Ashleaf 712

Ships get myths somehow.  One of those was started by the snipes – believing that anytime I wore my dress watch we would loose power (hardly a unique situation in the first year or so of commission).  Appears Master Chief Mackey had issued a directive that any time I was seen with it on, they were to go get him to have me put it back in the safe.

A second was that the CHENG in CIC was bad luck for missile shoots.  Don’t know how this came about, as most missile shoots were during GQ, where I would be in Central.

But they would let me in Combat for ASW. At least for a while.

We were on the underwater tracking range, working against an LA class, with help from Ashleaf 712 (a P-3 out of Brunswick).  I don’t know what was in Ashleaf’s coffee that day, but they could drop no cold buoy, and were conducting repeated simulated attacks.  With a P-3 in hot contact, we were as far away as we could be, at the far end of the range.  As a bonus, the torpedo retrieval boat was also between us.

The Operational Evaluation observer* was not happy.  He wanted us to get close and mix it up with the sub.  My position, backed up by our battle orders, was we had hot P-3 and SQR-19 contact, so no reason to get into range where the sub could engage the ship.  We were out of their torpedo range, always a good place to be with a submarine.

The OT Observer finally left to see the Operational Test Director and CO.  After a while, the CO called, and said it was ok to do as the OT observer desired, and close the sub, even if this was not something we would realistically do in combat.

So we turned toward the sub location at six knots, still a good quiet ASW speed.  (No one said we had to hurry to get stupid close to a sub.) But then sub turned and started closing us at high speed.   They got close enough for us to go active, gain contact, and run a successful simulated VLA engagement.

Time expired for the exercise.  Per the exercise rules, we went passive, to allow the sub (and us) to reposition unobserved for the next event, then came to Hotel Corpen for helo ops.

Next thing I hear is a report from sonar control of anomalous towed array readings.

I informed the range we were stopping the exercise and retrieving the towed array.

As the array scope decreased, the sonar men became increasingly concerned.

When the end of the cable appeared, there was no array attached.

Now they didn’t want me in CIC for ASW either.  

I still maintain it was not my fault, knowing the best place to keep a submarine is “far away from us.”

And that sort of put and end to the OpeEval for the SQR-19.  I believe the investigation said the array was “resting comfortably on the bottom.”

We finally got a replacement array during PSA.

* OT observer callsigns remain covered under the statute of limitations.