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Thread: USS Essex v USNS Yukon

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    USS Essex v USNS Yukon

    Navy ship arrives at Calif. port after collision
    By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press – 16 hours ago
    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sporting crumpled catwalks and smashed lifeboats, the U.S. Navy vessel USS Essex managed to glide into San Diego Bay on Thursday, 24 hours after colliding with a tanker when the aging warship's steering apparently failed.

    Families of the crew aboard the "Iron Gator" waved homemade flags in celebration as the 21-year-old amphibious assault ship — which officials say needs to be overhauled — came into view through the morning's thick marine layer.

    Wednesday's midmorning crash 120 miles off the coast of Southern California resulted in no injuries or fuel spills. The 844-foot-long Essex, which looks like a small aircraft carrier, was carrying 982 crew members. The tanker, the 677-foot USNS Yukon, was carrying 82.

    "To me, it felt like a minor earthquake," said Navy photographer Duke Richardson from Jersey City, N.J., who was in a photo lab on the Essex when it struck the Yukon.

    He said some of the "newbies" on board were in a "state of shock" and let out some interesting "four-letter words" when the boat jolted and the collision alarms sounded.

    Someone yelled "Man Down! Man Down!" the standard call to get emergency responders in place. No one was struck or fell. It was all over in less than a minute.

    Andi Farquhar, the wife of a 36-year-old sailor, said her husband called her from the ship and said something bad had happened. She said he told her there was a collision but gave no details.

    "I'm pretty sure it was scary," Farquhar said.

    Navy officials say they were still assessing the damage and did not have a damage estimate yet.

    Officials showed reporters Thursday where the Yukon bumped into the Essex.

    The warship looked like it had been in a super-sized fender bender at sea: Its starboard aircraft elevator was scraped and dented, and its railing bowed back the wrong way. A small section of catwalks were crumpled, and capsules holding lifeboats were smashed. Some of the guardrails were split open.

    Joe Derie, a retired Coast Guard officer who specializes in marine accident investigations, said the costliest repair could be to the aircraft elevator, depending on the damage.

    "That's where the big bucks could be," he said.

    The Yukon arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Navy base in Coronado, Calif. Lt. Beth Teach said it suffered structural damage to its flight deck, lifeboats and davits, the arm-like structures that raise and lower small boats out of the water.

    Officials were investigating what caused the steering to malfunction as the Essex lined up next to the Yukon to position itself to be refueled. They said they couldn't say how fast the ships were moving at the time of the crash because the investigation was under way.

    The standard speed for ships lining up to refuel at sea is about 13 knots, or 15 mph. No lines or hoses had been connected because the two vessels were just approaching each other.

    Navy officials said it was the Essex's first collision.

    The vessel was returning from a 12-year stint in Japan to its homeport of San Diego and was scheduled for maintenance.

    The Essex is in definite need of maintenance after being stationed so long in Sasebo, Japan, as command ship for the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group 7, officials said. It will be in the shipyard for a year to get needed upgrades and repairs.
    "This ship's overdue," said ship spokesman Joe Kane. "It's like any machine or your car, you got to bring it in."

    Last year, a piece of equipment aboard the Essex failed due to general wear and tear, and the ship was unable to participate in an exercise called Cobra Gold, said Cmdr. Ron Steiner, spokesman for the 7th Fleet.

    Steiner said the Navy's Pacific ships adhere to rigorous maintenance standards but scheduled maintenance periods have been interrupted by events. Last year, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet ships participated in 17 scheduled bilateral exercises and also helped with the recovery efforts in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake.

    The Essex was traveling with a new crew that came aboard for the 17-day trip to California. The ship recently underwent a crew swap with another amphibious assault ship, the Bonhomme Richard, as part of a standard procedure in the Navy to keep its ships operating.

    The Yukon, which was launched in 1993, has been involved in at least two previous collisions, including on Feb. 27, 2000, when it collided with a 135-foot civilian cargo ship while trying to enter Dubai's Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates. The Yukon sustained minor damage.

    Less than five months later, it was hit by the USS Denver during refueling off the coast of Hawaii. Both ships sustained heavy damage.

