January 3rd, 2007

submarine insignia, dolphins

Update on the USS Minneapolis story

As I noted on the 30th, two Submarine Force Sailors died when they were washed overboard as their ship, USS Minneapolis-St Paul (SSN 708) was sailing out of Plymouth, England. It wasn't clear to me at the time why anybody would be out on the hull in rough waters. I'd seen some other submarine bloggers speculate that they were rigging topside for dive, but that didn't really make sense to me - if you're in waters open enough for heavy seas to build up, you should have already secured pretty much everything there is to secure topside except the bridge itself.

However, the Stars and Stripes reports that according to a local constabulary spokesman, a British harbor pilot was still on board the submarine at the time of the accident. If the crew still had the pilot onboard, it does make sense that they'd need a party topside to help transfer the pilot off to the pilot boat. In fact, that's just about the only reason I can think of to have anybody topside at all.

One of the two sailors who died was the Chief of the Boat - the senior enlisted man in the crew, equivalent to a command sergeant major in other services. Had I stayed in the service - and had I stayed enlisted - that's probably the job that I'd have had right about now. Somber-making thought, that is...