Mar 21

Soviet Sub Collides with USS Kitty Hawk, 21 March 1984

Monday, March 21, 2011 12:01 AM


USS Kitty Hawk’s (CV 63) fourteenth deployment in early 1984 found her at the center of a great deal of activity. During the joint United States/Republic of Korea Exercise Team Spirit 84-1, Kitty Hawk’s Battle Group Bravo encountered numerous Soviet forces during the eight-day event. Reconnaissance aircraft overflew the group 43 times while six Soviet surface units and one submarine made an appearance.

It was the submarine, however, that had a lasting impact on the ship and its cruise. At 2207 on 21 March the submarine surfaced and collided with the carrier. The captain and starboard lookout both saw the silhouette of a sub without navigation lights moving away from the ship. Two SH-3H helicopters inspected the sub without noting any apparent damage, but a large piece of the submarine’s screw had broken off in Kitty Hawk’s hull.

The submarine was believed to be a Victor-I class attack boat, tentatively identified as K-314 (610). During the exercise it had been tracked and “killed” more than fifteen times after it was spotted on the surface fifty miles in front of the battle group.

The collision occurred despite the Incidents at Sea agreement that SECNAV John Warner and Admiral Sergei Gorshkov had signed in 1972. This agreement, designed to uphold the United States’ long cherished belief in freedom of the seas and prevent dangerous and hostile collisions at sea, was ignored in this instance. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James Watkins reflected, “The reason behind the Soviet submarine captain’s slip in judgment is the only mystery here. He showed uncharacteristically poor seamanship in not staying clear of Kitty Hawk. That should cause concern in Moscow.”

  • Thomas Mueller

    I believe the time given for this collision of 2207 is incorrect. The reason being, I was on board the USS Long Beach CGN-9, which was following closely behind the Kitty Hawk when this incident occured. I also remember getting relieved from the Aft Engine Room Supervisor watch sometime before 2am, and this happened shortly after crawling into my rack, so I know it was probably after 2 am. Thanks.

  • Gary Campbell

    Actually I was on the USS Kitty Hawk. I was about to climb on to one of our airplanes to perform maintenance. It was just a few minutes after 22:00. I was an AQ, I remember thinking who the $#[email protected] was shaking this airplane…….then it hit me you don’t shake and F-14 (not just a shimmy), even more so when it was chained down. About that time a AME (don’t remember his name – but he had a beard and moustache – the old Navy) came out from underneath…..who the #[email protected]# is shaking the airplane……

    Nothing was announced for a couple hours, just reports if anyone had seen anything to report to the intelligence area.

    I remember seeing some of the VF-2 pilots and RIO’s in the Catwalk discussing what it might have been. A LT. Allen (RIO) said “….maybe it was a whale or a Russian sub.” I thought he was so stupid……He was right! I appoligize.

  • Marty Russell

    I also was on the USS Kitty Hawk, the night on the collision. I was on the day shift in AIMD Hydraulic Shop. I was in my rack about 2200. Our berthing was forward port of the mess hall. I remember the ship really rockn rollin!! That captain come over the 1MC asking if anyone had seen or knew what we hit, to report to the bridge!! When I found out we all thought sweet long time in Subic, But no not one minute more party time!!!

  • Larry J McNair

    I remember that night well. I was reading a book in my rack. I was in OP division and our berthing was all the way foward on the 03 level. My first thought was, “was that a hanger bay door falling over”? There were 3 loud “bangs”. About a half hour later, someone made an announcement on the 1mc for Repair Division to report to DC Central. Sorry there shipmate on the Long Beach, it wasn’t 2 in the morning. My whole division will back me up on this one.

  • EM 2 Joseph Schram

    I was on the Uss Longbeach CGN-9, Attached to the E-Div(Non-Nucs)and still remember it well. The Uss KittyHawk and the Uss Longbeach were involved in a Deceptive Lighting Exercise because of the russian activity the Uss Longbeach would assumed the running light configuration of the Uss KittyHawk and the Uss Kitty Hawk would go Darken Ship and sail away from the Uss Longbeach on 2 screws for an extended period and then the Uss Kitty Hawk would assume the running light configuration of the Uss Longbeach. It was when the Uss Kitty Hawk was at Darken Ship and turning away from the course that the Uss Long Beach and Uss Kitty Hawk was on when the collision occured. I believe the Russian sub took the baite and was following the ploy and it was around 10:00 pm. We immediatly went back to normal running light status and believed our Captain offered assistance to the sub and was denied and Bravo Group 1 high tailed it out of the area as fast as we could inorder to not escalate the incident any more than it was. I remember Aft Steering well that was my GQ Station as it’s Electrician. We always would do deceptive lighting exercises on my prior ship,Uss Midway, too it was a way to mess with the russians trying to monitor the Ship’s movements at night. But despite serving Honorable and being put in harms way between 1980-85 I do not rate veteran’s preferense status because they have not awarded me the Korean Defense Service Medal that I earned for being deployed on the Korean Team Spirits. I did 3 team spirits that I remember 1982,83 and 84.

  • Michael Kinkade

    I was an aircrewman with HS- 2 on Alert 30 that night. I was in one of the helicopters launched. I remember feeling the bump when we hit but I thought my fellow crewman was joking with me when he said we needed to launch because we just hit a Russian sub. I remember it being about 2200 in very rough seas.

  • Matt Silva

    It was arouns 2200 hours. I too was in HS-2 working the deck when we got the call to launch Mr. Kinkade’s alert 30 H-3. I rememvber the Air Boss chewing AN Rogers a new ass for broadcasting over and over again with the mouse “I think we hit a sub sir” We knew he was there. Hey Kinkade, if you’re reading this, hope all is well shipmate.
    AMS2 Silva (Fish head)

  • David H.Buskey

    I was on board and just hit my rack wondering why the ship moved so violently. The next morning every one was talking about what had happend. At that time I was a Machinst Mate – working in G – 2 Div. Bomb Elevator Maintenance.

