Subs and a Tsunami

Hit Counter
Since 01-09-05

Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 12:40 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: Subs and a Tsunami

Dave King/ Bill Decker

A surface wave rolls around in a 'circle''s that simple...

If the surface wave height is 20' - 30' - 40'...or even 60' - 80' in the movie, The Perfect Storm", for example...

...then the effect is ONLY felt 20' - 30' - 40'...or 60'...or 80' UNDER the surface...

A submarine at periscope depth would 'experience' some rolling with 20' surface waves...but more likely than not probably couldn't see a damn thing except mostly Green Water....

A submarine at 100' might maybe 'feel' just a little something from 60' waves...but NOTHING WHATSOEVER from just 20' - 30' waves...


And while Earl Fleck's 'explanation' has it pretty much right on !!... "Kenny" I say, "Shoot the canary !, Shoot the canary !!...BEFORE IT CRAPS...and we take an out of control down bubble...and we ALL die !!"

Bob "Boots" Bowers, The Boy-Commander

Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 7:20 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Subs and a Tsunami

It is my understanding that the force of a tsunami is greatest as it comes into shallow water. Now I can see a submarine being greatly affected if operating in shallow water but in the open ocean , I wouldn't think so. I have been on boats down five hundred feet up north in a storm and it was so rough I thought we had surfaced. I just can't see a tsunami doing that in the open ocean, but I am sure there are greater minds than mine on this subject.

Dave King


Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 6:15 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: Subs and a Tsunami

If you have a two hundred pound canary on your mine table, not to worry about it flying , worry about it taking a crap. It would appear that the added fluid weight would put a tremendous strain on correct balance.

Dave King

From: Biff Baker
To: Bill Decker
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 4:12 PM
Subject: Tsunami

Bill & Ken,

Guy's, I would not want to be with-in 500 miles of an earthquake at sea weather submerged or surfaced.Never do you want to be caught in port with one coming in or even a Typhoon either. I remember the "Blooper" that slipped up on us one night in the china sea,and they can be just as dangerous as small tsunami.It drove our ass down the road a piece and shook us like a stick.

Kenny,if you have a 500 pound parrot setting on a table and he wants to fly ANYWHERE, you had best let the Bastard fly and figure an answer to save your ass.Ha Ha.

The falling elevater did not care if you had an up or down angle either because your ass hit the deck at the same speed. Ya'll take care now, ya heah.

Yo Shipmate


Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 3:16 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: Subs and a Tsunami

Mr. King is absolutely correct on that score...the shallow water is what gives the Tsunami its devastating power. The actual open ocean wave is not significantly deadly until the force of the tidal wave has the ocean floor to react to.

When submerged, a sub is pretty much in safe territory...its only when ships are on the surface of the ocean that they are subjected to the damaging wave action, where they are forced into the trough of the sea state, and are either riding high, or being inundated by the tons of water at the bottom of the trough...

Hell, heaven knows I too am no expert at this, but from my studies at the David Taylor Boat Basic, during ship design studies, I was able to learn a bit about sea state effects on ships...applies to subs as well.
There are certainly better qualified minds out there, who could give us a better, more technical, and understandable explanation in layman's language that we could all understand. Perhaps we will find that someone?

P. J. Apodaca

From: "kenneth shaum" <
To: "Bill Decker" <>;
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 12:51 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Subs and a Tsunami

Dear Bill:

Could not explain it better than Mr. Fleck. I think I would have been happier directly over the earthquake that caused the tsunami than be tied up at the dock. To my knowledge there was no loss of shipping. At sea it is no more than a swell easily rode out.

Yeah, I was at sea. Yes!!


P.S. If you are at 200 feet and have a 500 pound canary perched on the mine table in the torpedo room and he (or she) decides to fly. Do you take an up angle? I would be interested in the responses to this. There is an answer.

Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 10:36 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Subs and a Tsunami

Candie/ Bob Baker/ Bill Decker...

Hardly, in the least...if the submarine is out in 'deeper' water...and not tied to a shoreside pier...

Truth of the matter is...on the surface a submarine would never even notice the few centimeter...or a few inch rise in the surface a "Tsunami" wave(s) passed under...

