Every so often, we as seagoers are reminded that the mundane may rapidly transform into the perilous, even without a human enemy. Such moments can bring out the best and worst in our nature. Twenty-one years ago today routine operations onboard the USS Bonefish (SS-582) and USS Carr (FFG 52) uderwent such a change. A naval blogger of longstanding, xformed over at chaoticsynapticactivity was onboard the Carr and has previously written about that experience. Today, he brings new details to light gained through the venue of new media and contacts enabled through his blog. It is a selfless story of sacrifice and goes straight to the heart of the discussion elsewhere in these pages about tradition, service and, dare I say it, ethos. 




Posted by SteelJaw in Navy


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  • RickWilmes

    SteelJaw, several questions.

    1. Why do you use an emergency, the fire on the submarine, as an example of self-less, self-sacrifice?

    2. How is ethics applied during an emergency? Is it different compared to normal everyday life?

    3. Why hadn’t Lt. Evert been informed about the hatches not working? Had he known, would his actions have been different?

  • Hayball

    The lower bridge trunk hatch was a form of the interrupted screw mechanism known to virtually all naval officers. It was actuated by a handwheel connected to the locking ring through a sector gear. The sector gear had been improperly aligned when last reinstalled after maintenance, so that the locking rings segments could overtravel, engaging the next dogging surface rather than than aligning with the cutout to allow the hatch to open upward into the trunk.

    The Quartermasters and Navigator were aware of the problem and had submitted a work request for correction, which had been deferred by Squadron action. The hatch was operable if you knew its quirk, the QM’s did, and they were tasked by the ship’s bills to open the lower hatch upon passing “prepare to surface”. There is no “prepare step” for the emergency surface procedure.

    Lt Evert had relieved as ship’s Engineering Officer very shortly before the underway without a contact relief. The ship had “completed” an overhaul in the very recent past. The material condition of the ship post-overhaul was such that the Commanding Officer had been relieved. The new Captain had been on board for a very short period before the Lt Evert reported aboard and was buried in a get well alongside the tender refit. A new Executive Officer reported aboard in the same time period. Lt Evert had significantly improved the ship’s material condition and the operation of the Engineering Dept in the brief time he had been aboard, he had been amazingly overtasked by the scope of things “left undone which should have been done”. In addition he had to “requalify”, learning the differences in equipment and procedures between this and his previous ship and stand watch, in port and at sea.

    OOD at the time of the casualty, Lt Evert directed bringing the ship from deep to a depth just deep enough to avoid collistion with the destroyers maneuvering without restriction as part of the exercise in progress. He established underwater telephone communications with USS Carr and informed her of the situation and his intentions as he cleared baffles to update the location of shipping in the vicinity. He then emergency surfaced, immediately, while searching through 360 degrees on the periscope, so as to be able to conduct an immediate emergency deep if the scope broke water to reveal a collision imminent with one of the destroyers.

    He did this, and much more than I have space or desire to enumerate, while the atmosphere in the Control Room rapidly and steadily degraded. He ordered the all hands in the compartment into Emergency Air Breathing apparatus, but elected not to donn his, so as to be able to be comprehensible on the underwater telephone and to see clearly through the periscope. Niether may be reliably done in an EAB mask.

    The visability in the space when the ship reached the surface was zero, insufficient for the Captain on the periscope stand to see his wrist let alone read his watch.

    Lt Evert then proceeded by touch to the ladder going up to the lower hatch, ascended the ladder, and attempted to open the hatch which he could not see, the duties prescribed by the bill in effect. He was already suffering from smoke inhalation, perched at the highest hottest most smoke saturated spot in a compartment where the hull insulation itself had already flashed over.

    He missed, overcranking by perhaps as little as 1/4 inch, and reported hatch jammed. A member of the Navigation Dept joined him, and was able to open the hatch by touch in the dark and heat.

    Lt Evert attempted to go the rest of the way up to the bridge hatch but was fully overcome by smoke, lost consciousness and fell to the deck below. At this point the second man was above him on the ladder and his fall was unnoticed. His body was recovered days later just off the natural path men groping in the dark would take to get to the bridge trunk ladder.

    He undoubtedly knew “hatch handwheel misadjustedxxxremove, reinstall and ensure correct alignment”. It was on his work list for the tender and was deferred. That knowlege is not the same thing as opening it by touch in an inferno.

    He died putting duty above all. There but for the grace of God go I, and any number of us.

