Losing the Thresher: the 50th Anniversary

For perhaps a minute or so, the 129 men aboard the USS Thresher probably realized that their submarine would be crushed by water pressure. "That's the horror part of it," said William Olsen, 72, of York. "They had to know." Had he not been attending a training program, Olsen, a crew member, would have been on the submarine when it went down that day, April 10, 1963.

The sinking of the Thresher 50 years ago was a turning point for the Navy. The nation's newest and most advanced nuclear submarine at the time, the Thresher sank when a weld on a pipe gave way during a test dive 220 miles east of Cape Cod in waters nearly two miles deep. No one survived. The accident remains the largest loss of life ever on a Navy submarine. After the Thresher sinking, the Navy put much greater emphasis on quality control during the manufacturing of submarines, and developed new safety measures and designs to ensure that a submarine faced with a similar catastrophic flooding would always recover. Many Americans today are not familiar with the story of the Thresher. But people in Kittery and other communities near the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where the submarine was built, have never forgotten. Forty-seven of those lost lived in the area, including 30 sailors, 10 shipyard workers and seven shipyard engineers. The workers and engineers were on board to monitor the submarine's performance during the tests. In all, 17 civilians were on board the Thresher when it sank. "It was an absolutely terrible thing," said Russell Van Billiard, 82, a retired shipyard engineer who helped design the Thresher's torpedo room. "It was such a close community. Everybody knew somebody who was on it, or knew a number of people who were on it."


Memorial services are held every year at the Kittery shipyard. But this year – the 50th anniversary of the Thresher's sinking – the service will be the largest ever. More than 700 family and crew members and 400 others are expected to attend Saturday's private memorial service at 1 p.m. in the Portsmouth High School auditorium, the only available venue in the area large enough to hold that many people. A public ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday, with the dedication of a new memorial for the Thresher at Kittery's Memorial Circle on Route 1. The flagpole is 129 feet tall – one foot for each man lost at sea. Many family members and former crew members have been saving money for years to attend the weekend's events. Their advanced ages – many are now in their 70s and 80s – has added a sense of urgency to the occasion because they are the last generation to have known the dead.

At the memorial service, there will be large story boards containing photographs and information about individual members of the Thresher crew. Each board will be a gathering place for family members and the retired sailors and shipyard employees who worked with them, said Kevin Galeaz, commander of the Thresher Base United States Submarine Veterans. "This is the last opportunity to unite the first generation submariners who knew the men personally with the family members, including second-generation children, many of whom don't remember their fathers," he said. It's critical for the Navy that the younger members remember the Thresher because it reminds them to focus on safety when they work on submarines, said Rear Adm. David Duryea, deputy commander for Undersea Warfare, which oversees the safety programs that were developed after the Thresher disaster. "It was an event that changed our whole culture in how we build and maintain submarines," he said. "We strive to make sure that our work force remembers the lessons learned."


At a time when military budgets are under pressure, the Navy also uses the Thresher's story politically, to convince Congress to continue funding its submarine safety initiatives. For some family members, the political messages at the memorial services are a distraction. For them, the service allows them to be closer to someone they love and haven't seen for 50 years. "This isn't saying 'goodbye.' It's like saying 'hello' again," said Debby Ronnquist, 72, of Kittery, whose husband Julius Francis "Buddy" Marullo, a quartermaster, died on the Thresher, leaving her alone with two children under the age of 3. Last week, one of Marullo's friends stopped by her house to show her an old movie of him skiing. "It's an incredible feeling to see him like that, vibrant and alive and happy," she said. Children of the lost men are eager to soak up new information about their fathers.

For Debby Ronnquist's daughter, Marcye Philbrook, 52, who was 2 1/2 when the Thresher sank, her deepest connection to her father is a sock she found in a box in storage when she was in her 20s. She was startled to see the imprint of the foot, and that she could smell his odor. "That's when I felt he was a real person," she said. Suzy Johnson, 69, was 17 when she first met Ed Johnson, chief engineman on the Thresher. He was a fun-loving and dashing sailor, thrilling in his beige Navy uniform. The couple dated for more than two years, despite her mother's opposition. Although she would later have two children with two other men, Johnson remains the love of her life, she said. For days after the Thresher was lost, his love letters to her continued to arrive in the mail. "Upon opening them I could smell the Thresher, and Ed's words demanded no reply but were so loving," she said.


