Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cold War Stories: Guardfish Vs. K-184, Part V

(Photo: USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14)).

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

The deployment turns into the "Seinfeld" of deployments - a patrol about nothing. K-184 aimlessly punches holes in the ocean very slowly as Guardfish follows, at least until K-184 makes up for the deafness of her sonar shack...

28 May. We took station in the Philippines Sea. Two messages were received in which there was an order to take up a new area in the form of a circle with a radius of 50 miles; also it was reported that it was leaked to the American press that Soviet submarines were discovered in the South China Sea. Admiral N.I.Smirnov, the Commander of the Pacific Ocean Fleet calls upon us to maintain our covert posture and curses K-57 for reporting the fact that she took station. Covertness was lost by Headquarters during our workups for deployment: the transit route was available to anyone who wasn’t lazy, all the boats set out on the same route, they ordered us to report our position by radio, there wasn’t any sort of cover story created to cover our departure from base. During our PD to receive the broadcast we detected a radar operating in single sweep mode bearing 170 relative. The horizon was clear. We weren’t able to determine the pulse repetition frequency (PRF) or the pulse duration since the radar operated only three seconds. Its possible that it’s a BPS-9 carried by a Permit class SSN.

David Minton writes: After passing through the Bashi Straits, the Echo II established a new patrol zone in the Philippines Sea south of Okinawa. It was the worst acoustic conditions that you could imagine. At night, natural ambient noise and frequent rains deafened sonar. It became ever more difficult to maintain contact so Guardfish had to maintain trail of the Echo II at an even closer distance. Shore worked out a detailed procedure for handing off the Echo II to another US boat. We got that message on the broadcast.

29 May. We took position in the new water, speed 6 knots, with no explicit mission. I made the decision to begin a search for American and Japanese surface ships. During the broadcast, we detected a radar operating in single sweep mode bearing 175 relative. The horizon was clear. We weren’t able to determine the pulse repetition frequency (PRF) or the pulse duration since the radar operated only five seconds. Its possible that it’s a BPS-9 carried by a Permit class SSN.

30 May. During the broadcast, we detected a radar operating in single sweep mode bearing 175 relative. The horizon was clear. I heard out a suggestion from the XO and Combat Systems Officer on how to flush out the foreign submarine and break off contact.

31 May. We got a message on the broadcast ordering us to yet another area and also received word that supposedly the US found out about the locations of all of our boats in the South China Sea. Other areas were assigned to K-7, K-45 and K-57. The transit lane to these areas border some reefs and bars. The Pac Fleet Command reminded us about navigational safety. The ASW carrier “Ticonderoga” is approaching the Philippines Sea. President Nixon flew to Iran and his Secretary of Defense gave the order to shut down the “Safeguard” anti-ballistic missile system.

01 June. During the broadcast, we detected a radar operating in single sweep mode bearing 175 relative. The horizon was clear. We got the intel summary: “The ASW carrier “Ticonderoga” arrived in port Guam for refueling. There are three CVAs in the Gulf of Tonkin and one CVA to the east of Saigon.”

02 June. We carried out a special maneuver to attempt to flush out the foreign submarine that was possibly following us. We didn’t find anything. That day we came to PD for the broadcast and we observed a 10,000 ton displacement transport bearing 280 true, range 40 cables. Sonar didn’t detect anything before coming to PD because the acoustics were so bad.

03 June. We read in the intel summary: “The ASW carrier “Ticonderoga” is transiting to the Philippines.” K-45 was ordered to transit the Bashi Straits to occupy new water, once again past the bars and reefs. And again came the warnings on navigation from Fleet Headquarters. Soon we’ll have spent a whole month at sea, splitting atoms for no apparent reason, although they could have given us the task of searching for and following a carrier. For a month we cruised at 6 knots in the same 50 mile radius circle, hearing and seeing nothing.

04 June. Intel summary: “The ASW carrier “Ticonderoga” is entering the Luzon Strait.

05 June. Intel summary: “The ASW carrier “Ticonderoga” has arrived in port, Subic Bay.” I called the department heads together to discuss the patrol report, warning that I didn’t want any whitewashes and to write what happened in actuality.

06 June. From 29 May to 06 June during our time at periscope depth receiving the broadcast, we were making brief detections of a radar operating astern of us, following us in our baffles at low speed, executing special maneuvers, although we couldn’t detect anything. At 1200, we came to PD and caught the broadcast. I made a low power periscope sweep and followed it up with a high power examination of the horizon, and there it was in our port quarter – I see a submarine periscope at a range of 5 or 6 cables about 2 meters out of the water. I gave the scope to the XO, K3R L.V.Shaipov and he confirmed that he saw a periscope. When I went to look again, it was gone. Sonar didn’t detect anything. I immediately sent a message to shore informing them of the detection of an American submarine. We detected a radar in single sweep mode operating astern of us and assumed it was a BPS-9 belonging to a Permit class SSN. We dove to 80 meters, turned about to search our baffles, speed four knots. After 30 minutes, we broke off from the American boat, changing speed and course, using active acoustic countermeasures.

David Minton writes: “Shore has worked out detailed procedures for turning over trail of the Echo II SSGN to another American boat. We got the message on the broadcast. As Guardfish was at periscope depth, we got an urgent message that the Echo II had suddenly come to PD and visually detected Guardfish. Maneuvers subsequent to this were aggressive and at high speed. To continue the trail of an alerted foe wasn’t possible and we lost contact with the Echo II.

To be continued...


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