August 05, 2005

Greatest Submarine Rescue in History. On 23 May 1939, the submarine Squalus sank in 243 feet of water off Portsmouth, NH when the engine room flooded due to a catastrophic valve failure. 26 men in the after part of the ship were drowned. Thirty-three others, including the commanding officer, LT Oliver F. Naquin, who were in the forward section, were trapped with no way to escape. Thus began the greatest submarine rescue of all time. Also, here's a short story about one of the survivors, Warren Smith.

I hope the Russian mini-sub that is currently being rescued has a happy ending. The National Geographic has a page on sub disasters. It illustrates just how dangerous the submariner's job is. As John Pike says, "Spaceships and subs have one thing in common: Either everything's working OK, or everyone's dead, and there's not that much in between".

  • I knew this was ur post just by it's intrinsic awesomeness. bananas for u!
  • As an exsubmariner who used to work back aft, this doesn't sound like much of a rescue.
  • As someone whose knowledge of submarines is based on the Beatles, it sounded like one hell of a rescue.
  • There was a book about this a couple of years ago, The Terrible Hours. I remember being struck by the heroic attitude of Swede Momsen, who despite having been shunned by the Navy for his innovative ideas, effected the rescue in a diving bell that he had designed and funded on his own. After his success, the Navy was begrudgingly forced to accept his ideas. The knuckleheadedness of the military was just as prevalent then as it is today, apparently.
  • Alas, at present, there seems to be little hope for the crew of AS-28. The rather strange anouncement that surface ships have attached a tow-line to the submersible seems both mystifying and improbable. It's difficult to know what the Russians are really saying, however, as the press seems remarkably bad at passing on their statements reliably. On preview, I just heard on the radio that the Russians are now saying the 'tow attempt' has failed. My heart is breaking for those poor men, and their families who are probably yet to get that knock on the door.
  • The current news reports on the Russian mini-sub are probably complete rubbish. It seems like the media rarely gets initial reports of emergencies correct, and the Russians don't interview well (never have). It's currently mid-afternoon on Kamchatka. The British unmanned super-scorpio rescue submersible should arrive in a few hours, and a few hours after that the US team should arrive, according to this article. I sure hope they make it.
  • My impression is that once a scorpio platform gets there there's a high probability of recovery of the submersible itself. The main question is, are the crew still alive? It really does make you wish some reporter had thought to ask, point blank, what safety equipment was being carried. Not that St Petersburg would probably know, but still... presumably somebody has a safety manual somewhere. That was a really good article, un-. A trawl would possibly work, but I'm not sure how efficient it would be with a smooth-boddied craft like AS-28. I have no idea how they're contemplating attaching a tow-line.
  • The Russian submersible business sounds so like the fiasco of the Kursk. Hope there's a better outcome this time, but not very optomistic. Russian navy seems still unaccustomed to being open.
  • From the You Heard it First on Monkeyfilter department: ITAR-TASS reports that they've cut through the cables, but the submarine hasn't broken the surface yet. That means that something unusual has happened. From 190 m, the AS-28 should reach the surface in something like six minutes. AS-28 was most probably engaged in some kind of test. News reports now say that there was a 'plant representative' (ie someone from a factory) and a 'staff officer' aboard. This is very common Russian practice in the case of an experiment of some kind. The 'antenna' that they were snagged on (or more probably the net was snagged on) is almost certainly part of the Russian equivilant of SOSUS. It is a super-secret listening device. This might have had something to do with the test... who knows. The sub was carrying a third of the number of people it could carry at full capacity. This may have influenced the probably back-of-the-envelope style calculations as to how much air was left.
  • Sounds hopeful. this article says they are about ready to do an emergency resurfacing.
  • BBC reports the sub has surfaced, with all seven alive and well. Hurray!!!
  • Vodka for everybody!
  • Huzzah!
  • I love a happy ending (^_^) Hi, Dreadnought! How're you and jb?
  • I love a happy ending too. I feel very connected to this case, because of my thesis topic. Actually I ended up calling the BBC and giving them information, some of which seems to have found its way into their web reports. Unfortuntately I couldn't tell them what they really wanted to know, which was how much air was left (actually, how high CO2 levels would be!). I also tried to call the CBC, because their coverage contained a number of serious mistakes. However, it turns out that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation only accepts outside calls between 9-5, Monday to Friday! Talk about a world class news organisation! I'm fine, Alnedra. jb is fine too, although she's swamped with exam stuff right now.
  • Wow. This is why I love Monkeyfilter, and the internet in general. Specific data about a situation at hand, historical context, informed analysis, all at the same time. Thanks!