Bump in The Night
Subject: Genuine Sea-Story (listen up fellas)
An interesting series of emails has past through my computer in the last couple of weeks. Rather than try to summarize the content where I might change the intent or read “between the lines”, I feel that the emails make record enough. This is an amazing story that must be shared with the crew of the 636. Tom Clancy couldn’t write this and Hollywood couldn’t produce it, reality exceeds fiction again. Gentlemen, this is why the USS Nathanael Greene Reunion Association was formed! Tom Carr
From: Anna Azaryeva
Dear Mr. Carr,
I found this email on the web site of the USS Nathanael Greene (SSBN 636). I am from Russia. My father is visiting me here in New York and will be here till May 10th.
He is looking forward to get in touch with anyone from the crew of your boat who served on it in October 1974.
He used to serve on the anti-submarine nuclear Soviet submarine in PL 671 project and was in the waters close to the Holy Loch base back then. He is looking for anyone who served on your boat in 1974.
It has been more than thirty years... It is the first time that he got to travel to the United States because I am working here at the moment.
It would be great to hear from anyone from the crew. Unfortunately the web site is set up in such a way that I am unable to contact anyone directly. Would greatly appreciate your help.
From: Tom Carr,
From: Kerry Gentry
To: Kerry Gentry
From: Kerry Gentry
Met him today. Fascinating. He thinks he bumped the 636. I seem to remember a Blue Crew incident that was (if memory has not failed) in the right time and area but was described by my counterpart as a "trawl". He sure had the geography et al right. No doubt he had been there.
Too much to cover here, but he watched the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the abandonment of their Navy... bitter man on that.
By the time he went ashore, he had used up his lifetime quota of penetrating radiation - and that was just from living on board!
Full brief next time we have a chance to talk. I told him that, if he could be here at the right time, I would take him to our next reunion as an honored guest. OK?
Great opportunity. Seriously wish you could have been there.
P.S. He doesn't speak but two words of English - "thank" and "you", but his daughter is fluent and mighty cute and thinks "Tom Carr" is a magician.
To: Anna Azaryeva
I hope this is received in time to notify your father before he returns home. I received a short summary of Captain Gentry's meeting with your father this morning and am happy that I was able to assist in implementing the encounter. Captain Gentry noted that he wanted to take your father to our next reunion if he knew the date. I think that is a great idea but, he'll need an interpreter (you) to assure the language barrier is breached.
I have just set the date and place for our next reunion so, set the time on your calendar and we hope to see you there.
Date: June 7, 2008 (banquet date, controls the rest of the event)
I'll keep you posted of event schedule as things gel.
It is a great day when adversaries can break bread together. It shows a glimmer of hope for the rest of the world.
To: Tom Carr
Dear Mr. Carr,
I apologize for a delay with my reply. First of all, thank you very much for connecting my father and I to Captain Gentry. It has been a very interesting and important meeting for my father on his first trip to the United States.
I will pass the information about the reunion along to my father. A year seems to be a long time away, but we will make sure to keep in touch regarding the reunion if it proves possible for my father to come.
They came up to New Haven, I picked them up at the train station and took them to lunch. We had about three hours to talk, but conversation was pretty inefficient because we had to go through his daughter as an interpreter both ways.
Azaryev is apparently sure in his own mind that, while he was a JO on one of their Echo-I boats in 1974, they brushed the Greene in the Irish sea. He had some hand drawn sketches of the incident. Says they were shadowing at periscope depth with Greene on the surface, they went down to close, Greene submerged and turned toward and they brushed. They lost depth control and went pretty close to their test depth before recovering. The only other thing I can add is that, when I took her into drydock - reason now forgotten - there was clear evidence that the lower rudder had hit something. Again, nothing we could account for. Squadron Cdr had no apparent interest, damage was just a few scratches so we painted over it and forgot about it. I couldn't get a straight answer as to why he was so sure it was the 636 boat.
Mostly, other than that, he pronounced his military resume, and fulminated about the demise of the Soviet Navy after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He says that in reality, they currently have just ONE submarine in each fleet that is capable of getting underway. In the early 90's, officers did not get paid for over seven months and resorted to stripping their ships and selling what they could for scrap just to feed their families.
He is depressed and angry about the current political/social/economic environment in Russia. He believes corruption is the most rampant he has seen in his lifetime. Doesn't seem to want to go back to Stalin, but thinks Putin has totally corrupted the transition to democracy and market economy. Says all the very rich are paying their tithe to government officials and nobody gives a damn about the little guy who lives five miles outside Moscow.
Azaryev also wanted to talk about the Kursk. Angry. Wanted to know if I thought those men in the aft compartment had to die. I said "No. On any American submarine, they could have locked out through the after escape trunk and done a free ascent to the surface from that depth." He seemed surprised at that, suggesting to me that the Russians don't waste much energy on that sort of training. I also pointed out that the International community would have come to their aid. Submariners of any nationality would try to help their brothers. He replied that they had lived for almost three days, that the British could have been there in four hours but his government wouldn't let them. Pretty spittin mad when he said that, if the non-verbals matched the translation.
As the International Affairs Chair at their Naval Academy, he had a staff of 60 instructors when Gorbachev was in power. In about four years, he was down to two. By the time Putin arrived on the scene, they had no way to pay those two. Said his old boss, who wound up as their ComSubPac, now lives in a one room, walk up flat with a little 600 square foot garden that he depends on for food and has a tiny broken down car. Obviously Azaryev sees that as a disgusting way to reward people for their service to their country.
He found the energy of the people here amazing.... but has seen nothing but New York City.
Oh, yeah. One more thing. He casually mentioned that he can not get routine X-rays anymore. Just living aboard their nucs he has accumulated his full life time dose of penetrating radiation.... boggled his mind when I said I accumulated less than I would have from natural exposure living ashore.
--- End or Tom Carr's Forwarding ---
After reading the preceding, most of our U.S. Submariners should find it amazing that the Russian Officer (Ret) cannot get x-rays and why. Speaks volumes for the safety of our submarine fleet.
The Stone Monument pictured at the left is located in a park near American Legion Post 639, home of the Ozark-Runner Base of USSVI, in Springfield, Missouri. The inscription on the Monument reads, “This memorial is dedicated to all U.S. submarine sailors, both living and deceased, that dare to “Take Her Deep” and especially to those submariners that manned the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine USS NATHANAEL GREENE SSBN-636
We, are most grateful that the "bump" in the ocean between the Greene and the Russian boat was no more than a scraping of paint and that we can now look back and let out a collective sigh of relief that Dave Creekmore, our Columbus Base 2006 Base Shipmate of the Year, and all of his Greene shipmates returned from that patrol.
Yes, it is interesting that the Russian gentleman in the story knew it was the 636. How? John Walker and the capture of the Pueblo? Perhaps, but whatever their method of knowing, we can speculate that if the Russians knew the location of all of our Boomers on patrol, the men who rode them were in harms way more than what they ever realized!
Our thanks to Tom Carr for sharing.
Respectfully submitted by Bernie Kenyon
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