Guardfish on the Rocks

One of the things I most enjoy about attending SUBVETS meetings is listening to the sea stories. This morning over breakfast there was a lively discussion of the grounding of the USS Guardfish (SSN-612) on a Christmas Eve outside Pearl Harbor. One of our members was an engineering Officer for the Squadron command and received a call at home to get down to the base right away. Nobody would discuss why over the phone, so he got dressed and went into the office. There he was told “It’s your job whether you want it or not,” and to get down to the pier and tell the families that Guardfish would not be arriving today (Christmas Eve).

Now imagine that. You can give them no further information, other than the boat is overdue! In truth, she is on a reef just outside the harbor, stuck aground, but the chill that must have gone through those families heart would have frozen hell. Luckily, nobody was hurt and the boat arrived a couple of days late.

I did some digging and found the following entries on the Guardfish memories website, which make some interesting reading from the ships company point of view. But as always, there’s another side to the story!

Guardfish On the Rocks

Yes, I can tell you what it was like during the grounding of the Guardfish….it was a nightmare!!!

My maneuvering watch station was in the diesel generator room; as you know, almost on the bottom and near the bow of the boat! I don’t know what speed we were making for our approach to Papa Hotel but there was some trouble up in control getting the hatch open to man the bridge. All of a sudden there was the most terrible screeching and tearing sounds I had ever heard. The boat shuddered and bounced, then the noise subsided and we started to heel over to port, it seemed like it would never stop. For a few seconds, I thought we were going to roll over! I was really scared but training took over and I started checking hull fittings and equipment to see if there was any damage or if we were taking on any water. Everything checked out OK and I reported to Control. Then I remember just listening as the CO and maneuvering kept talking back and forth as they tried to back down off the reef. I think maneuvering was afraid for the “plant” but the Captain wanted Guardfish OFF THAT REEF! I remember an order something like, “Keep that astern bell on until I tell you to take it off”! We blew main ballast tanks to try to raise the boat in the water and everything else the Captain could think of but nothing worked,,,,, we were stuck! The rest is history, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day out there and they got us free about noon the day after Christmas, but not before a bomb scare when divers found an old bomb just astern of us. It turned out to be a practice bomb full of sand and the tow went off as scheduled at high tide. When we got in and tied up I was really embarrassed because not only was my Wife Marsha there to meet me but my Dad had come out from Ohio to visit and he was an old great lakes sailor. He always stressed to me how important it was to know your waters and keep your boat out of trouble! All I could say was “I don’t drive the boat Dad”! We were all very tired but very happy to be home!
– LT Eldon Peck

Another viewpoint on the grounding…

We were all at our maneuvering stations as Eldon stated. Mine just happened to be helmsman/lookout. Captain Hines was the first man up the sail and I was right behind him. We had just set up communications with the control room. I don,t know if we had taken the con at the moment. I had my safety harness on and was snapped in the cockpit but I was working out on the sailplanes trying to get the safety lines rigged. All of a sudden, I was hugging the sail for dear life. I bet I left fingernail marks there forever. No matter what the Captain tried, we could not get free. We were pounding on that reef really hard. We had a constant 30-degree list and every time we rose up a bit, we would slam down again on the reef. Finally, we vented the ballast tanks trying to settle down and relieve the pounding as much as possible. The worst part of the whole thing, after the situation stabilized, was the fact that we were within sight of the Air Force base right next to Pearl Harbor. We all could see our wives and family members on land through binoculars. It was one hell of a way to spend Christmas. The day after Christmas, we were pulled off the reef by two fleet tugs and an ASR and towed into port. We got liberty that day and had to report back early the next day to move to the dry dock. The damage was not as bad as everyone feared. We got a nice stay in the dry dock for a while and then went on our first WestPac cruise.-MM2 Dennis LaHines

The Official Story of Guardfish on the Rocks
Submarine Grounding

Brief: Submarine goes aground while entering port.