Crew member John Riemenschneider, of Lebanon, was not required to join the submarine on its final journey because he had been assigned to another submarine. He had a $2 bet with his best friend, Jack Hudson, that he would not be ordered to go on the Thresher that day. While he was asked to join the Thresher crew, he decided not to, in order to win the bet. It saved his life. Riemenschneider last spoke to his friend as the submarine departed the shipyard. "I told Jack I would see him when he came back," he said. The Thresher, which was launched in 1961, was the first in its class of a new line of advanced attack submarines. It could travel faster, dive deeper and operate more quietly than any other submarine in the world. It had been at the Navy yard for several months for repairs. After the work was completed, it left Kittery on the morning of April 9 to conduct a series of post-overhaul trials. The next morning, as the submarine rescue ship USS Skylark stood by, the Thresher began a deep-diving test. That was when things went wrong.

At more than 600 feet below the surface, seawater probably rushed into the engine room through an opening created when the weld on a pipe gave way, according to a Navy Court of Inquiry. The pipe was used to bring cold water to cool the nuclear reactor. The reactor automatically shut down when the water shorted out the electrical equipment that controlled it. The submarine lost propulsion power. The crew's only chance to save themselves – a blast of high-pressure air to create buoyancy – failed. The submarine, which had been gliding forward with its bow upward, began descending, stern first, like a stalling airplane. Monitoring the dive from the surface, the USS Skylark received a mostly garbled transmission saying that the submarine was "exceeding test depth," the depth at which the submarine could operate safely. One minute later, the Skylark detected a high-energy, low-frequency noise characteristic of a submarine imploding. The Thresher disintegrated into pieces as it tumbled 8,400 feet to the bottom of the Atlantic.

On the surface, the Skylark continued to try making contact with the Thresher. Ira Salyers, 80, a crew member on the Skylark, was instructed to throw hand grenades over the side to signal the Thresher to resurface. He said the crew was hoping that the problem was only that the Thresher's communications system was down. He said the Skylark conducted a sonar search for several days but never found any sign of the Thresher. Salyers said he was a tough, hard-drinking sailor and never thought much about the loss. But 12 years later, while attending a church service in Florida, he thought about the men on the Thresher and began to weep uncontrollably. "All those years later, it hammered me like a ball bat, seeing that all 129 men died when the hull came apart in that cold ocean," he said.

A Navy investigation after the disaster concluded that deficient shipbuilding and maintenance practices had contributed to the sinking, and that records for critical materials and work accomplished were incomplete or nonexistent. In response, the Navy developed a program called SUBSAFE. Not only were improvements made in submarine design and manufacturing, but the operations of submarines were limited until the readiness and safety of submarines were independently verified. The Navy has never lost a submarine that has gone through the program. Olsen, the crew member from York, said all submariners owe their lives to the men who died on the Thresher. "Family members have every right to be proud," he said. "These men did not die in vain."

Vietnam to Receive Advanced Russian Sub in 2013

As tensions remain high in the South China Sea between Vietnam and China, Hanoi is reportedly set to receive its first of six advanced submarines from Russia. Ria Novsti reported that “The first of six Varshavyanka class (Project 636M) diesel-electric submarines will be delivered to Vietnam in 2013 as scheduled.” Commonly referred to as the Kilo-class, the subs reportedly boast “advanced stealth technology, extended combat range and ability to strike land, surface and underwater targets.” Hanoi placed an order for six of the Russian-made subs back in 2009. According to the report by Ria Novsti, the contract, which also has provisions for the training of Vietnamese submarine crews in Russia, is reportedly valued at US$2 billion.

According to a recent article from USNI News, Vietnam has ordered the most advanced variant of the Kilo, the improved 636MV. The USNI article explained: “The Project 636 Kilo-class submarine has been dubbed the “black hole” by the U.S. Navy for its level of quietness. The Project 636MV-class sub has improved stealth features through the removal of flooding ports and treating the hull with multilayer anechoic rubber tiles. The tiles are fitted on casings and fins to absorb active sonar waves that reduce and distort the return signal. The anechoic tiles also shield sounds from within the submarine thus reducing the range of detection by passive sonar.” The new subs could also be part of Vietnam’s attempt to develop its own anti-access capabilities. As our own Naval Diplomat, James Holmes, pointed out in a recent article:

“Submarines offer enormous bang for the buck, and they are survivable. Still, this also means that advances in Chinese antisubmarine warfare could nullify Vietnam’s effort to fend off the PLA Navy. Next, Vietnamese access denial could take on an offensive as well as a defensive character. Vietnamese Kilos could, say, loiter unseen off the Chinese naval station at Sanya, on Hainan Island, holding PLA Navy submarines at risk at the delicate moment when they are entering or leaving port—exposing them to enemy action.” While such a purchase by Vietnam will surely increase its undersea capabilities, it will take years for such subs to come online. All of the vessels crews will need to undergone extensive training and the subs will also need to be thoroughly tested. Also, all six submarines will not all be available for duty at all times, as such vessels are cycled in and out of service for repair and training.

