Posts Tagged ‘USS Miami’

Loose ends: Griffon, Miami, and more

And now for something completely different... | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 08 2013

Lots of new information coming to light on a number of topics:

 

First, the submarine MIAMI, having hung in there for so long, will hang no longer.  Late last year, the Navy announced plans to repair and put MIAMI back out to sea, even if, as many supposed, they would have to partially cannibalize her decommissioned sister MEMPHIS, also in Portsmouth’s Shipyard, to do so.  MIAMI’s arsonist, Casey James Fury,, set the fires so he could go home due to anxiety about his girlfriend.  While he set the initial fire in the Crew’s Quarters, it soon spread to the Torpedo Room, Control Center, Auxiliary Machine Room, and Sonar Room.  These rooms are highly complex with thousands of components and interrelated and interconnected systems.  Fixing her would amount to gutting the MIAMI and rebuilding her most central and sensitive rooms.  That being said, MIAMI still had at least ten years left on her nuclear fuel, and until the fire, was in fairly good repair.  Moreover, submarines are under more demand than ever, but new boats cannot be built at the same rate as the older girls are scheduled to be decomissioned.

Cross section of an LA-class submarine (like Miami) with the fire damages highlighted. This may or may not reflect all the damage Miami suffered since some damage might be classified. Still, it’s a decent schematic of where most of her damage likely lies. It’s a large graphic, so click on it if you want to see it full-size.

So back in 2012, shortly after the fire, the Navy weighed the extra costs of repair against the cost of scrapping, against the personnel costs of keeping other submarines at sea longer while MIAMI holds her place in a drydock long after she was supposed to…on and on and on.  The submarine force is a thing of precision, in more ways than one.  Each sub’s crew, schedule, maintenance is all based on the movements of her sisters worldwide, all of which has to dovetail with the surface fleet as well.  MIAMI’s longer tenure in her drydock affected the next submarine scheduled to have maintenance in that drydock, which affected her mission schedule, which may have forced other shipyards to pick up extra jobs, or shuttling extra jobs, also forcing another submarine to pick up MIAMI’s future missions, while screwing up maintenance, crew rotations, and missions all over the place.  It was a nightmare, and each ripple of change had costs.

But submarines form a good portion of the backbone of the Navy, and many believe we need as many submarines as we can safely keep afloat.  All things considered, MIAMI was best put back to sea, and plans went forward.

Then this little thing called the sequestration happened.  MIAMI times ten.

Now the Navy had to reconsider MIAMI’s status in light of less money.  Then, more news came in–cracking.  In a highly controlled environment, like a submarine underwater, the slightest crack in any part of hull, piping, or componenent can end a submarine’s life, and that of her crew.  In 1963, a faulty pipe in the THRESHER likely lead to her sinking and the loss of her crew.  In MIAMI, cracking was now reported in pipes in air, hydraulic and cooling systems which run through the torpedo room and an auxiliary machine room.  More repairs.  More time.  More money.  More potential problems yet to be uncovered.  For every day MIAMI was in drydock, another surface ship or submarine may have to wait longer for necessary repairs and crew rotation.

According to the Navy, it was a hard choice, but now, instead of repairing a submarine, Portsmouth Shipyard will now scrap her, a process that requires fewer workers, so layoff processes are now in consideration.  The money that had been earmarked for her repairs, both this year and next, will be re-allocated to the standing fleet for their maintenance and upgrades.

After a long and respectful career, most of which is still buried under Top Secret classification, the MIAMI will be scrapped where she stands, in the dockyard where she burned.

She becomes the first submarine as well as the first nuclear powered naval vessel to be lost in a naval shipyard.

Godspeed MIAMI, you and your crew served your country well, and we thank you.

 

Following in MIAMI’s footsteps are nine submarines in various stages of construction: form the MINNESOTA, due to be commissioned in less than a month, to the ILLINOIS, WASHINGTON, COLORADO, INDIANA, SOUTH DAKOTA, and DELAWARE….all ordered and named, but whose keels are not yet laid.  Currently, construction takes sixty-five months, start to finish (Construction has likely started on some of these submarines, if not all, but the keel has yet to be laid), and is soon due to constrict further to 60 months.  (Way down from the 84 months a Virginia-class sub used to take!). Still, that’s five years from start to finish. MIAMI’s loss will be felt.

