About The Key West
Some Info on this page was put together by STS3/SS Jason Henson
Interested in cutting edge military technology? Look no further than a Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine. Although my page isn't "official",I am a proud father of a Submarine Sailor. My brother also served on the Blueback 581.
Key West is powered by an atomic reactor, as are all US subs.
She is manned by a crew of about 130 men, and is currently home ported in Pearl Harbor, HI. The Key West is a member of a select fraternity of warships that have circumnavigated the globe, crossed the Equator, and transited both the Suez and Panama canals. We were also featured in a 1996 TV program with ABC's Joan Lunden.
HISTORY OF THE KEY WEST
KEY WEST was commissioned on 12 September 1987, by Mrs. Virginia Conn. at Naval Base, Norfolk, Virginia. Following commissioning, KEY WEST set sail for a brief port visit to her namesake city of KEY WEST, Florida, followed by a successful initial weapons certification and accuracy testing. The final new construction phase and the post shakedown availability in 1988 was highlighted by the completion of the Vertical Launch System. In 1989, KEY WEST conducted her first overseas Eastern Atlantic deployment.
In 1990, KEY WEST embarked on her first Mediterranean deployment, where she received the coveted "Hook-em" Award for antisubmarine warfare excellence.
In 1991 KEY WEST was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for superb performance in "Cold War" operations conducted during her 1989 and 1990 deployments. This same year KEY WEST was also awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Engineering "E" for excellence. KEY WEST conducted operations in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. In 1992 KEY WEST was awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Battle "E" for excellence and efficiency, as well the 1992 TOPTORP Torpedo Shooting Champion. In December 1992, while en route to operations in the Caribbean, KEY WEST visited her namesake city of Key West, Florida. In 1993, she was awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Tactical "T" for antisubmarine warfare excellence. During the summer of 1994, the ship made the most recent visit to her namesake city.
In 1995, KEY WEST deployed with the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 72) Battle Group to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf. KEY WEST operated with NATO forces in support of resolution to the conflict in former Yugoslavia. KEY WEST later made her first transit of the Suez Canal for operations in the Arabian Gulf. The crew of the KEY WEST was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, Armed Forces Service, and NATO Service medals for their outstanding 1995 Mediterranean Deployment. Additionally, the KEY WEST was awarded the Submarine Squadron Eight Gree "C" for communications excellence in 1995.
The KEY WEST spent the first half of 1996 conducting operations in the Western Atlantic and preparing for Inter-fleet transfer to the Pacific Fleet. In June 1996, she departed from Norfolk, Virginia and transited the Panama Canal, arriving in her new homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in July 1996 as a member of Submarine Squadron one. In April 1997, the KEY WEST deployed with the CONSTELLATION (CV 64) battle Group to the Western Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf. In June 1997 KEY WEST joined the newly reestablished Submarine Squadron Three. During January and February 1998, KEY WEST served as host ship in support of Prospective Submarine Commanding Officer underway tactical training. In spring 1998, KEY WEST deployed to the Eastern Pacific in support of CARL VINSON and ABRAHAM LINCOLN Carrier Battle Group pre-deployment training exercises. In July 1998, KEY WEST participated in Rim of the Pacific '98 (RIMPAC), a biennial multination naval exercise, off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands.
From October through December 1998, KEY WEST deployed to the Western Pacific. During the deployment, KEY WEST participated in FOAL EAGLE '98, Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), and a torpedo exercise. GOAL EAGLE is a regularly scheduled training exercise comprised of Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. Forces, held at a variety of locations throughout the TOK. Annual Exercise is a joint exercise composed of Japan and U.S. Naval Forces, conducted in the Sea of Japan. During this deployment, KEY WEST distinguished itself ad the first submarine to launch and employ MK48 ADCAP exercise torpedoes in foreign waters.
The propulsion plant of a nuclear powered ship is based upon use of a nuclear reactor to provide heat via fission. Since the fissioning process also produces radiation, shields are placed around the reactor so that the crew is protected.
The nuclear propulsion plant in this ship uses a pressurized water reactor design which has two basic systems: the primary system and the secondary system. The primary system circulates ordinary water and consists of the reactor, piping loops, pumps and steam generators. The heat produced in the reactor is transferred to the water under high pressure so it does not boil. This water is pumped through the steam generators and back into the reactor for reheating.
In steam generators, the heat from the water in the primary system is transferred to the secondary system to create steam. The secondary system is isolated from the primary system so that the water in the two systems does not intermix.
In the secondary system, the steam flows from the steam generators to drive the turbine generators, which supply the ship with electricity, and to the main propulsion turbines, which drive the propeller. After passing through the turbines, the steam is condensed into water which is fed back to the steam generators by the feed pumps. Thus, both the primary and secondary systems are closed systems where water is recirculated and reused.
There is no step in the generation of this power which requires the presence of air or oxygen. This allows the ship to operate completely independent from the earth's atmosphere for extended periods of time.
The nuclear power plant gives the KEY WEST the ability to remain deployed and submerged for extended periods of time. To take advantage of this, the ship is outfitted with various auxiliary equipment to provide for the needs of the crew.
The KEY WEST'S atmosphere control equipment replenishes oxygen used by the crew, and removes carbon dioxide and other atmosphere contaminants.The ship's air is continuously monitored when submerged by an installed atmosphere analyzer.