Boeing to Make Flying Torpedoes Able to Attack Enemy Submarines from 30,000 Feet

Airborne weapons experts at the Boeing Co. got the go-ahead Wednesday to start building add-on kits for the U.S. Navy Mark 54 lightweight torpedo that will enable the weapon to glide through the air from altitudes as high as 30,000 feet and enable the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol jet to attack enemy submarines from long ranges.

The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $19.2 million contract Wednesday to the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Charles, Mo., to design and build the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) Air Launch Accessory (ALA).

The HAAWC ALA turns the Raytheon Mark 54 torpedo into a glide weapon that the P-8A aircraft can release from high altitudes. As the flying torpedo reaches the water, it jettisons wings and other air-control surfaces and takes on its original role as a smart torpedo that detect, track, and attack enemy submarines autonomously

Women Eager to Join ‘Brotherhood’ On Navy’s Fast-Attack Submarines

Concerns Arise About Need for Costly Onboard Changes

Life aboard a fast-attack submarine can be rough: Quarters are cramped, operations are hectic and privacy is just a memory, veteran submariners say. But as the Navy prepares to assign women to fast-attack subs, one of its first female submariners is relishing the challenge of serving in the “dolphin brotherhood.” Lt. j.g. Marquette Leveque, 25, said that serving with two other women and 150 men undersea for six months was basically a “nonevent.” “The biggest change I think was [the men] just getting used to female voices around, and I mean that in a very positive way,” said Lt. Leveque, a native of Fort Collins, Colo. Still, other big changes — and challenges — lie on the horizon.

The Navy, which decided to allow women to serve on guided- and ballistic-missile submarines in 2009, announced in January that female Sailors would be permitted to deploy on fast-attack submarines, as the Pentagon lifted its ban on women in direct ground combat jobs. Lt. Leveque is one of the first 24 female officers selected to train on guided- and ballistic-missile submarines, which generally avoid contact with other ships and are tasked with conducting nuclear counterattacks. Fast-attack subs carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions; insert special operations forces into sensitive areas; lay mines; and attack enemy ships and ground targets. From 350 feet to 370 feet long and 33 feet to 40 feet wide, they are about 200 feet shorter and 10 feet narrower than their missile-laden cousins and carry crews of 140 — about 20 fewer personnel than guided- and ballistic-missile subs. ‘No Room To Expand’

The Navy has four guided-missile and 14 ballistic-missile subs, and 54 fast-attack subs. One reason for the Navy’s ban was the “prohibitive” cost of retrofitting sleeping and bathroom facilities on such small vessels. No retrofitting was needed for guided- and ballistic-missile subs, which provide staterooms that female officers share and bathrooms with changeable signs indicating which sex is inside. Enlisted female Sailors, whose bunks provide little privacy, eventually will be assigned to fast-attack subs, officials say. Facilities on fast-attack subs are less spacious, and there is “virtually no room to expand anything on these tightly packed boats,” said retired Rear Adm. Edward S. “Skip” McGinley II, who has served on the smaller, stealthier vessels. He said part of the subs’ bunk spaces probably would have to be cordoned off to accommodate enlisted women. “That involves not just moving around [walls] and doors in quarters which are already extremely cramped, but also doing some significant plumbing rearrangements to establish separate sanitary facilities in a ship that is already a plumbing nightmare,” Adm. McGinley said. “This, in my humble opinion, may be the most expensive and difficult engineering problem to solve in this project.” Rob Fisher, another veteran submariner, said: “Separate areas will be very difficult to do. Segregation of the area could be arranged, but travel-through areas for the opposite sex will be necessary. “I believe that women can be great submariners, but the older subs were not built with privacy in mind.”