 

As I’m trying to tie up loose ends, I’ll touch on the Griffon’s “wreck”.  After delving 20 feet through Lake bottom, the surface sonar detected and was thought to potentially be the Griffon was…bedrock, so no ship there.  That doesn’t mean she’s not out there, nor that the “bowsprit” is fake.  It may indeed be a part of the Griffon, and the rest of her may be nearby–or may be broken up.  It’s possible, if she really did sink in that general area, that she broke up, either in the process of sinking, or over the intervening centuries.  So she may be found yet.

The “Bowsprit” had to be taken care of.  The archaeologists had two choices: take it or leave it.  Taking it would be problematic, as the State of Michigan claims ownership of the “bowsprit” and issues 30-day “leases” on it for research purposes.  Leaving the legal nightmare that is likely coming up behind, the bowsprit itself will need highly technical conservation to prevent its decomposition, and allow for study.  (See Development’s in the Griffin’s Dig, near the photo of the Mary Rose’s conservation for more information of what conservation will entail) Leaving it, however, was also problematic, as the bowsprit could be stolen by someone or even lost once again under Lake Michigan’s sands.

Not shockingly, they took it.  I hope we’ll hear more about any forthcoming tests or results on it.  Preliminary tests already suggest it’s the right age.  If more tests are done that can conclusively prove it’s from the late 17th century, then whatever that big stick is, it’s most likely part of the Griffon.  A small step forward, is a step forward!

Below, see a half-hour documentary made on-the-ground as it were about the recent Griffon dig and what they found.  Really interesting.  Locally produced.

Shipwrecked: The Search for Le Griffon

That’s all for right now.  But news is still forthcoming: MINNESOTA is due to be commissioned soon, the submarine command has transferred, and underwater archaeology is always changing and revealing new things!

Military Times Article about Miami’s scrapping decision

Article about Miami’s new damage

USS Miami Fire Update-Arson?!

And now for something completely different... | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 24 2012

Well, I expected to hear quite a bit about the Miami weeks ago, but all was quiet for a long time.  Then this morning, that story took an abrupt and strange turn.

My specialty in submarines lies in their development up to WWII.  That’s not to say I’m not interested in Cold War submarines or modern submarines, but it’s SO MUCH EASIER to get direct information about that time period (when most classifications have been dropped) than the modern time period (where they’re nice and healthy and in place–and from the scuttlebutt I’ve heard strongly hinted at, likely to be for many decades, if not, “Ooops!  A match just fell into this box of sensitive documents.  What will we do?”)  But to my knowledge, there’s been no arson aboard a submarine.

Until now.

The story about the vacuum was on its way to being a freak accident in the annals of submarine history, when a second fire happened in the Miami’s dry-dock cradle on June 16.  It was quickly extinguished, but got investigators thinking that this was one fire too many, so started looking deeper into every aspect of the fire.  And at the bottom of it, they found a very anxious young man.

A drydock worker, named Mr. Casey James Fury, has been arrested and arraigned in federal court this morning with two counts of arson. (Since the Miami is federal property, causing damage to her is a federal offense) He was initially questioned about the small fire in the drydock and soon confessed to that, but denied any involvement in the large fire on May 23.  It was only when investigators told him he had failed the lie detector test that the whole story came out.

It seems that Mr. Fury clocked in for his shift at the Miami on 4 pm on May 23 and reported to work as a painter and sandblaster in the forward section of the torpedo room.  This is deep in the belly of the submarine, seen in the diagram below.  According to the Navy paper, that day, Fury was needle gunning in the torpedo room, or blasting paint and/or corrosion using a pneumatic or electric tool called a needle gun, which is used on irregular surfaces.  At 5:30, he claims he suddenly felt really anxious, grabbed his lighter and cigarettes and went one deck up to the Crew’s Quarters (some articles say “stateroom” which normally would imply an officer’s cabin, but this area is not listed among the damaged compartments, so that could be a misstatement).  Spotting a bag of rags and a vacuum on a top rack, set the rags on fire, leaving when the flames were about two inches high.  The vacuum therefore, had nothing to do with the fire, other than proximity.  Fury then went back to his assigned location and waited for the fire alarm to go off.

All so he could get out of work for the day.  Twelve hours later, dozens of firefighters at risk from three states, seven injured, this fire was finally out.