    Associated Press writers Eric Talmadge in Tokyo, and Andrew Dalton and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


    The Associated Press: Navy ship arrives at Calif. port after collision


    2 sets of questions:

    a) Deferred Maintenance on the USS Essex. Is this because it was forward deployed to Japan or because of OIF/OEF commitments? I can't believe the overhaul work can only be don ein American yards. Not trying to send business offshore, but....

    b) What is the standard for shipkeeping abilities for USNS ship drivers? It was my understanding these were experience crews. Anyone know the experience level of the master and bridge crew? I recognize that UNREP is a dangerous business...is 2 collisions in 19 years a good record? Average? Poor?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    b) What is the standard for shipkeeping abilities for USNS ship drivers? It was my understanding these were experience crews. Anyone know the experience level of the master and bridge crew? I recognize that UNREP is a dangerous business...is 2 collisions in 19 years a good record? Average? Poor?
    Both replenishment collisions involving the Yukon were the fault of the other vessel, which is usually the case in replenishment collisions. The issuing ship is normally 'guide' and it is the receiving vessel's duty to keep station on her and make the approach. The replenishment unit's crew normally have a lot more experience of replenishment manoeuvres than the customer does.

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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Non sense, It happens for the USN few and far between especially if you consider how many time it happens. Yes, it even happens to the best. The sea is non controlable and any man that has ever sailed knows this to be true bar none. Marines included.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 19 May 12, at 02:55.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    Non sense, It happens for the USN few and far between especially if you consider how many time it happens. Yes, it even happens to the best. The sea is non controlable and any man that has ever sailed knows this to be true bar none. Marines included.
    "...colliding with a tanker when the aging warship's steering apparently failed."

    The sea isn't controllable, but the ship should be. The ship's steering should be well designed, well made, well maintained, and reliable in use.
    .
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    .

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    AGING WARSHIP?

    Oh my God. I must be Methusula. Essex was the last ship I worked on at LBNSY berfore retiring getting the guide rails for her cargo/weapons elevators straightened out. And she was brand new and still under warranty. I even played their Santa Claus for her family Christmas party in San Diego.

    Ummm, yeah. That was in December of 1993. I retired on 1 Feb 1994 after over 39 years at the yard. Let's see; 2012 AD - 1993 AD = 19 years. That's AGING?

    The Iowa was commissioned in June of 1940. 2012 - 1940 = 72 years. And she still looks like she can go out and slug it out. I guess we just don't build them like we used to. (FYI: I'm only about 4 years older than the Iowa and can still -- umm -- well, maybe a little slower --- oh, forget it).
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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRT View Post
    "...colliding with a tanker when the aging warship's steering apparently failed."

    The sea isn't controllable, but the ship should be. The ship's steering should be well designed, well made, well maintained, and reliable in use.
    IMO, theres more to this then the steering. Essex like all USN ships has at minimum one back up steering station.
    Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.

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    I have gotten the impression here that some think I am throwing stones here. I don't know enough about the subject to know which is why I asked the question.

    Just wanted to make that clear.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    IMO, theres more to this then the steering. Essex like all USN ships has at minimum one back up steering station.
    I think it depends on what failed, and how quickly it was realised. I assume being twin shaft the Essex is also twin rudder? If the hydraulics on one rudder failed with helm applied it might be rather difficult to effectively correct with the remaining rudder. A few degrees off course even for a short time is enough to lead to interaction taking control and a collision becoming unavoidable.

    A failure of the control system is much easier to deal with in all the steering systems I've used - just switch to a secondary method of control.

    What, other than or in addition to the reported steering failure, do you think the reason might have been?

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    Well, this might surprise you guys. When I was a 1st year shipfitter apprentice, I did some repair work on the Cruiser USS Bremerton (CA-130) that had side-swiped her tanker after refueling at sea.

    Now rudder controls on both ships during a refueling seems backwards. Let's say the tanker is off the Starboard side of the Cruiser. There's only a couple of hundred feet, or less, between the two ships. They are pushing a lot of water between themselves. Thus the water is moving faster than it is outboard of the ships. A faster moving fluid creates a lower pressure.

    Therefore the Cruiser's rudders are turned slightly to starboard and toward the tanker as the tanker's rudders are turned slightly to port and toward the Cruiser to keep them away from each other during the refueling operation.

    When the refueling cycle is completed and the tanker withdraws its hoses and rigging, the Cruiser was to turn the rudders slightly more to starboard and swing her stern away from the tanker. In the Bremerton's case, the rudders were turned to port instead.