    The COMSUBLANT personally reviewed the investigation results with every boat and tender wardroom in the force. He was visably shaken, very professional and correct, but it got to him.

    His widow was presented with his decoration for heroism.

    ANYBODY GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?!
    If you don’t get it, Rick, nobody can help you.

  • RickWilmes

    Hayball, I get it. Sounds like Lt. Evert was a man of integrity not self-less self-sacrifice. Also sounds like he stepped on board a ship that was un-sat. What caused the fire?

    The self-less, self-sacrifice occurred long before Lt. Evert stepped on board, assuming all that has been said is accurate.

    First two questions, remain unanswered.

  • Hayball

    Rick
    Questions, in order:
    1. Read closer. He made decisions which put duty over self.
    2. Gambit declined.

    By the way, stay away from submarine bars henceforward. You won’t be welcome.

  • Byron

    Hayball, Rick is a troll. He’s got an agenda, something about Mahan and some psycho mumble jumble. I’m a yard bird, I got it the message in this post. I didn’t need to parse it, or question it. I just admired the brave men who go down to the sea in ships.

    Rick don’t get it, and never will. IGNORE HIM.

  • RickWilmes

    Byron, I would appreciate it if you would stop calling me a troll. If anything, call me what I am a selfish egoist. I am tired of the mischaracterizations that you continue to get away with. Yes, my views are different than yours and others that make comments here. Time will tell who is correct.

    Troll, I am not.

    Selfish egoist, I am.

    Rack out :)

  • Hayball

    Byron:

    Sound advice. Thanks.

  • http://www.chaoticsynapticactivity.com xformed

    Hayball;

    I’d love to get an email from you. Your comment above is excellent. I’m not done with this story yet.

  • Sam Kotlin
  • Byron

    Interesting reading. Sounds like a cascade failure of minor PMS deficiencies all rolled up into a big one. Also sounds like certain repairs got signed of QA SAT that weren’t. Hangin’ time for those people.

    Thanks for digging the link up, Sam.

  • Hayball

    Sam Kotlin:

    Thanks for posting the declassified investigation of the Bonefish fire,

    Reading through it I noted several differences between my posting concerning Lt Everts, and the details as set forth in the investigation.

    The investigation is of course authoritative.

    My post was based on my memory of briefings I attended, and messages I read, and my one reading of the investigation over twenty years ago. I don’t want any future historian to base any chronicle of the Bonefish fire on my patchy recollection. I certainly didn’t have any special information, although I had friends and collegues who were part of her wardroom, no one conveyed any confidences or told me anything in any way in conflict with the investigation. Nor do I wish to convey the impression that I was in any position to have any direct personal knowlege of the events, or participated in the investigation.

    I dashed off a riposte to a previous post, defending the name of a brave man who died in the service of the Submarine Force, the Navy, and the Nation. As a consequence the full truth is plain for all to see, without the errors of time and aging memory.

    The point of my post remains valid. Lt Evert, as well as the Captain, XO, and crew fought the fire with courage and skill. No one may or should question their professional competence or ability, or guts, now or any time in the future. They had my complete admiration at the time, and always will.

    Again my thanks for setting the official record forth for all to see and admire.

    Absent friends and collegues, gentlemen.

  • Sam Kotlin

    Matt-

    This was a failure in command, and not by Mike. And though the endorsements backed off hammering CSS-4, this always had the flavor of a diesel PITA in a nuke squadron.

    In the last decade or so of the diesels, their vulnerabilities became big liabilities in the hands of all but the most vigilant. Even then, accidents happened and the thinness of safety systems in the design showed through. Nukes: 3 systems to failure. Diesels: normally two.

    Good to see you on board.

  • Byron

    Hayball, I’m 100% with you on this. The genesis of a tragedy in no way diminishes the selfless attention to duty.

    Sam, greatly appreciate making this available. It must have taken some time to locate.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Gents,

    Global Security states that the remainder of the SS-580 class was decommissioned due to the fire and the vulnerabilities that SK points out. Is that indeed the case, or were they reaching end of service life/technical potential anyway?

    Hell of a “want of a nail” story, though, and of coolness and bravery in crisis.

  • RickWilmes

    Just as I expected, poor maintenance, no knowledge of deficient equipment, no leadership oversight BEFORE the accident. That is where the self-less, self-sacrifice occurred.

