January 8, 2005 – The nuclear submarine, USS San Francisco, slammed into an undersea mountain on this day and sustained massive damage that almost caused a complete loss of the vessel.
The incident occurred about 350 miles south of Guam. The submarine was traveling at maximum speed and at a depth of 500 feet. The charts that the USS San Francisco was using didn’t show an undersea mountain, but they did indicate an area of discolored water which is usually cause for caution.
At about 2 in the morning the bow of the sub plowed into a wall of rock and mud. 23 crewmen suffered lacerations and broken bones. Machinist’s Mate Second Class Joseph Allen Ashley would die the next day from a head injury.
It’s amazing the sub was able to resurface as its forward ballast tanks were severely damaged. The inner hull was not breached and the nuclear reactor was still operational.
3 days later the USS San Francisco limped into port at Guam where it would undergo major repairs. It went back into service in late 2008 and now operates out of his homeport in San Diego.