The ship is equipped with two distilling plants which convert salt water to fresh water for drinking, washing and the propulsion plant. KEY WEST has its own laundry and its own ice cream machine.
The wearing of Dolphins is a longstanding naval tradition. Earning Dolphins is a significant event in a submariner's career; a special high point that instills tremendous personal pride and a sense of accomplishment.
The origin of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Service Insignia dates back to 1923. On 13 June of that year, Captain Ernest J. King, USN, later to become Fleet Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations during World War II, and at that time Commander Submarine Division Three, suggested to the Secretary of the Navy, via the old Bureau of Navigation, that a distinguishing device for qualified submariners be adopted. The design chosen consisted of a bow view of a submarine proceeding on the surface, with bow planes rigged for diving, flanked by dolphins in horizontal positions with their heads resting on the upper edge of the bow planes.
The Officer Insignia was then and is now a gold plated metal pin, worn above the left breast pocket. Enlisted men wore the insignia, embroidered in silk, on the outside of the right sleeve, midway between the wrist and the elbow. In mid-1947 the embroidered device shifted from the sleeve of the enlisted man's jumper to above the left breast pocket. Subsequently, silver metal Dolphins were approved for enlisted men.
Dolphins are earned through a rigorous qualification process. Individuals must learn the location of equipment, operation of complex systems, damage control procedures and have a general knowledge of operational characteristics of their boat. Dolphin wearers qualify initially on one boat and must requalify on each boat to which they are subsequently assigned. Once Dolphins have been earned, they are awarded to the individual by the Commanding Officer in a special ceremony.
The KEY WEST is completely outfitted with a wide variety of antennas, transmitters and receivers necessary to support accomplishment of her assigned tasks. Interior communication is possible on a wide range of circuits and sound powered phones which do not require electrical power and are reliable in battle situations. Various alarm and indicating circuits enable the Officer of the Deck and the Engineering Officer of the Watch to continuously monitor critical parameters and equipment located throughout the ship.
Keeping track of the ship's position while submerged requires a complex navigational system. The KEY WEST has the capability to use electronic, celestial, inertial and visual means to establish the ship's position.
The KEY WEST can carry and employ all of the tactical weapons available to the submarine force. These include the MK-48 ADCAP torpedo, Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, and mines.
Sustained operation of the complex equipment and machinery on the ship requires the support of the supply department. The repair parts carried on board number in the hundreds of thousands, yet any one can be provided in a matter of minutes. The supply department also carries enough food to feed a crew of over one hundred for as long as 90 days.
HOW A SUBMARINE IS ORGANIZED
Few modern institutions can rival the nuclear submarine for complexity and absolute self-sufficiency. The often inhospitable environment of the vast sea only intensifies the need for coordination of each crewman's activities. The keystone of the submarine organization is the Commanding Officer, the Captain of the ship. The responsibility for each operation of the submarine, in fact, the responsibility of each individual aboard, converge at the command level and create the Commanding Officer's ultimate charge: to successfully carry out all assigned missions. The Commanding Officer is empowered to employ whatever measures are required in his judgement.
Second in command is the Executive Officer, always next senior in rank to the Captain and not far from attaining his own command. The XO, as he is informally called, offers his wide ranging experience to the submarine organization through direct coordination of the administrative and training activities of the ship. His knowledge and position extend his responsibilities and interests to every aspect of submarine operations.
The remainder of the ship's force is comprised of four departments: Navigation/Operations, Weapons, Engineering, and Supply. The first three are ordinarily led by the more senior officers of the ship who rank just below the Executive Officer. The more junior officers are assigned within these departments to act as division officers. Divisions are the smallest organizational units aboard, and consist of groups of enlisted specialists organized according to skills. Each division is led by a leading petty officer, normally a chief petty officer, who provides deck plate level leadership and possesses in-depth technical expertise gained through years of experience.
Every piece of material on the ship from the propeller to the paint job is assigned to a division and finally to an individual technician for its care. Each of these men is an expert not only in the technical functions to which his special training has been directed, but also in the demands of administration, leadership, and instruction of his shipmates.
Each crew member is a part of a second organization aboard the ship, the watch organization, which is designed to conduct and coordinate the actual operations of the ship around the clock. This organization is ordinarily divided into three similar groups called sections. At any given time on the submarine one of these sections has the watch. Each watch section is headed by the Officer of the Deck who carries out the Commanding Officer's orders during the hours of his watch. It is the Officer of the Deck who orders the ship's course, speed, and depth, and coordinates all shipboard evolutions. He is assisted by the Engineering Officer of the Watch, who controls the reactor plant and all engineering evolutions in the propulsion plant.
Each watch section consists of watchstanders throughout the ship who stand alertly by their equipment and stations for the duration of each watch. For example, helmsmen, who steer the ship; throttlemen, to control the steam turbines; sonar operators, who silently probe the environment; reactor operators, who control the ship's remarkable energy source; torpedomen, to service and launch KEY WEST'S weapons; radio operators, who continually maintain an invisible link with command centers ashore; and electricians, who supply power from the reactor for virtually every service on the ship.
The tempo of the watch is the heartbeat of the ship and, since one third of a submariner's time is spent standing his watch, it is also the principal determinant of his day to day routine.