And the vacuum was eventually announced as the culprit in a truly bizarre accident.

But then Fury had another bad day.  in the early evening of June 16, Fury had a text conversation with an ex girlfriend which worried him, and he felt he needed to get off of work.  Ironically, he was assigned to be “safety watch” that day in Miami’s drydock cradle.  From what I can find, the safety watch’s job is just what it sounds like, to keep everyone safe.  Part of that involves making sure flammable materials and sources of fire are kept separate, extinguishing fires if they start, fighting fires or hitting fire alarm for evacuation if necessary, and making sure, at the end of a shift, that there are no embers, or fire sources still active.

According to the investigator interviewed for the Navy Times, after Fury decided he had to leave early, this is what he did:

“Fury explained that he became anxious over the text conversation with his ex-girlfriend and wanted to leave work,” Gauthier said in an affidavit. “At around 6:30, he started pacing in the area of the [Main Ballast Tanks] and eventually walked aft toward a cut out in the hull near the back of the boat. His mind was racing.”

Fury grabbed some alcohol wipes, setting them on wood in the dry dock cradle. He ignited the wipes with a lighter and walked back to his work area, when the fire alarm sounded and the workers left the boat. The flames were put out before they reached 18 inches high.”

Soon, someone reported seeing a drydock employee in company jumpsuit and hard hat in the area of the fire moments before it was noticed, and soon the investigation apparently settled on Fury.  He was interviewed on July 18 about the June 16 fire, and eventually admitted to it, while denying the Mat 23rd fire.  It wasn’t until July 20, just four days ago,when the full story came out.  To test him, the investigators asked him to retrace his steps on May 23rd aboard the USS Pasadena, an identical submarine to Miami in dryddock there in Portsmouth, then again aboard the Miami herself.  However he explained himself, it was apparently enough to arrest Fury on Friday and arraign him yesterday.

Fury has apparently had his share of problems.  On four different medications for Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and Allergies, he claims he initially didn’t come forward because of is fuzzy memory of that time.  To his credit, he did check himself into a mental health facility on June 21, six days after the second fire, and checked himself out two days later on June 23rd.

Now he faces life in prison, and a steep fine, as well as potential restitution.

And the story is still not done.  The fate of the Miami still hangs in the balance.  The official estimate of her repairs, for whatever reason, has not been announced, and the Navy is facing budget cuts this year and next.  How deep those cuts will be still hangs on either passing a budget in Congress or raising the debt ceiling.  The only thing that has been announced regarding her repairs, is that if they’re done, they’ll be done there in Portsmouth.

Sources for this blog post and more information:

Stars and Stripes (military paper) about the Miami fire and how it happened

Navy Paper on the same fire

Daily News article on Miami arson and arsonist

Foster’s Daily Democrat Article about Miami Fire and Fury–some interesting details

USS Miami Fire: The Cause, the Damage, the Future

And now for something completely different... | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 07 2012

One of these day’s I’ll be able to get back to the announcement of a new U-Boat wreck recently discovered (or re-discovered) near Scotland.  I’ve been enjoying researching that story because the U-1206 was one of those boats that we KNOW sank through mechanical failure, and we know how it happened because most of her crew survived (I’ll give you a hint: the seawater that sank the 1206 came in through something most of us sit on to let water OUT)

But some more news came out about the USS Miami this morning, and I wanted to strike while the iron was still hot, as the old saying goes.

And who would have thought a household(ish) appliance would be responsible?

After the Miami was vented, then explored, the Navy was able to assess the damage.  Among those that went through the Miami were Maine’s two senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and Maine’s representative from their First District (which includes Kitterey Maine, where the Portsmouth Shipyard is located) Chellie Pingree.  In addition, Joe Courtney, the representative from Connecticut’s second district (which includes nearby  New London and Groton Connecticut, each major submarine locations, including a submarine-equipped drydock and shipyard) spoke with Navy representatives at the Commissioning of the USS Mississisppi (SSN-782) on June 2. (And WELCOME Mississippi to the Submarine Force!  May you serve long and honorably, together with your crew!–more on her in another post)

First, the damage:  Most accounts agree that the following compartments were damaged:  The Torpedo Room, the Command and Control Center, and some of Crew’s Living Quarters.  Connecticut’s newspaper, The Day, states that crew’s berthing, specifically, was damaged.  Another newscast that specifically cites Sen. Snowe highlighted the “Sonar Room” as one of the highly damaged areas.  Together, that means the damaged sections of Miami are located (roughly) here:

The cross section of a Los-Angeles submarine with the allegedly damaged areas highlighted in red.

