The collision caused the death of one crewman and injuries to dozens more. It took $88 million to repair the boat.Sam Fellman, Navy Times
8 November 2016
Sailors and former crewmembers bid farewell at a Friday ceremony to the attack submarine that survived a devastating 2005 collision and would go on to serve another decade, including four more deployments.
The submarine San Francisco is being retired from the fleet after 35 years of service and will shift to Norfolk later this month to become a nuclear reactor training ship.
A look at its traumatic history:
On Jan. 8, 2005, the submarine struck an underwater mountain going nearly full speed. The violent collision slammed sailors into bulkheads and equipment. One crewmember recalled chaos and carnage from the impact, which was like hitting a cement wall at 40 mph. The shocked chief of the watch leaped back into action and actuated the emergency ballast tanks, bringing the sub to the surface from a depth of about 500 feet.
The force of impact killed Machinist’s Mate 2 nd Class Joseph Ashley and wounded dozens more. Hospital Corpsman 1 st Class (SS) James Akin and another crewmember later received the Meritorious Service Medal for setting up an emergency triage center and caring for 70 injured shipmates.
The impact crushed the submarine’s bow and caused at least $88 million in damages. A command investigation faulted the submarine’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, and his navigation team for failing to properly chart a safe voyage plan. They transited an area filled with undersea volcanoes when they could have avoided the area and also failed to take additional precautions, like more frequent soundings to check depth changes. It would take the better part of three years to return the San Francisco to operational service.
Crews would take the submarine on at least four more deployments. They returned to cheers in San Diego from their final cruise on Oct. 14. Later in November, the submarine will head to Norfolk for a two-year conversion to become a moored training ship, where future submariners will learn to safely operate nuclear reactors and engineering systems.
"By any measure, the San Francisco has had a stellar career as an operational submarine," said Cmdr. Jeff Juergens, the outgoing commanding officer, in a Nov., 4 ceremony in San Diego. "I've been extremely fortunate to be one of the few to command this fine submarine, and especially lucky to get to command San Francisco for the last three years, which have been so successful."