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Twenty-eight new chief petty officers from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific, Submarine Readiness Squadron 33, USS Tucson (SSN 770), USS Hawaii (SSN 776), USS North Carolina (SSN 777) and USS Minnesota (SSN 783) were promoted during a pinning ceremony held at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Oct. 21.
The ceremony was the culmination to chief’s initiation, commonly referred to as “chief season” during which chief-selects completed six weeks of education and training to enhance their leadership styles and prepare them for the challenges of being a U.S. Navy chief petty officer, as outlined by the Chief Petty Officer Creed. Unique to the Navy, being a chief petty officer marks a career milestone that comes with responsibilities unlike any other position.
“Being a chief petty officer means you are expected to lead up, down and laterally. Chiefs are in a unique position to mentor and train Sailors under their charge, with the goal of making them better than we were in their shoes,” said Force Master Chief Jason Avin, Force Master Chief, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “However, chiefs are also expected to mentor junior officers and aid in their development as well as continuously accept the responsibility of teaching and learning from every chief in the Mess. The final six weeks of initiation season are used not only to focus selectees on what the Chief Petty Officer Creed means, but also to Get Real and Get Better through honest self-assessment and teamwork.”
Navy chiefs are expected to not only maintain in-rate technical expertise that exceeds that of any other Sailor, but also to stand ready to handle challenges ranging from their Sailors’ administrative issues to their professional development. Navy chiefs are deckplate leaders who bridge the gap between officers and enlisted personnel, filling a role that could be done by no other.
Being promoted to the rank of chief petty officer represents not only a significant achievement in any Sailor’s career, but also formally recognizes the family members, shipmates, and friends who have supported and helped each of these Sailors achieve this milestone.
“Today, you enter an entirely new level of leadership and responsibility — and it will be one of the most rewarding aspects of your career. It’s your turn to … BE THE CHIEF, to wear the anchors and the khaki uniform, to shoulder the responsibility and burdens of leadership, to always be ready to answer the call, and to carry forward our Navy’s highest traditions.” said Rear Adm. Jeff Jablon, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
|Date Posted:||10.21.2022 21:39|
|Location:||PEARL HARBOR, HI, US|
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New, Retired USS Greeneville Crew Members Visit Greene County Greeneville Sun
U.S. Navy story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian G. Reynolds, Submarine Group Nine Public Affairs
NAVAL BASE KITSAP-BANGOR, Wash. (May 24, 2022) – The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731) conducted a full crew change while at sea that concluded May 24, 2022.
This previously uncommon underway change of crew demonstrates how the Navy and its strategic forces have evolved to think, act, and operate differently in order to meet deterrent mission tasking while simultaneously executing necessary ship lifecycle events.
“This event demonstrated our ability to completely change out the crew of an SSBN at sea and in a location of our choosing,” said Rear Adm. Robert M. Gaucher, commander Submarine Group 9 and Task Group 114.3. “The readiness and flexibility we demonstrated today adds another layer of uncertainty to adversary efforts to monitor our SSBN force, and continues to send a strong message to our adversaries that ‘Today is not the day.’”
Each ballistic missile submarine has two crews, a blue crew and a gold crew, which alternate manning. Previously, the crews would alternate and resupply between patrols while in port. The ability to change crews while underway adds a new dynamic of flexibility and sustainability while the submarine is executing their mission.
“This provides an opportunity to keep the nuclear deterrent at sea survivable by exchanging the crews and replenishing the ship’s supplies in any port or location across the world,” said Capt. Kelly Laing, director of maritime operations at Commander, Task Group 114.3. “Our SSBNs are no longer tied to their homeport of record or another naval port to keep them at sea, ensuring that we are always executing the deterrent mission for the U.S. and our allies.”
Alabama is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and the eighth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The class is designed for extended, undetectable deterrent patrols and as a launch platform for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Connecticut is now pierside at a US Navy base on the Pacific island of Guam. The Navy says it got there — more than 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) east of the South China Sea — under its own power and its nuclear reactor was not harmed, although 11 of its crew of suffered minor injuries in the collision.