Thankfully, there were no weapons on board when this happened and it doesn’t sound like (at least no one’s mentioning it) that the batteries were in any way ruptured, even though they were just below the torpedo room.  In that interview that includes Senators Snowe and Collins, two of the firefighters talked about fighting the blaze–like going into a tin can where the fire’s temperatures are just intense.  Getting in and out of the sub, they said, was like descending into a chimney, but there is no choice.  The worst damage, from all accounts, is in the Control and Command Center and Sonar Compartment, located on the top level.

This is likely Miami's control room, as photographed by the Navy during her 1994 overhaul. According to reports, this room was likely one of the most damaged in the May 23 fire. The only thing I recognize, which hints that this is the control room, is the helm that's just there on the right of the photo. I have to smile when I see the tarps pinned over the dials on the helm's instrument panel. When a similar helm from USS Silversides (II) SSN-679 was delivered to the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, some of those same dials had been removed and replaced by covered wooden corks. Some things are just going to remain classified. Photo source: navsource.org

Miami has been drained and had temporary lights and staging equipment installed, and just late yesterday the cause of the fire was announced:

A Vacuum.

…..?!!!!!

The vacuum in question, whose name, make, model, kind, ect., is still unannounced at this time, was in an unoccupied compartment when the fire started.  Being in an unoccupied compartment probably helped the blaze to spread more quickly than if it had started in an occupied compartment.

But two details that I managed to find, located in the Boston Herald and The Day, added more details to this story.

The Boson Herald’s article states that the vacuum, when the fire started, was UNPLUGGED.  The Day, quoting Rep. Courtney, said that Courtney was told the Miami blaze started after burning embers in the vacuum ignited other refuse in the machine.”  Makes sense to me.  To complicate matters further and give the fire more time to settle in, the first responders initially went to the wrong level in the submarine, before locating the blaze.  It’s possible, though no one knows (or is saying publicly), that the fire alarm which initially alerted the Miami’s crew and workers to the fire, gave the wrong location of the fire, leading to the confusion.

So that’s how it started and got strong enough to require nearly 12 hours of suppression to put it out.

A photo of crew's berthing from Miami's close sister sub, USS Asheville. Modern US nuclear submarines practice "hot bunking" where two crewmembers share a bunk in alternating shifts. That aside, think about trying to fight a fire down here, two decks below the only way out! Likely in the dark! Source: navsource.org

While initial repair estimates varied (Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal quoted initial repairs at $700 million to $1 billion), the current (very) rough estimate the Navy cited is $400 million dollars, plus another $40 million for cost overruns, since Miami, if she’s repaired, will now be in Portsmouth much longer than her original scheduled release of November 2013.  That $40 million will cover rescheduling and reshuffling other repairs, other sub’s schedules, and possibly hiring other contractors to cover parts of various projects this will now cause or inconvenience.

The Navy and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is quick to point out that investigations are still ongoing and that quote may change.  Right now, Miami is having her internal and external hulls examined for more damage.  Any heat warping or damage here will be VERY expensive to fix.  JAG is still conducting its investigation.  NCIS, having concluded that the fire was not arson or any criminal involvement, has closed theirs.  The results of all the various investigations are expected to conclude soon with an announcement sometime at the end of next week (June 15 or so) about the full extent of the damage, Miami’s fate, and the costs of either recycling or repairs.  So we still have to wait for the conclusion of this story.

