The Los Angeles class submarine USS Olympia (SSN-717) is the second oldest nuclear fast attack submarine in the U.S. Navy's inventory. But apparently, when it comes to Olympia, with age comes wisdom and stellar performance. The boat's crew not only performed awesomely during Rim of The Pacific (RIMPAC) drills that just wrapped up, but they also made history by firing off the first UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile from an American submarine in decades during a sinking exercise (SINKEX)—an act that is likely to have dramatic repercussions for years to come throughout the Navy's fast attack submarine community. You can read all about this and Olympia's performance here.
With all this in mind, the crew got a well-deserved swim call after RIMPAC wrapped up on August 2nd, enjoying the warm Hawaiian waters from their beloved nuclear-powered dive platform.
Luckily, Bob Nguyen, who also happens to be a member of Olympia's crew as well as a very creative photographer, captured the action above and below water simultaneously in incredible fashion. Not only is such a photo very challenging to pull off, but the timing with the diver and the sailor in the foreground couldn't be better. But above all else, we get a rare look of a nuclear fast attack submarine both from above and below the waterline. And judging by the organic growth on Olympia's hull, she is no drydock queen.
The life of a submariner is not for the faint of heart. Being locked up in a submerged tube with a hundred a twenty other people for weeks at a time can and does break some individuals. You can read all about what it is like living and working on a nuclear fast attack boat in this past special feature of mine. Submariners even have their own language that is as comical as it is intricate.
Suffice it to say that we should be very thankful that there are those that are willing and even excited to live a good portion of their lives below the waves.
The stress of the job definitely requires a break from time to time, and even though even the Navy's largest ships execute swim calls and 'steel beach' picnic events to give sailors and a bit of rest and relaxation, submarines do it in their own very unique way. This can include throwing a football around at the ice-covered crown of the globe, BBQing on the submarine's thin strip of real estate while floating in the middle a huge ocean, or even executing the mother of all beer runs.
A similar shot that grabbed my attention a while back:
Olympia has been serving the fleet for 34 years and still has two more years of service to fulfill before being decommissioned in 2020. When she is retired, the first flight of Los Angeles submarines will have disappeared from service once and for all.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com