What Happened? A submarine was returning to homeport at night after deployment. Upon surfacing it was found that the bridge hatch was stuck shut. One of the two periscopes was inoperative. The OOD and navigator shared the remaining periscope to conn the ship and navigate. The maneuvering watch was fully manned with the exception of bridge watchstanders. Visibility was not a problem. An apparent gyro error of 8.7ø with the operative periscope was being used. Thirty nine minutes after surfacing the ship had approached within 2 miles of the harbor entrance point and had ordered all stop from speed 12 knots. Navigational fixes obtained indicated that the ship would pass landward of the harbor entrance point but not to landward of the harbor entrance buoys. Forty eight minutes after surfacing the bridge hatch was successfully opened. The ship had advanced 2750 yards from the point of the all stop bell and was well to the right of the harbor entrance range having crossed the range from west to east. Thirteen minutes after the bridge hatch was opened the ship was ordered ahead 1/3 and then 2/3 to make the turn to enter the channel. The Commanding Officer went to the bridge with a lookout and a quartermaster. The lookout was busy rigging for entering port; the quartermaster was trying to call the signal tower by flashing light. About this time the Commanding Officer assumed the duties of OOD from OOD in the attack center. Neither had the channel entrance buoys in sight although the buoys were on the port bow at a range of about 1000 yards.
Navigational fixes obtained were open to question because of gyro transmission errors in the operative periscope and the poor bearing spread of available navigational aids. A course to enter the channel between the channel entrance buoys was recommended by the acting assistant navigator, an experienced QM1. This course was essentially concurred in by the navigator, however the recommendation was not sent to the bridge.
The two channel range lights and a buoy pair (5 and 6) with the same light characteristics as the entrance buoys (1 and 2) occupied the attention of the navigator and the Commanding Officer (OOD). The stage was set. As buoys 1 and 2 slid unobserved down the port side the submarine went aground.

Comments/Lessons learned:

A missing locking key for the periscope bearing transmitter, a stuck bridge hatch, one inoperative periscope – none of these directly caused the grounding. When the additional factors of haste, pre-occupation with details rather than keeping the big picture, inadequate communication between the navigator and the bridge and inadequate preparations are added, a casualty is in the making.

The sea merely lies in wait for the innocent but it stalks the unwary.
-EM1 Herb Edmonds


Navy Identifies Sailor Killed in Manbij, Syria

A Sailor assigned to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 (CWA 66), based at Ft. George G. Meade, Md., was killed while deployed in Manbij, Syria.

Source: Navy Identifies Sailor Killed in Manbij, Syria

Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, was killed while supporting Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and teammates of Chief Petty Officer Kent during this extremely difficult time.  She was a rockstar, an outstanding Chief Petty Officer, and leader to many in the Navy Information Warfare Community,” said Cmdr. Joseph Harrison, Commanding Officer, CWA-66.

Kent, who hailed from upstate New York, enlisted in the Navy December 11, 2003, and graduated from boot camp at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., in February 2004. Her other military assignments included Navy Information Operations Command, Fort Gordon, Ga.; Navy Special Warfare Support Activity 2, Norfolk, Va.; Personnel Resource Development Office, Washington, D.C.; Navy Information Operations Command, Fort Meade, Md.; and Cryptologic Warfare Group 6, Fort Meade, Md. Kent reported to CWA 66 after the command was established on Aug. 10, 2018.

“Chief Kent’s drive, determination and tenacity were infectious. Although she has left us way too soon, she will not be forgotten, and her legacy will live on with us,” said CWA 66 Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collections) Denise Vola.

Kent’s awards and decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal (2), Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon, and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.

For news and information from Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command / U.S. 10th Fleet, visit or follow us on Twitter @USFLEETCYBERCOM.

USS South Dakota to be Commissioned Feb. 2

USS South Dakota (SSN 790) will be commissioned at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Feb. 2, 2019.

Source: USS South Dakota to be Commissioned Feb. 2

NORFOLK (NNS) — The Navy’s newest fast-attack submarine, USS South Dakota (SSN 790), will be commissioned at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Feb. 2, 2019, as the seventeenth Virginia-class submarine to join the fleet.

Deanie Dempsey, wife of retired Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who served as the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the ship’s sponsor. After spending several decades of service in support of just the Army, Deanie became a champion for all of the services in her role as the chairman’s spouse. She remains actively engaged in countless activities in support of military families and participates in dozens of private and charitable organizations in support of military spouses and their families.

Designed to operate in both coastal and deep-ocean environments, South Dakota will present leadership with a broad and unique range of capabilities, including anti-submarine warfare; antisurface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces (SOF) support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. South Dakota is a part of the Virginia-class’ Block III contract, in which the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce acquisition costs.