From Miami's close sister, USS Asheville, a torpedo room photo. Granted, the torpedoes were off the Miami during the fire, but this might give a hint and the close and cramped quarters a submarine really has. And by the time the fire fighters got this far down, they had to descend THREE decks. The battery, by the way, is just beneath this deck. Batteries which don't like heat. And do like to explode in the right conditions. Those are some firefighters! Source: navsource.org

And those firefighters were probably wearing gear similar to this. Again from the Asheville, taken in 2007 during a civilian dive day, the crew demonstrates fire fighting techniques. Each fireman would have to carry his own air, which, according to articles, only held a half-hour's air. You could carry two. (as an aside, it was December when this photo was taken, and you can get the sense how submariners decorate for the holidays on board) Source: navsource.org

The Navy has a general standing policy of fixing her boat and surface ships whenever possible.  It’s often cheaper to do so.   The Miami, with 22 years service under her belt, cost $900 million to build initially, and has already undergone at least two previous overhauls (1994 in Groton and 2002 in Portsmouth, which included extensive modernization).  The modern Virginia-class boats which are now rolling off the ways in Newport News (VA) and Groton (CT) each cost $2.6 billion, hence the reason we don’t build as many submarines as we used to.  I counted three under construction right now, with delivery dates varying from the Minnesota estimated to be commissioned late next year, to the North Dakota whose keel was laid only this past May 11.  Construction will take between 15-20 months, testing a further 5-8.) So, provided Miami’s repairs aren’t too expensive for the potential years the Navy could now get out of her, they’ll likely keep her.  Right now, that’s the scuttlebutt, that she will be kept, but the final decision is, of course, pending on those final results of the various investigations.

There is, as it turns out, one more resource at hand to help Miami: her older sister, MEMPHIS (SSN 691).  Memphis, who is also a Los Angeles submarine like Miami, served from 17 December 1977 to 1 April 2011.  She came to Portsmouth to begin the inactivation process, which includes de-fueling the reactor (and storing or reprocessing the nuclear rods), shutting down the sub and removing any usable equipment, removing the entire reactor COMPARTMENT before making her watertight and sending her off to be recycled.  So, Miami has a (kind of) twin full of spare parts, sitting in a drydock not too far away which could reduce the costs of bringing her back into service. (Both in money and in time)

Taken on her way to be decommissioned, this is the USS Memphis, whose parts may go back into service aboard the Miami. Source: navsource.org

That’s where the Miami stands for now.  Her future seems to be gleaming again, but the final decision is still coming.  Incidentally, while researching this post, I did some digging into what Miami has been up to for the last 22 years.  It’s always difficult (if not downright impossible) to figure out what and where a submarine is at any given time, but what I did find about her career is interesting.  More on that later.  And the U-1206.  And the mini Japanese submarine recently discovered outside SYDNEY harbor, Australia.  And the USS Mississippi…

 

For more information (besides the links in the article)

http://rt.com/usa/news/miami-nuclear-sub-blaze-254/  (This article also references a similar fire on Dec 29 2011 aboard the YEKATERINBERG in Russia.  YEKATERINBERG is being repaired and put back into service.)

http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/pnsy-officials-vacuum-cleaner-caused-uss-miami-fire 


 

USS Miami Fire: What, Where, What Now?

And now for something completely different... | Posted by Rebekah
May 30 2012

Health issues and client work (I do graphic arts and writing in addition to the historical research for this blog…besides all the regular stuff you do with and for your family!) have bogged me down lately, but I do pay attention to some of the search terms that bring people here, and I want to give my readers what they want (or stories they may never find otherwise!) so with a <gasp> moment today, here we go…

There have been submarines in the news a lot lately…from the wreck of the WWII Japanese midget submarine recently discovered off Sydney Australia, to the recently discovered U-1206, to US First Lady Michelle Obama sponsoring the new submarine USS Illinois (joining ranks with former First ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton)…the list goes on and on.

It’s unusual to see this many submarines all at once, but interesting.

As I’ve reached a breathing space in my most recent project for a museum client, I decided to tackle the news story that I noticed a lot of searches for lately: The fire aboard the Miami last week.

Miami, first of all, is a Los-Angeles class submarine which entered service in 1990.  The Los Angeles class boats are the third largest class of submarines in the Navy (second only to the WWII-era Balao and Gato classes, respectively) and have been serving since 1976.  If the Navy continues in their policies, it is unlikely that any Los-Angeles class submarine will be opened for public display as a museum ship, so what we know about their layout relies on information the Navy releases.

Like all nuclear submarines, Miami occasionally has to go into drydock, not only for the normal repairs for regular wear-and-tear that the sea puts on any ocean vessel, but also possibly to overhaul/replace the nuclear plant or fuel rods.  A lot of what exactly happens is, obviously, top secret and kept vague, but what has been released is that Miami entered drydock at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (Kittery, Maine) for a scheduled 20-month overhaul on March 1, 2012.  Once secure, her nuclear plant was shut down, though her nuclear fuel rods were left on board.   From what I understand from nuc sub vets, if a sub is undergoing significant overhauls or repairs, shutting down the nuclear plant seems to be a standard step.    All weapons, from torpedoes and missiles down to likely the small arms, were also removed.

