Monday, January 08, 2007

U.S. Sub and Japanese Tanker Collide

It would seem that this has happened before, although (thankfully) this time, no one was injured, per the AP via Yahoo.

Apparently, while in the Arabian sea, just outside of the Straights of Hormuz, the USS Newport News SSN-750, collided bow to stern with a Japanese oil tanker.

Normally, I wouldn't comment on something like this right now, what with the incident just happening, and with the traffic in that area of the world, I am sure that it is just a matter of time before a submarine would collide with a surface ship in such a narrow passage, especially if the sub was at PD and there were many contacts out there. I do remember being in the section tracking party simulators while training for missions, with what seemed like hundereds of contacts in the "shipping lanes" that we just had to transit at PD...keeping everything in line was a full time job for the Sonar girls, the OOD, the JOOD, the FTs, the EM, and yours truly, the best plotter on the SSN-711. I truly hope for the best for this crew, but I am pretty sure that the CO, XO, Nav, and possibly the entire ships control party will feel the heat for this incident (which is the way of the Navy), even if it isn't their fault at all (as in the tanker wasn't following the rules of the road).

On the other hand, this day (Jan 8th, for those of you who are too lazy to look at the date) has special meaning for us current and, in my case, former San Francisco sailors. This was the day when, 2 years ago, all of our lives changed by another collision, not into another ship at low velocity with no damage or injuries, but into a mountian, at depth, full speed, horrible damage and many casualties. After talking to some of the guys that are still on the boat, they are remembering it like I am, specifically, by drinking. Hey, it is what we do.

We have been shown, in the last two weeks, that being a submariner can be dangerous, even in the best of times. With the incident on the MSP, and now this one (no injuries, thank GOD), it should serve as a reminder to all submariners, past, present and future, that our job was never to be taken lightly, and that the purpose of qualifying in Submarines was to insure that the best people were onboard, instead of allowing just anyone to run the (potentially) most dangerous machines on the planet (dangerous to the operators, as well as any tin pot dictator that is out there).

To all of you submariners, especially all of my buddies that went through that horrible day two years ago with me, here is to you, a toast to the best men in the world.

And another drink, for Cooter, who touched all of our hearts on the San Fran, whom we will never, ever forget, for as long as we live.