No more than you 'feel' the wind blowing as the earth spins at near 1,000 knots...

And, likewise, submerged...NO 'wild ride'...NOTHING !!...Not even a 'shutter'...

It's not until a tsunami wave reaches shallow/ shoal water...that at those speeds...700 - 800 - 900 kilometres/ hour...400 - 500 knots...that the energy has to go 'somewhere' when it comes to a near schreeching halt on a builds straight up 20 - 30 - 40 metres...

...and contines to move inland...or over islands in this case...for miles even...until the energy is totally dissipated...

...and THAT'S ALL !!...out at sea...on a submarine, sailboat...or even a surfboard... Nada,,, Nothing... ever even felt...

Bob "Boots" Bowers, The Boy Commander

From: Earl Fleck
To: Bill Decker
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 9:17 AM
Subject: Re: Subs and a Tsunami

Hi Bill,

I find this discussion about the affect of a tsunami on a sub a bit confusing owing to uncertainty as to the subís location when the wave hit.

First, if a sub were in port or entering port and, thus, in shallow water the vertical movement of water and the proximity of the bottom may cause very serious damage to the sub. In this case the boat could ground when the water recedes or be displaces inland and rolled around. The change in the wavelength of the tsunami to a much shorter and very much higher wave form would affect a sub in inshore waters very much.

However, if the sub is far out at see the boat is a very tiny fraction of the wavelength of the pressure wave and would, likely, not experience much if any vertical or horizontal displacement. From what I have heard about surface ships far at sea when a tsunami passes is that they hardly notice, if they notice at all, the passage of the long wavelength wave. Thus, the answer to the question about how subs respond to tsunamiís depends on whether the sub is in shallow water or deep water.


Earl Fleck EM2 (SS) (Raton Ď66-í68)

----- Original Message -----
From: Clara Baker <
To: Bill Decker <
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 3:25 PM
Subject: Subs and a Tsunami

I had the same question asked me the other day, How would a submarine hold up in a Tsunami?  I couldn`t give an answer. All I could say was that it would more than likely be one wild ride, With the force and the speed of the wave.

I assume that there were Boats operating in the area at the time, So maybe some day we will hear how it was.

Bob Baker

Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 11:20 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: The tsunami and submarines

Bill, as I remember, the Raton was caught in a typhoon returning to Perth from a patrol, maybe late '43 or '44.  We were blown off course, reported overdue, stood double watches as most of the crew were very sick.  We finished the patrol short of food, had Australian canned boneless chicken, rice, Australian canned rancid butter, cocoa, and Freddie Dunn our cook was a magician in making cinnamon rolls, bread, etc.   Most that stood these double watches came down with dysentery.  Our rest leave was welcomed. 

Roy Christensen TM3

Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 6:06 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: The tsunami and submarines

I am concerned about the condition that may be present due to the earth movement. We do not know how many uplifts that have occurred and will not know until we do extensive ocean floor mapping. One report that said that one of the channels used by ships to enter port was no longer deep enough to accommodate the ships, it had gone from several thousand feet deep to 90 feet. It will take months and maybe years before we know all the effects to the ocean floor. 

I'm sure there is noting like having a new mountain peak that has almost reached the surface and we know nothing about that situation. That will be a danger to the Submarines.

One report by divers that were under water when the tsunami hit threw them around a bit but they were able to handle the situation under water better than if you were on land. The boats did not have that much trouble if they were out to sea.


Glen Cook RMC(SS) Ret

From: Candido Gutierrez
To: Biff ; Bill D. ; Bill F. ; JR
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 12:52 AM
Subject: The tsunami and submarines

Hi Shipmates,

For several days I have been in a quandary about how submarines, even Nukes would fare in a tsunami.  I havenít heard of any subs been damaged or destroyed as a result of the tragic tsunami that hit Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other countries.  Can any of you shed some light on this subject for me?  I heard on TV that the tsunami traveled in excess of 300 miles per hour and was about 30 feet high.  Such a terrific force would surely damage or destroy a submarine.  We most assuredly had some of our subs in that area and Iím quite certain other countries also had ongoing operations in the area utilizing their submarines.  I have not heard any reports so far.  What say you?