This story provided by Dave Nesbitt was triggered by an email with a video clip of a fly by that I sent to him and others.
The Accidental ASROC Firing
Background : During the WestPac Cruise of 1966 in the Tonkin Gulf it was not uncommon for fighter jets to use King as a target. They would fly just above the water and then pull up just short of hitting the ship. You did not see or hear them until they went screaming overhead; I swear, close enough to touch them.
Weapons/ASW Division (WA Division) had an ASROC Simulator so that we could test the Underwater Battery Fire Control, or perform maintenance without using the ASROC Launcher. We could go through a complete firing sequence, fire an ASROC and get every indication in sonar that an ASROC had been launched and that the cell the ASROC had been in, was now empty. Outside of sonar, the only indication that something was being done was that we had to have an electrical permission from the Bridge for either a torpedo launch or a Depth Charge Launch, and during the firing sequence. The siren on the ASROC Deck would sound briefly.
Our ASROC Simulator was broken and I decided one Sunday afternoon to fix it, which I thought I had done. Now I wanted to test it out, so I turned it on and switched the system over to Training Mode (mode which cut out the ASROC Launcher and cut in the Simulator). Everything looked perfect, the computer was showing the ASROC Load out that was set into the Simulator and I had a “Green Board” for everything except Permission from the bridge.
The Problem: The OOD on watch at the time was not familiar with what I wanted to do, and he sure wasn't too comfortable with giving me permission to launch an ASROC Torpedo. I assured him that we were in a training mode and that if he looked on the bulkhead he would see a light indication that we were in a Training Mode, this he saw, so reluctantly, he threw the switch that gave me permission and I had a totally "Green Board"?, for about 2 seconds! Once again I had to assure him that I was not going to launch an ASROC, he could see the Launcher through the bridge windows and I asked him if he could see the launcher move. He said No, I said there ya go, now please give me permission, which he did, and I started the firing sequence, but as soon as the siren sounded, I lost the permission again. By this time I am getting very frustrated, something that should only have taken a minute to accomplish, was taking well over 10 minutes.
The Launch : Finally the OOD gave me Torpedo Permission, and before he had a chance to switch it off I quickly went through the firing sequence. At the instant that I went to fire, a low flying jet went right over us, the timing was perfect, as he flew over the indicators on the computer indicated a normal launch and that the torpedo was in flight, the rocket motor separated from the torpedo, the parachute deployed, and the torpedo entered the water. At the same instant, I lost my torpedo permission. For a brief moment, I actually thought I had launched an ASROC and even though the ODD could see that the ASROC Launcher had not moved an inch or saw an ASROC leave a cell, he thought I had launched. His last words to me were; don't ever ask me to do that again!