Archive for the 'Submarines' Category
On the morning of 25 August 1949, during a training cruise north of the Arctic Circle, the submarine Cochino (SS-345), in company with Tusk (SS-426), attempted to submerge to snorkel depth in the Barents Sea, but the crashing waves played havoc with these efforts. At 1048, a muffled thud rocked Cochino and news of a fire in the after battery compartment quickly passed through the boat. A second explosion soon followed and CDR Rafael Benitez, the commanding officer, ordered all of the crew not on watch or fighting fires topside. During this orderly evacuation, however, Seaman J. E. Morgan fell overboard. The 48° water and the swells created by the 20 to 25 mph winds rapidly exhausted the sailor, so Chief Torpedoman’s Mate Hubert H. Rauch dove into the chilly sea to keep him afloat before Culinary Specialist Clarence Balthrop pulled him to safety.
At 1123, another explosion badly burned LCDR Richard M. Wright, the executive officer, and left him temporarily in a state of shock, as he moved to sever the connection between the after and forward batteries on board Cochino to stem the generation of dangerous hydrogen gas. Thanks in part to a safety line run by LT (j.g.) Charles Cushman, Jr., by 1208, 60 men huddled, cold and wet, on the bridge and deck of the submarine. Almost all of them had not had time to dress properly for the stormy weather. It was no better for those who remained below, as men began to pass out from the gas and toxic smoke. At 1230, Tusk attempted to come alongside, but the swells and wind made this nearly impossible, but she did manage to send needed medical supplies to Cochino by raft.
CDR Benitez decided that he needed get word of the dire conditions on board to Tusk and the Commander, Submarine Development Group Two. Aware of the perils that awaited him, ENS John Shelton agreed to make the attempt as did a civilian engineer on board, Mr. Robert Philo. After receiving confirmation of Philo’s desire to make the journey, CDR Benitez ordered the men lowered into the angry sea, but their raft immediately overturned. Sailors from Tusk pulled Shelton and Philo alongside as they desperately clung to the raft, but the waves that swept across the submarine prevented them being brought on board. Seaman Norman Walker jumped into water to help both men onto Tusk, but not before the waves slammed Philo’s head against the hull. By this time, fifteen men from that submarine stood on the deck handling lines and attempting to resuscitate Philo, when an unusually large wave broke one of the lifelines and swept eleven members of the Tusk crew and the still unconscious Philo overboard. In addition to Philo, the sea claimed the lives of six of Tusk’s crew including Electrician’s Mate John Guttermuth whose inflatable life jacket had burst upon hitting the water which left only his boots inflated as he attempted to save the unconscious Fireman Robert F. Brunner, Jr. He fought desperately to keep his head above water, but eventually drowned in the frigid sea with his boots still visible above the water. A kinder fate awaited LT (j.g.) Philip Pennington when LCDR George Cook dove over the side to pluck him from the unruly waves. Of two life rafts thrown to those who been swept overboard, one was recovered empty, but the other contained Torpedoman’s Mate Raymond Reardon who suffered gravely from exposure to the elements. Engineman Henry McFarland entered the water but could not reach the raft then Seaman Raymond Shugar overcame the raging waters long enough to attach a line to Reardon who was subsequently rescued.
By 1800, Cochino had regained power and signaled Tusk that she could make ten knots but had no steering. It appeared the crippled boat might make it back to Norway. However, at 2306 she suffered a fatal blow in the form of yet another battery explosion. Tusk loosed her ready torpedoes then transferred the 76 officers and men from the stricken submarine. CDR Benitez, the last to leave Cochino, departed only minutes before the boat slipped beneath the waves. These selfless acts of heroism provide an example of the dedication and comraderie that animates our submariners. Only their bravery and professionalism kept the tragic toll from being far higher.
Last week we talked about getting started on researching a family member who served in the US Navy. This week we would like to take a minute to talk about researching ships. A great starting point is the Naval History and Heritage Command Frequently Asked Questions on Ship’s History and Record Logs. This will provide you with very informative links on Deck Logs and the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships among other resources. Here in the Navy Department Library we have numerous books on ships, plus a unique collection available on individual ships called the ZC Files.
Our ZC files are an incredible resource when it comes to researching ships. The ZC series comprises material relating predominantly to 19th century ships of the US Navy. Data on a few Revolutionary, Confederate, and private ships also are found, as are some files on 20th century ships. Examples of the types of materials in individual files include: (1) brief ship histories; (2) movement reports; (3) newspaper and magazine articles; (4) official Office of Naval Records and Library, and Naval History Division correspondence relating to the history of the ship. Twentieth century material in this collection includes items such as commissioning brochures and welcome aboard pamphlets.
Lance M. Bacon of the Navy Times writes, “The fast-attack submarine Philadelphia will be decommissioned Friday, the 33rd anniversary of its commissioning. The third in the Los Angeles class and the sixth ship to bear the name, Philadelphia finished strong. The sub completed its 16th and final deployment Feb. 3 when it returned to Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn.”