  • Thomas Boatman

    EM2 Schram has told this story as well as it can be told. I was also on the USS Long Beach. We did remain in the area to offer assistance until the last minute when we could see the Russian cruisers on the horizon. Hey Schram, remember the captain coming on the 1MC and telling us what the Russian submariners were checking their pants for?

  • V Ponce

    SN Ponce in 3rd division set up the deceptive lighting request according to bm1 brody request. I remember that evening very well

  • Lee “Hook” Parshook, AC2, OC Div

    I was an Air Traffic Controller on the Hawk when this happened. Flight Ops were just cancelled by Group Bravo due to bad weather. A general recall was made to all airborne aircraft. Right as the recall was broadcast, the ASW Helo reported a MAD contact on the sub. It was 22 miles ahead of us and to our starboard. The helo was told to return. The pilot requested that Bravo be asked to allow this particular crew to prosecute a live target, as they haven’t had the chance yet with the Victor III. Permission nwas denied and the SH-3 returned to the Hawk.

    About two hours later (sometime after 2200), we were watching a movie in AirOps (Rocky III) and he just landed a punch as the ship shook like hell. (AirOps/CATCC was 02-39-0C, right next to CIC.) Someone asked, “What the hell was that?”
    “Maybe it was a wave” said one controller. “Maybe it was a whale” said another. “Maybe we just hit that Soviet sub!” said a third and we all laughed out loud.

    About 2 minutes later, CDR Davis (CIC Officer) came running in to AirOps and asked, “Who’s on watch here?”

    “I am, Commander” I replied.

    “Get two helos in the air now- both alert helos. One sub killer and one rescue” he ordered.

    At this time no one had said anything to us whatsoever about the collision. You could tell that he had just woken up and only had his khaki trousers and a tshirt on- I thought he was waking up from a bad dream.

    “Commander, with all due respect, can I inquire as to why you want the helos launched? HS-3 Duty Officer is sure going to want to know” I said.

    His reply: “We just hit that Soviet sub- is that good enough for you?

    “Two helos coming up, Commander!” was my reply.

    True story. An S-3 was launched at first light and took pics of the sub as it was being shadowed by one of our destroyers or frigates. Within an hour after the S-3 trapped (landed), every work center on the ship had a pic of the Victor III on the surface. The vertical stabilizer above the screw was bent, and there was a scrape mark aft of the sail that wrapped around the sub’s hull (which means they went inverted during that ride down our starboard side).

    Pretty memorable event.

  • Paul Sanford

    I was a STG2, Surface Sonar Tech. on the USS Berkeley DDG-15. The Berkeley was on plane guard which means that we were 1000 yards behind the Kitty Hawk. In case a plane or person went into the water. We had detected the Victor (how did we know it was a Victor, every vessel has a unique sound) We notified Combat Control which relayed the info the Alpha X-Ray, the designation for the Senior Officer in the Battle Group. Sound acts differently in water based on the temp of the water. In certain conditions a thermal layer can be for example 20 feet thick. Sound bounces off of thermal layers. My guess is that the Victor did not “see” hear the Kitty Hawk until it was to late to avoid it. It was late at night but we went out on deck and could see the blue light of a welding. One of the funniest things was when we returned to Subic Bay, some of the people in Olongapo were selling T-Shirts. U.S. 1 – Soviets 0. I wish I had purchased one. The Long Beach was out there with us. The Long Beach made alot of noise and had a huge radar signature. The only person I knew on the Long Beach was the Medical Officer Richard Simmons.

  • Alan Fishell

    I was in the Kitty Hawks battle group, USS Albert David FF-1050 on throttle watch that night.

  • Skid Hendrickson

    I was stationed aboard the Kitty at this time with VF-2.
    I recall hitting the rack right before the Chaplains evening prayer and then TAPS was blown. Shortly after ward the skipper came aboard the 1MC and announced we had hit a Russian sub so I beleive the time stated was correct. I beleive we were also in rough seas with ice and sleet blowing. i do remember it was during Operation Team Spirit 84. Fun times.

  • Doug Simerly

    I was on board that night,in forward ic with all the 1 mc speakers.
    The aft watch said “something big and black just popped up behind us”
    He sounded really concerned(mild misrepresentation).
    The slam to our ship was enough to start my chair rolling into the gyro. I had just taken all the readings and we put together pretty quickly that we were not in friendly water.(We had no idea about all the info the guys from the Long Beach,or our air wings had)
    Before we could find out what happened, our Marine det. came flying down the ladders and confiscated my gyro logs, and we were told not to write any corr.home for a while!
    We found out the next morning what happened. That commie can was basically keel hauled,and it must have killed most of them
    In reality, we felt bad for the guys who were doing for their country,what we were doing for ours, in my shop anyway.
    I was on watch,and I am fairly certain it was app.2200.

  • EW3 Grimes

    I was actually the EW on watch that night as we were getting ready to get in station for plane guard behind USS Kitty Hawk. I was on watch aboard the U.S.S. Harold E. Holt FF-1074 in C.I.C and just remembered reporting to my T.A.O. and radioing to the Kitty Hawk EWO of my interception of emissions from a possible soviet sub with a very high probability factor. At that very same time, a report was coming in on another net from the Kitty Hawk that her engineering had just reported hearing a loud thump and vibration in the bottom of the ship. It,s quite exciting in a way to know i witnessed and had my own little role in those accounts. It’s too bad they didn’t decide to surface somewhere else than the middle of a battle group. They could have used their radar a little earlier too . At least then we may have had some warning and time to react.No loss of life or limb but a nasty blemish for propaganda and all. Hey it was great to serve with all of you. Those ops sure bring back some memories.
    Ew3 James Grimes U.S.S. Harold E. Holt FF-1074 1983-1986

