June 25, 2004: Submarine is crippled… like Timmy
After of the aforementioned in-port tomfoolery [which was awesome] it was time for Engineering Department to get down to business. We had just completed an extended maintenance period, and it was now time to get back out to sea and punch holes in the ocean once again. It was simply an under way to knock the rust off and get ready for an Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam.
ORSE is the shittiest experience for a Nuke in the Navy. The actual exam only lasts about 72 hours. It involves written exams, complete records audits, and you guessed it …goddamn drills! In an effort to prepare for this least significant, yet most painful portion of ORSE is to go out to sea for 3 fucking weeks to run drills until we puke. Not fun.
We bid Papa Hotel fucking-adieu and fired up the engine room for what should have been a sleepy ORSE workup. But nothing in the Navy goes as expected.
Lo and behold, as a result of some careless valve re-positioning after maintenance and a small mistake during a minor loss of hydraulics casualty, we had a MAJOR problem. It was the first and only time that I felt like my life was in jeopardy on the boat.
I woke up to the General Alarm…
“Loss of All Hydraulics! All hands go to General Quarters!”
At first I was pissed, thinking…
“Why the fuck are we running a drill in the middle of the night!? This drill has nothing to do with ORSE.”
We had just left PH the day before. Once I realized that it was a no-shit casualty, I found myself shitting my pants on the mess decks with my shipmates.
On a submarine, almost everything is operated with hydraulics. Everything, that is, except for the main engines, the shaft and screw, and the turbine generators. We had electricity and propulsion …that’s it! We couldn’t steer, change depth, emergency surface, raise any masts/periscope/antennae… in short, we were ‘crippled’ as the captain so succinctly put it in the report that followed.
The next day, we were all ordered to do 100% valve line-ups for every valve in every system on the ship, by order of the captain.
Aside quote: “Well, it could be worse…” –Sequoia