A submarine is a much more cramped and limited space to work and live in than a surface ship, and when you combine that with welders, braziers, grinders, electricity and other sources of sparks and flame, it can get…interesting.  To that end, whenever there is a possibility of fire, there is a fire watch on duty.  His job is to make sure every safety precaution is taken to keep fire from breaking out and, if it does, keep it from spreading.

The fire on Miami started around 5:45 pm on May 23, 2012, and burned for 12 hours, 5 minutes.  From all accounts, it was a fierce blaze.  These quotes jumped out at me from the accounts I’ve been reading:

“There was stuff burning that I didn’t even know could burn on a submarine,” John Dwire Jr., one of the firefighters, said Tuesday.

Deep inside the hull, Dwire said, he had to cut through the burning wires and cables overhead and then duck or crawl just to get to the fire in the forward section of the Groton-based attack submarine.

“Submariners had their hands full with Miami Blaze” by Jennifer McDermott, the Connecticut Day, May 30, 2012

“It’s like going into a chimney,” said Portsmouth Naval Shipyard firefighter David Funk, who described insulation and wiring fueling a smoky fire that became hot enough for aluminum to burst into flames.

Firefighters offer harrowing account of Maine sub blaze as investigators work to assess damage”  The Washington Post, May 25 2012

Smoke billows from the Miami through the night as the crews worked. Due to the heat, toxic fumes, and oxygen problems, firefighters had to work in shifts, often lasting less than an hour.

In total, seven people were injured between the fire and the fighting, but all, thankfully, have  already been released from medical care.

How or what caused the fire on Miami has not been disclosed, and a thorough investigation is underway about it.  The problem with studying the Sub Force is, for security reasons, we (the public) might never be told the details of all that happened.  Still, what has been released is the fire was located in the command and control and living quarters of the Miami, which puts the fire about here:

A cross section of a Los-Angeles submarine with the possible burned sections (according to description) highlighted.

Apparently, once the firefighters left the submarine, the damaged sections of the boat were sealed, preventing a small stray spark from reigniting another fire.  It’s only been recently that the Miami was opened, vented, and inspected.

From what I’ve been able to find out, the investigation will now (likely) center on some the following questions:

1.) What started the fire and how did it spread?

2.) Were all fire precaution procedures followed?

3.) Where was the fire watch when this went on?

4.) Did everyone follow procedures to limit human injury and casualty and damage to the Miami?

5.) Was this preventable based on current safety procedures (and if so, who carries the blame?)

6.) If this was due to a unique or unforeseen set of circumstances, will more or better fire procedures prevent this from happening again?

There are likely more questions, but those are the ones that seem to pop up in my reading.   On the line could be the careers of the shipyard’s CO (if he did not enforce proper procedures that could have prevented or lessened the damage to Miami), the CO of the Miami (same reason on board his boat) the Fire Watch on duty (if he had fallen asleep or somehow been absent from or derelict in his duty, for example), anyone else involved,  and the future of the Miami herself.

The investigation is currently estimated to be complete in 2-3 weeks.

Miami was scheduled to be practically torn apart and reassembled over the next 18 months, so her future will be partially dependent on what the fire DID.  There are rumors (gotta love scuttlebutt) that the portion of the boat that was damaged was already pretty well gutted, so that’s a point in her favor.  Officially, over 3 million gallons of water were used in dousing the blaze, and some compartments were nearly flooded, so there’s bound to be some water damage as well as fire.  If the heat of the fire damaged her frame or structure in some way that would make her susceptible to underwater weakness, or something else that would seriously compromise the Miami without extensive repairs, the Navy may choose to scrap her instead, despite her relatively young 22 years.  If the damage would cause only a few more months and millions, and the forecasted use of the Miami over the next twenty years outweighs having one less US submarine in the oceans, they may decide to add the fire repairs to the roster and keep moving forward.

