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USS Hartford collision

So my old boat, the USS Hartford, was in a significant collision this week. While transiting (submerged) through the Straits of Hormuz, they ran into the USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship (surface ship that carries Marines). According to reports, about 15 people on the Hartford were hurt, though luckily none were seriously injured. The New Orleans had some tanks punctured, spilling about 25+k gallons of fuel oil.

The Hartford looks like it’s in pretty bad shape. Here are photos from the NavyTimes.com:

This one shows the sail bent over at an angle:

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This shows the damage on the front of the sail, but you can also see where the bottom of the sail has pulled apart from the hull after being bent over:

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I can only imagine two scenarios about what happened. #1- The Hartford lost depth control and/or got sucked up in the wake of a big surface ship. (Unlikely but has happened.) #2- The Hartford was on its way to periscope depth and didn’t hear the New Orleans or realize it was as close as it was. Since the NavyTimes article quoted the Navy as saying the Hartford was “submerged but near the surface” it sounds like #2 is the right answer. Unfortunately this is not hugely uncommon; going to periscope depth is the most dangerous thing a submarine does regularly.

I feel really bad for the guys on the boat. I was on the Hartford when we grounded off of Italy in 2003; it’s an awful experience for everyone, whether you were personally involved or not. It causes a lot of disruption for the Navy and all the people involved. I’m no expert, but that damage is probably going to take a long time to fix.

[UPDATE]: More photos here from the Navy. The sail is pretty trashed. Lots of Navy-specific comments on Joel’s blog here.

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[UPDATE 2]: Commenters on Joel’s blog have written that the Hartford experienced an 82-degree roll! If that’s even half-true (and it may very well not be) it’s amazing that only 15 people were hurt.

  • I'm amazed she didn't sink; does ripping the sail off cause water to leak into the boat? I'm reminded of scenes from Das Boot. Whatever the cause, some pretty amazing engineering to survive that.

  • Most of the sail is actually outside the main pressurized “people-tank.” That said, there's a hatch/passageway for people to access the sail, a couple of periscopes and one or two other masts that all go through the sail into the main hull. If it was bent so far that those opened up, it would have been disasterous. That's why they're going to be in port for a while. Either fixing the periscopes and/or designing a way for them to go home when the periscopes are completely screwed is a hell of a challenge. At least when we grounded, we pulled in next to a repair ship; I don't think there's anything like that close to Bahrain.

    The 688i class is designed to punch through the arctic ice, so it was one hell of a collision to bend it over. And if the boat went through an 80+ degree roll… that only 15 people were hurt says quite a bit about the professionalism of the crew.

  • I just posted on this story….seems the accident if FAR WORST that the Navy has been letting on…according to one story I found online water tests are being done underneath the submarine to ascertain the severity of the radiation LEAK! Not surprising when you realize this submarine smashed a 16-18 diameter hole into the USS New Orleans…that is a big enough hole to drive a Peterbilt through! Trying to speak to the Navy's PAO in DC now.

  • Mike Johnson

    Jed I remember the good old days on the Hartford when all we hit were inanimate objects. I can not believe that so many bad things have happened to this boat. Man they are lucky that no one else got hurt. Well no more sea time for me since 2006 when we went to the shipyard. I don't miss her, but I sure miss a few friends. ET1/SS Mike Johnson (RC Div)

  • virginiachall17

    I feel really bad for the guys on the boat. I was on the Hartford when we grounded off of Italy in 2003; it’s an awful experience for everyone, whether you were personally involved or not. nfcu It causes a lot of disruption for the Navy and all the people involved. I’m no expert, but that damage is probably going to take a long time to fix.

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