  • Malcolm Burton, Naval Aviator, Retired

    One part of the “True Story” that has not been reported is the role of a P3B that evening. I was the aircraft commander on that flight. We were there supporting the battle group and had been tracking a soviet sub for a long time that evening. We had maintained stand off from the carrier earlier in the evening because of carrier flights ops. Since we had a good fix on the sub we knew that it was in close to the carrier and may have been trying to hide underneath the carrier to try to mask its sound. This is a tactic that subs use. I’ve seen it before. It generally does not work. I had a great crew who had this guy and wouldn’t let go. When we saw that the sub was in close to the ship I asked for permission from CIC to come in closer to the carrier. I gave the reason and was granted permission. After we were in close to the carrier and had an even better fix on the sub, one of the sensor operators came up on the ICS and told everyone to flip their ICS mixer switch to his channel & listen up to the hydrophones – there was this great scraping noise. We all knew what had likely happened, even though we found it hard to believe. We relayed the info to the Kitty Hawk, giving them a position on the sub which was ahead of the sub to starboard. The helos got into the air and were vectored to the position. The next day after returning to base in Okinawa, we listened to the news to find out what had been released. It was amusing to hear everyone denying that they even knew that the sub was there. At first I was incensed but then realized the strategy.

    I don’t remember the exact time when this happened, but I do remember it being a really bad weather flight. I checked my log book for the flight. It was an 11.4 hour mission. Of that time I was in a pilot seat for 7.6 hours of the flight. Of that 7.6 hours I logged 6.0 hours of actual instrument time. Since there was 5 hours of night time logged also the 2200 time frame sounds reasonable. The reason for only 7.6 hours of pilot time is that we carried 3 pilots & rotated 1 pilot about every 2 hours.

    This is one of my better “Sea Stories” of a 20+ year career. Chasing “Ivan” was great fun. Serious business but never-the-less great fun. Only problem was that when you caught Ivan, you had to let him go – “Catch & Release”.

    It’s easy to get attack criteria on a sub that’s DIW on the surface. We had it before impact.

  • Jeff Crenshaw

    I was aboard the USS Mauna Kea AE-22 when this happened. We escorted the sub back to Vladivostok, Russia. The sub couldn’t submerge and refused help so we were only to make sure the sub made it back. We encountered a fleet of Russian ships as soon as we could see land. The Kitty Hawk was in the center of the battle group and veered off course twice without any explanation. The third time it’s rumored the Kitty Hawk stayed on course and ran it over.

  • James (“steamer”) Grimes

    I was the EW on watch that night on board the USS Harold E. Holt FF-1074. I remember picking up the signal from the Russian sub just before the incident.I believe She must have been surfacing for some drill or emergency because she never even turned on her radar till the last minute. I remember picking up our secure line to Alpha Echo (Kitty hawks EWO call sign) to report my intercept when the Kitty Hawks’ C.O. was going out over his secure link to all ships that his engineering officer just reported hearing a loud thump and a vibration. Too bad the Russians didn’t look before they surfaced. Maybe an earlier interception and then my heads up to the Kitty Hawk could have avoided an embarassing and potentially life threatening incident. Thats the primary reason I think they had some kind of casualty going on. They were no doubt shadowing the battle group but to surface without looking… c’mon really. It’s kinda nice knowing I had my own little role in a minor but still significant incident during the peak of a cold war where lots of culture changes for them were just starting to develop

  • Jeff Magill

    Hey Matt Silva you are correct,
    Rogers broadcasted that we hit that sub all over the airwaves man they sure were upset.
    I thought we hit a sandbar or something. We were on it though and had our birds in the air right away.
    Hope all is well to all my old shipmates.
    AD2 Magill, HS2.

  • Walter Anger

    I was too on the Kitty Hawk that night working in CIC next to Lee “Hook” Parshook, AC2, I remember the time 2207, because we had to log in the information. I remember we had just finished flight ops for the night and turned to rejoin the Battle Group when we hit the sub. No one for a while knew what we had hit, but I do remember CDR Roberts running in CIC shouting orders, it was a crazy night.

  • Matt Silva

    Hola Magill. Long time my man. Hope all is well with you as well.

  • Randy Rema

    I was also aboard USS Harold E Holt, FF-1074….the time is (I believe) correct. I came on the Reveille watch and opened the hatch of sonar control, we could see arc welder flashes as the Soviet crew was mending their beat up sub. We were pulled off of the carrier group and stayed within sight of the sub for several days, offering assistance (declined) and just watching. Within a day and a half or so several Soviet Cruisers and Destroyers arrived, and we were relieved of our “watch”. Exciting stuff, and I have some great pictures of the sub and other naval vessels of the Soviet Navy.

  • Robert Fary

    I was station onboard the Kitty in the ASW Module waiting debrief a S3 crew for the summary of their fight. I was watch officer we had no planes in the air when I felt what though was a wave hit the ship. The TAO (tactical action office) ran and asked where is the sub? Ibtold (R2) no idea we have no asset in the air. Must messed up the sub because they surfaced to make repairs.

  • Hello everyone. Sorry that our Kitty Hawk is no longer defending freedom. She was a super carrier in every right. I was an EM3 just off duty from generator watch and was sleeping in the rack. I remember walking to the hangar bay early the next morning and seeing Soviet combatant ships off of our starboard side keeping station with us. I recall during that cruise when the Bear over flew us and we sent up a ready alert A-7 and Hawkeye. How about the barricade landing of the F-14? My days are now spent watching over prison boilers as the plant manager wishing that I could go on just one more westpac……………..

  • Wade Eppler

    It was a little after 22:00 I was in the Hangar Bay when we hit. I thought it was a whale at first. we got to spend like 27 days in the P.I after that so she could get repairs, talk about worn out.

  • Thomas LaFave VF-1

    I was on the Kitty Hawk that night. I was attached to VF-1 working as a Plane Captain. I was in my rack reading a book when it felt like we hit a speed bump. I had no idea what had happened but I knew from the impact it had to be pretty serious. After all, we all know what kind of force it would take to make a ship as large as the Kitty Hawk bounce like that. I found out the next morning when I reported for duty what had really happened.

