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Admiral's e-mail says nuclear submarine impact was "incredibly hard"
By Sun news services
January 11, 2005
The nuclear submarine that ran aground Saturday in the South Pacific hit so "incredibly hard" that about 60 of its 137 crew members were injured and the sailor who died was thrown 20 feet by the impact, according to a New York Times story quoting a Navy admiral.
Messages sent by Rear Adm. Paul F. Sullivan, a former Trident submarine commander at Bangor who now commands submarine forces in the Pacific, said USS San Francisco's hull was severely damaged after the head-on crash into what Navy officials believe was an undersea mountain that was not on the navigation charts.
One message said USS San Francisco was traveling at high speed, and the impact practically stopped it in its tracks and caused flooding in parts of the bow, according to the New York Times.
The messages by Rear Adm. Sullivan paint a more dire picture of the accident, which occurred 360 miles southeast of Guam, than had previously been disclosed. They also hint at the extensive efforts to steady the vessel and save the sailor who died.
One of the admiral's e-mails indicated that the Navy had tried to evacuate the fatally injured man, Machinist Mate 2nd Class Joseph A. Ashley, within hours after he had been thrown forward and hit his head on a metal pump, which knocked him unconscious.
Petty Officer Ashley's father, Daniel L. Ashley, said in an interview he had been told that as a helicopter hovered over the choppy seas, crew members could not maneuver a stretcher carrying his son through the submarine's hatches before he died, according to the New York Times.
"They tried numerous times to maneuver him through various hatches," Mr. Ashley said. "But it just didn't happen."
Adm. Sullivan, who is based in Hawaii, sent the e-mail messages to other Navy officials. As the messages circulated within the submarine community, two people provided copies to The New York Times, and Navy officials confirmed their authenticity.
The e-mail also indicated that about 60 crew members had been injured. All the Navy had said publicly was that 23 crew members were treated for broken bones, cuts and bruises.
The messages said those 23 were hurt seriously enough that they were unable to stand their watch duties as the submarine limped back to Guam. Mr. Ashley said the submarine's captain, Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, told him by phone on Monday that among the injured crew members, "there were a lot of broken fingers, broken arms and legs and one fractured back."
Navy officials said yesterday that the rest of the injuries were minor.
The admiral's e-mail also said an outer hull ripped open at the submarine's nose, causing flooding in a dome with sonar sensors and in four of the ballast tanks used to submerge the vessel or take it to the surface.
The flooding caused the submarine to sit deeper in the water and made it hard to maneuver on the trip back to Guam. Sailors had to keep pumping pressurized air into the tanks to prevent the water from rising and to maintain buoyancy, the New York Times reported.
An inner hull, which surrounds the crew's living and work spaces, held firm, the e-mail said. The nuclear reactor and critical propulsion systems were not damaged.
In the e-mail, Adm. Sullivan did not discuss why the vessel ran aground. The Navy is investigating, and the admiral, who ultimately will have to decide whether to reprimand any of the submarine's crew members, did not respond to requests for comment.
Navy officials have said that the submarine, which was headed for Australia, appeared to have smashed into an undersea mountain that was not on its charts. Mr. Ashley, who lives in Akron, Ohio, said Cmdr. Mooney told him the same thing on Monday.
"He said, 'On the charts we have, this is a clear area all the way through to Australia,' " Mr. Ashley told the New York Times.
Navy officials said the San Francisco was traveling at 30 knots when it careened off some part of the undersea mountain range. In one of the e-mail messages, Rear Adm. Sullivan wrote that on impact, the vessel made a "nearly instantaneous deacceleration" to about 4 knots.
Mr. Ashley said Commander Mooney told him that his son had just gotten off watch duty in the engine area and was chatting with other sailors when the accident occurred.
Mr. Ashley said his son, who was 24, "loved the Navy and that submarine" and had just re-enlisted.
Mr. Ashley said Cmdr. Mooney, who could not be reached for comment, also told him that his son's condition seemed to worsen as sailors labored to tilt the stretcher through the evacuation hatch.
Mr. Ashley said that at the end of the conversation, Cmdr. Mooney told him that he took full responsibility for the sailor's death. Mr. Ashley said he replied that he had heard all he needed "to know that you and your crew did everything you could do to save my son's life."
Copyright 2005, kitsapsun.com. All Rights Reserved.
HindustanTimes.com Cities Mumbai Story
Experts rush to locate Mumbai meteor debris
Press Trust of India
Mumbai, January 12, 2005|16:43 IST
Geologists and amateur astronomers rushed to Vavoshi near Pen in Raigad district on Wednesday morning, where pieces of a meteor-like object were reported to have fallen on Tuesday night.
A meteor-like object allegedly hit Vavoshi village near Mumbai in Raigad district on Tuesday night around 2030 hrs.
Bright light was seen and deafening noise was heard at places including Vavoshi, Rasaini, Khalapur, Khopoli, Pen, Panvel and Chirner.
The Astronomical Study and Research Centre, Pen Chairman and Director Sandeep Jhadav said it appears to be an explosion caused due to collision of an asteroid with earth's surface and the impact was felt over a radius of 50 km.
"We are trying to follow up on the matter," he said.
Meanwhile, Indian Meterological Department in Mumbai denied any earthquake struck the region on Tuesday night.
Panic gripped the village with residents reporting a huge ball of fire coming down from the sky accompanied by a big bang.
Three Guatemalan volcanoes erupt simultaneously
Guatemala City, Jan 7 (EFE).- Guatemalan authorities on Friday declared an alert after three volcanoes erupted within just days of each other.
National disaster office spokesman Hugo Hernandez told EFE that the preventive alert consists of keeping watch on the Fuego, Santiaguito and Pacaya volcanoes, but so far no order has been issued to evacuate residents from nearby areas.
All three volcanoes have erupted in the past and caused widespread destruction.
The first volcano to erupt last week was Fuego, standing 3,763 meters (12,338 feet) high some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of the capital.
It spewed molten lava some 100 meters (yards) into the air above its peak and emitted a column of gray smoke some 1.3 kilometers (almost a mile) high.
Then, last Sunday, Santiaguito - Guatemala's youngest and most dangerous volcano, which emerged from the side of the Santa Maria volcano after a huge 1902 blast - erupted some 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Guatemala City, the disaster office said.
Pacaya, the country's most famous volcano, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital, also entered an eruptive state on Sunday.
Government volcanologists said that this is the first time in 31 years that all three fire mountains have been active at the same time.
The trio of volcanoes belched forth lava, ash and rocks from internal explosions, but experts said that this was just "normal activity."
Residents of the areas near the volcanoes are used to this type of activity, however, and they had no plans to leave their homes, local radio stations said on Friday.
Hundreds of sightseers have approached the mountains over the last few days, mainly at night, to view the fiery spectacle produced by the eruptions.
Guatemala has 37 volcanoes, most of which are dormant but all of which are located in the southern and western highlands.
Fuego has erupted more than 60 times since 1524, making it Central America's historically most active volcano and one of the most active fire mountains in the Americas. Its last major eruption was in 1974.
Pacaya, standing 2,552 meters (8,365 feet) high, is also one of the world's most active volcanoes. It has erupted at least 23 times since 1565 and violent explosions took place at the mountain in January 2000.
No reproduction or use of this article is permitted without the prior consent of EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.