(Login PolishMikeD) HyperScale Forums from IP address 126.96.36.199
I woke up this morning to the news about the fire aboard the USS Miami, while undergoing overhaul in a dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval base in Kittery Maine. It appears that the fire was confined to living and command spaces in the forward part of the boat; and that the reactor was not involved. Reportedly, there were no weapons aboard. No one died.
So much for the good news.
The bad news is that a handful of people were injured and the sub was significantly damaged according to the USN spokesman releasing information on camera to the news organizations.
The USS Miami holds a place in my heart, because I was lucky enough to have been invited to attend the commissioning of the boat at Groton on June 30 1990. Access to the sub base is understandably limited to the public and it was a rare privilege to be able to visit the base. My invite was courtesy of my Uncle Paul Orrok, who married my Aunt Irene. One of the original plank owners, he served aboard the USS Miami CL-89 during WWII through most of that light cruisers combat career in the Pacific, including The Battle of Leyte Gulf. I made sure to invite my uncle to as many events as possible aboard the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum during the time I served as the Volunteer Project Supervisor for Exhibits aboard the museum ship from 1982-2000. My uncle told me several sea stories about his time aboard the Miami, including a very clear memory of escorting the USS Intrepid; which really was a full circle experience for me. He was topside for most his on-duty periods, so was witness to many of the major events of the Pacific Campaign. Hes 88 years old now and, like many WWII vets, is experiencing the usual betrayals that age reaps upon the body. I was lucky to have many uncles, along with my father, who served in WWII, in all branches of the Armed Forces, except for the US Marines and US Coast Guard. Three served in the Pacific, the rest in the MTO, ETO and Stateside. My Uncle Paul is the sole remaining vet in my family from WWII.
I remember the commissioning day of the USS Miami very well. It was a beautiful sunny summer day. We arrived early for the ceremony and went through a thorough security check. Our early arrival afforded me an opportunity to wander about the nearby environs of sub base, though, when I strayed too far, I was reminded to stick close to the pier at which SSN-755 was berthed. The sub base, itself, is a living museum, with the old brick buildings, warehouses and roads, some in the original cobble stone at the time, showing their seasoned origins. The place positively reeked history; as well it should, considering just its WWII service alone.
There were a couple of Los Angeles Class Attack Boats tied to the nearby piers and I lamented over the "No Camera" restriction. I did, however, make sketches and took notes on the vessels and piers' equipment and fit. It was interesting to see the variations between the boats, some subtle, others more pronounced. Upon closer examination, one boat was covered in a series of square and rectangular blocks, which I later learned were a rubber-like sound-proofing material, designed to quiet the boat and enhance its stealthy characteristics. Not every boat had this same type of covering, but did have some type of application, serving the same purpose. All of the boats were a patchwork of paint finishes, some a bit more seedy than others, with the usual build-up of marine growth very much in evidence. Every shade of black and very dark gray on a Federal Standard paint chip fan was represented all except the spanking brand new USS Miami.
The commissioning ceremony commenced; complete with Honor Guard and the playing of the National Anthem. A series of speeches followed and then the assembled crew standing dockside were released to man the boat, which officially took on the name, USS Miami. The invitees, many fellow vets of my uncle from the WWII era CL-89, were treated to a demonstration of some of the boats equipment, with hatches and ports opening up and a wide variety of sensors, antennae and periscopes popping out of the boat, and not just from the conning tower, but also the forward part of the hull facing the crowd, Till then, I had no idea how much stuff could come out of a sub. The crowd was delighted at the show. Over the years I had attended a couple of other commissioning ceremonies of USS Naval vessels, the first of which was the Aegis Cruiser, USS Lake Champlain, commissioned alongside the Intrepid Museum on the 12th of August 1988 a sultry hot and humid day, as I recall. The last was the USS New York LPD-21 on the 7th of November 2009. They were all memorable events, but the USS Miami was a more intimate experience.
At the end of the ceremony, the attendees were invited to come aboard the sub for a tour in groups limited space aboard the boat being the obvious restriction. We were only allowed to crawl about the forward part of the boat from the command areas to the torpedo room. I have visited several museum subs over the years and spent a lot of time crawling around the USS Growler, which is still part of the Intrepid Museum's collection. As always, the narrow passage ways were confining, but it seemed to me that the modern LA Class subs were spacious in comparison to a US Fleet Sub or the U-505 in Chicago. After the tour was over, we retired to one of the facilities for a nice lunch. I got a USS Miami baseball hat, a ships patch and every attendee got a commemorative commissioning book, which resembles a Squadron In Action tome in size. Before returning home, our family unit made a side visit to he USS Nautilus Museum, which was a nice book-end; seeing the first nuclear power submarine and the latest all in one day.
The fire aboard the USS Miami was an unfortunate event. Based on the initial official description of the damage, I wonder about the future of this boat and whether it spells the end of its naval career. The ship was in dry dock for an overhaul, so the Navy did intend to extend its service life. However, did the fire sufficiently weaken the hull, thus compromising its ability to withstand the immense pressures of a deep dive? Are the ships systems so wrecked, that it may not be financially worth fixing? Only time will tell
This message has been edited by PolishMikeD from IP address 188.8.131.52 on May 24, 2012 10:31 AM
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