South Dakota features a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs) each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, among other design changes that reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.

South Dakota has special features to support SOF, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. Also, in Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. Through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia class is designed to remain at the cutting edge for its entire operational life through the rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.

South Dakota will be the third U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to be commissioned bearing the name “South Dakota.” The first USS South Dakota (ACR9/CA 9) was a Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser and launched in 1904. Assigned to the Armored Cruiser Squadron, Pacific Fleet, South Dakota cruised off the west coast of the United States through August 1908. She was then sent on a cruise to Samoa and later operated in Central and South American Waters. She returned home in 1912 and was placed in reserve at Puget Sound Navy Yard.

The second USS South Dakota (BB 57) was commissioned March 1942 and assigned to Task Force 16 centered on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6). South Dakota conducted blockade operations against Japanese forces approaching Guadalcanal, where they engaged Japanese carrier forces in the Battle of Santa Cruz. She saw action in the Battle of Savo Island, Battle of Philippine Sea, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and other Japanese strongholds earning 13 battle stars.

For more information on the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790), the commissioning ceremony, go to Additional public information about the commissioning, and events leading up to it, is available at the USS South Dakota Commissioning Committee site at

Media interested in attending the Media Day, Jan. 31, and/or commissioning ceremony, Feb. 2, may contact the Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs office at (757) 836-1650, or via email at by noon, Friday, Jan. 26. No live trucks or vans will be authorized; however, the ceremony will be streamed live at

For more news from Commander, Submarine Forces, visit or For more information on the U.S. Navy, please visit, or , or @USNavy on Instagram.

Writing the story of the “Eminent Americans… Namesakes of the Polaris Submarine Fleet” – theleansubmariner


Of all the treasures about submarine lore that have been recorded, very few meet the level of excitement for me than the book listed in the title to this post.

Source: Writing the story of the “Eminent Americans… Namesakes of the Polaris Submarine Fleet” – theleansubmariner

When Admiral Rickover originally wrote his letters about the men who make up what we now know as the submarines of the 41 for Freedom submarine force, he sent them to members of Congress and the administration. His intent was to show the real connection between the heroism of the founders and the continued heroism of the principles they embodied in this new breed of submarine.

Admiral Rickover from the preface to the book:

“Ever since the first nuclear submarine – the USS Nautilus -went to sea in January 1955, I have been responsible for directing the initial sea trials of each of our nuclear ships so as to make sure that their nuclear propulsion plants functioned properly and that the officers and men had been well trained.

Because many members of Congress had given strong support in getting the Nautilus built, I decided that it would be no more than proper for me to send each of them a letter reporting what the ship had done. I remember writing some 80 letters in long-hand during that first voyage. Soon I expanded the list of recipients to include all members of Congress and appropriate officials in the executive branch.”

In reading the book, a few things stood out. The first is the mind of the man who wrote them.

My earliest encounter with the Admiral was when he was very advanced in age and I was in my twenties. He was present for the sea trials on board the USS San Francisco in the Atlantic and his presence was indeed remarkable. But I had always seen him as an engineer who was driven by an almost demonic devotion to a single purpose: nuclear power.

Having a shipmate show me this book was indeed an eye opening experience. I no longer saw the crotchety old man with a penchant for certain types of candy and fruit that must always be present when he s on board. This man was a mental giant who deeply cared for the country. His thoughts are relevant even today, more than thirty years after he left this earth. It is stunning to see how close to reality his predictions were as he penned this book.

“The careers of the men for whom the Polaris submarines are named span the full range of American history from the time of the Revolution to the present century. The preparation of these essays therefore required me to explore many aspects of our national history. In the process I learned a great deal, particularly about the origins of our Government and the events that led to the Civil War. Although I had read a good deal of ancient and modern history, I had never fully realized the fragile base upon which our system of National Government was established, the extent of the struggle it took to make us a Nation, and the part played in this struggle by nationalism, sectionalism, and the conflict over slavery. I was fascinated by the role of large corporations, Populist movements, and interest groups during the period after the Civil War in molding our Federal system of government to meet the needs of a modern, industrial nation.”

