Archive for the ‘SUBMARINE’ Category

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – A decade after the raising of the Confederate submarine Hunley off the South Carolina coast, the cause of the sinking of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship remains a mystery. But scientists are edging closer.

On Friday, scientists announced one of the final steps that should help explain what happened after the hand-cranked sub and its eight-man crew rammed a spar with a powder charge into the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston in February, 1864.

Early next year the 23-ton sub will be delicately rotated to an upright position, exposing sections of hull not examined in almost 150 years.

When the Hunley sank, it was buried in sand listing 45 degrees to starboard. It was kept that way as slings were put beneath it and it was raised and brought to a conservation lab in North Charleston a decade ago.

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the raising of the Hunley, discovered five years earlier by shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler.

As thousands watched from boats and the shoreline, the Hunley was brought from the depths and back to the lab by barge. Thousands turned out again in April 2004 when the crew was buried in what has been called the last Confederate funeral.

During the past 15 years, about $22 million has been spent excavating and conserving the Hunley, according to Friends of Hunley, the nonprofit group that raises money for the project.

About $10.8 million came from the state and federal government, with the rest raised through donations and tour ticket and merchandise sales. About a half million people have seen the sub that sits in a tank of water at the conservation lab.

An economic analysis earlier this year estimated the project has returned its investment many times over.

The study found that publicity from hundreds of news stories, a half dozen documentaries and a made-for-TV movie has generated at least $30 million in a state where tourism is an $18 billion industry.

“I have absolutely no misgivings,” said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, the chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. “The state is spending millions of dollars to get its message out to get people to visit here and the Hunley, in just one new historic revelation, makes history and makes news all over the world.”

U-Haul also has the picture of the Hunley on the side of 1,200 of its rental trucks that travel throughout the country, essentially free advertising that the company says would otherwise be worth $117 million.

Rotating the sub will allow scientists to, for the first time, completely examine the Hunley’s hull.

It’s a delicate operation, involving replacing the existing slings before the sub is turned upright. The pressure on the straps will be monitored electronically and a laser will monitor to make sure the surface doesn’t get warped.

The Hunley is “a ghost of an iron object,” said senior conservator Paul Mardikian, adding it has “hundreds of different parts and everything has to move together.”

Putting it upright should provide clues to the sinking.

Was it damaged by fire from the Houstonic or perhaps struck by a second Union ship coming to the aid of the blockade vessel? Were the Hunley sailors knocked out by the concussion of the explosion that sank the Housatonic?

The clues indicate the crew died of anoxia, a lack of oxygen which can overtake a person very quickly, and didn’t drown. The remains showed they were at their crank stations and there was no rush for an escape hatch.

McConnell concedes he didn’t expect the project to take so long and thought it would have been in a museum by now.

“The Hunley is a very complex artifact and we decided we had only one chance to do it and that was to do it right,” he said.

He estimates the Hunley could now be displayed in a museum by 2015.

Conservation of such artifacts often takes years, underwater archeologists say.

It was almost 30 years before the Swedish royal warship Vasa, which sank in 1628 in Stockholm Harbor and was raised in 1961, went on display in a permanent museum.

Scientific reports on the Vasa are just coming out, said Lawrence Babits, director of the Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University.

“The Hunley is iron and the iron isn’t very thick and iron that has been in salt water is in a very nebulous state,” he said. Putting it in shape where it can be displayed “does take time.”

Frederick Hanselmann, a field archaeologist at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M said the most painstaking part of conserving iron objects is removing the salts from years in sea water.

Conserving a ship cannon alone can take three to four years, he said.

“For conservation it’s not an unusually long time, especially considering they are conserving an entire submarine,” said Mark Gordon, the president and chief executive officer of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

The company salvaged more than 50,000 coins and other artifacts from the wreck of the SS Republic off Savannah, Ga., in 2003 and while many of those coins are being displayed, some of the artifacts are still being conserved seven years later, Gordon said.

Hunley archaeologist Maria Jacobsen isn’t surprised the cause of the sinking hasn’t been found and expects a new series of questions and answers when the Hunley is rotated.

“I do think with persistence and patience and a good deal of luck we will get there,” she said.


Moscow, August 12 – RIA Novosti. – This day marks five years since the disaster of the Kursk, a major Russian nuclear-powered submarine, in the Barents Sea, which killed the whole crew of 118. Below is the day-by-day record of that tragedy.

AUGUST 12, 2000: The K-141 Kursk, part of a Northern Fleet exercise in the Barents Sea, fails to respond to radio calls. In the night, an explosion is detected where the submarine was thought to operate.

AUGUST 13, 2000: The Kursk is found on the sea bottom, 350 feet underwater.

AUGUST 14, 2000: A Navy spokesman says there is radio contact with the submarine. According to other Navy officials, the crewmen are safe and get fuel and oxygen through a Bell rescue unit. Having received an on-scene surveillance report from submersible video cameras, the Navy says the Kursk ran into the bottom at an angle of about 40 degrees, and the fore end, where the floating rescue chamber should be stored, went into pieces. Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov says there is little hope to save the crew.

AUGUST 15, 2000: The Navy Headquarters officially declares the beginning of a rescue operation. The rescue is hampered by a sea storm. A Northern Fleet official tells reporters that knocks are heard from inside the submarine, indicating that there are alive people onboard.

AUGUST 16, 2000: A rescue submarine Priz repeatedly fails to get into the Kursk. Navy Commander officially calls the West for help and says Russia will accept any assistance.

AUGUST 19, 2000: The second, international, leg of the rescue operation begins late in the day as the Norwegian ship Normand Pioneer delivers the British LR5 rescue mini-sub to the scene.

