Notes from around the Human Experience…
DIESEL BOATS FOREVER: Sometimes the news hits home.
Not too often. We knew someone shot in the Vegas massacre, but we weren’t BFF’s and she was treated and released for minor injuries. We can’t really think of any recent instances of the news hitting home offhand.
Aichiwawa: Until the loss of the Argentinian submarine ARA San Juan. This hit even closer. As long-time readers of this crap may recall we are diesel boat veterans here at The Daily Dose, serving our country honorably and utterly without distinction on the long ago decommissioned USS Blueback (SS 581).
Dry, Technical Matter: The San Juan was last heard from on Nov. 15 after it had reported a short circuit in its batteries and had been ordered to return home. Within a few hours of its last transmission, a noise consistent with an explosion was detected near San Juan’s last known position.
Dry, Technical Matter II: San Juan was 34-years-old and went through a five-year overhaul starting in 2008. Her disappearance drew international help in trying to find her, with over 4,000 people from 13 nations helping in the rescue efforts.
Fly In The Ointment: As soon as the San Juan was reported lost you suspected the worst. Sure, it was possible the boat and the crew would turn up but it wasn’t likely. You keep hoping, though, until you know for sure because, perhaps, the crew said screw the op-plan, declared radio silence and went fishing for a few days. They’re diesel boat sailors. You never know.
Sigh: But deep down you knew this wouldn’t be the case. It was never particularly reasonable to believe the San Juan would turn up. Submarine accidents are rare, but submarine rescues are even rarer.
Be All That You Can Be: Every job in the service has risks. Helicopters crash. Someone shoots you. Your deep fat fryer explodes. You accept these risks when you sign up or you don’t sign up. Every one of us who rode boats accepted this risk. There but for the grace of God and all that.
And while we didn’t dwell on it – and we don’t think too many of our shipmates did, either – you do think about it from time to time. It’s a hell of a way to go because maybe some of our 44 Argentinian shipmates died quickly but maybe some did not. Maybe some had advance notice of their impending deaths and found themselves waiting to die, not unheard of in lost submarines.
Dry, Technical Matter: Peacetime submarine losses are rare. Four US submarines have been lost since World War II and none since Scorpion in 1968. If you don’t think this is due in large part to the work and camaraderie attendant with riding boats you are deluding yourself. A submarine is one of the most challenging workplaces there is and their sailors – now that we’re out, of course – are about the best there are in any line of work.
The Bottom Line: Sometimes, tragically, the number of times a submarine dives is one greater than the number of times it surfaces. DBF.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! The National Hockey League (NHL) is formed in Montreal on this date in 1917. Originally, it was intended to be a one-year replacement for the National Hockey Association, which had suspended operations in order to get rid of an owner no one really liked.
The first NHL season would begin on December 19 and Toronto won the first championship and then defeated the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association for the Stanley Cup.
Oh Yeah: Of the original five teams, only the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs – then known as the Arenas – remain in the league. The Ottawa Senators were an original NHL team, but they were out of the league from 1934-92.
Knives Don’t Kill People, People Kill People: Nine boys are stabbed to death in a dormitory at Chinese high school on this date in 2004. Four others survive their stabbings. The killer, Yan Yanming, entered the dormitory a little after midnight and attacked the boys as they slept.
Family Affair: Yanming would be arrested a few hours later, turned in by his mother after he was unable to kill himself by ODing on drugs.
Uh, Don’t I Get An Appeal Or Something?: Justice is quick in China. Yanming was executed for this crime the following January.
Please Pass The Dry, Technical Matter: This was the fourth school stabbing in China in as many months, a phenomenon that continues off and on to this day.
Quotebook: One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: There wasn’t a Trivia question last time, silly!
Today’s Stumper: How many submarines does the United States Navy have in its fleet right now? – Answer next time!