When I was in the Navy I served aboard an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ship. They were called frigates. They were FF class ... fast frigates. But we weren't very fast.

The object was for us to steam in formation with an aircraft carrier until a submarine popped up and sunk one of the surrounding ships.

How to Find a Submarine

"There he (the submarine) is!"

"Got it. FF-1052 went down. Gotta be near them."

After which the aircraft carrier would just run. Submarines can't keep up with aircraft carriers.

Aircraft carriers are the fastest ocean going vehicles in the US fleet. At least they were then.

We could NEVER find the submarine.

The sub could just sit on the ocean floor and pretend it was a rock.

Submarines Are the Rocks of the Navy

"I'm a rock. I'm a rock."

"Is that a submarine?"

"No, it's a rock."


When a ship went overhead, the sub would know this by just listening passively. The sub would then go to a level where it could fire its weapons.

Bam! Dead.

How to Beat a Submarine

Our best bet was to wait till the submarine came up near enough to the surface of the sea that it could be seen by a helicopter that was hovering overhead.

Submarines couldn't hear or see helicopters. Periscopes look out, not up. Helicopters could see the submarine.

Sadly, we usually got blown out of the water before the helicopter could come back and land though.

War games. Not the real thing, of course. I mean, who would be telling this story if I were on a boat that had been sunk, right?

How to Find a Sunken Tug Boat

Tug boats get lost, too. And their mommies worry about them when they don't come home.

The USS Conestoga got lost in March 1921. The ocean-going tug was on its way to American Samoa via Pearl Harbor.

The ship went down with its 56-man crew.

Nobody realized it was gone till it didn't show up in Pearl Harbor.

Fast forward 95 years.

The Navy and NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) says, "There she blows, er, is!"

NOAA has been hunting for more than 300 lost ships since 2009.

They finally found one.

And it only took the Navy about 100 years.

That's about how long it was going to take us to find the submarine, too.

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