During a recent news conference, a senior Navy official speaking on background said that assigning women to fast-attack subs would incur costs, but he did not elaborate. “Lots of plans are being discussed and [it’s] too early to tell,” said Cmdr. Monica Rousselow, a Navy spokeswoman. Fraternization Other concerns include fraternization and pregnancy, especially when a submarine might be unable to surface. “The fraternization potential, in my opinion, would be very high. The fast-attack lifestyle is extremely cramped and would really need mature personnel and leadership to enable female members to serve successfully,” former submariner Brian Penders said, adding that fraternization on a fast-attack vessel probably would not exceed that on larger subs or surface ships. The Navy said it does not track data on male-female fraternization.

According to a January report in Stars and Stripes, a recent Navy survey found that nearly three-quarters of Sailor pregnancies are unplanned. Of those, only 31 percent were using birth control at the time of conception. Traces of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other gases in a submarine could harm a developing child in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, when a Sailor might not know she is pregnant, said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness and a staunch critic of women in combat roles. Dr. Hugh Scott, a retired Navy rear admiral, said the levels of carbon dioxide in a submerged submarine are 10 times higher that those in the open atmosphere and could damage the brain of a fetus. He said he has called for Navy studies on the impact of prolonged exposure on women’s fertility, bone health and developing fetuses, but none has been conducted. Dr. Scott served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from 1992 to 1994 as director of the Medical Resources and Plans and Policy divisions. Lt. Leveque, who is married to a fellow submariner, said fraternization will not be a problem.

“Honestly, it’s a very professional working environment, and that doesn’t change when we go [from port] to sea at all,” said Lt. Leveque, one of the first three women to earn the submarine warfare officer “dolphins” pin, after nearly two years of training and a deployment aboard the ballistic-missile sub USS Wyoming, based in Kings Bay, Ga. She is backed by at least two other female Navy pioneers — retired Capt. Lory Manning, who was one of the first women to serve on a surface ship, and Capt. Joellen Oslund, one of the first six women accepted into Navy flight school in 1972 and the Navy’s first female helicopter pilot. “I think [the military] threw up a lot of artificial barriers that have finally come down, and I expect the women will do fine in submarines,” Capt. Oslund said. “It’s where every submariner wants to go,” Capt. Manning said. “The other [submarines] just sort of sit out there and wait for the balloon to go up. [A fast-attack sub is] where every submarine admiral has to spend time.”

India test fires submarine-launched version of BrahMos missile

20 March 2013 - India today successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290 km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal becoming the first country in the world to have this capability. The submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test-fired from an underwater pontoon near here, BrahMos CEO A. Sivathanu Pillai told PTI. This is the first test firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world and the missile travelled its complete range of over 290 kms, he said. He said the performance of the missile during the test launch was “perfect“.

Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy. The maiden test of the submarine-launched version of BrahMos comes over a week after the indigenously built long-range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed to hit its target in its first test. “BrahMos missile is fully ready for fitment in submarines in vertical launch configuration which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world,” Pillai said. Defence Minister A K Antony congratulated DRDO scientists and Russian specialists along with officers of the Indian Navy associated with the project for successful test launch of missile from an underwater platform.

Sub boss on op tempo, plans to integrate women

More opportunities are opening up for women, and submarines continue to play a crucial role in America's defense - stealthily going places and collecting information no one else can get. The commander of Submarine Forces, Vice Adm. Michael Connor, spoke to Navy Times on March 26 about the future of the sub fleet. Connor, who took over in September, talked about operational tempo, preventing collisions and introducing enlisted women to the silent service. Interview excerpts, edited for clarity and space.

Q. The attack submarine Jefferson City's deployment to U.S. Southern Command was recently canceled. How many other sub deployments are on the chopping block?
A. That's the only one so far, and that was a case where the Department of Defense took a look at global priorities and decided that that particular part of the world, Southern Command, was not as high a priority as the Pacific and Central command areas. The areas that the submarine force is most focused on are the ones that are the highest priorities for the country. While Jefferson City's deployment to SOUTHCOM got canceled, she'll still deploy somewhere.

Q. What is the op tempo for the sub fleet like?
A. It's slightly higher than our recent norm, not very much. We occasionally extend a deployment, and it's usually for an operational reason: there's a terrorist attack somewhere or someone wants us to check something out, if it's that sort of thing. We plan for six-month deployments; sometimes they run to seven, but not very often. Our long-term goal is to hold it at right about six because we're interested in maintaining the longevity of the force and the ability to deliver over time.

