This is this webmaster's assessment of the damage, and does not necessarily reflect the assessment of the US Navy. However, I'm willing to bet I'm damn close.

Intro to the damaged area:

The bow is composed of the forward part of the pressure hull and the  outer hull. The conical part of the outer hull forms the Sonar Dome, and is a fiberglass composite on this class of boat. The bow is divided into 5 compartments that makeup the first four Main ballast tanks and the Sonar Dome. These 4 tanks have an opening at the bottom and a vent valve at the top. When the vent valves are open air is vented from the top of the tanks as water enters the  tanks from the bottom openings when the tanks are full of water the vents are closed, this is done when diving.

When the boat surfaces high pressure air is injected into the tanks blowing the water out the openings in the bottom. Once surfaced a low pressure, high volume blower then injects air into the tanks to finish blowing out the water. When the vent valves have been proved to be closed and sealed , the "low pressure blow" is secured.

Forward of MBTs 1a&b  is a sphere called the Sonar Sphere. It's surface is covered with sonar transducers. The sphere is connected to the pressure hull via an access tunnel that passes through MBTs 1 and 2. The tunnel is sealed off at the pressure hull by a bolted in place hatch cover. This is done to prevent any breach of the tunnel or sphere from flooding the boat.

The damage:

We know from the news releases that The San Francisco has sustained damage to the Main Ballast Tanks (MBTs) 1a , 2a, and 2b, and that they require a constant low pressure blow to keep the bow up.

The photographs show a definite buckling of the outer hull at MBT 2b, just forward of the vent. On Port side it appears that one or more plates of the outer hull comprising MBT 2a has torn loose, leaving a gaping hole. There is a greater intensity of bubbles from the low pressure blow in that area, which tends to support this. Since the very forward part of the bow smacked into the mountain, it can be assured that it is crumpled and probably torn. A large boil of air bubbles on the Starboard side of MBT 1 seems to confirm this. Another boil above MBT 1 indicates the vent valve is damaged, and may be partially open.

There is a good probability that the partitions between the three the MBTs are damaged, and possibly torn.

I have no doubts that the Sonar Sphere and access tunnel are also severely damaged, maybe requiring complete replacement.

This type of damaging requires time in drydock to repair.

The Navy released this information after this page was created

"The damage to the submarine, which includes a cracked sonar sphere and severe damage to three of the four ballast tanks near the bow, and some buckling of the forward pressure hull, all argue that the submarine hit something akin to an underwater cliff."

The admiral's e-mail also said "an outer hull ripped open at the submarine's nose, causing flooding in a dome with sonar sensors and in four of the ballast tanks used to submerge the vessel or take it to the surface".

The above are from  emails released by Rear Adm. Paul F. Sullivan, the commander of submarines in the Pacific.

The Fiberglass Sonar dome fairing was totally destroyed as see in the latest photos. MBTs  are torn open on Port side. See Dry Dock Photos.

It looks like my analysis was pretty good overall, but actual damage is MUCH more severe.

Jerry Uffelman, Webmaster