Following her commissioning on March 1, 1939, the submarine SQUALUS (SS-192) began a series of test dives out of Portsmouth Navy Yard on 12 May. After successfully completing 18, SQUALUS made final preparations for her fateful dive near the Isles of Shoals at 0835 on the morning of the 23rd. The commanding officer of SQUALUS, Lieutenant Oliver F. Naquin, initially thought the dive, as he later recalled, was “going to be a beauty”. However, nearly simultaneous reports of flooding from both engine rooms initiated a relentless descent to the bottom that the best efforts of the crew could not arrest. As the men worked to close watertight doors and ventilation flappers, the submarine compartment lights went out soon followed by the emergency lighting. Hand lanterns soon provided the only illumination available to the men trapped on the ocean floor. At 0845, Lieutenant Naquin ordered that the first of a series of red smoke rockets be fired and that the torpedo room marker buoy be released.
When the stricken submarine failed to provide a surfacing report, Rear Admiral Cyrus W. Cole, Commandant of Portsmouth Navy Yard, directed her sister ship SCULPIN (SS-191), due to set sail from Portsmouth for Newport at 1130, to search for the missing boat. At 1241, SCULPIN sighted red smoke and soon picked up the forward marker buoy by which she briefly communicated with SQUALUS by telephone until the buoy cable snapped. At 0425 the next morning, the submarine rescue ship FALCON (ASR-2) reached the scene and began preparations for rescue operations. Minutes before, Commander Allan R. McCann, USN, and 12 divers from the Experimental Diving Unit arrived in the area. The Officer in Charge of Experimental Diving at the Washington Navy Yard, Lieutenant Commander Charles B. Momsen, USN, would also be instrumental in the rescue of the crew and the salvage of SQUALUS. The rescue chamber that McCann and Momsen had helped develop for the Navy was about to take center stage.
The tragic loss of life that resulted from the sinking of the submarine S-4 (SS-109) in December 1927, spurred the Navy to look for technology capable of retrieving trapped submariners. Momsen conceived of a rescue chamber and continued to refine this idea in reaction to testing and experimentation until he was assigned the task of developing an individual breathing apparatus, nicknamed the “Momsen Lung”. From July 1929 to July 1931, McCann, during his tenure at the Bureau of Construction and Repair, further developed the escape apparatus that would be known as the McCann Rescue Chamber. While in command of the Experimental Diving Unit at the Navy Yard, Momsen also proposed a helium and oxygen mixture that would be used by the divers involved in the SQUALUS operation. The work of both men prior to and during the rescue and salvage proved crucial.
By 1212 on the 24th, the rescue chamber made contact with SQUALUS and 28 minutes later had been securely attached to the submarine. After providing provisions to the crew of SQUALUS, the rescue chamber took on seven survivors who reached the surface at 1342. The rescue chamber continued to operate as designed as it evacuated nine more men from SQUALUS in each of her next two trips. However, during the fourth trip to gather up the last eight survivors, including Lieutenant Naquin, the downhaul wire jammed 150 feet from the surface. Divers, at great personal risk, entered the dark and frigid waters to cut the downhaul wire. The chamber admitted water ballast to achieve negative buoyancy and it sank to the bottom before the crew of the FALCON hauled the rescue chamber to the surface by hand. The last survivors from SQUALUS left the chamber at 0025 on the 25th after a harrowing ascent of nearly four hours. A final, unsuccessful, attempt was made to find survivors beyond the 33 who had already been saved, but all the aft compartments had been completely flooded. In all, one officer, 23 sailors and two civilians had perished.
In September 1939, in a considerable technological feat, the Navy raised SQUALUS. The submarine was recommissioned as SAILFISH (SS-192) on May 15, 1940 and earned nine battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation during World War II service.
A neat little .pdf file from our Archives…
From David F. Winkler
Naval Historical Foundation
For the ninth time since the centennial of the U.S. submarine force in 2000, the Naval Submarine League and the Naval Historical Foundation teamed to organize an evening seminar at the U.S. Navy Memorial last April 15th that focused on an aspect of undersea warfare. With the sponsorship of Northrop Grumman Marine Systems, this year’s seminar was entitled: “Ocean Surveillance During the Cold War: Sensing, Fusion, Exploitation.”
What made this annual submarine history seminar uniqueWAS that the three presenters had backgrounds other than the submarine force. Following introductory remarks by Naval Historical Foundation President Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn and former Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Captain William H.J. Manthorpe, Rear Admiral Thomas Brooks provided the audience with an overview of the Ocean Surveillance Information System (OSIS).
A former Director of Naval Intelligence, Brooks depended on multiple sensors to keep track OF Soviet naval forces. He STATED that the need for a systematic approach became apparent in the 1960s as the Soviet Navy transitioned from a coastal defense force to a blue water navy. As the Soviet ability to launch missiles tipped with nuclear warheads from submarines evolved during that decade, the need to detect, process, and disseminate reports to commanders accelerated.
It quickly became apparent that flagships of that time period did not have the capacity to assimilate the data. To support the Sixth Fleet, the Navy established Fleet Oceanographic Surveillance Intelligence Facility Rota in the late 1960s. The Navy later established four other facilities/centers to support other fleet commanders and these five OSIS nodes fed the National Oceanographic Surveillance Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland.