For those of you not versed in submarine exercises, this is bad. This means a multibillion dollar submarine with 120+ crew members is in trouble- think Kursk or Widowmaker. During these exercises the submarines are to check in on a set schedule via radio messages and when San Juan did not check in it raises concern; couple the lack of communication with a red flare and hairs start to raise up on the back of necks and stomachs start to sink.
The International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) in Norfolk, Va., was alerted to assist with the search and rescue effort. ISMERLO, an international organization, serves to facilitate the rapid call out of international rescue systems in the event of a submarine accident. The immediate response from various international entities was superb. In addition, San Juan family members were notified of the situation at hand.Squadron received a radio message from San Juan early this morning and everything was fine. Just a little 'whoopsie daisy' with their broadcast schedule?
Half the Atlantic fleet is looking for you and you radio in like, "What? What's everyone doing?" The last decade or so have made the submarine force come across as a bunch of assclowns: the Newport News collided with a Japanese container ship a few months ago, the San Francisco ran aground in 2005 and killing one crew member, the Greenville collided with a Japaese fishing boat and killed 9 people in 2001 and then ran aground not too long after that, and in 1998 the San Juan collided with the USS Kentucky.
I remember hearing about the Baton Rouge colliding with a Sierra class submarine in 1992 while I was deployed. The CO made a big deal about keeping our mouths shut when we pulled; the first thing my mother asked when she called me that day was if I was the submarine that had the collision. I informed her I was in the Pacific fleet and the collision happened in the Atlantic.
I came across a Washington Post article written in 1989 that said the sumbarine for had 43 collisions since 1987. That seems like a lot, because it is a lot.
It is a dangerous business we submariners are in. There are so many unknowns out there that sonar just can't see and a few nimrods in charge that just shouldn't be there. Most collisions happen at or ascending to periscope depth and each journey is the ultimate Deal or no Deal for the sonar supervisor and OOD.