    As I already stated, it sounded like Lt. Evert was a man of integrity fighting for his life and his crews life in an emergency while he was OOD. Contrary, to what some of you think, that is not self-less, self-sacrifice but fighting for ones values, his life, his ship and his crew.

    Third question has been satisfactorily answered.

    Still waiting on the first two.

    There is a difference between the proper application of ethics in normal daily activities as opposed to emergencies. It can make the difference between life and death. Just like a quarter of a turn on a door hatch.

  • Sam Kotlin

    Google ‘uss bonefish investigation’ – it’s the fifth hit. A few others on the JAC site also, all FOIA releases.

  • Sam Kotlin

    “Just as I expected, poor maintenance, no knowledge of deficient equipment, no leadership oversight BEFORE the accident.”

    That’s why the CO and XO got fired. And why the original investigation reports were critical of the ISIC (later reversed). One should not confuse the sighting of the obvious for insight.

  • RickWilmes

    “One should not confuse the sighting of the obvious for insight.”

    And that is the reason why that was the focus of my third question not the first two.

    Try to answer my first two questions. The answers are not obvious, but the insight gained by the answer is the difference between life and death.

  • Byron

    Sam, remember, “Don’t feed the Trolls”.

  • Hayball

    Sam:
    Both Mike and Pete were 4.0 from the day they stepped on board.
    My opinion.

    Mike had the guts and good judgement to bail out when I, at least, would have probably kept on trying. The right call at the right time by the right guy. Haunted me at the time, and still does to a degree. Just no way to know, would I have made the right decision? Mike did.

    When a ship comes out of overhaul with the problems Bonefish did, the Shipyard had no reason to hold up its head. Again, my opinion, worth every penny it cost you.

    URR; The “B girls” were great ships, loved by those who served in them and envied by those who didn’t. They all racked up a great record in their youth.

    At the end, Bonefish had the fire, Barbel the flooding casualty, which left Blueback the sole survivor. With only one ship there just wasn’t any way to keep the repair expertise or a trained community of diesel submariners alive. It was the quality of the people who sailed in them that kept them a viable platform as long as they were.

    The choice to decommission, IMO, was inevitable, given the money squeeze, you just couldn’t justify the support costs for a single aging ship. She could still do her job, but for how much longer? Submarine maintenence, at any point in a ship’s life, has to be done right.

    We paid a price in loss of counter non-nuke ASW expertise from having no diesels to train against, but it was the end of the trail. A great trail and a great tradition.

    Blueback is a museum now, and well worth the visit. Diesel Boats Forever, in memory at least.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hayball,

    Thanks for the gouge. Had an NROTC instructor who’s served on Blueback in the late 70s, loved her, thought her very capable. But said even then they were bastard stepchildren in the nuke sub fleet. Maybe with some justification when one considers the maintenance and training costs of “one-off” hulls?

    Anyway, thanks to all for the contributions here. VERY interesting reads.

  • RickWilmes

    URR, if you are interested, here is the gouge concerning the questions I have raised. The Ethics of Emergencies is of particular interest. Each individual will have to decide who is correct on this issue, but I maintain that integrity and self-less, self-sacrifice are contradictions and not compatible. I have stated three times now that it appears Lt. Evert was a man of integrity. Self-less, self-sacrifice had nothing to do with his actions.

    The Virtue of Selfishness

  • Sam Kotlin

    “Mike had the guts and good judgement to bail out when I, at least, would have probably kept on trying. The right call at the right time by the right guy. Haunted me at the time, and still does to a degree. Just no way to know, would I have made the right decision? Mike did.”

    Absolutely the most courageous call by a CO I’ve ever seen.

  • Hayball

    URR;

    With any of their late sixties or early seventies skippers, any of the B-girls pitted against any surface ship the Soviets or Chinese had would have just been a death sentence for the skimmer.

    With the self noise baseline of a “D” cell held up to your left ear, maritime patrol aircraft exercising against them normally got just that, exercise, in a free play scenario. Soviet submarines of that era wouldn’t have been in much better shape as long as our girls did the “sneaky snorkel shuffle”.

    At that point they had the pick of the litter of Diesel Subschol Ensigns, second sea tour Department Heads and CO’s and XO’s. The litter included all the Tang class, no slouches themselves; the two Salmon class boats, one very lucky and one very not – both a great place to earn you spurs; Darter – sorta an advanced Tang type; Greyback – THE merry band of cutthroats until one very bad day; the surviving guppies; and Carbonero (“Carboniferous” – last of the fleet snorkels and “Ulysses” made manifest).

    You just had to be there.

    One by one they chopped to fiddlers green through the seventies and early eighties.

    Perhaps some day we’ll see those great names on new nuke boats, each heir to their deeds and their memories and to the fleet boats that passed them on before. Keep the cities, states, congress critters and the like. Let our grandkids, heirs and successors walk the decks of Barbel, Blueback, Bonefish, Harder, Darter, Trigger, Trout; Tang, Wahoo, Gudgeon, Sailfish, Salmon, Greyback, Growler, Greenfish, Trumpetfish, Chopper, Sea Poacher, Menhaden, Archerfish and Carbonero, and about all the others…; they couldn’t do better.

    My opinion.

    Absent friends.

  • Byron

    You’re as thrilled about sub naming as I am about carriers. All those great names: Ranger, Lexington, Saratoga, Oriskany, Wasp, all gone save Enterprise. I’m gonna be seriously upset (using that word instead of another!) if the CVN that replaces the Big E is named after another thie…politician.

    Oh, your own Adm. Rickover said it best, Hayball: “Fish don’t vote”. That sucks. Says a lot about a society that doesn’t read enough history to remember the battles and hero’s that got us here.

  • http://steeljawscribe.com/ SteelJaw

    (against my better instincts…)
    1. a. self⋅less/ˈsɛlflɪs/[self-lis] –adjective
    having little or no concern for oneself, esp. with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish;
    b. self-sacâ‹…riâ‹…fice/ËŒsÉ›lfˈsækrəˌfaɪs, ˈsÉ›lf-/[self-sak-ruh-fahys, self-] –noun sacrifice of one’s interests, desires, etc., as for duty or the good of another.
    c. IVO the above – same rationale that I would for the chief on the flightdeck of Forrestal running to the aircraft to save the aircrew armed with only a portable extinguisher…
    2. How are ethics applied in an emergency? Innately – based on our training/conditioning. No – I would say that under stress (e.g., emergency) our day-to-day masks are dropped and a truer representation of self is observed, at least those are my observations under a variety of conditions from in-flight fires to the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
    3. While deferring to the posters above, I would still assert that Evert and others, including the crew of Dusty 613
    – SJS

  • Hayball

    Byron:

    Someone, doubtless a vile liar, told me that the Rickover Shrine project, to contain his crypt in a manner somewhat similar to JPJ, collapsed over over the question of furniture outfitting once built.

    Both sides agreed that shrine should be built around his office carpet.

    No agreement could be reached between:

    those who wished to buy kneeling cushions from a religious supply store, the better to worship the ground he walked on,

    and those who wanted a single jukebox, since they had sworn to dance on his grave.

    I belong to neither party.

    Admiral Rickover was always his own man. He never claimed me. I would never have the temerity to claim the great man as mine.

    I talked to him one time on the telephone.

    I answered with Wardroom (ship) this is not a secure line, Duty Officer, LT Hayball, may I help you?

    He identified himself and said he never heard of a submarine officer with a screwed up name like Hayball. I said “Yessir, I’ll get the Captain right away.”

    Cheers.

  • Hayball

    Steeljaw:

    …were, when the chips were down, were selfless and self sacrificing in the performance of their duty to the best of their ability, as a naval officer’s ethos expects.

    May it ever be so.

    All the best.

  • a brother

    Hayball, you said his widow was presented, I am his brother and did not knowhe was married, I have read, but still have questioned the report, of course the pictures were not of quality do no justice. From being a former service member myself, I put blame frome the CNO at the time and on down to the ship yard. Hero he was and still is to me, I just hope I have the same cut of cloth as Ray does.

  • Hayball

    My apologies, and sincere condolences to you family.

    I had heard he was, abeit a decade and a half ago, and in passing.
    Never thought to question it.

    Put me down as never knew him, admired him since I heard what he did, sprang to the defense of his good name with weapon at half cock.

    Beet red that I didn’t do a little more homework, unapologetic that I got the essentials right. He did his duty and died trying to save his shipmates. Damned fine Submarine Officer, damned shame.

    Put your brother down as hero, U. S. Navy, Submarine Service, Officer and Gentleman. And don’t take any off any (expletive deleted) who implies any different. None of his brothers of the ‘phin ever will, either.

    “I just hope I have the same cut of cloth.” Me too.

  • a brother

    dont apologize, just what I have read in the reports, the CDR and the XOs report just don’t jive right with me. I have done countless investigations in the military for the military and have read countless reports. I have the greatest respect for those special people who can climb into a Sub, no doors and say “Hey I feel great.” Gotta love ‘em, and what they have done and do for OUR country.

  • Sam Kotlin

    a brother: The CO and XO at time of the casualty had been brought in to relieve individuals who had not done their job well and whose poor performance had really set the stage for the tragedy. Add to the list the Squadron commander, who did not give the boat the attention it needed until very late in the game and even then did so only by firing the CO, no in-depth review and fix to the boat’s problems.

    CO at time of the casualty did everything right under incredible stress. He was greatly aided by daytime calm waters and the nearby presence of the CARR and the carrier battle group with a very capable Group Commander (Jerry Johnson, later a 4-star) who coordinated on-scene efforts and – with the CO – saved lives.

  • a brother

    Sam, all I am saying is that would YOU not take full resposibilty for Your actions as a Comander or would you just pass the buck to someone else. Sure all i have is the final report and all the intervies and written statements with all the maintenance reports prior to the casualty. If you can find them read them and ask yourself is it really right in your mind.

  • Sam Kotlin

    a brother: chase the CO that was relieved….

  • a brother

    sAM I FAULT EVRYONE FROM THE CNO AT THE TIME ADM YOST AND DOWN, LIKE I SAID BEFORE READ THOSE AFTER ACTION REPORTS

  • http://Yahoo Julie Cantrell

    I as a military dependent 4 the past 24yrs. And whose father, and grandfather where in the service and at war. I say to SteelJaw I hope u die because it sounds to me that all u do is BITCH and cast judgement. I was on the base in Charleston when we had to dig these solders off the walls with spatchuls. I say these familys and solders on the base crying…. Dont ever let me no where u live. ….NC
    And 4 those that read this PLEASE excuse my writing. I’am so Pissed I can’t spell……….

  • Victor Rendon

    I agree with you Julie, I was stationed at the Naval Hospital in Charleston as an Xray tech, when my CPO came to me and sent me to do portable Xrays in the morgue. This was a terrible tragedy for the men and their famalies and the honorable shipmates that served with them. I had never seen such death. I just dont know right now I still remember like it was today. I had to do full body Xrays on all of the men. God Bless their famalies. I know my job as an xray tech has nothing to do with what happen but, I still see the silver bar on the officers shirt collar, and the dungrees burnt to the bodies with EBAs melted to their face. I am sorry , I have to stop writing. God Bless DOC.

  • a brother

    Julie and Victor , so sorry that You had do see that, I burned the Autopsy report after I had read it, NO ONE Person should read something like that, My sister was livid about it and so was my brother. I thank you for Your services and sorry that You had to see it. I had done many After Action reports in the army and it is horrible that Upper Brass does not want the real truth to be told but I guess I always stuck to my guns and never changed a thing and it hurt me in the end, honesty sucks but that the whole truth of it all. I talked to ray a few days before he had to report for duty and I was told that he did not have to go and the exercise , but he said that if something did happen and he could make a difference then he was happy at the outcome.

  • Victor Rendon

    To Brother,
    My sincere condolences. All these men are heroes to me, they forever shall remembered for being made of the Right Stuff. Heroes. I never read the autopsy report on the men but read the x-ray reports after the x-ray films were read by the Radiologist and dictated. I filed the reports with each individuals X ray jacket. You are correct what I read on the x ray reports were horrible. The Radiologist questioned me about the anatomical positioning of the bodies and he could not believe it himself. All three x ray jackets were taken by the brass and never filed back in our records department. I realize that none of this makes things better, I want to help in telling the Truth.
    God Bless and God Bless Our Men and Woman serving. Doc

  • Bill

    As someone who was there, in control at the time, there are a couple of things to correct. I choose not to use names that could get someone in hot water, though I doubt they would care at this point.

    Lt. Everts body did NOT stay where it fell. I had taken off my mask to buddy breath with the Weps (who was in a safe area; torpedo room – and left to be on the scene and was almost a casualty himself) who did NOT have an EAB either when he left the safety of the torpedo room or when he arrived in control. When I saw Lt. Everts on the deck I pulled him over, put a mask on him and stayed with him as he suffered convulsions and died. Mine was the last face he saw (and trust me, I have relieved that moment many times in my life). If there was something else I could have done I would have done it.

    As for the hatches, a new TMC from the boat reported to squadron and immediately wanted to have teh hatches inspected. Squadron did a few of them and stopped. Was squadron responsible for Lt. Everts death? In my opinion: YES.

    As for QA tests not done right? Most definatel! I distinctly remember the CO ordering everyone out of the wardroom and viola, a QA test that had been failiing suddenly passed without anyone reworking anything. I remember a new EMC going to squadron and telling them of QA and material problems and him coming back with the story that if he ever came to squadron with problems again, he would be busted.

    CDR Wilson: I know that most if not all the men on the boat would have given their life for him. He was/is well respected. I did not have much respect for CDR Toney. He knew of the problems on the boat and did little or nothing to change it.

    Everytime I used to go to sea I had to promise my wife I would return because she always said, ‘thery’re not going to do anything about that boat till it kills someone and I don’t want it to be you’

  • DBF

    After reading all these post, I think I will add my 2 cents, even though its later. I spent 2 tours on what we affectionately called the Bone Zone, got on her in pearl while in the yards early 77 and left her in mid 80, got on her again in late 83 in the charleston yards and left her to go to CSS4 due to a medical issue. The issue that caused that fire was an issue all the way back to 77. While in the pearl harbor yards, they redid the GDU, or Garbage Disposal Unit, it was on the port side in the scullery just aft of the bulkead on which the other side of the fire started, when the GDU repair was made in pearl, it was faulty, from the day we 1st got underway, there was a constant issue with it leaking, and it frequently leaked forward, under the bulkhead and would leave moisture in the area that the fire started in, near the access hatch fot the battery cables, thus, in my book, the fire was 11 years in the making and the issue was never properly resolved, not even after a yard period in charleston.

  • bm3 Dahn

    I was the coxswain of the motor whale boat, and at no point did I know there were still 3 people inside the sub. There would be no reason why someone could not have went back in there and gotten them out dead or alive. What ever happen to leaving no man behind!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://mwilsonbryson@gmail.com Mike Wilson

    It seems like every night in my dreams, I relive that tragic Sunday afternoon when three good men gave their lives that others might live. As you might imagine there was a lot of confusion while removing the crew from Bonefish to the Carr. I was the last one to leave the boat and upon arriving by helo on the Carr requested a muster of the crew. It took more than two hours to account for an accurate muster since many men were in life boats that had to be recovered. It was only then that we knew for certain that three of the crew were still on board Bonefish. I discussed with the Capatain of the Carr about a possible return to bring these men back, but in the end decided against it. Nineteen men were injured, two so seriously that they were not expected to live, but live they did. Smoke continued to pour out of the ship for hours and no one on board Carr knew the layout of the Bonefish and to send them into a zero visibility comparent as they requested would have been to put them in great danger. Both the XO, COB, and I knew that no one could have survived for two hours within the confines of the boat and I would not risk the lives of those on the Carr or in my crew to return to a boat that was still on fire – three lives were more than enough. When the ship finally returned to port and we went back on board, the distruction of the control center was massive. The glass covers of some of the intruments had melted under the intense heat of the fire as had all the fuse holders on the IC switch board. Captain Sherry who conducted the safety inspection to determine a minute by minute timeline of the fire, estimated that the temperature within the control room exceeded 1,000 degrees before the fire burned to exhaustion. One other reason for my decision was that the fire was next to a fuel ballast tank and I was worried about the fire burning next to it.

    The XO was in charge at the fire and I have read his statement. He was the one that reported to me that every attempt to put out the fire had failed and that it was out of control. The ship had lost electrical power to the trim pump which served as the fire main along with hydraulics used to open and shut valve and to raise and lower masts including the snorkel mast. Although his statement and mine are basically the same that are minor differences in some things that I remember a little differently, but the rapid expansion of the fire up the port side of the ship into the control center made it difficult to distinuish what was happening below from what we were fighting in the control center as the fire burned out of control behind the BCP.

    In closing let me say that during that day I had the opportunity to see numerous acts of heroism. As one of many examples, several men, already weak, were washed off the deck. Others, without regard to their own safety, immediately jumped in four to six foot seas to aid them. The crew of the Bonefish lived up to the highest standards of the Navy and any crew I have ever served with. They are indeed the best of the best.

    Respectfully,
    Mike Wilson

  • Richard Neault

    Mr. Wilson,

    I was the QMOW when the fire started and remained on watch until I was directed to leave. I worked with the COW in keeping the flames from shooting out of the bulkhead around the BCP. I just want to say Thank You for being there. Many of us feel that had the prior CO been in command at the time this tragedy would have been a lot worse. I hope your life has been good and that you are respected by all of us!

  • Richard Neault

    To those of you that have posted on this subject and were not there. You may have read official reports or seen pictures, but what you know is still out of ignorance. I was on the Bone for four years preceeding the fire and left about two months post. I may have been a punk kid and an uneducated dink to those of you that are educated and think you know all, but I have plenty of common sense and enough critical thinking to figure things out myself. I thank God every day that someone finally had the stones to fire Toney when they did. If it wasn’t for Mr. Wilson and Ray Everts, many more would be dead. The technology and expertise to make Diesel Boats as good as nukes has always been there. Unfortunately, idiots such as Rickover and others in command at the Navy were too turned on by nukes that they could care less about the pig boats. Yes, we were the red headed step child and they all treated us that way.

    To bm3 Dahn – you are an ignorant putz. I can see why you spelled your rate in lower case. JERK!

    When I got to the Bone in ’84, Jim Struble was CO. He was Awsome and the crew loved him. He knew how to treat people and we were unbeatable. WHen Toney releived him, it went to crap. He beat us down until there was virtually no morale left. The two weeks at sea prior to the fire was great. Everything was going smoothly and we all thought the Bone was back.

  • Richard Neault

    I want to add one last thing about Ray Everts. During that very watch I was talking to him about the maneuvering watch piloting team and Qm’s. He was telling me that he had never worked with a crew, QM’s, Nav, Helmsmen, Sonar, COW, that worked as well together as we had. He was impressed by our professionalism and dedication to the boat. As a 21 year old that had been on the Bone since I was 17, that complement was as good as gold to me. That was the type of person he was and his personality came out that way. I will remember and respect him until my last breath.

  • James Walker

    As the last non qual qualified on board that pig I am proud to say I served there with some fine men. I was one of the last group of 5 or so living in the trailers and allowing access to the boat and standing watch until the end. I left to go the Barbel and arrived in the after mat of the flooding casualty there. Both boats had many outstanding sailors on board. I learned much from the men I served with. I went on to serve aboard three nuke boats after two pigs. I spent 24 years of service finishing as an officer in the nurse corp, but I can say I rarely go a day with out thinking of the events and people of the Bonefish. Capt Wislon, I will go to my grave giving you credit for saving the lives of many men.

  • Jim Yates

    21 years? Has it been that long. To those of us who were there, it is as vivid as yesterday’s breakfast. I am disheartened by some of the posts in this blog. But that goes away quickly as I remember the valor of all that I served with.

    CDR. Mike Wilson, you are a humble man who has taken way too much of this on your shoulders. While we lost 3 good and brave men that day, YOU saved 80 or so others. That is very positive. Those of us whose shoes melted to the decks as we stood there waiting to die will attest to that. I am not certain where you have landedbut hope that you make it to the Boner reunion this year in Charleston. Thank you Sir.

  • Jim Yates

    to brother:
    My sincerest condolences to you and your family. I was your brother’s diving officer at the time of the fire. I was not in control during the fire as I was relieved in order to conduct casualty control in the crew’s mess. As Ray was new on board, I had few conversations with him. But those I had let me know that the Bonefish had another officer that would prove to be one of the real leaders that we as a crew were searching for. I lived that nightmare as the A Div LPO and sometimes division officer for a couple of years. Your brother and those who reported on board after CDR Wilson, made it seem like the Bonefish might once again be the proud ship she always had been. I am thankful he was there for us and yet, very sorry that he lost his life.

  • Thomas Latiolais

    Greetings to all. I was Navigator during the casualty. Thank you Mike Wilson, I am so thankful you were at the helm and that we had such a brave and professional crew at the time of the fire. I am especially grateful to the control room watch during the fire. During my 22 years of service, I have seen no finer example of bravery and professional performance of duty during a hellish time. Richard Neault, you were an outstanding quartermaster, let no one tell you differently. I am sorry I couldn’t make it to the reunion, hopefully next one. To all my shipmates from Bonefish I wish you fair seas and following winds.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.neault.52 Richard Neault

      Tom, if u read this please email me rickneault at comcast dot net.

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