Q. What's retention like right now for the sub fleet?
A. It's pretty good. Our ships are manned pretty well. Typically we deploy with 95 to 100 percent of the requirements on board, and those small numbers usually have mostly to do with a family situation or something like that, and a sailor will catch up. We've tried to invest to ensure that our ships are steadily manned because we have a constant readiness philosophy, and we try to back that up with how we invest in our people.

Q. When do you plan to select enlisted women for subs and what platforms will they go to?
A. We're still working our plan. We're working through some physical constraints that we have. We've made this work for officer women, and they're doing just a fantastic job. Our next step is to work out a detailed plan for the enlisted women in the same way we did for the officer women. That plan is still being worked out, but we expect to make the defense secretary's deadlines. I don't have the details of what ships or what rates yet because we're still working those.

Q. When you talk about "physical constraints," do you mean things like berthing areas?
A. It's updating the berthing, but it's not just on the ship. It's how you establish a training program; it's preparing the crews. We firmly believe that the best crews to have the enlisted women on when they come will be crews that already have officer women, so there's a leadership cadre that's already there. They sort of blazed the trail a little bit, and they're mentors that they can look to when they have issues, and we just think that'll make us more successful.

Q. Can you talk at all about qualities you're looking for in someone who may want to transfer over as an enlisted woman?
A. We're looking for the same qualities we look for in our men. We're looking for highly motivated people. They have to have the types of skills, since we're a pretty technical organization with nuclear propulsion, lots of electronics rates and fairly sophisticated weapons. So we're looking for the same type of above-average performers and resilient people who can operate in a fairly austere environment successfully.

Q. The sub fleet suffered two collisions. The attack submarine Montpelier collided with the cruiser San Jacinto on Oct. 13, and the attack sub Jacksonville hit a civilian vessel Jan. 10. Are there any plans to prevent this in the future?
A. We have ongoing programs that look at our operations. The vast majority of those operations go very well, but they don't all go well, and when they don't, we have a feedback process that works that into our training and our certification. Some of those factors from recent events are certainly being incorporated into that cycle, and we're taking that pretty seriously.

Q. Do you think there's a way to get crews recognition while still maintaining operational security?
A. When something happens somewhere as a result of something a submarine did, we're focusing on the sailors. We want to make sure they know what great work they did. Then we look for opportunities to share in general with their families, but it's very difficult to do that because to reveal what we gain would end up revealing how we gain it, and we're not ready to go there. We trust our sailors who have always lived in the silent service to have an inward sense of pride because they know what they did, even if others do not.

Admiral: Many Unaware Sub Service Keeps Enemies from Our Shores

Outgoing Commander Says Submarines Vital to Containing Hot Spots

Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge had been stationed in Groton three times before he became the leader of Submarine Group Two. But, it wasn't until, as group commander, he said, that he listened to briefings from sub commanders returning from deployments and spoke with experts in special warfare and intelligence the group supports, that he realized that submarines - more so than probably any other element of the military - deter aggression from regional powers around the globe. Seventeen attack submarines deployed to hot spots during his 20-month tenure, from the waters off Libya to the Arabian Gulf and the North Atlantic.

"A lot of folks don't see that it really is our undersea force that prevents war - major war," he said. "And I didn't appreciate that as much before this tour." Today, Breckenridge will turn over command of the group to Rear Adm. Kenneth M. Perry in a ceremony at the Submarine Force Museum. Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, the commander of the submarine force, is the keynote speaker. Breckenridge is going to the Pentagon to lead the Undersea Warfare Division. As the division's director, Breckenridge will help shape the future of the submarine force by figuring out where to invest and what capabilities to develop. He previously served as deputy director of the office.

His first priority will be to build a new class of ballistic-missile submarines to replace the aging Ohio-class boats, he said. He said he also wants to better articulate "our identity as undersea war fighters"- "who we are, what we provide and why it's of value." "Part of my role in my next job is going to be to make sure that we have a recognition of the capability we provide, and by that I mean the real, meaningful deter war side of it, and the fact that we are potent if it does come to conflict," he said. Submarine Group Two oversees all of the attack submarines on the East Coast, or 28 submarines currently. Six of those submarines are either under construction or at a shipyard for maintenance. The group is responsible for the ships and crews at Electric Boat and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Because of the highly classified nature of submarine missions, Breckenridge said he couldn't discuss what the 17 submarines that he deployed accomplished, but he did say they go where other forces can't, and the nation's adversaries "have to plan that we're there." The USS Providence recently stayed at sea for more than seven months, instead of the typical six, because it was needed in the U.S. Central Command theater, which includes countries near the Arabian Gulf. Breckenridge said the deployment was extended for "vital mission tasking" and the crew did a "phenomenal job." The U.S. Pacific Command is responsible for the waters near North Korea, not Submarine Group Two, so Breckenridge said he couldn't say whether any submarines are there. Submarines do typically covertly monitor activities by a potential enemy, he said, so "key decision-makers have the best picture of what's going on with the threat."