  • Allen Suiter

    The time is accurate, I was just hitting the rack. I lived in 03 forward, just below the flight deck. Just as I put my head down the ship shuddered quite violently where I was located. I got up and went to the forward hatch that leads to the catwalk and I went outside, I nearly crapped my pants when I saw a friken russian sub right in front of us. I dont recall if general quarters was called but I think it was not. I will never forget that night. The next day it seemed like half the russian fleet was around, and they were right there, I was on the signal deck looking through the glasses waving at the bastards waving at me…..

  • I was on the Kitty Hawk in V-2 division at the time (an E-6). Interesting few days.
    Now a Master Chief, U.S. Navy, Retired.

  • Ron Hayes

    I went onboard the hawk in San Diego North Island in 85 after they had just returned from a cruise. I was fresh out of bootcamp. I wsd with out words when she pulled in by her size. I was a deck ape and my berthing was right behind the focsle. One time I was down near the chain locker when I found a compartment that was sealed. I was then told by the Bm1 about the collision and that compartment was filled with concrete now so if in the future if it happens again it will destroy what ever it hits. Also seen up in the focsle where the port anchor chain came out of the chain locker and took out a steel bulkhead in one of the air castles. You can see the new plates welded in place.. I miss the ol girl.Wish I could go back on her and walk around just one time…

  • Ralph Cummings

    I was assigned to a VQ A-3 detachment in Kitty Hawk and we shared the Ready Room with VA-45. I was watching the evening movie around 2200 and the whole ship shook. The TV damn near came off the rack. Everyone knew we hit something. The Ready Room was on the 3rd deck. Our maintenance control space was on the 0-3 starboard outboard level and one of our maintenance guys ran in from the catwalk and said he had seen a huge dark shadow in the water on that side of the ship when we started to shake. He himself was pretty shaken up and excited. So, that sub is what he must have seen.

  • I believe that this is the same incident when I was aboard the USS Ouellet, but I don’t remember the boat returning to Vladivostok. We escorted it to Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. I think I have some photos. I remember feeling sorry for those submariners being towed in rough seas. I also seem to recall that there was quite a bit of smoke.

  • 29 years since the drama with the then USSR. Now the spawn of a pariah nation wants to yank our chain. Sending Bombers from Missouri non-stop at will to Korea and you still want to play?

  • I was a snipe on watch in the Engine Room, what I heard was the Russians shut down sonar and didn’t have the running lights on. Then the incident.

  • Deliberate Technicality.

  • Lynn Walters

    I was aboard The Kitty Hawk with VA-145 , attached to the AIMD Hydraulics Shop . We pulled out of Pusan eariler in the day , secured , went to bed , got up and reported for duty in the shop at 1900 for night shift . about three hours into our shift another AMH and myself were doing fliud contamination tests when all of a sudden there was a thud and the whole ship lifted up and dropped back into the water . This lasted 5 – 8 mins. as the sub rolled the whole length of the Hawk . The next day , divers went down to examine the damage and came up with a brass screw from the sub , which we kept and mounted it in the hanger bay .

  • Troy Allender

    I was attached to kitty Hawk with attack squadron 147 were i work as the Carrier air wing 9 arm, de-arm crew which we armed the weapons on the plane when they launched and de-armed them when they returned. During this collision, I was in the shower when it felt like the ship hit a large wave, no wave but a Russian Sub. While in the shower the collision alarm sounded and i didn’t know what was happening until i got to our shop, there they said we had rolled a sub. From what i understand we offered help to the sub but they refused. Then the news came that we had part of the subs screw in our hull. I couldn’t imagine what it was like in the sub as it rolled, I guess if you look in a front loading washing machine as it turns, that what it would be look like.

  • disqus_w27EoYYuPw

    I was TAD on the fwd mess deck. I thought we hit a big wave. The Koreans loved us. This was after the Russians shot down that Korean jetliner. I saw a t-shirt the said,” We roll up and over”. Or something like that. I guess they considered it paybacks.

  • Jim Beranis

    I was called Beaner. I worked in power shop and was the at sea electrician on the fire party. I can’t recall your name.

  • Jim Beranis

    Hey Jim, it’s Beaner, not sure if you remember me. Remember Grogan? Long time Buddy.

  • Jim Beranis

    OOps, sorry Jim, we had a Grimes in power shop and I got dyxlexic with the EW, I was an EM.


    I was a VF-2 AME on deck that night…I had a beard as well. AME2 Tim Weick at the time. My partner in crime was AME3 Bob Brickwood. We were manning the alert-5 fighters.

  • Glen

    I was there on that cruise I had just got off watch in the FWD Galley!!

  • MMC F Lentz

    I was onboard Kitty Hawk when this happened, it was my last underway as our next inport was Subic and I was transfering to the McKee (AS-41).
    I worked in AUX2 right below Central control, I was just getting out of my rack which was on the starboard side right at the waterline. As I was rolling out I could hear and feel something clanking down the side of the ship, at the time the ship was speeding up over standard on station speed, later I found we were at 18 knots making turns to do 25 knots and heading south as the whole team spirit drill was over.
    After hearing and feeling the thumping instead of getting midrats I instead went straight to the pit (2AUX) as I had the mid watch, entering the space I immediately knew there was a problem, I could smell fuel carrying across the evaporators, I had the watch dump all 3 evaps. Taking a distillate sample from one of the evaps half the sample bottle was fuel.
    I then went to central and reported what I heard and found from the evaps.
    A few minutes the all stop was sounded, now about 2300, the CO came on the 1MC and asked everyone if they had heard or saw anything to call the bridge.
    If my memory recalls correctly, the submarine was NEVER spotted by the bridge team until long after we collided, and reports were that the submarine never surfaced but was at periscope depth. I don’t know anything about “changing navigation lighting” to confuse vessels following us, that would seem a waste of time and in the real world prove futile.
    What caused this was we (Kitty Hawk) made an unanticipated course change and major speed change and the submarine that was tailing us did not recognize that fact untill too late, he came to periscope to try and figure out where we were going and boom we ran over them, they completely rolled over, losing power and all ballast control heading for the deep six. It’s by the grace of god they survived the collision.

