In Memoriam - USS San Francisco (SSN-711)
On January 8, 2005, USS San Francisco (SSN-711), a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine ran aground on an uncharted seamount while traveling submerged at a speed of about 35 knots at a depth of approximately 525 feet. Machinist Mate 2nd. class Joseph Allen Ashley of Akron, OH perished in the accident. 23 other crewmen were severely injured and 74 other crewmen were slightly injured.
The area in which San Francisco was operating was relatively uncharted, and even though there were references in some of San Francisco's charts to discolored water (an indication of the presence of a sea mount), the warning was not transferred to the charts her crew was using during the accident.
As a result of the accident, her Commanding Officer, Kevin Mooney was reassigned to unspecified duties in Guam and given a nonjudicial letter of reprimand. Six crew members were also issued similar letters, and received a reduction in rank. In contrast, twenty other officers and crew members were awarded for their actions during the crisis.
San Francisco was repaired at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA. Her heavily damaged bow section was replaced with that of the retired USS Honolulu (SSN-718). By "recycling" parts from one submarine to repair the other, the Navy saved approximately $100 million.
More than 1,000,000 pounds of material was involved in the transfer of the bow section.
USS San Francisco returned to service in 2009 and is now home ported in San Diego, CA.
Ship's patch graphic courtesy of Paul Honeck.
Official U.S. Navy photograph.