There are more than 300 submarines worldwide and a growing number of nations are expanding or modernizing their submarine forces, notably Russia, India and China, Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the Pacific Command, said Apr. 9 at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea have recently launched - or soon will launch - new, modern submarines, he said in his testimony. U.S. submarines need to deploy as often as they currently do so that allies can continue to rely on their contribution to regional stability, and other adversary navies don't eventually creep closer to the nation's coastline, Breckenridge said.

"We operate forward inside their 20-yard line, inside their red zone, so that they rarely come out into midfield and very, very rarely operate off the East or West Coast of the United States of America," he said. "I think the fact that we enjoy that advantage, where we don't have to go to bed at night wondering if there's going to be a land attack from sea, is something Americans have grown accustomed to and don't realize that it hasn't happened because we're out there." The Special Forces, Breckenridge said, have "a good brand" and are well understood by America and Congress, but the public's comprehension of the role of submarines diminished in the years following the end of the Cold War because of the nature of the "silent service."

Revitalizing the submarine force's identity, Breckenridge said, will forge a closer tie with the public. Sailors leave their families to spend months at a time at sea and Breckenridge said he wants to make sure they know, and the American public understands, that they are making a profound difference. Breckenridge often talks to Sailors about the meaning behind the National Anthem. He tells them it's because "they stand the watch" that the chance of an attack on the homeland similar to the British bombardment during the War of 1812 is "much, much less." "Our goal is to never experience the rockets' red glare within America in our lifetimes," he said. "It's our undersea force that contains potential overreach by the adversary through our superiority from the deep, thereby keeping the fight far away from our homeland."

Two North Korean Submarines Allegedly Missing

Two North Korean submarines have reportedly disappeared from port. Although the subs were last seen at a naval base in the Hwanghae Province in early April, the news is just now filtering out to media outlets. While the capability of North Korea to shoot a long-range missile at the United States has largely been nixed during press conference about EMP attack threats, the possibility of a missile attack from a submarine has rarely been mentioned.

The thought of missing North Korean subs aiming a missile at a coastal city is causing concern for some Americans. While any coastal city could become a target, some analysts think California is a very likely location. If North Korea shot a missile along the coast of the state, some feel than an earthquake could occur and allow the attack to go largely undetected – at least for a time. North Korea also allegedly bought 1,452 pounds of silver from China. Some researchers believe the silver was purchased to use for batteries on the Sang-O (Shark) mini-subs. Generals in the North Korean Navy allegedly feel the Shark submarines are viable weapons which could be used against both America and South Korea. The Sang-O submarines are typically considered coastal submarines. The subs can reportedly carry at least 15 crew members and a dozen scuba commandos.

While many Americans might believe that a missing North Korean submarine trolling the coast would quickly be detected, that may not necessarily be the case. During a recent discussion about the EMP Commission, Dr. William Forstchen highlighted just how real the possibility is for an EMP attack from a cargo ship or a submarine. In 2012, a Russian boomer went unnoticed for nearly a month in US waters on the Gulf of Mexico. The nuclear-powered submarine sighting was not the only such occurrence in recent history. In 2009, another Russian submarine patrolled very close to the United States. The incident happened about the same time as Russian bombers were spotted in restricted airspace near Alaska and California.

Dr. Forstchen, a North Carolina college professor, also told The Inquisitr just how woefully unprepared America is for an EMP attack. The professor wrote the bestselling novel One Second After. The book details the chaos which occurred in a small town after an EMP attack. His research was cited on the floor of Congress during discussions about EMP threats and the vulnerability of the power grid. As the renowned professor so aptly noted, life as we know it would end without a functioning power grid. The nation’s electrical systems could be repaired, but most of the necessary components are made in China. The time frame to repair a downed power grid is a hotly disputed topic, but a quick flip of the switch after a visit to the storage room would not be a possibility. Many experts feel that it would take months, if not years, to get the overly-taxed power grid back online.

The bestselling author also pointed out the many ways a downed power grid would increase the EMP attack death toll sooner rather than later. The most obvious and immediate impact would involve the thousands of Americans who would perish when planes near the EMP zone would fall from the sky.