  • Steve “Mouse” Rouse V2 Div

    I was working that night. My cat 1 crew was the alert catapult crew that night. Around 2200 we felt the rumble. It took a while but the collision alarm sounded about 5 minutes after the hit. After the helps launched we prepped cat 3 on the waist with alert 5 Tomcats. We shot the first Viking around 0400. It was so cold and windy out. I remember all the guys freezing in the cold damp weather. I also remember seeing those Bears fly over that day. What a night to remember for sea story time!!!!

  • Gary

    I was just forward of the hanger deck doors. It just felt like one big wave. I didn’t hear anything. I have a copy of the photo taken by our helicopter over the sub when it was dead in the water. It points out the positive structural damage.

    From what I remember, we had an on-rep two days prior. We were attempting to do this again and I thought, “strange, we just did this two days ago”. I heard that at the last moment, the Kitty shut off two of her screws (one with a nick in it which made a characteristic noise when it was turning); so that we would sound more like the supply ship. At the last moment, we switched places with the supply ship to throw off the sub, and came on her starboard side instead of the port side, as usual. The sub got confused and turned; not knowing that we were on the wrong side of the supply ship and we nailed it.

    YN3 – I put on all the recreational events and did the circuit training in the ship’s gym. Anyone remember this?

  • I was in Forward IC, just beginning my watch. I remember it was just after 22:00. We felt a mild shudder (FWD iC was on the 6th deck). I liked all the t-shirts that were awaiting us in the P.I. “Target, my Ass” was my favorite.

  • Mark Poisson

    I was with VAW-116 that night working shop 610 AIMD. crazy night for sure. Was it 3 weeks in P.I. because of that incident?

  • Tracy Gibson

    Alan Fishell is not telling the truth, he says he was a snipe on duty in the engine room when the collision occurred. I was a boiler tech assigned to 2MMR, the kitty hawk does not have engine rooms and fire rooms, it has main spaces (MMR) and they are never referred to as engine rooms or fire rooms. I was on board and asleep when awaken for watch I was told what happened, I never felt a thing.

  • This is very interesting information. It sounds like the brass pulled a fast one and intentionally caused the shadow to collide with our vessel. Impressive, but kind of sad for the fatalities.

  • Chris B.

    I was the Officer of the Deck on Kitty Hawk when it happened in the Sea Of Japan. I was part of it all with the CO, Admiral, calls to CPF, etc. Simply put, the sub was probably at periscope depth observing the ships in front of them as we were catching up to the group also. It was definitely not on the surface for the collision. A large chunk of the subs screw was impaled in a forward JP-5 tank and was removed when we stopped in the Philippines. There are more details to the story but not necessary to mention.

  • Danny Collins

    I was attached to VF-2 working in the QA division. I just was talking to my daughter about this just today, 29 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. WOW.
    Sorry for the 15 sailors that was lost on the sub. But it could have been a lot worst. God bless all who sailed during those times.


    4 Life



  • Alan Ensley

    30 years after the collision, here on Veterans Day, I was remembering that night so long ago. I was aboard the Kitty Hawk putting away my tray after having a wonderful “Slider” . The ship shuddered and everyone started cheering, thinking we ran aground in Tahiti or something . I ran up to the O3 level where I knew I could get a look outside from ops. I saw a dark, large object right next to us and heard all the splashing. Pretty dumb move actually because IF that reactor had ruptured on the sub that night….well I wouldn’t be here writing this. I got to see and hold a piece of the russian prop the divers had pulled out the next morning in CATCC where I worked. (CATCC -Carrier Air Traffic Control Center) I enjoyed being an Air Traffic Controller in the Navy and ended up making it a 28year career with the FAA !

  • Jeff Zager

    I was an RM2 just getting out of tech control. I literally just got in my rack at the 03 level when the ship shook. I don’t recall having to go to my GQ station as I high tailed it back into tech control. We were sending all sorts of flash traffic back to the pentagon

  • Brian Shearer

    I was in VF-2 on that cruise sitting in the AE shop playing ace duce with steve Largent when all the pieces on the board bounced up in are faces onto the floor. We both yelled out what the bleep did we hit.does anyone still have a copy of the picture we took of it that morning? Funny after all these years I still talk about that one.

  • Eric Martin

    I was on watch in starboard after steering that night, thought it was a big wave until I heard the sponson watch over the 1 – MC yell ” holy shit, it’s a submarine “. Remember it like it was yesterday.

  • Ochoa

    If I remember correctly, it did just sit there. Hey Mr.Schneider, do you remember BT2 Ochoa, I was a console operator in 2MMR? I remember you. Good to see you here, hard to believe that was 30 years ago.

  • Bounty Hunter

    I remember that night like it was yesterday, Shawn L. put a fresh pinch of snuff in his mouth and said that was no wave. 2 seconds later, General Quarters was underway. I still have the shirts from the PI and the cruse book. Good times!

  • Chris F. Billiot

    VAW-116. I was napping when I hit my head on the rack above. Don’t know if that was the impact or just startled and jumped up abruptly. I know I ran to the Starboard side as Captain requested. I didn’t see anything, but it was certainly eventful. Sailed with that hole in the ship until makeshift repairs in the Philippines. Gave us some extra time there which is always good.

  • Chris F. Billiot


  • JBBenton

    I was there too.

  • Curt Siters

    LOL I saw them and always wondered what they were about!

  • Curt Siters

    LOL, I was on the forward mess deck when it happened.