The Pentagon has not released details of the damage the vessel incurred nor how long it might be out of action in a region which, with the rise of the Chinese navy, is seeing growing demands on the US fleet.
Which leaves US military planners with some big questions to answer in the coming weeks and months.
Not the least of which is, how did this happen?
Driving a submarine
The Navy on Thursday gave a hint of what might have led to the accident when it relieved the Connecticut’s leadership of their command due to loss of confidence.
The commanding officer, Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani, was relieved of duty, as were the executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin, and the chief of the boat, Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of US 7th Fleet, determined that “sound judgment, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident,” according to a statement about the decision.
The undersea environment is unforgiving and even small mistakes can have huge consequences.
“Submarining is hard, it’s really hard. Not everything goes right all the time,” said Thomas Shugart, who spent more than 11 years on US submarines, including commanding an attack sub.
Surface ships or a sub operating at periscope depth can relay on global positioning satellites to give sailors a very accurate location, said Shugart, now an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
But at depth, the GPS systems are not available. Submariners use their compasses and charts.
Accurate charts (with a resolution of 328 feet or 100 meters) of the sea bottom are compiled by sending surface ships over an area and bathing the bottom in sound waves — a method called multi-beam sonar.
But the process is expensive and time consuming, leaving as much as 80% of Earth’s seafloor unmapped.
In the busy South China Sea, through which a third of the world’s maritime trade passes and where China has been building and militarily fortifying man-made islands, less than 50% of the sea bottom has been mapped, David Sandwell, a professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, told CNN.
“It’s not surprising that you could run into something,” he said.
The US Navy has not said exactly where the Connecticut hit the seamount.
Officially, the service says it was in Indo-Pacific waters, but US defense officials had previously told CNN it occurred in the South China Sea.
Sandwell tried to narrow down the area.
“These are places where the gravity predicts there is something shallower than 400 meters (1,312 feet), around the depth where a submarine might run into it,” he said.
Officially, the Navy says Seawolf-class subs have a maximum depth of more than 243 meters (800 feet), although some experts put their maximum depth around double that.
Submarines do have their own sonar, but using it comes at a price — loss of stealthiness.
Those sonar pings — so ubiquitous in submarine movies — also give away the sub’s position to opposing forces.
“Sonar is your only way to look at the bottom, but you don’t want to put out more sound than you have to,” Shugart said.
“You’d have to do that about every 20 seconds or so,” to get an accurate picture, Sandwell said. “It makes a lot of noise.”
When it comes to knowing the terrain beneath them, even astronauts might have it easier than submariners, according to Shugart.
“Basically, the surface of the moon is better charted than the bottom of the ocean is,” he said.
A history of submarine groundings
On January 8, 2005, the USS San Francisco, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, struck a seamount about 350 miles (563 kilometers) south of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.
The incident killed one sailor and injured 97 others among the crew of 137.
A Navy investigation concluded the San Francisco was traveling at maximum speed at a depth of 525 feet (160 meters) when it hit the seamount, which was not on the chart the sub’s commanders were using at the time.
But the probe found the commanders should have known the undersea mountain was there based on other charts in their possession, which indicated a navigational hazard in the area.
“If San Francisco’s leaders and watchteams had complied with requisite procedures and exercised prudent navigation practices, the grounding would most likely have been avoided,” the Navy report said. “Even if not wholly avoided, however, the grounding would not have been as severe and loss of life may be been prevented.”
Other incidents have been less serious but illustrate the difficulties of maneuvering subs even in familiar waters.
The 18,000-ton, 560-foot-long (170 meters) sub sustained more than $1 million in damage and its captain was relieved of command.
And in 2003, the USS Hartford ran aground while entering a NATO base in Spain, resulting in a $9 million repair bill and its commander being relieved of duty.
