Navy submarine pops up in Dutch Harbor unannounced

A U.S. Navy submarine pulled into Unalaska Bay near the town landfill Friday morning. The sub made no contact with the Port of Dutch Harbor, according to Harbor Master John Days.

It did communicate with the Royal Pacific, a boat hauling wastewater from the Unisea fish-processing plant, as they were crossing paths.

The USS Seawolf returns to the Bering Sea from whence it came. KUCB/John Ryan photo.
The USS Seawolf returns to the Bering Sea from whence it came. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

As is usual for Navy subs, the boat did not identify itself by name over the radio.

“Royal Pacific, this is a US Navy submarine. In approximately 5 minutes, I’m going to be turning around, so request port-to-port, hopefully get this turnaround completed,” an unidentified voice from the submarine called over the VHF airwaves.

“Roger, port to port. Okay, we’ll swing to the west side here then,” the Royal Pacific replied.

KUCB tried to contact Navy officials to find out something about the sleek black submarine’s visit to Unalaska. But email, phone and Twitter messages all went unanswered.

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The USS Seawolf in Unalaska Bay on Aug. 14, 2015. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

The tug Saratoga went out to the nuclear submarine. It transported two crew members to the sub and took two back to Dutch Harbor.

Tug captain Steve Devitt of the Saratoga said the submarine identified itself to him as the USS Seawolf. He said the crew told him the sub came up from “under the ice” because a crewmember had had a death in his family.

The USS Seawolf is homeported at Naval Base Kitsap on Washington state’s Hood Canal. It’s one of three Seawolf-class submarines. It was built in 1997 at an estimated cost of more than $2 billion.

The Navy calls the Seawolf “exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors.”

Each Seawolf has eight torpedo tubes and can hold 50 weapons in its torpedo room. The Seawolf subs are nuclear powered, but they do not carry nuclear weapons.

After making the crew change, the Seawolf headed quietly out to the Bering Sea, with only its conning tower sticking above the surface of Unalaska Bay.