    She side-swiped the stern of the tanker putting a huge dent in her starboard shell plating and buckling a dip in the edge of her armor deck (I think it was about 2-inches thick of STS) in the mess hall. She also tore off her propeller guards which is an arc of steel pipe with three braces welded to the hull. Finally she put a big dent in her aft/stbd 3"/50 gun shield of STS plate.

    There was, of course, scuttlebutt that the Captain ordered the rudders to be turned wrong but there was also scuttlbutt that the helmsman missunderstood. In any case, the helmsman was held to blame.

    I worked on the propeller guard replacement and the gun shield replacement. As for shell and deck damage, we merely filled in the dip in the deck with Terrazo. But it was a minor blessing in disguise as the ship needed a new laundry machine so I also worked on the cutout of the Port shell plating to exchange laundry machines that night.

    It was unusual to assign an apprentice, especially one who been at the yard only 9 months, to work a double shift but I was with a real top notch shipfitter mechanic who knew how not to waste any time with un-necessary steps in the work. According to my apprentice log book, that was Dan Scally on June 6, 1955. When swing shift lunch time came along, the crew invited us into their mess hall and served us dinner.

    Looking at that page of my log book, that was one heck of a week. Monday, June 5, I worked 5 hours on the USS Lowe (DE-325)then ordered to go over to the Bremerton for the next 3 hours of the day. Tuesday, June 6, I worked on the Bremerton 16 hours straight through. On Wednesday, June 7, I worked on the Bremerton 8 hours. On Thursday, June 8, I worked 4 hours on the Bremerton thne ordered to work 4 hours on number 2 5"/38 mount of the USS Blue (DD-387). On Friday, June 9, I worked 5 hours on the Blue and then ordered to go back to the Lowe for the remaining 3 hours. But I was still almost 2 months short of turning 19.

    Dang! I wish I still had one quarter of that energy I had then.
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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    The Iowa was commissioned in June of 1940. 2012 - 1940 = 72 years. And she still looks like she can go out and slug it out. I guess we just don't build them like we used to. (FYI: I'm only about 4 years older than the Iowa and can still -- umm -- well, maybe a little slower --- oh, forget it).
    Well since I have seen both you and the Iowa I would have to say the edge goes to the Iowa for slugging it out...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    Well since I have seen both you and the Iowa I would have to say the edge goes to the Iowa for slugging it out...
    Mike: You've been sniffing too much of that Break Free fluid salvaging parts from the ghost fleet for the Hornet. But in a way you're right. The biggest gun I ever fired was a 76mm.

    And to be absolutely truthful, the Iowa class are the most beautiful ships I have ever seen and am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to work on all four of them.
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    Here are some photos of the damage to YUKON: MSC Press Release

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    Of course that is the "old" damage from the USS Denver collision.

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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anixtu View Post
    I think it depends on what failed, and how quickly it was realised. I assume being twin shaft the Essex is also twin rudder? If the hydraulics on one rudder failed with helm applied it might be rather difficult to effectively correct with the remaining rudder. A few degrees off course even for a short time is enough to lead to interaction taking control and a collision becoming unavoidable.

    A failure of the control system is much easier to deal with in all the steering systems I've used - just switch to a secondary method of control.

    What, other than or in addition to the reported steering failure, do you think the reason might have been?

    *By standard the emergency steering aft should be manned when two such ships are that close to one another at sea wether routine or not routine. As far as the blame would go? The Helmsman is only going to listen to an order not take it upon himself. There had to be someone giving that order. Somewhere therein is your failure IMO. Screw current suction caused by two large ships churning the water or even one large ship and a small one can cause the same effects. It has happened between the BB's and DD's on more then one occasion and caused casualties.

    I just find it very difficult to believe that "steering failure" happened at just such a time. Not before and not after.

    That is unless that "Steering Failure" was meant to be the reason more then a cause.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 21 May 12, at 22:41.
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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    IMO, theres more to this then the steering. Essex like all USN ships has at minimum one back up steering station.
    I've been on more than one ship that "lost steering" or other emergencies. Switch over isn't instantaneous.

    Secondary steering is normally located deep in the ship and doesn't have situation awareness. It takes a bit to get them up to speed. Not a evolution that you want to do in a restricted maneuvering situation, coming up to your UnRep ship.

    Thats why ships practice "Emergency Breakaways" often
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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