Title: Unsinkable No More: US Submarine That Hit Underwater Mountain Stuck in Repairs for Years
In a surprising turn of events, an incident that occurred years ago continues to baffle experts and keep an advanced United States submarine stuck in repairs. This captivating story revolves around the USS San Francisco (SSN-711), a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine. Having struck an underwater mountain while submerged back in 2005, this incident has led to extensive repairs that have prolonged for an unexpectedly long duration.
It was on January 8, 2005, when the USS San Francisco, sailing at high speed, collided with an underwater mountain approximately 350 miles southeast of Guam. The mountain, known as a seamount, existed on navigational charts but was inaccurately plotted, resulting in the collision. The impact severely damaged the front portion, also known as the bow, of the submarine.
Immediate Response and Aftermath
The collision instantly injured 98 crew members, one of whom tragically lost his life. The heroic efforts of the crew, combined with the submarine’s design, undoubtedly saved the lives of everyone on board.
The San Francisco immediately surfaced and made its way back to the island of Guam for initial repairs. However, the extent of the damage was far more severe than initially anticipated, and the submarine was subsequently transported to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington for a more comprehensive overhaul.
Lengthy and Costly Repairs
Since 2005, the USS San Francisco has remained in various stages of repair, hampered by unexpected challenges and complexities. Due to the intricate nature of submarine systems and the unique nuclear propulsion system housed within, the repair process has proven to be an arduous and technically demanding task.
The need for an entirely new bow section posed a significant challenge. Its construction necessitated extensive planning, engineering, and coordination involving multiple contractors and naval personnel. Meticulous attention was paid to ensure the utmost safety and reliability once the repair was complete.
In addition to the technical challenges, the cost of repairs has been substantial. While the exact figure remains undisclosed, estimates suggest that the overall repairs and overhaul have cost over $90 million.
Lessons Learned and Policy Changes
The USS San Francisco incident prompted intense scrutiny and resulted in crucial policy changes within the United States Navy regarding submerged navigation and charting. Steps were taken to improve the accuracy of submarine charts, ensuring such a disaster would not occur in the future.
Moreover, the incident highlighted the resilience and professionalism of the submarine’s crew. Their actions in the aftermath, enabling the safe return to the surface despite severe damage, are a testament to the exceptional training and dedication of the personnel serving on the USS San Francisco.
In what should have been a routine transit for the USS San Francisco turned into an extraordinary tale of survival and a grueling repair process spanning years. The collision with an underwater mountain in 2005 forever etched the submarine’s name into naval history, despite its original purpose as an invincible war machine.
The prolonged repairs and overwhelming challenges associated with fixing the USS San Francisco serve as a poignant reminder of the fragility of even the most advanced military technology. It is a testament to the commitment of naval forces worldwide and the realization that, even in an age of cutting-edge technology, nature’s obstacles can still present unexpected dangers for submariners exploring the depths of the oceans.