1 Man Lost

January 8, 2005

USS San Francisco (SSN 711)
January 27, 2005 Damage to the bow of the USS San Francisco SSN-711

  • Los Angeles Class Submarine
  • Keel laid: May 26, 1977, at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.
  • Launched: October 27, 1979
  • Commissioned: April 24, 1981
  • Displacement: 6,100 tons surfaced; 6,900 tons submerged
  • Length: 361′ 11″
  • Beam: 32′ 10″
  • Operating depth: greater than 400′
  • Complement: 12 officers, 115 enlisted
  • Armament: four 21″ torpedo tubes

On 8 January 2005 at about 0200 GMT, San Francisco collided with an undersea mountain about 350 miles south of Guam while operating at flank (maximum) speed and more than 500 feet deep. The collision was so serious that the vessel was almost lost – accounts detail a desperate struggle for positive buoyancy to surface after the forward ballast tanks were ruptured. Twenty-three crewmen were injured, and Machinist’s Mate Second Class Joseph Allen Ashley, 24, of Akron, Ohio, died on 9 January from head injuries. Other injuries to the crew included broken bones, lacerations, and a back injury. San Francisco’s forward ballast tanks and sonar dome were severely damaged, but her inner hull was not breached and there was no damage to her nuclear reactor. She surfaced and transited to Guam on 10 January.

The Navy immediately stated that there was “absolutely no reason to believe that it struck another submarine or vessel.” Later, an examination of the submarine in drydock showed unmistakably that the submarine had indeed struck an undersea mountain which had only vague references on the charts available to San Francisco.

USS San Francisco (SSN 711)USS San Francisco (SSN 711)
Patch(es) were obtained from:
NavSource Online (Submarine Photo Archive).
Originally contributed by Mike Smolinski.
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One Response to “USS San Francisco (SSN 771)”

  1. H. Nelson Says:

    Makes HMS Astute’s grounding in 2010 seem competent seamanship by comparison!

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