USS San Francisco (SSN-711)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS San Francisco.
USS San Francisco (SSN-711)
Career
Name: USS San Francisco
Namesake: The City and County of San Francisco, California
Awarded: 1 August 1975
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down: 26 May 1977
Launched: 27 October 1979
Commissioned: 24 April 1981
Homeport: San Diego, California (As of 17th April 2009)[1]
Motto: Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra
("Gold in Peace, Iron in War")
Status: in active service, as of 2014
Badge: 711insig.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Los Angeles-class submarine
Displacement: 5,759 tons light, 6,145 tons full, 386 tons dead
Length: 110.3 m (361 ft 11 in)
Beam: 10 m (32 ft 10 in)
Draft: 9.7 m (31 ft 10 in)
Propulsion: S6G nuclear reactor
Complement: 12 officers, 115 men
Armament: 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

USS San Francisco (SSN-711), a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine, is the third ship or boat of the United States Navy to be named for San Francisco, California.

History[edit]

The contract to build her was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia, on 1 August 1975 and her keel was laid down on 26 May 1977. She was launched on 27 October 1979 sponsored by Mrs Robert Y. Kaufman, and commissioned on 24 April 1981, with Commander J. Allen Marshall in command.

Following an initial shakedown cruise, San Francisco joined Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet and moved to her homeport at Pearl Harbor. San Francisco completed deployments in 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986 with the U.S. Seventh Fleet and various independent operations in the Pacific in 1986 earning the Battle Efficiency "E" for Submarine Squadron Seven in 1985. She earned a Navy Unit Commendation, a second Battle Efficiency "E" for Submarine Squadron Seven and her crew was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for independent operations in 1988.

San Francisco entered a Depot Modernization Period at Pearl Harbor from 1989 to 1990 and then went on to conduct deployments to the Western Pacific in 1992 and 1994. The submarine was awarded the 1994 Commander Submarine Squadron Seven "T" for excellence in tactical operations and a Meritorious Unit Commendation for the 1994 Western Pacific deployment.

On 18 December 2002 San Francisco arrived at her new homeport at Apra Harbor, Guam.

The submarine is homeported at Naval Base Point Loma, San Diego, California since 2009.[2]

Collision with seamount[edit]

On 8 January 2005 at 02:43 GMT, San Francisco collided with an undersea mountain about 675 kilometers (364 nautical miles, 420 statute miles) southeast of Guam while operating at flank (maximum) speed at a depth of 525 feet (160 m).[3] The collision was so serious that the vessel was almost lost—accounts detail a desperate struggle for positive buoyancy to surface after the forward ballast tanks were ruptured. Ninety-eight crewmen were injured, and Machinist's Mate Second Class Joseph Allen Ashley, 24, of Akron, Ohio, died on 9 January from head injuries.[4] Other injuries to the crew included broken bones, lacerations, and a back injury. San Francisco’s forward ballast tanks and her sonar dome were severely damaged, but her inner hull was not breached, and there was no damage to her nuclear reactor. She surfaced and, accompanied by the USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349), USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham (T-AK-3017), and USNS Kiska (T-AE-35), as well as MH-60S Knighthawks and P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, arrived in Guam on 10 January. The U.S. Navy immediately stated that there was "absolutely no reason to believe that it struck another submarine or vessel." Later, an examination of the submarine in drydock showed unmistakably that the submarine had indeed struck an undersea mountain which had only vague references on the charts available to San Francisco.

San Francisco in drydock at Guam, January 2005.
Damage to bow sonar, 2005
USS San Francisco in a drydock in Guam during her temporary repairs for her voyage to Puget Sound, May 2005.
Commander Kevin Mooney of USS San Francisco

Commander Kevin Mooney, San Francisco’s captain, was reassigned to a shore unit in Guam during the investigation of this collision. As the investigation concluded, the Navy found that, despite Mooney's otherwise remarkably good record, "several critical navigational and voyage planning procedures" were not being implemented aboard San Francisco. Consequently, the Navy relieved Mooney of his command, and also issued him a letter of reprimand. He was not charged with any crime, and he was not court-martialed. Six crew members were also found guilty at their own non-judicial punishment hearings ("Captain's Mast") of hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty, and they were reduced in rank and given punitive letters of reprimand. For their actions in the crisis, twenty other officers and men received awards, including letters of commendation, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

The seamount that San Francisco struck did not appear on the chart in use at the time of the accident, but other charts available for use indicated an area of "discolored water", an indication of the probable presence of a seamount. The Navy determined that information regarding the seamount should have been transferred to the charts in use—particularly given the relatively uncharted nature of the ocean area that was being transited—and that the failure to do so represented a breach of proper procedures.

Since San Francisco had recently had her nuclear fuel replaced, and thus she was expected to remain in-service until 2017, the Navy determined that repair of this submarine was in its best interests. Temporary repairs were made in Guam to provide water-tight integrity and forward buoyancy, so that the boat could safely transit to another location for more extensive repairs. San Francisco steamed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) in the State of Washington via Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where she arrived on 26 August 2005.[5]

In June 2006, it was announced that San Francisco’s bow section would need to be replaced with that of the soon-to-be-retired USS Honolulu (SSN-718) at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Though San Francisco is four years older than Honolulu, she had been refueled and upgraded in 2000–2002. The cost of her bow replacement has been estimated at $79 million, as compared with the estimated $170 million to refuel and overhaul the nuclear reactor of Honolulu.[6]

On 10 October 2008, San Francisco undocked after a successful bow replacement at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The dry-docking project involved cutting more than one million pounds of forward ballast tanks and sonar sphere off the former USS Honolulu and attaching them to San Francisco.[7] After the completion of repairs and sea trials in April 2009, San Francisco shifted homeport to Naval Base Point Loma, San Diego, California.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Navy USS San Francisco Returns to Fleet 22 April 2009
  2. ^ Robbins, Gary (3023-12-28), Submarine San Francisco leaves on deployment, U-T San Diego, retrieved 2014-04-10 
  3. ^ Doehring, Thoralf, USS San Francisco (SSN 711), Thoralf Doehring, retrieved 2014-04-10 
  4. ^ Martin, David (2005). "Who's To Blame For Sub Accident? - Retraceing Events That Led To USS San Francisco Crash". 60 Minutes (CBS News). Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  5. ^ Munsey, Christopher (2005-09-01), "Sub repaired on Guam headed for Puget Sound", E-Edition (Pacific Daily News (Guam)), Navy Times, retrieved 2014-04-10 
  6. ^ Pone, Hodges (2006-12-14), "USS Honolulu Holds Final Change of Command Ceremony", Fleet Public Affairs Detachment Northwest (United States Navy), retrieved 2014-04-10 
  7. ^ "USS San Francisco Undocks With New Bow". Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility Public Affairs. United States Navy. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 

This article includes information collected from the public domain sources Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and Naval Vessel Register.

External links[edit]