|U S S B U S H N E L L A S - 1 5
From: Thomas Evans
Dear Master Chief Gorto,
It was in fact MY pleasure to hear from you and the Bushnell Club!
I am working on getting some additional details from Vice Admiral J. Guy Reynolds, USN (Ret.), who was in the safety control
observer helicopter which was in flight near the ship for the entire operation (we refueled the helo a couple of times
throughout the day as I remember). At the time, he was Captain Reynolds, the Program Manager for the MK 48 Advanced
Capability Submarine Torpedo (MK 48 ADCAP), within the Naval Sea Systems Command.
Since you got my memory going last evening, the whole event is coming back to me fairly vividly. As I told you, I do not
remember the date or month. I was Commander Submarine Squadron SIX in Norfolk at the time (1982 to 1984).
COMSUBLANT designated me as the Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) for the SINKEX.
|Letter to Andy Gorto from Rear Admiral Thomas W. Evans
The "Old Lady", Bushnell was prepared environmentally by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. [Furthermore, she was completely "buttoned up" with all watertight doors/hatches securely
dogged.]She was towed to the SINKEX operating area along the Virginia coast in deep water south of Norfolk. I remember the weather as being bright and sunny, which made it easier to
control shipping in the area. P3 patrol aircraft from NAS Norfolk supported the ops.
When we finally got the area cleared of interfering shipping, the firing submarine, USS Atlanta (SSN 712), with USS Finback (SSN 670) in company, was ordered to submerge and
proceed to the firing point which was several miles from the target, which was now adrift, the tug having cast her off.
The submarine then fired one MK 48 ADCAP torpedo, which exploded underneath the Bushnell. The tough old bird began to slowly list to port, and over the next hour had taken on
considerable water. But she refused to go down. As the day began to wane, we decided to send her to the bottom with a second torpedo. She sank within the hour [after being hit by the
2nd torpedoe], rolling over and then going down stern first.
It was a dramatic and yet sad sight, but it was good to know that she served her nation until the very end, participating in a large ship sinking exercise to validate the tremendous
power and capability of the new MK 48 ADCAP Torpedo Weapon System. And she created a wonderful habitat for the marine life on the bottom of the Atlantic.
I am proud to salute all the former crewmembers who served in Bushnell for their dedication, technical skill and devotion in contributing to making ours the finest submarine force in the
world during both war and peace, and to wish those who are still with us fair winds and following seas.
Thomas W. Evans
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
USS Batfish (SSN 681)
1975 to 1978