The second thing that stood out was the depth of the connectivity he created between the men and their times. The engineer that he was could have just focused on the hard facts; dates, places, names, events and so on. But Rickover spent a lot of time in creating the story that you would expect from a more seasoned writer. Most importantly, he took the time to draw the readers’ attention to the historical significance of the men in their time frame of our history. That explains why Adams surely had to follow Washington in the book.

“This broader interest in the history of the United States led me to the conclusion that I should try to reflect in these biographical essays some of those historical themes which seem to me to have particular relevance for the kinds of problems our Nation faces today. Since I can lay no claim to being a professional historian, I would not want to suggest that these essays contain anything really new and original. But as a life time student of history and as one who has spent many years in intimate contact with virtually every aspect of our Federal Government, I thought my observations on these matters might be of some interest. I therefore decided to use the careers of the men for whom the Polaris submarines were named as the focus for essays which would be broad enough to include some of the significant events which occurred during their lifetimes.

The last thing that did puzzle me a bit as I briefly read through the chapters was the order of the stories. Obviously, the George Washington chapter would be first. But the rest of the chapters did not match the order in which they were launched or even commissioned. Rickover explained:

“The order in which these essays are printed, therefore, is not necessarily the order in which the submarines were commissioned. For example, the essays on Clay, Webster and Calhoun follow each other because the lives and actions of these men encompassed the great and divisive issues of States’ rights and slavery.

To keep the size of this book within reasonable bounds, I was forced merely to suggest rather than fully develop many important themes in our history. Yet these essays will have served their purpose if they reveal something of the amazing diversity of principles and ideals which our forebears had to reconcile in building a Nation out of 13 suspicious and jealous Colonies.”

As relevant today as it was when it was written

The stories in this series are certainly about the boats of the 41 for Freedom generation. But I hope you have as much excitement about what Rickover was trying to teach the leaders of the country in what was a very difficult time.

In 1972, the United States was being torn in pieces by the Vietnam War, students rejecting the pathways of their parents, religious upheaval in many of the mainline churches, the sexual revolution, women’s rights, equal rights, and the impending crisis that would be known as Watergate. As the ink was drying on his book, America would find itself tested.

It is the power of the contributions of those men from the 41 for Freedom group that made sure we would survive all the chaos that ensued. It was also the vision of men like Admiral Rickover.

USS Bremerton sub commander relieved for hiring prostitutes

Source: USS Bremerton sub commander relieved for hiring prostitutes

BREMERTON — The commander of the USS Bremerton was relieved of duty last summer after admitting to Navy investigators he paid for “female accompaniment” while the boat was in port in the Philippines.

Capt. Travis Zettel was relieved of duty in August following a loss of confidence in his ability to command the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, which is now tied up in Bremerton for decommissioning.

The incident occurred March 1 while the sub was ported in Subic Bay, according to documents released to the Kitsap Sun under a federal Freedom of Information Act request. NCIS agents interviewed a tipster to the Department of Defense Inspector General’s hotline that Zettel had told him and another sailor at a hotel pool that Zettel had “requested/ordered ten girls to arrive at the hotel.” Later, at dinner, the sailor saw Zettel with around 10 “provocatively dressed females outside the front door of the hotel.”

More: First woman to command shipyard will do so at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

Another sailor, whose name was redacted in the documents released to the Kitsap Sun, was spotted with three “local females holding onto his arm as he was wandering around” greeting sailors from his command.

A criminal probe was launched in May, about a month after the submarine arrived in Bremerton for decommissioning. Zettel was confronted by NCIS with the allegations and “admitted culpability in the payment of female accompaniment,” the documents said. The other sailor was also interviewed but said he “did not participate in prostitution.” He then asked for a lawyer. That sailor was not “pursued for disciplinary action.”

Zettel was reprimanded and was relieved of his command in August. He was administratively reassigned to the staff of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor-based Submarine Squadron 19, Navy officials said.

The Bremerton, while on active duty, was the oldest submarine in the Navy fleet at 37 years of service.

Ensign Keeps New Year’s Day Rhyming Deck Log Tradition Alive – USNI News

A Navy ship’s deck log entry is far from being considered prose, except for what summarizes the first middle watch of the year, traditionally a rhyme.

Source: Ensign Keeps New Year’s Day Rhyming Deck Log Tradition Alive – USNI News

According to almost a century of Navy tradition, the year’s first deck log entry on a U.S. warship must be written in rhyme. The tradition is a tricky one since the entry must still include all the required information about a ship’s location, propulsion and operations.