  • Curt Siters

    I was partial to “From the Victor come the spoils”

  • Curt Siters

    There is a name I hadn’t heard in a while! MM3 in 2MMR (TAD mess decks at that time)

  • Richard Elloyan

    It was the night before my birthday and I was in the VS-38 shop all the way aft when suddenly the whole ship shook violently. My shop chief, in a cool and collected way, says ” that was not normal…I think we just hit the curb.” As we were the only birds with infared we were in the air pretty quick and got some great shots of the crease that ran from sail to tail.

  • Tom Schrader

    Kitty Hawk – 1 Victor class sub – 0

  • John Pruett

    The night of the collision I was the MMOW in #1 MMR. It felt like we had run over a very large speed bump. All of the engineering department was checking for any damage and were busy answering engine orders. It was really too bad that the Soviets refused any assistance. I remember watching CCTV when the on board SEAL Team went below the bow in clear water. You could plainly see the submarine’s screw blade imbedded into the hull of the ship.
    MMCS (SW) J.B. Pruett
    (USN Ret.)

  • Dean Rooney

    That’s right shipmate, I too was aboard the Long Beach (CGN 9) assigned to COMDESRON 35 when the Kitty Hawk collided with the sub. I worked with the Admiral in charge of the surface picture and the deceptive lighting seemed to have worked as the submarine was hightailing it away from the Kittyhawk and towards the Long Beach which it believed to be the Kittyhawk when it was struck.
    As an aside, I am sorry you had to receive Hepatitis inoculation shot, as I came down with that following our stay in the Philippines! I was quarantined across from sick-bay at the time of the collision where many of the crew of the Long Beach were lined up to receive the shot.

  • Paul Boudreaux

    I was asleep in the berthing area which happened to be right blow the folkshul. I initially though that we had dropped anchor, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I found out what happened!

  • dave ganz en3

    was thier in the life boat next day, first time i got to hold a piece of russin metal

  • Gregg Easley

    Hey Alan ,
    Saw this post and wanted to say Hi. Retired in 2010 from FAA , where you living these days? I’m in Pensacola,Fl.
    Take care shipmate.

  • John Reece

    FCCS(SW) John Reece, USN, Ret. (FTMC at the time, F1 Division, USS Long Beach) Some time after this incident, the battle group pulled in tight for a fly-over photo op. USS Long Beach was stationed dead ahead of Kitty Hawk, 600 yards bridge-to-bridge. Since we were so close, we made up a canvas banner with an International “No” symbol superimposed over a submarine silhouette. We heard later that Kitty Hawk’s CO was somewhat less than amused.

  • Vic Right

    I was in VS 38 working in the corrosion control shop back then.The funny thing is I had forgot about this for years and then seen a story about it.It’s funny how something like this can slip your mind for years.

  • Thomas Mueller

    I stand corrected. Not sure why I thought it was that late. I did just get off of watch in # 2 ER. Even wrote it down in my personal log. Sorry about that. Was a long time ago.

  • fntsmk

    I was in the berthing compartment head, brushing my teeth and preparing for bed at 2200 hrs. Our space was on the 03 level forward on the bow (right under the flight deck). The bow of the ship rose mightily and instantly, everyone knew something was “different.” Down we went, and up once again, in the same fashion. Someone said: “What the hell was that?” I said: “Well it was either a very large wave, or a Russian submarine.” One of the flight crew AW’s (enlisted Aviation Submarine Warfare Specialists) with VS-38 was a friend and former classmate of mine. We spoke that day and he told me that “they” (S-3 Viking anti-submarine aircraft of his squadron) “sunk” (simulated sinking) a Russian submarine several times that day. My “guess” is that the collision was a result of two factors: 1. The Russian had been steaming alongside of Kitty Hawk ALL DAY (submerged that is) and the Captain decided that he was going to make a show of force by surfacing alongside us, turn his navigation lights on in an effort to say: “See, I’m here and I can kill you anytime I want.” Keep in mind folks, all of this took place in International waters but… International waters JUST off the coast of RUSSIA! 2. The Captain of the Kitty Hawk likely knew EXACTLY where that sub was AND that he was surfacing. A story came out that Kitty Hawk was “turning into the wind for air operations,” when we struck the sub (sorry… when he surfaced UNDERNEATH US), which was highly unlikely. We had been secured from flight ops all day, and there wasn’t anything going on topside. My guess on this one is, when you play dangerous “cat and mouse” games by sailing SO close to another warship, the Captain of that warship is going to “play back.” It is my considered opinion that our Captain turned the ship to put that surfacing submarine RIGHT in front of us. Almost happened. Had that sub surfaced 1 minute before he did, we would have cut him in half.

  • fntsmk

    I have a picture of Midway the day we (Kitty Hawk) relieved you guys in the I.O.

  • Kevin Baucom

    I was also in VF-2 at the time working as a PO3 in the line division. I remember watching a movie in the berthing compartment tv area, (a very cramped space as I recall) and as the ship shuttered we all commented that we must have hit a whale. I suppose in a way we were right. I too remember the time as if it was yesterday.

    ” If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right ”
    Bounty Hunter Bullit Forever

  • Mike Oconnell


  • Rick Rice

    I was also on the USS Long Beach and remember it exactly as EM2 Schram noted! Served on the USS Long Beach 1982, 83, 84 and 85! Great ship and crew! Came on board in shipyard (dry dock) in Bremerton,WA!

  • John Marullo

    Hi Curt so was I just got done setting my tray down in the scullery when we hit…..remember the tray jumping up about 4 inches and hitting the counter.

  • John Marullo

    If anyone has the CV antisubtron 63 patch please contact me @ [email protected].

  • baruch_gershom

    There are some great sea stories here, but be careful about what you say; some of the related facts are still classified, last I heard. I won’t call out any one thing, but I hope you were all debriefed on the classification and the sensitivity of the events you witnessed. Generally, such matters are classified for 50 years; don’t assume otherwise unless you know for a fact that the matter was declassified.