Without power, hospitals with still-functioning generators would not be able to keep patients alive after they run out of stored fuel. Grocery stores would reportedly have only empty shelves after about three days, leaving those without a garden or ability to hunt or fish with very empty stomachs. Civil unrest would also cause an unthinkable amount of deaths, according to Dr. Forstchen. The EMP Commission was established under a Republican-controlled Congress in 2001. The commission was re-established under a Democratic majority in 2006. The EMP preparedness commission was disbanded in 2008. EMPact America is an outspoken advocate for re-convening the Congressional commission to further preparedness efforts.

SUBLANT Force Master Chief Changes Command

NORFOLK, Va. – Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (SUBLANT) Force Master Chief was relieved April 15 during a change-of-office ceremony here. Force Master Chief (Submarines) Wes Koshoffer has relieved Force Master Chief (Submarines) Kirk Saunders as Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (SUBLANT) Force Master Chief. Force Saunders served as the SUBLANT Force Master Chief from July 2010 to April 2013. He will report to the Navy Consolidated Brig Chesapeake (NAVCONBRIG), located at the Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, Northwest Annex in Chesapeake, Va. NAVCONBRIG Chesapeake, also known as the Joint Regional Correctional Facility Mid-Atlantic, serves as the Mid-Atlantic Region's correctional facility for both pre-trial and post-trial prisoners and is available for use by commands from all branches of the armed services.

Prior to leaving SUBLANT, Vice Adm. Michael Connor, Commander, Submarine Forces/Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic, presented Saunders with a Legion of Merit medal. Saunders was cited for his management and visionary approach in implementing numerous initiatives which positively affected more than 22,000 Sailors in the Submarine Force, and for his impressive resourcefulness in providing the force commander and master chief petty officer of the navy valuable insight, guidance, and deckplate perspective. "I have been very fortunate and blessed to work with some extremely talented men and women in the submarine force, including three dynamic force commanders - Vice Adm. John Donnelly, Adm. John Richardson, and Vice Adm. Michael Connor," said Saunders, a native of Birmingham, Ala. "I had the privilege to be part of many innovations in the submarine force, particularly the Design for Undersea Warfare, which has provided and will provide the guiding principles of undersea warfare for decades.

"The design provides the framework, but it was our shore and sea-based, deckplate Sailors, senior enlisted, and officers who implemented the spirit of the design. Their efforts will ensure that our elite, high-performance submarine force will continue to dominate the undersea domain." In mentoring 70 command master chiefs, and chief's of the boat, Saunders enthusiastically rejuvenated the Chief Petty Officer Mess in the Atlantic Fleet area of responsibility. He united and aligned his team of senior enlisted leaders producing a more engaged and proactive group of leaders in guiding the submarine force enlisted personnel through a myriad of dynamic transitions. Major culture changes included the smoking ban on submarines, integration of women on submarines, and the introduction and implementation of the Design for Undersea Warfare, the guiding vision for the future of the submarine force.

"Master Chief Koshoffer will continue to provide a critical deckplate perspective to our most senior leadership and guidance to our Sailors on the waterfront," said Saunders. The corporate knowledge and leadership skills gained in his diverse sea and shore assignments ensure our waterfront Sailors will continue to operate and perform at the highest level."

Koshoffer's previous assignment was as Command Master Chief, Commander, Submarine Group Two in Groton, Conn. Senior enlisted advisor assignments have included Command Master Chief at Naval Submarine School in Groton, Conn., and Command Master Chief at Commander, Submarine Development Squadron Twelve in Groton, Conn. "I am honored to have been selected for this position and fully realize that I have some big shoes to fill" said Koshoffer. "Force Master Chief Saunders has been an amazing mentor and role model for our Chief's Mess and all Sailors in the Atlantic Submarine Force." Koshoffer joined the Navy in March 1989. After Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois, he attended Basic Enlisted Submarine School and Submarine Radioman "A" and "C" schools, before reporting to his first sea assignment, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Phoenix (SSN 702), home ported in Norfolk, Va.