AUGUST 20, 2000: Minutes after midnight, the Norwegian rescue boat Seaway Eagle brings a deep diving team to the Kursk. After final negotiations, the Northern Fleet rescue force begins a practical Russian-Norwegian-British concerted rescue effort.

SEVERAL HOURS LATER: The Norwegians survey the hull of the submarine for cracks and are looking for air bubbles where people could survive. They de-block the emergency hatch but access to the boat is still hampered. The Norwegian team hastily creates makeshift entry accessories.

AUGUST 21, 2000: In the morning, Norwegian divers enter the 9th rear compartment through an emergency hatch and find it filled with water. A remote-controlled video camera shows a dead body in the compartment thought to be the only one where air bubbles could save lives. Northern Fleet Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mikhail Motsak officially confirms the deaths of all crewmen.

AUGUST 22, 2000: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Severomorsk, the main base of the Northern Fleet, to meet victims’ relatives and friends. He fails to explain what happened to the submarine and why the crew was not saved.

Ilya Klebanov, the then deputy prime minister and head of the government commission investigating into the Kursk disaster, says:

“As far back as late August 14, we were all but certain that there were no living people onboard… But we could not state [officially] that all of them were dead. There was still hope, albeit more in theory, for an air bubble in the 9th compartment.”

Klebanov also says the real rescue began on August 13, 6:30 PM Moscow time. The official theory of what caused the crash remains a collision with a large underwater object. Military experts point the finger at a British submarine, amid widespread rumors of a U.S. submarine having been somewhere around when the Kursk collapsed.

DAYS LATER: The New York Times reports two U.S. Navy submarines, one of them Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Memphis later to be found in the Norwegian seaport of Bergen, cruised near Kursk’s operational area at the time of its last exercise. A source tells the Times the Kursk was downed by the explosion of an unfired torpedo. Russians still suspect Kursk’s collision with a foreign submarine the highest probability – a theory U.S. and U.K. officials dismiss and say there were no U.S. and Royal Navy ships when and where the Kursk hit the bottom.

SEPTEMBER 6, 2000: The U.S. shares all information on the Kursk disaster with Russia, including the time of what is thought to be an onboard explosion within a second.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2000: Vladimir Putin takes decision to start the salvage operation on the Kursk.

OCTOBER 2, 2000: Rubin, a St. Petersburg-based design bureau appointed as the head contractor of the salvage, signs a contract with the Norwegian office of Halliburton AS, a major international oil service firm.

OCTOBER 25, 2000: The salvage team begins operation to lift the bodies of the crewmen.

OCTOBER 26, 2000: The divers enter the submarine and examine the bodies. Some people in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th (fore to aft) compartments are said to have been alive after the explosion. The team finds a farewell message on Dmitry Kolesnikov, the 9th compartment crew leader: “1:15 PM. All men from the 6th, 7th, and 8th compartments are now in the 9th, all in all 23 people. We took this decision after an emergency. There is no way out for us.” The rest of the text is said to be too personal and therefore cannot be published. Vice Adm. Motsak of the Northern Fleet later tells reporters two to three men tried to escape through an emergency hatch but failed because the compartment was full of water.

LATER THAT MONTH: All salvage operations in the aft compartment are suspended.

NOVEMBER 2, 2000: The salvage team attempts to enter the 3rd compartment but fails: The video cameras show what is reported to be “considerable damage, debris of equipment, mechanisms, and instruments.”

NOVEMBER 7, 2000: Salvage in the 4th compartment is suspended due to entry-prohibitive damage inside. The salvage operation is terminated. All Kursk hatches are sealed.

MAY 18, 2001: Russia signs a salvage contract with the Netherlands-based Mammoet Transport BV.

JULY 16, 2001: The first leg of a three-month lift-up operation begins; the 1st compartment is to be separated and special lift-up holes are to be made in the hull.

OCTOBER 7, 2001, EVENING: The lift-up begins. The Kursk remains are lifted on 26 hold-downs operated from the Gigant-4, a surface barge, at a rate of around 10 meters per hour. As the hull is lifted 58 meters (190 feet) from the bottom, the sub is towed by the Gigant-4 to the base.

OCTOBER 10, 2001: The barge with the Kursk hull underneath arrives at the Roslyakovo naval repairs base on the Arctic Kola Peninsula.

OCTOBER 27, 2001: Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov says the whole submarine was on fire, with 8,000 degrees Celcius in the epicenter, after which the submarine was filled with water “within six to seven hours, maximum eight,” according to Ustinov. He says the damage was unbelievable, all bulkheads were “cut off as a knife cuts butter.” However, the nuclear reactor in the 6th compartment was left intact, as were 22 SSN-19 cruise missiles the submarine was armed with. 115 of 118 crew members’ bodies, including that of Captain First Class Gennady Lyachin, the commanding officer, are found and identified.

JUNE 19, 2002: Klebanov as head of the investigative government commission tells reporters the “explosion of a torpedo” remains the only viable theory, amid media reports that the fire was caused by failed tests of the new silent and fast torpedo, Shkval.

JULY 26, 2002: In an official end-of-story statement, General Prosecutor Ustinov says the submarine sank “because of an explosion… in the training torpedo storage… with subsequent explosions of torpedo charges in the 1st compartment of the submarine.”

Download now or watch on posterous

AHTV_1008_4.wmv (32129 KB)

This is actually a cool video. Talks to some of the US Submarine Sailors about how it went down. These Diesel Boat Sailors are a different breed, I am glad I was a Nuclear Sailor…

Update 1353 31 July: Here are some of the first pictures, including the one where they cycle the masts and antennas after the ship is officially placed in commissioned and manned:

Whenever I saw this, I always wondered why we went to all the trouble to water the masts when cycling them inport when it clearly doesn’t hurt them to dry-cycle in the case of commissioning ceremonies.

posted by Bubblehead at 12:07 PM