  • John Gray

    About 13 years prior to this incident, I was ships company, Independence (CVA-62). We were somewhere around the Azores when we hit “something” very large. We were told it was a whale. There was damage all over the ship including pipes, welded fittings and a bent screw. It was enough to send us to the yards. Wide spread suspicion was a Russian sub.

  • Frank Lentz

    My berthing compartment was on the starboard side right at the waterline, I was just getting getting up for the mid watch in 2 Aux, I heard a banging noise but more importantly I felt it running along the outside of the ship. I went to the tv lounge and asked if anyone else heard the noise but they said no, I told them I think we hit something but they laughed it off saying I was nuts. Instead of going to eat midrats I went down to 2 Aux to check my equipment, as soon as I entered the space I could smell there was a problem, the guys on watch were not paying attention very well, I yelled at them to pay attention and got a distillate sample from one of the evaporators, half of the sample bottle was fuel (jp5). I then dumped all 3 evaps and reported to the EEOW I had fuel carrying across the evaporators, the EEOW reported that to the bridge, all this happened less than 10 minutes since I heard the clanging on the side.

    At the time we had just completed operations for the exercise and we were making turns for 20 knots and heading south for subic bay, we had been steaming a pretty predictable route for the previous week of flight ops. When I told the EEOW what I heard and what my evaps were doing I don’t think anyone knew there was a collision, we were still doing 18 knots. After I left CCS and went back down to 2 Aux we made all stop and just sat idle. At about 2300 the CO came on the 1MC and said that we may have had a collision, he asked if anyone saw anything to report it to the bridge. Now, it had been really dark out, really poor weather conditions and cold, we had only been maybe 300 miles south of Vladivostok Russia a some point in the exercise, the injection water temperature was 31 degrees. We heard that a lookout watch saw sparks in the distance so a helo was manned and launched. The helo found the submarine dead in the water with the crew welding the hull externally hence the Sparks.

    So, as I read what I saw posted here, especially the part where people “saw” the submarine I call that BS, most likely the submarine had came up to periscope to make a visual sighting of us, not realizing we had made a change in course and speed, came up in our path. I saw a photo of the sub later, you could see that we hit the sail area and that we ran over them and rolled them completely over, the clanking I heard was the submarines propeller contacting the hull up forward at the bow, we suffered a hole in the bow and a gash below the waterline about 40 feet long. There was no violent collision, at least for us, we were in no danger. Back in subic the only emergency repairs were to fill those damaged voids with concrete, the ship still made the Indian Ocean deployment and I finally left the hawk after being there 5 years.

  • SEIMER22

    I was on AE-22 also during this WestPac. We escorted the sub and a US Tin Can up off of V’Stock.

  • Tomylee2016

    Hey I was in foward IC also we new subs were around us when it I was joking (we just hit a Russian sub) then CO came over 1mc saying we just hit the Russian sub I almost fell off my chair

  • Tomylee2016

    I was also in forward IC everybody who wasn’t on watch was watching TV when hit the sub I joked about it ( we just hit a Russian sub) The the CO came over 1MC telling us we hit the sub I almost fell off my chair laughing

  • Paul

    Have not seen details on the DLE posted here. I was a nuk ET on Long Beach and came up from watch in the late afternoon. Talked to the seaman rigging up big white sheets from weather deck to next deck up with big lights behind them.

    Upon asking why he said come out later tonight and watch.

    Next day we stayed on station in case sub needed help. I saw one chopper come and take one sailor off the sub. Later a big tug boat came and started towing the sub off. We left station and headed to Subic to catch up with the battle group.

  • Kevin Cowley

    I was in the rear IC when we felt the jolt. There was a short alarm which sounded, then we got the call from the captain asking for the coordinates from the gyrocompass. We weren’t sure what we had hit until the next day when the announced it on the tv.

  • Za ch

    Hey, Tuttle. Your name sounds familiar. Boot Camp Co. 022 Div. IV ? USS Kitty Hawk. I think there was 3 of us who received orders for the USS Kitty Hawk. You remember Johnson?

  • Truman Davis Jr.

    I couldn’t agree more regarding Capt. Rogers. A great leader! I was on the bridge (QM3 at the time) taking radar ranges to the Long Beach. Cmdr Bud Hunsucker (Asst Navigator) had the Conn when we struck. Pretty exciting night. I’ll always wonder how that operation would have turned out though.

  • Jeffrey Metcalf

    I was a ms forward galley and just got off work and going to my berth got by aft galley when the kitty and sub collided. No gq was sound for about 15 to 20 minutes but gq did not last long. I still have most of the t-shirts from PI USS KITTY HAWK navy’s only proven sub killer

  • Can anyone provide me with video footage of the news report? Please

  • Kenneth Duncan

    My dad was on the ship at the time, the cruise book says he was in OE-E1 that year. I remember him telling this story, really thankful the situation didn’t escalate. Maybe one of you know my dad, Andy Duncan?

  • Robin Gipson

    I remember that day too, as old as the Kitty Hawk was at the time- the Midway appeared to me to be a ship from a different era- I guess I’d wished I’d spent some time on her. All I remember mostly from that cruise was joking about Death Pac 84, the Rooskie AGI boats picking thru our garbage daily and that F Ayatolla screaming how the N Arabian was going to be stained red. They were right. It sticks with you for life. On the sub- I remember feeling it rolling under the berthing around frame 235- Bridge folks said Reagan was on the horn in 3 minutes flat.

  • G Schneider

    I can’t believe I didn’t notice this two years ago. Ofc I remember you and I hope you are doing well. You guys were the best, hardest working division and it was a pleasure serving with you. Time does fly, doesn’t it?

  • G Schneider

    Wasn’t Hunsucker Navigator and Butler Asst. Navigator?

