There I was, the midwatch OOD down off the Florida Keys. We had gone in to Eglin Air Force Base to do the Op Eval on a Vertical Launch Tomahawk Missile. We were up at periscope depth ventilating and getting the latest radio traffic. I was dutifully on the periscope, looking for any surface contacts. It was a bright night, so I wasn’t using low light or anything, just normal optics. So I passed the blotch on the horizon with little thought.
Wait a minute, the horizon was sharp that night so I went back. Not really being able to tell much, I went to light amplification and saw a boat about 30-40 ft going full bore. My first thought was wow, a drug runner. Second thought, how do I report him? Third thought, hey, he’s pointing right at me.
I told the COW to lower the radio mast and secure ventilating. Lower the snorkel mast. Radio started squawking. They got the important traffic, both nothing on the latest ball games. Meanwhile the snorkel mast was going down and the boat was getting closer. Man, he was really coming right at us-fast.
Enough was enough, I order the dive to go to 150 ft. Right as the scope was awash, the boat no more than 200 yards away chopped his power and through on this lights. US Coast Guard.
Well, of course I had to explain to the Captain why I left PD early. But the boat had to explain to Sublant when the Coast Guard sent a report of a submarine sitting and since that was our box, we had to say yes, it was us. For all you bubbleheads, yes I had a penance for getting caught. And so, I have been busted by the Coast Guard.
How did they catch me? ESM never showed anything special, but we had a lot of metal in the air that obviously disappeared when the Coasties came to take a look.
All jokes aside, the Coasties are a very professional and competent bunch, even if they have to be over 6 feet tall.