How these decisions are made are complex and multi-faceted.  When the San Francisco ran into an underwater mountain in 2005 and practically removed her bow up to the forward battery (one of the few times you can clearly see the sonar array in a submarine’s bow), one of the factors that saved her from being scrapped was the fact that she had just recently come out of an overhaul, including a complete refueling.  It was more cost-effective, from the Navy’s point of view, to keep the San Francisco with her new fuel rods and updated technology, and replace San Fran’s bow with the bow of her soon-to-be-retired sister USS Honolulu.

The exposed bow of the San Francisco after her collision. The ruined sphere that looks like it's made small tiles is the sonar dome. Source: NavSource

 

A fire that ended a submarine’s career early was the fire on the USS Bonefish in 24 April 1988.  While at sea, a leak caused a battery explosion and fire.  The fire was so intense that it reached 1200 degrees and melted the crew’s shoe soles on the deck above the battery compartment.  Three men died and the Bonefish was abandoned at sea.  The remaining 89 submariners were rescued by helicopters from two nearby aircraft carriers and a whaleboat.  The damage, once Bonefish was towed into drydock and examined, was too severe to fix, and she was scrapped.

USS Bonefish fire at sea. The smoke (and toxic fumes) from the fire are billowing out one of the few vents available to it. The crew is gathering on deck preparing to abandon ship. The helicopter is from a naval aircraft carrier that happened to be nearby, and the lifeboat is likely from the whaleboat that assisted with rescue.

 

So what happens to the Miami the next few weeks and months will depend on the findings of the investigation.  Whatever is announced to the public, it’s likely that if she’s saved, the damage was minimal, or minimal enough to warrant her return to the force.

We can all hope for the best, and be thankful that whatever happens, if there is a casualty, it’ll be Miami, none of her crew.

 

 

For more information:

http://bubbleheads.blogspot.com/2012/05/fire-on-uss-miami.html  (Written by a former submariner so he knows what he’s talking about)

http://www.theday.com/article/20120530/NWS09/305309928/10

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120529/OPINION01/705299999  (Features some of the repercussions that the Portsmouth Yard could face due to the fire.)

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20120527-NEWS-205270338  This article features more about the fire watch and how the procedures that are normally followed in drydock cases.

Welcome Back Virginia!

And now for something completely different... | Posted by Rebekah
Apr 14 2010

As we all get ready for the inevitable tax day tomorrow, (I’m so proud of myself, mine are already done!…but then again, I had someone else do them…;)  ) on the submarine front, there is, at least, bright news.

The USS Virginia, in commission since 2004 has returned to her home port of Groton Connecticut, having completed her first six-month tour.  She left the US on October 15 last year, and made port calls in Spain, Greece, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.

USS Virginia at sea

Now she is no longer a new boat, but rather, a workhorse of Submarine Squadron 4, a part of Submarine Group 2, stationed on America’s  Northeast Coast.

So what is Submarine Group 2?   It is the group of submarines based out of Groton Connecticut, and consists of five squadrons:  Squadrons 2, 4, 6, 8, and development squadron 12.  Here’s who’s in that group:

SUBMARINE GROUP 2

PCU Missouri (SSN 780)  (PCU means Pre-Commissioned Unit.  Once commissioned, it will change to “USS”)
PCU California (SSN 781)

Submarine Squadron 2

USS Dallas (SSN 700)
USS Philadelphia (SSN 690)
USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720)
USS Providence (SSN 719)
USS Springfield (SSN 761)

Submarine Squadron 4


USS Miami (SSN 755)
USS Hartford (SSN 768)
USS Virginia (SSN 774) (There’s the new girl)
USS North Carolina (SSN 777)
USS New Hampshire (SSN 778)

Submarine Squadron 6


USS Albany (SSN 753)
USS Norfolk (SSN 714)
USS Scranton (SSN 756)
USS Montpelier (SSN 765)

Submarine Squadron 8


USS Boise (SSN 764)
USS Newport News (SSN 750)
USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723)

Submarine Development Squadron 12


USS Annapolis (SSN 760)
USS Alexandria (SSN 757)
USS Memphis (SSN 691)
USS San Juan (SSN 751)
USS Toledo (SSN 769)

The USS New Mexico is also a part of Submarine Group 2, but I was unable to find out what Squadron she’s been assigned to.

For more fun, believe it or not, Submarine Group 2 has a Facebook Page and Twitter Feed.