On Jan. 1, Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) happened to be operating closest to the International Date Line and was the first U.S. ship to enter 2019. Ens. Lauren Larar was the officer of the deck at the time, and her log entry has garnered attention, not just for being first, but for the amount of detail she included about operating on New Year’s Day.

“Steaming alone over waters no trouble, McCampbell is ready to fight on the double. /With lights burning brightly above on the mast, All engines standard, 16 knots going fast,” Larar’s entry starts.

Larar includes information about the ship’s propulsion, course and what the commanding officer was doing.

“CO’s in her chair, she’s up on the Bridge, We’re still left of track, we’ll come right just a smidge,” wrote Larar.

Given the tradition allows some latitude about permitting embellishments to the entry, Larar was able to work McCampbell’s motto into the final stanza, writing, “We’re mighty, we’re strong, we cannot be rattled/In the year that’s to come we’ll stay RELENTLESS IN BATTLE!”

Larar’s entry captured the attention of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, who linked to the entry in his Facebook page New Year’s greeting to the fleet.

“Team, it is my pleasure to share the first deck log entry of 2019 from USS McCampbell (DDG-85), one of the first Navy ships to enter 2019,” Richardson wrote. “I ask that everyone keep our shipmates standing the watch around the world in their thoughts. Happy New Year team!”

It’s not clear how the tradition of writing the first deck log entry in verse started, according to a post in the Navy History and Heritage Command blog, The Sextant.

The New Year’s tradition of composing deck log entries in verse does appear to be unique to the U.S. Navy, according to the blog post. The U.K. Royal Navy, which is the source for many of the U.S. Navy’s traditions, does not celebrate rhyming log deck entries.

The New Year’s tradition possibly started as a way to offer a way for the junior officer to celebrate the new year while stuck on the bridge as the crew celebrated, Capt. Robert McNitt wrote in a 1959 Proceedingsarticle.

“Bad enough, when the ship is in port to forego a big time ashore; worse still to stand chilled to the bone on a deserted quarterdeck and glumly greet the still celebrating shipmates who manage to make it back before dawn,” McNitt wrote. “And so grew up the custom of logging the first watch of the New Year in verse, providing some diversion for the wretched watch officer, and amusement for his shipmates the next day.”

Among the earliest known New Year’s deck log rhyming entries is one composed by Ens. E. V. Dockweiler, the officer of the deck aboard USS Idaho (BB-42). On New Year’s day 1926, Idaho was in San Pedro, Calif., a harbor known for swells that rolled ships as they were berthed, McNitt wrote.

“We are anchored in Pedro Harbor Tho there isn’t much of a lee, And why they call it a harbor Is something I never could see!” Dockweiler wrote in 1926.

However, McNitt noted a message from Dockweiler’s commanding officer, Capt. A. St. Clair Smith, that suggests the tradition dates even further in the past. St. Clair Smith’s message states, “The Captain is glad to see that the old Navy custom of writing up the first watch of the year in rhyme is known to the younger members of the Service. The watch stands as written.”

The following is the entire USS McCampbell (DDG-85) middle watch deck log composed by Ens. Lauren Larar, for Jan. 1, 2019. 

Steaming alone over waters no trouble,
McCAMPBELL is ready to fight on the double.
With lights burning brightly above on the mast,
All engines standard, 16 knots going fast.
We cut through the waters below deep and blue,
Our course is 200, degrees true.
Our position is in the sea to the east.
Our stomachs are full from the grand midrats feast.
1 alpha, 2 bravo are turning each shaft,
Alpha power units move rudders back aft.
Numbers 2 and 3 are the paralleled GTGs
Material Condition is Modified Z.
Computer assisted manual is the steering mode,
So we can maneuver per Rules of the Road.
CO’s in her chair, she’s up on the Bridge,
We’re still left of track, we’ll come right just a smidge.
TAO down in Combat, monitoring aircraft and chats,
And EOOW in Central, stay vigilant Hellcats!
The year that’s behind us was challenging, yes, indeed,
But Ready 85 will always succeed.
We’re mighty, we’re strong, we cannot be rattled
In the year that’s to come we’ll stay RELENTLESS IN BATTLE!