• USS SeaHorse SSN 669 incident

    Seahorse, SSN 669.
    Late 73 but most likely early 74.

    Two others recollections at the bottom.

    Wrote this afterwards.

    Sea Horse 669 coming out of Naples in the early 70's, from LL OPS, and
    Torpedo Room. Following is a recounting from UL OPS Control Room, and an
    eyewitness from aft:

    I recall the Naples incident distinctly. I still have nightmares about it.
    We had just been discussing, with Lt. Fredrickson, I think, the "reasons"
    we had lost the Scorpion. At that time, it seems the general understanding
    was they shot the GDU (we called it the TDU) at too great a depth while
    transiting, it blew the unit when they opened the hull globe valve, shock
    wave put all crew unconscious, and the salt water went into the battery
    compartment and blew the bottom out. The claim was they found pieces of
    the phenolic grating above the cells with the color of the torpedo room floor
    compressed into it. Seems all SSNs had different colored, and carefully
    logged, colors on each floor of each deck in each compartment, at least
    that's what they told us then, and Officers never lied to us, right?
    Anyway, we were coming out of Naples in State 4 seas, trying to escape a
    Typhoon, preparing to dive. The IC of the watch (cannot recall- not Calkins) was in the Bridge Access Trunk to pull the suitcase, OOD and 2 watches
    still in the sail. OOD looked aft, saw a HUGE wave about to poop us, said
    "OhMyGod", grabbed both watches around the neck, pulled them in the sail
    and they held on. We were shoved down to 125 feet with bridge access hatches
    open, IC man in the trunk, and the fairwater planes still secured for
    The maneuvering watch had been secured, I had gone to bed in my upper bunk
    in the lower level ops forward of the torpedo room, and I heard a horrible
    roaring noise.
    I remember thinking either someone had cracked a flap while blowing
    sanitaries or we were flooding.
    I got down from my bunk, in my skivvies, my feet hit water. I went around
    the corner and looked up the ladder towards the crew's head. All I could
    see was water cascading down from the bridge trunk drain in the overhead
    outside the crew's head doorway. An unknown crewmember was observed trying to push the water away from the power distribution panels also outside the head
    doorway. I yelled at him to get away from the live panel. About this
    point, the 1MC cracked to life, the COW was sputtering "flooding......control
    room.....now......". I immediately recalled the discussion of the
    Scorpion, recalled the sprung battery compartment hatch in the deck of the Torpedo Room, and yelled, out loud, "OhMyGod, the batteries!"
    I immediately, still in my skivvies, entered the torpedo room, and saw a
    wall of green water piled against the starboard side of the Torpedo Room,
    as we were heeled well over to starboard.
    I immediately ordered a seaman, also in skivvies, to grab my ankles, and I
    grabbed his, and we formed a ring around the hatch laying upon the deck. I
    then ordered the remaining crew in the Torpedo Room to grab the bedding
    from the hot-bunks strapped to the torpedo racks, and to duct tape us in to the
    floor. This they did.
    The Horse, by an act of God and the skill of Electric Boat, surfaced itself.
    About 15 minutes into this ordeal, the water level had gone down, drain
    pumps were running to suck the bilges out, and they un-taped us.
    I tried to return to my bunk for clothes, but as I stepped into the
    berthing area, got low current 110v into my feet. I jumped back into the Torpedo
    Room, looked around the corner, and saw seawater running out of the lights
    at the battery test station.
    Later inspection showed there was one drop of seawater running down the
    side of the hatch, stopped at the seal lip.
    The IC man was found unconscious, his fingers were unlocked from the
    Bridge Access Ladder, and he was removed from the trunk. He was unconscious and
    beaten to a pulp by all the seawater passing him. He was placed on a table
    in the crews mess where Doc Bacon worked on him for 20-30 minutes. He was
    green and looked dead.
    I went to the control room to report, still in my skivvies.
    If I recall, the DivCom, I thought an Admiral, was aboard, and saw me.
    We got dressed and began cleanup after we dived to get away from the
    storm. I recall Scalia, maybe, QM with a whole armful of brand new sponges, still
    compressed, walking into the control room, and throwing them out like
    frisbees onto the water on the deck of the control room. The Admiral said
    to him, "That won't do any good", but Scalia said "Oh, yeah? Just watch!" and
    wherever they hit, they sucked up all the water and came to normal size!
    Then he went around with a bucket, picked them up, and wrung them out,and
    threw them to the next spot. He had the whole control room deck dry in no

    I thought we had just finished our change of command and had departed
    Naples Italy when we had the flooding in the control room. The sea state was
    rather rough, and we had not reached the dive point.

    We had the Admiral from Naples on board. We were taking waves over the
    sail and the CO had decided that it would be safer if we brought down the OOD,
    and lookout. We were making preps to clear the bridges. The AEF had just
    started up the trunk and we took another major wave. I was in the control
    room when it all occurred. The wave had pinned the AEF against the
    floating wire mechanism, and It had knocked the lookout down the ladder, and the
    OOD was pinned as he was trying to clear the bridge. We took on so much water
    that it caused the BCP, IC SWBD, and FC switchboards to short out. All of
    the ship alarms were sounding at the same time. The COW just got out the
    word that we had flooding in the control room. We lost all lighting in
    the control room, I think it took a long time to clear it all up. I ran
    behind the FC system and secured the IC & FC switchboard as sparks were flying
    around the top of the switchboards. I am not sure what the depth gauge
    indicated before we got back the surface. I think the COW blew the
    forward group. The water went all the way to the Torpedo room. We were lucky
    that we got back to the surface, and not lost the OOD and lookout. After that
    there was more specific direction from SUBLANT on what to do during rough
    weather on the surface.

    The admiral was on the deck with all of the rest of us cleaning up the
    residual water in the control room.

    As I remember it.

    As a note, I was the on-watch aft electrician during the Naples event.
    Almost everybody in the boat was sea-sick from the high seas. After the
    word went out over the 1MC (I remember "water in Control Water in Control" but
    not the word flooding), I ran to the tunnel to see what was happening, saw
    water about 6 inches deep coming down the UL-OPS passageway and making
    it's way down the ladder into the Crews Mess. I **** near crapped my pants;
    slammed the forward Tunnel Hatch shut and dogged it, shut and dogged the
    after tunnel hatch, and Ran to maneuvering to tell them what I saw. Only
    time I ever entered Manuevering without asking for permission.