Touring “The Legend” – The US Navy Nuclear Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773)

The US Navy has been very kind to me over the last few years, inviting me to some very unique experiences and this past Sunday I got the opportunity to have another one!

I was invited to tour the US Navy Nuclear Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) with a friend of mine from high school.

Commander Gary A. Rogeness, Me, Tracey Hewitt Hawkins and Matt Heaps board "The Legend"

We started the tour by meeting up with Commander Gary A. Rogeness who welcomed us and briefed us about the history of the US Navy’s Submarine Fleet and about the history of the USS Cheyenne itself.

Notice the bell?

Anytime a “ranking” officer either leaves the submarine or boards the submarine… the bell in the picture is rung notifying folks that a ranking officer is boarding or leaving the submarine.

The only way in and out of a submarine

After answering some initial questions, Commander Rogeness turned the tour over to Senior Officer Alvarez who then lead us down a tiny hole in the top of the sub down to the first level of the submarine.

Alvarez conducts the tour of the submarine

The sub was launched on April 16, 1995 and Commissioned on September 13, 1996.  The sub is complemented by 17 Officers, 16 Chief Petty Officers and 130 Enlisted Sailors.

Pfft... I wish!

We got to see most of the submarine and there were only a few things that were classified where they didn’t want us taking pictures of stuff.

The Perioscope

While the sub was in port… it wasn’t carrying any Tomahawk Missiles at the time… however it is capable of launching both Tomahawk Missiles as well as these MK48 ADCAP Torpedoes.

a MK48 ADCAP Torpedo

MK48 ADCAP Torpedo

They call a Navy member who is enlisted to one of the 52 Submarines in the US Navy a “Submariner” and the screening process to become a submariner is quite strict.   The commander said the thing that he looks for most in a potential Submariner is the ability to work in teams and be good at team work.

Nine folks share these tight sleeping quarters and folks that are tall literally have to sleep in a fetal position, however, they can also sleep in the Torpedo rooms if there is no Torpedoes being stored at the time.

“This is perhaps the most difficult and demanding assignment in the Navy.  There is not an instant during his tour as a submariner that he can escape the grasp of responsibility.  His privileges in views of his obligations are almost ludicrously small, nevertheless, it is the spur which has given the Navy it greatest mariners – the men of the Submarine Service.

Inside the sub

I asked them if they had internet capability out at sea and they said no, however, when they are in port… they can run a coaxial cable to the submarine so that at least they can have cable tv when in port.

Commanders Quarters if I remember correctly

The maximum depth the USS Cheyenne can dive to is in excess of 800 feet and has a maximum speed in excess of 25 knots.

The only real limitation on how long the sub can stay out at sea is the amount of food the kitchen staff has available

The Cheyenne is one of the most advanced nuclear submarines in the world and creates it’s own water and oxygen.

Alvarez talks about some of the technology on board the submarine

As the tour was ending, we met back up with the Commander of the Submarine to ask a few more questions and learn more about the Submarine.  Commander Rogeness is really proud of his crew that is enlisted on the Cheyenne and has nothing but high praise for his officers.

Front side of the commanders coin

Commander Rogeness then took out a Commanders Coin and handed it to me and told us some more stories about submarine life.  I slid the coin back to him but then he said I could keep it!

Back side of a USS Cheyenne Commanders Coin

I’ve been wanting to take a submarine tour for a long time now and I’m stoked that it was one of most capable nuclear submarines in the world that I finally got to take a tour on!  The Commander lead us on our way off the sub and thanked us for visiting his sub!

Commander Rogeness and I in front of the Cheyenne (notice the small Cheyenne pin on my hat!)

Not only did commander Rogeness give me a Commanders Coin… he took the USS Cheyenne pin off his shirt and gave it to me!

Talk about giving me the pin off his shirt!!! Mahalo!

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and I really gained a new found respect for these submariners.  I myself don’t think I could handle it as I’m a bit claustrophobic and I don’t think I could handle long times at sea… That and I need my dang internet!

In the Sioux language, Cheyenne means "aliens" or "people of foreign tongue". The Sioux Indians gave the name "Cheyenne" to the Indian tribe that roamed the plains in this region. The crew of the USS Cheyenne earned the Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN Battle Efficiency "E" Award in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

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Big Island Police Looking for Man Using Stolen Credit Card

Big Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man suspected of using a stolen credit card.

A 63-year-old man reported that a credit card and other items were stolen from his vehicle near Kapoho Beach in Puna sometime between 11 p.m. September 30 and 7:30 a.m. October 1.

