Sea Stories

Dead SINS = Dead Reckoning

Fred Louese, QMCM/ETCM (yuck), CWO4 (retired)

This is a no-shitter! In 1980, during an underway of national importance (SPECOP for the boomer crowd) in a 637, up where it gets pretty cold and the people speak Russian, we lost our SINS 3.6.

In QM speak, the machine lost its ability to simultaneously start all gyros after a re-start. The XO, who held a degree in Electrical Engineering, came up with a plan to wire all three gyros to this big Frankenstein-looking switch they found back in Nuke-a-delphia. The Real NAVETs (the ones who liked electrons), who thought the plan would work, ran all these wires from the gyro to this switch.

The XO developed a plan to test this monster rig prior to use (caveman version of ORM back when you "hoped no one would get killed"). Everything appeared to look good.

So... On the midwatch, the CO has a bunch of blankets strung between the conn and the diving party, fire hoses run, manned and pressurized (giving some false sense of safety). He directed the OOD to stand up by the DOOW. He had the FTOW and QMOW go stand by SONAR.

The NAVET thought it would be an honor for the XO to throw the switch, since it was his idea. The XO accepted. With all "safety" measures in place, the XO starts a countdown. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3... As zero approached, everyone started putting a little more distance between themselves and the control room. Just as the XO gets to zero, he exclaims, "I don't think this is going to work!" A sigh of relief went throughout OPS upper level.

So where does this put the navigation picture? We maintained several DRs. One based on the Mk-19, one based on inputs from the Mk-27— there's a reliable source— and then the QM1 (me) best guess, based on what we've seen for currents, crappy steering from the Helmsman and a bit of anal extraction. We spent another 24 hrs on station (never detected) and headed south to Holy Loch. When we finally were in a position where we could get a fix, the QM1 best guess was only 5 miles off.

Let me ask, could the "NAVETs" (or whatever the term for a QM is today) have pulled that off? With training in the art of navigation so skimpy and the folks that KNOW how to navigate all getting to retirement age, I think not.

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