USS San Francisco

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RichardLowry
Author of Gulf War Chronicles
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USS San Francisco

Post by RichardLowry » Mon Jan 17, 2005 8:51 pm

I just received this email from and old submarine shipmate:

To All,

I thought that I would put out a note since a lot of you have been
calling and writing to find out how things are and if I'm OK and what happened.
If you hadn't heard, my boat hit a uncharted submerged sea mount at the
highest speed we can go at about 500ft below the surface. There were about 30
of us that were seriously hurt and unfortunately one of my shipmates didn't
make it.

First off I am OK. I am pretty beat up with my entire left side and
butt as one big bruise. My shoulder is separated and may require surgery.
They will evaluate later this week. I am very fortunate that I hit the wall and
didn't go down a ladderwell that was right next to where I hit. If I had gone
down that, I would have got really messed up. I took a tremendous shot
to my left thigh from something. If it had been slightly lower in the knee
area it would have been really ugly. But all in all I am in good shape.

We hit it at about noon right after field day (where all of us clean
the boat for several hours). Thank God we didn't hit while we were doing
this or it would have been much worse. We would have had flying deck
plates through the air and such. Not good. As it was, it happened while
chow was going on and most people were either sitting and eating or on
watch.

I don't remember much of the collision. People describe it as like in
the movie the Matrix where everything slowed down and levitated and then
went flying forward faster that the brain can process. My mind has blanked
it out exactly what happened. Adrenaline kicked in and I have no real memory
of how I got down to middle level or what I did immediately following. I helped
carry several shipmates to the crew mess deck (adrenaline is a wonderful
thing - my shoulder was wrecked and I had no idea until about 4 hours later).
I sat with several of my junior guys that had bad head wounds and talked with
them to keep them conscious until doc could see them. It seemed like an
eternity but I'm sure wasn't that long. For those Navy folks that ever wondered
why Chief's stomp around and preach "Stow for Sea" This was a perfect
example. It definately saved lives.

I am extremely proud of the crew to do damage control, help the wounded
and get the boat safely to the surface (for the boat guys we blew the tanks dry
on the emergency blow but unbeknownst to us we were missing some ballast
tanks/some didn't have integrity). The ship's control party did every thing
exactly right even though they were hurt as well. The Diving Officer of the
Watch had just unbuckled his belt to update a status board and hit the
Ship's Control Panel hard enough to break some of the gauges. To add
insult to injury his chair came up right behind him. Several people were
injured in the Engine Room Lower Level area. Lots of metal and sharp edges
in the area as well as that's were the boat's smoking area is at. Several crew
members are reevaluating that habit now.

Once again we got lucky in the fact that we had an extra corpsman
onboard. One of our officer's was a prior enlisted corpsman that was a Fleet
Marine Force medic so he was a Godsend for us. Our Corpsman did an
outstanding job getting everyone stabilized and did the best he could for our
fallen shipmate. I am surprised that he got him to hold on as long as he did.
Our corpsman is definitely a hero in my book. He didn't sleep for 2 or 3 days.

We finally put him down when the SEAL docs helicoptered in to help.
Like I said, I am extremely proud of my crew and how they handled themselves.
My Chief of the Boat was an inspiration of what a leader should be and my
Captain was as well. My XO took out an EAB manifold with his back but
still managed to help coordinate things. No matter what happens later, these
men did a superior job under difficult circumstances. I am humbled by the
entire crew's performance from the CO down to the Seaman that I was
checking in two days before.

For those of you wondering, I am sure there will be an investigation
into what happened and no I was not part of the navigation preps for this
voyage. I work on the inertial/electronic navigation and interior communications
part of my rate and didn't have anything to do with the conventional navigation
part of it. I will be lending support to my comrades who were to help them
prepare for the pending investigation.

I thank you all for you concern and appreciate your prayers not only for
myself, but for my shipmates. We are doing well, we band of brothers and
will pull through just fine.

Thanks,

Brian Frie

Chief Electronics Technician Submarines
USS San Francisco SSN 711
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Saskia
Soldier
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Location: The Netherlands

Post by Saskia » Tue Jan 18, 2005 5:32 am

Thank you for posting this letter Richard. I've heard something about it and couldn't help but being worried wether they would be alright...
The history of man is the history of crimes, and history can repeat. So information is a defense. Through this we can build, we must build, a defense against repetition.
Simon Wiesenthal
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