Despite those incidents, Shugart, the former US Navy sub commander, defends the US Navy’s record under the sea.
“We have more submarines, they spend more time at sea, they go a lot farther away from home and they operate at higher speeds than probably anybody else’s,” he said.
“We do the most challenging submarine missions that anybody does and the farthest away from home,” he said, adding: “even the pros have bad days.”
What makes the USS Connecticut so special?
The Connecticut is one of three Seawolf-class submarines in the US Navy fleet, each costing about $3 billion to build. The 9,300-ton, 353-foot sub, commissioned in 1998 and is crewed by 140 sailors.
Like all modern US Navy attack submarines, the Connecticut is powered by a nuclear reactor, which enables it to be fast but quiet, with none of the noise produced by a combustion engine. Nuclear power enables such subs to stay at sea and underwater as long as provisions for the crew hold out.
The Navy doesn’t give exact figures in publicizing the abilities of its submarine, but experts say the Seawolf-class is exceptional.
“These subs have some of the most advanced — in fact the most advanced — underwater capabilities in the business,” said Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy at King’s College in London.
The Navy says it is “exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors.”
A Navy fact sheet says the Connecticut is capable of going faster than 28 mph (46.3 kph) under water. That’s faster than the average container or cargo ship on the surface of the sea and almost as fast as the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
As it is larger than even the newest Virginia-class attack subs, the Connecticut can carry more weaponry than other US attack submarines — including up to 50 torpedoes as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to a US Navy fact sheet.
And despite being more than 20 years old, it’s also technologically advanced with updates to its systems performed during its service life.
Though the Navy doesn’t give details on the missions its submarines undertake, the three Seawolf-class subs are thought to be important intelligence-gathering assets, especially in shallower environments.
“The robust design of the Seawolf class enables these submarines to perform a wide spectrum of crucial military assignments — from underneath the Arctic icepack to littoral regions anywhere in the world,” the manufacturer, General Dynamics Electric Boat, says on its website.
“Their missions include surveillance, intelligence collection, special warfare, cruise missile strike, mine warfare, and anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare,” Electric Boat says.
With no combat taking place in the South China Sea, the focus of the sub in the current environment is likely to be in intelligence gathering.
And that’s why China is paying close attention.
Questions from Beijing
Following the collision, Beijing has accused Washington of not being forthcoming about what happened and how it could affect countries around the South China Sea.
“We have repeatedly expressed our grave concern over the incident and asked the US side to take a responsible attitude and provide a detailed clarification so as to give a satisfactory account to the international community and countries in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said this week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in September the AUKUS deal “seriously damages regional peace and stability.”
The Connecticut incident just added fuel to Beijing’s propaganda push.
Washington issued its first public statement on the collision five days after it occurred. It did not disclose the fact that the Connecticut hit a seamount until earlier this week, nearly a month after the incident.
US Navy officials told CNN on Wednesday the delays stemmed from concerns including keeping the damaged sub safe and ensuring a thorough investigation of the incident, as is standard.
“Due to operations security, we could not disclose the location of the submarine or the incident to the public at an earlier date,” Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a public affairs officer for the US 7th Fleet, said in an email.
Sims said two internal investigations were launched, one on the command of the sub and a second on safety procedures.
The first, she said, “determined USS Connecticut grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region” and has been submitted to 7th Fleet commanders for review.
The second probe, being conducted by Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, is ongoing.
A spokesperson for the sub force, Cmdr. Cindy Fields, told CNN this week the submarine is in “a safe and stable condition” at the port in Guam.
“USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational,” she said.
The Navy said Thursday the Connecticut would be moved to Bremerton, Washington, for repairs.
According to a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang called on Washington to clarify “the intended navigation of the nuclear submarine, whether the specific location of the incident was in an exclusive economic zone or territorial sea of any other country, or whether the incident has caused nuclear leakage or damaged the marine environment.”