Other sea assignments have included the Pre-Commissioning Unit Cheyenne (SSN 773) , which was under construction at Newport News Shipyard, Newport News, Va.; the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Baltimore (SSN 704), home ported in Norfolk, Va.; the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), home ported in Norfolk, Va.; and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN 757), home ported in Groton, Conn., where he served as the Chief of the Boat and was selected as a Command Master Chief. Shore assignments have included Submarine Squadron Support Unit Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., and at Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic, where he served as the Senior Communications Evaluator on the Tactical Readiness Evaluation team. He is a 2003 graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy and graduated cum laude from Touro University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visitwww.navy.mil/local/sublant

Russian Strategic Submarines to Carry 16 Intercontinental Missiles

MOSCOW-Russia will provide each of its eight strategic nuclear submarines with 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles Bulava A, confirmed today the head of the department for the state of technique of the Ministry of Defense Andrei Vernigora. The submersible of the 955, 955 A and 955 Borei Borei A " project of the Navy will carry the arsenal on board, told the senior officcer to Itar-Tass news agency.

Two ships of the 955 nuclear-propulsion project equipped with rockets of more than eight thousand kilometers, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomai, according to the source. Before the end of 2013, will also come into action the multipurpose nuclear submarine Severodvinsk of the 855 project, equipped with cruise missiles, Vernigora recalled. Russia advances in the preparation of navigation tests that will carry out the Vladimir Monomai from June, the third unit of the project called 955 Borei class and second in mass production.

Andrei Diachkov, president of the Unified Shipbuilding Corporation confirmed the start date of certification exams of the submersible launched in December 2012. These types of submarines were part of the strategic naval forces of the Euro Asian power in the 21st century, according to the National n the twenty-first century, according to the National Purchasing Program of Russian Ordnance of Combat.

Local Sailor Shares Story on 25th Anniversary of USS Bonefish Fire

Twenty five years ago, on April 24th, 1988, the Charleston based USS Bonefish caught fire and burned in the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the sailors on board escaped, but three lost their lives. More than two dozen years later, the fire is still firmly imprinted into the memories of the survivors. Jim Yates was a Senior Chief Machinist's Mate Submarine Qualified at the time of the fire. Retired and living in Summerville now, he remembers what it was like, "It was so black you couldn't see your hand in front of your face and our shoes were melting to the deck. I made that conclusion in my mind that I was dead."

On the day of the fire, the 30 year old submarine was performing drills with the USS Carr off the coast of Florida. Bonefish was submerged underneath Carr, so even as the fire began it could not rise immediately. Yates describes the frustration, "We knew we couldn't surface, so that's when I think people were going, ok this is it." The sailors on board worked together and eventually Bonefish surfaced, but the smoke from the fire was the cause of death for three sailors. "I think that is the part that many people are living through, is that we left three men behind."

Their names and their stories are something Yates can never forget. He lists each man, and remembers their role that day. "Lieutenant Ray Everts was the officer of the deck. He went up to open the escape hatch and got overcome by smoke and died there." "Robert Borderlon was the radio man who was sending signals to the ships above us to please clear the way so we could surface. He stayed late in the radio shack and when he came out, he got overcome by smoke trying to get out." "Marshal Lindgren was part of a casualty control group that was helping those that were injured. He also was overcome by smoke and died." "The rest of us got out by the grace of God, and the heroics of a lot of people."

Sharing his story today, Yates spoke about the fire not for himself, but to remember those who gave their lives. "Sharing this with you was to point out the three heroes of the day. There was not a lot of fanfare for them, and they deserved it."

Israel's 5th Dolphin submarine launched in north Germany

Israel has launched its fifth Dolphin-class submarine, which was constructed to undertake long-range classified missions and carry missiles armed with nuclear warheads, at a shipyard in northern Germany. The director general of Israel's Ministry of Military Affairs, Major General Udi Shani, the commander of the Israeli navy, Rear Admiral Ram Rothberg, and a number of other Israeli and German officials attended the inauguration of the submarine at the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) shipyard in Kiel Port on Monday.

The submarine, named the INS Rahav, will cost $500 million and will arrive in Israel in one year upon the completion and installation of its relevant systems. It is considered one of the most advanced submarines in the world and will be Israel's most expensive piece of military equipment. Israel's first three Dolphin-class submarines are believed to be some of the most sophisticated diesel-electric submarines in the world. The fourth submarine, the INS Tanin, the first of the new generation Dolphin II submarines, was delivered in May 2012. Germany donated the first two submarines after the first Persian Gulf War and agreed to cover a third of the cost of the third one.

In March 2012, Israel signed a contract for a sixth Dolphin-class submarine, to be delivered in a few years. Israeli officials consider the submarines to be a critical aspect of the Israeli nuclear deterrent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the submarines "a strong and strategic tool" for the Israeli navy.