Police later recovered a video surveillance image of a man who used the credit card at a store in Hilo.

He was described as Caucasian, possibly in his late 40s to early 60s with long wavy black hair possibly in a pony tail, a bushy beard and a mustache. He wore a brown T-shirt, tan shorts and black slippers during the transaction.

Police ask that anyone with information on the suspect’s identity call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Juveniles Arrested for Damaging 11 Vehicles During School Evacuation Drill

Big Island police arrested two juveniles on Thursday (December 8) and one juvenile on Friday (December 9) in connection with damage to numerous vehicles on a Kona school campus.

Officers from the Community Policing Section arrested the three juveniles on suspicion second-degree criminal property damage after they allegedly caused damage in excess of $1,500 by scratching the paint of 11 vehicles parked on Konawaena School Road during an evacuation drill for the High School.

The juveniles were released pending further investigation.


Setting a Tandem Skydiving Altitude Record With Skydive Hawaii… Pictures and Video

On Saturday, December 10th at 11:30 in the morning, my friend Mike Zagorski and I were invited to break a Hawaii State tandem skydiving record with Skydive Hawaii on Oahu’s North Shore at the Dillingham Airfield dropzone.

Setting a Hawaii Tandem Skydiving Altitude Record on December 10, 2011 at Skydive Hawaii

This was the third time that I have jumped with Skydive Hawaii, but this experience was definitely unique!  There were eight of us that actually jumped, we had four people filming and taking pictures of the jump and of course the two skydivers that we were attached to.

Participants in this record setting jump were, Diver Dunn, Papa Dopp, Ignacio Martinez, Amberly Brown, Rod Boden, Randy StamperMike Zagorski and myself.

Normally folks tandem jump from about 12,000 – 13,000 feet depending on the conditions, on this day we headed up to the 21,000 foot elevation, nearly 4 miles in the sky, where we were had to wear oxygen masks because the air was so thin.

Gaining altitude we put on the oxygen masks at 8,000 feet and then continued to climb to 21,000 feet

I was a bit worried about the weather and on Skydive Hawaii’s facebook page they posted the following a few hours before our scheduled jump:

Today’s State record high altitude tandem skydive will be well above the clouds: Isolated showers. The rain could be heavy at times. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Breezy, with a east wind between 8 and 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Well the weather on the ground was perfect for the jump at the Dillingham drop zone however in the air it was much colder and we were required to wear gloves and even carry emergency oxygen tanks in case the parachutes deployed early in the jump where there might not be much oxygen in the air.

Looking up in the sky in anticipation of this record breaking attempt

The temperature at 21,000 feet on this day was 27 degrees BELOW ZERO and I was quoted on KHON2 News saying:

“The Skydive Hawaii people said this is the first time they’ve ever took a tandem people up to this elevation, 21,000 feet. Normally the tandem jumps in Hawaii are done between 12,000-13,000 feet, so they brought us almost twice as high as they normally do,” said Damon Tucker, a Big Island resident.

21,000 feet equals about 4 miles.

The temperature up here — 27 degrees below zero!

“I was so cold I thought I was going to freeze I was literally frozen,” said Tucker.

And before he knew it, it was time.

“And next thing you knew I was jumping out and doing somersaults outside the back of the airplane. It was crazy I mean it was crazy,” said Tucker. “What’s going through your mind is you hope that chute is going to open. You’re dropping so fast and realize you’re in a really dangerous predicament.”

“We dropped out about a minute and a half of free fall, then they pulled the chute and then we floated about five minutes down,” said Tucker. “Between being nervous and between being scared I was making sure I was having a good time and that was the really important thing.

What I didn’t tell the news station… is that for the first 10 to 15 seconds of that jump… I literally thought I was going to pass out!

I'm holding my nose and attempting to blow through it to clear out the air pressure that was building in my ears

A lot of folks were saying your crazy or your nuts to do something like this… but I think skydiving is safer then driving a car on our local highway here in Puna and I bet the statistics could actually prove that!  The scariest thing for me about the jump… was when we were leaving the plane and just holding onto the outside of the plane!

Here goes nothing!

Here is the raw video footage of the freefall part of my jump:


I’d like to thank Skydive Hawaii President Frank Hinshaw for offering National Bicycling Champion Mike Zagorski and I up on this record setting jump!  It was definitely a thrill of a lifetime and I look forward to jumping again sometime soon!

Skydive Hawaii President Frank Hinshaw and Mike Zagorski and I pose for a picture after the record jump