The US has not revealed any of those details, but when it comes to the South China Sea, Washington’s policy is consistent.
After a US destroyer performed a freedom of navigation operation in the waterway in September, a US 7th Fleet statement responded definitively to Chinese objections: “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” the statement said. “Nothing (China) says otherwise will deter us.”
CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
Editors note: The USA TODAY Network’s South Region chronicled the stories of Tennessee families still mourning the loss of loved ones on the USS Indianapolis — more than seven decades later. You can find our premium story here.
November 7, 1931 – The USS Indianapolis was launched. The Portland-class heavy cruiser was 610 feet, 3 inches long and displaced 9,950 tons. The Indianapolis carried a main battery of nine 8-inch guns and eight 5-inch antiaircraft guns. She could reach speeds of more than 32 knots thanks to eight boilers turning four steam turbines.
January 1, 1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt selected the Indianapolis as his ship of state. She carried Roosevelt on three cruises, including his 1936 “Good Neighbor” trip to South America.
February 20 and March 10, 1942 – The cruiser earned her first battle star during the Bougainville Air Action and Salamaua-Lae Raid.
1943 – The U.S.S. Indianapolis became the flagship of the U.S. Fifth Fleet under Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance.
May 1943 – April 1945 – The vessel earned nine more battle stars: at Attu Occupation, which was part of the broader Aleutians Operation; the Gilbert Islands Operation; the Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls and the Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll, which were part of the Marshall Islands Operation; the Palau, Yap, Ulitihi and Woleai Raids; the Marianas Operation, including the Capture and Occupation of Saipan and Guam and the Battle of the Philippine Sea; the Capture and Occupation of Tinian Island; the Capture and Occupation of the Southern Palau Islands during the Western Caroline Islands Operation; for her part in the bombardment of Iwo Jima; for her role in the Okinawa Gunto Operation.
March 31, 1945 – While taking part in the Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto, the Indianapolis suffered a near-fatal kamikaze attack. Nine crew members died and 29 were wounded. The cruiser suffered severe damage to her keel, propeller shafts, fuel tanks and water-distilling equipment.
May 1, 1945 – The Indianapolis docked at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, to undergo extensive repairs.
May 8, 1945 – On V-E Day, Allied Forces formally accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, marking the end of World War II in Europe.
July 12, 1945 – Captain Charles B. McVay III, commanding officer of the Indianapolis, received orders from naval command to immediately ready his crew for a secret mission.
July 15, 1945 – The Indianapolis moved to Hunters Point Navy Yard in San Francisco, where she received orders for a secret mission: Proceed to Tinian island carrying enriched uranium and parts for the construction of “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb that was later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
July 16, 1945 – At 5:29 a.m., the U.S. Army conducted the first-ever detonation of a nuclear device in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico as part of the Manhattan Project. Hours later, the Indianapolis departed San Francisco and set a course for Tinian island — without an escort. This was the last time many of the crew saw their loved ones.
July 19, 1945 – The cruiser set a speed record by arriving in Pearl Harbor (Oahu, Hawaii) in under 75 hours.
July 21, 1945 – A Japanese submarine torpedoed and sank the USS Underhill along the Indianapolis’ planned route. Captain McVay was not notified that Japanese submarines were operating in the area.
July 26, 1945 – The Indianapolis delivered bomb components to Tinian island and proceeded to Guam.
July 28, 1945 – The Indianapolis departed Guam for Leyte. Captain McVay received orders to zigzag the cruiser “at his discretion, weather permitting,” to avoid submarine attacks, but declined to do so.
July 30, 1945 – At 12:15 a.m., after departing Guam for Leyte, the Indianapolis was struck on her starboard side by two torpedoes fired by Japanese submarine I-58, which was captained by lieutenant commander Mochitsura Hashimoto. Within 12 minutes, the cruiser rolled upside down. Soon after, the stern rose into the air, and the ship sank. Some 300 crewmen went down with the ship, according to survivors.
