Lots of folks asked if I would comment on the USS NEWPORT NEWS collision in the Straits of Hormuz with the Japanese tanker M/V Mogamigawa. I have been traveling for work and come to this probably too late to add much, but a few facts seem important here.
The good news is it might be something caused by natural physical forces of nature. The bad news is the crew may get hammered anyway. It is never good to be "zoofed" by anyone or anything as a submarine. You are supposed to be aware of your surroundings and use them to your advantage. After all, submarines are the original stealth machine. Anytime you look out on the ocean, all I have to tell you to do is "find the submarine in this picture", and you recognize how stealthy they truly are. Because, rest assured, there is one there somewhere.
The Straits of Hormuz are 20 miles wide, a couple of hundred feet deep (probably in the middle -- I've never been there, but it is usually deepest in the middle, guys). And a large tanker can draw 60-80 feet draft, a submarine is about 60 ft from the keel to the top of the sail, and you have to keep at least 20 ft off the bottom to keep from dragging your ass in the mud when you try to come up. So there really isn't that much room between the ships even if you are in the deepest part (which, trust me, is where the submarine skipper likes to find himself). This is a hard job, finding your way in and out of a strait submerged. It is the same for Gibraltar, Tokyo Wan on the surface, the Straits of Malacca. And the traffic is busy, always moving too fast, and you have to find your spot in line and cut in front of the guy going the other way to get across and out of his way before he hits you. And you have to do it blindfolded while submerged because you only have a limited amount of information on what is going on around you (drive while blindfolded and steer by hearing is the analogy)
I do know and did serve with the Captain. He was a very thorough and methodical young Man. Smart as a whip. Loved by his Men. Wish I could say I taught him everything he knows, but it ain't so. He knew a lot more about some things than I did. He's been there almost two years. And I hope his reputation survives this as well. Whatever happens, he will always have a place at Subsunk's table.