  • Michael Norrod

    John how are you buddy? What are you up to these days.
    Michael Norrod OSCM(SW) USN – Ret OSC when this happened

  • Yup, I was a BM, I remember it well! 🙂

  • Rod Fosback

    I was also on board the USS LONGBEACH, FTMSN, I was also the ships swimmer, we were at plane guard stations at the time, waiting to be sent to assist.

  • Rod Fosback

    Hi Chief, not sure if you remember me, I left in the IO and went to 55B school at MI.

  • John Reece

    Of course I remember you. Where are you now and what are you doing? I stayed in California, had a career in Aerospace, and I’m now retired. Loving life.

  • John Reece

    Top o’ the mornin’ Master Chief. I’m still living in Southern California and I’m now fully retired.

  • Mike Oconnell

    2 died

  • Mike Oconnell

    I was in hs-2 , sitting on deck alert 5, we lauched 2 b1rds and they we take no assist

  • Truman Davis Jr.

    Cdr Beam was the Gator. Butler was a Divo for Nav Dept. I’m sorry to say that Cdr Hunsucker passed away Dec. 30th. He was an awesome individual!

  • Truman Davis Jr.

    A Kara class cruiser came and towed them back.

  • Bill Neary

    I was aboard U.S.S Midway CV-41 and I remember having to stay at Gonzo station for an extended period because of that. We also didn’t get to go to Australia on theat cruise because the Kitty Hawk was late relieving us.

  • Paul Liuzzo

    I was in 111 man berthing at the time of the collision, felt a shudder and then on of our crewmates who was on watch came into the birthing and told us we just hit a sub. I will never forget that. on the same cruse we also hit our refueler the USS Wabash.

  • Robert Williams

    I was also on this ship in shop 620 AIMD with VA-147. I was working the night shift and remember very well the moment we apparently hit something. It wasn’t a violent shock or anything like that, but knew we definitely hit something… I thought to myself, what the heck was that? We had pulled out of the PI a few days before and were not near any landmass. I thought, did we hit a whale? It was definitely great to have an additional 3 weeks of liberty in Olongapo! I noticed when I went up to the flight deck after the repairs were made and we were on our way again, that a “red submarine” was painted up on the ship’s island structure next to our other ribands. Thought that was pretty cool. Also, feel bad for the sailor’s who lost their lives on the Soviet Submarine.

    I really appreciate you clearing up exactly how this collision took place. I had never heard that explanation before, makes a lot of sense.

  • Hi Dean

  • Kurt Eskildsen

    I was in VA-95 working on a canon plug in the port landing gear compartment on an A-6E Intruder. Almost got knocked off my ladder when the ship turned sharply to port. Felt the initial thump and most of us thought we hit a large whale or dead head out in open ocean until we saw the Soviet Sub’s sail go past our hangar bay door. We had a gash torn in our hull but no noteworthy damage, We didn’t even slow down. They were dead at sea. VF-2 flew TARPS recon on them for a week and finally some salvage vessel came out from Vladivostok and towed it away.

  • Alan Fishell

    If you read my comment again you’ll see that I stated I was on the USS Albert David FF-1050.

  • Matthew Ruggieri

    thanks for not calling anyone out hero. very noble of you. wouldn’t want any of these guys to get investigated…….there’s always one. you must have been the life of the party.

  • drew

    good thing Lentz knows everything from his job to tactics to what everyone else saw and did that night.


    I was attached to Squadron vaw- 116 and that was some night

  • Troy Copeland

    I was on there as well, only I slept through it and was woken up after we hit! MM3 Troy Copeland 1 Aux Machinery room

  • Jimmy Wells

    Jimmy (Snuffy) Wells – MMOW #4 MMR – the bump in the night.

  • Robert Braddock

    We got there as fast as we could Don. I was a BT on the Hawk when that happened.

  • Eric Miller

    I remember this well. I had the watch in dc central on a desk watch. Heard a shudder and bam, the eoow was wondering what happened. The sound powered phones came to life. I was taking trouble calls, and the rest of the watch was a blurr..

  • Bob Glazauskis

    I was the night check Trouble Shooter Supervisor for VS-38. The the squadron had been tracking this sub and others for several days. The ship had been in flight ops all day into the early evening. A decision was made to calling all aircraft and cancel flight ops about 2.5 hours prior. I thought in unusual and called VS-38 maintenance control chief to verify all planes including the 2 we had launched and had been tracking the sub. The chief told me yes our planes were recovering too. Two hours later the collision occur. We had been flying planes pretty much round the clock prior or in a alert 5 status.

  • Vernon Daweritz

    That 4 weeks in p.i. for repairs was hell, I ran out of money!

  • James Hutchins

    When the Hawk pulled into the PI the tee shirts said Kittyhawk 1 russian sub 0 i bought ten of them Em2 Hutchins i was on watch nuber 2 switchboard standing watch I got thrown out of my chair shipmates.

  • James Hutchins

    Sorry Number 2 switchboard.

  • Mike Rodriguez

    Mountain man, sounds familiar what’s your full name, Amh2 Rodriguez here also was with VA-147 when this happened on the flight deck securing birds


    Mr. Schneider, I remember you, I was in 2-MMR when we hit that sub. This is BT 2 Ochoa, not sure if you remember me or not. It’s interesting to hear an Lt. bitch about the CHENG. I think we all felt that way.


    Me to, 2MMR

  • Donald D Delaney

    I to was on the Kitty Hawk at that time working S-6 in the wind tunnel knocked me out of my chair.Remimber we all spent a lot of time at are GQ station.

  • jonn

    Hello DaWo,
    It’s been a very long time. I too worked in the ASW module, I was the new guy on that cruise, the same last name as the Chief. I stayed with the Navy, and the Navy Reserves for many years……until 2012 when I was forced to medically retire. One too many mortar rounds in Afghanistan. Spent the rest of my career after that cruise in the Seabees.
    I remember seeing welding arcs on the sub not long after we hit it so there was a bit of damage.