The remaining 895 men were set adrift in the open ocean without adequate life boats, life vests, food or fresh water. Over the next four days, they suffered from exposure, dehydration salt poisoning and attacks from sharks, drawn by the commotion and the scent of blood in the water. (Accounts of sharks differ, according to previously reported stories from survivors.)
July 31, 1945 – The USS Indianapolis was not reported missing after failing to arrive in Leyte.
August 2, 1945 – At 10:25 a.m., a pair of Navy bombers on a routine patrol spotted survivors from the Indianapolis floating below and radioed for help.
The first rescue vessel to arrive was an amphibious PBY-5A Catalina patrol plane piloted by Lt. Comdr. Robert Adrian Marks. His flight crew dropped life rafts, then realized survivors were too exhausted to swim to them. After taking a vote amongst his crew, Marks went against orders and completed a sea landing to pick up as many crew members as possible. They were able to fit 56 men inside the plane and on top of the wings.
That night, the destroyer escort, USS Cecil J. Doyle, followed by six ships, arrived, rescuing the remaining men. Only 316 survived.
August 6, 1945 – Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima.
August 9, 1945 – Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. Combined, the two atomic bombs killed over 200,000 people, mostly civilians. Victims included the family of Hashimoto, the submarine commander of I-58.
August 15, 1945 – V-J Day. The Emperor of Japan announced his country’s surrender, ending World War II.
December 3, 1945 – Hashimoto testified on behalf of the prosecution at the court-martial of McVay. He said the Indianapolis would not have been able to avoid both torpedoes by zigzagging.
At the end of the military trial, McVay was court-martialed for “failure to follow a zigzag course” and “failure to sound an abandon ship.” He became the only captain in the U.S. Navy during World War II to face a military trial due to the loss of a ship in combat. McVay was sentenced to a loss of 100 promotion numbers. Later, his sentence was remitted, but his conviction remained in place.
1949 – McVay retired, and was subsequently promoted to rear admiral.
November 6, 1968 – McVay committed suicide using his Navy-issued revolver. His body was found by his gardener holding the revolver in one hand, and a toy sailor in the other.
1975 – The movie Jaws debuted in theaters. One of the film’s fictional characters, Quint, was a survivor of the USS Indianapolis, which brought the tragedy back into the public spotlight.
1998 – Hunter Scott, a 12-year-old from Pensacola, Florida, interviewed dozens of surviving crewmen for a National History Day project on the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which he learned about after watching Jaws. His efforts attracted the attention of his congressman, Joe Scarborough, creating renewed national interest in the 1945 disaster. Scott appeared before Congress alongside crewmen from the Indianapolis to argue for McVay’s exoneration.
October, 2000 – Congress passed a resolution, also signed by President Bill Clinton, posthumously exonerating McVay for the loss of the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
July, 2016 – Naval records with new information on the ship’s last-known position were discovered, which placed the cruiser farther west than previously thought.
August 19, 2017 – The wreck was located at a depth of 18,000 feet by the “USS Indianapolis Project” aboard the RV Petrel, a research vessel funded by American business magnate Paul Allen.
September, 2017 – A map of the wreckage was released to the public.
Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) conduct a virtual tour of the boat as part of Santa Fe Virtual Navy Week. The Navy Week program has served as the Navy’s principal outreach effort into areas of the nation without a significant Navy presence, with over 250 Navy Weeks held in 80 different U.S. cities. The program is designed to share with Americans how their Navy is deployed around the world and around the clock, and why a strong Navy is vital to protecting the American way of life. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alfred Coffield)
Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780) at sea. Film Credits Petty Officer 2nd Class Shaun Griffin Music Credits End-screen Music : Epic by …
Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) conduct routine operations while underway. Oklahoma City is one of four forward-deployed submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen out of Polaris Point, Naval Base Guam. (U.S. Navy Video by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey J. Hockenberger)