announced destination of "the equator", but that first arctic attempt was aborted. Prior to her second attempt, Nautilus's navigator posed as a non-submariner (out of uniform) aboard an anti-submarine aircraft. What did he falsely tell the ASW aircraft's crew his purpose would be?  
2. Who said, "Some day, they will know about his true mission."

3. Had Nautilus painted out the numerals 571 for the classified mission Operation Sunshine II?

4. Nautilus was extolled as capable of cruising 20,000 leagues on one charge of its nuclear fuel.  What is the equivalent of 20,000 leagues in nautical miles?

5. If Nautilus's tabletop jukebox made the arctic voyage, who was the jukebox's manufacturer?   

6. What Navy medal was awarded to Nautilus and all hands for the first time during a time of peace?

7.  What unusual (for the day) type of navigation equipment had been carried aboard Nautilus, which had been constructed with and still has a wood topside deck like the WW2 vintage subs had?

Answers:  Monday, 17 FEB 2014.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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At 19 February, 2014 21:56, Blogger Pete said...

Hi Vigilis

These "undercover guys" sound a worry.

Perhaps they were primarily working for naval security but they may simultaneously be loners who subsequently work for Russian interests - a la Snowden or the Walkers.




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