The longest floating bridge crossing a salt water tidal basin in the world is located at the north end of the Hood Canal in Washington state. Known by locals as the “Hood Canal Bridge”, it connects the Kitsap Peninsula with the Olympic Peninsula. To the south of the bridge is Naval Submarine Base Bangor, part of Naval Base Kitsap which also includes the shipyards in Bremerton (Naval Station Bremerton). When submarines leave their base to go on patrol they must pass through the Hood Canal Bridge. Residents on both sides of the bridge are used to delays caused by ships passing through the bridge. On one particular occasion this gave me the opportunity to capture a rather unique image as a submarine passed through an open Hood Canal Bridge.
Wait for it…
While on my way to the Olympic Peninsula in search of fall colors as I approached the bridge entrance the Washington State patrol was in the process of closing it to traffic. I was about 8 or 9 cars back from the front of the line. I debated turning around and looking for photo opportunities elsewhere but finally decided to wait and see what was approaching the bridge. Having been caught by these delays before, I hopped out of the car and chatted with the state patrol officers. They verified it was a submarine approaching and sure enough it appeared shortly with several boats, big and small, escorting it. I walked back to the car and grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens hoping to get a couple of shots. There was a little apprehension as I pointed a fairly strong telephoto lens at a US Navy vessel known for secrecy. Having captured one or two shots I realized that it may look amazing to capture a shot just as the sail of the submarine passed through the bridge. I pointed my camera down the bridge and pre-focused on a point near the opening. The camera shutter speed was set to 1/160 second to minimize motion blur.
I captured only one shot as the sub passed through the bridge. A quick look at the back of my camera verified the exposure was good but I didn’t look at it any closer. It wasn’t until returning home later that evening and loaded the images on to my computer that I realized the image captured was something rather unique. The sail was perfectly centered with the highway and the sail (dive) planes were visible just above the bridge deck. Looking closer you could several crew members posted on the bridge.
I posted the image to the North Kitsap Community Facebook page and the response was overwhelming! The Kitsap County community and US Navy have a long history with many residents being either enlisted or working at the one of the bases. When reading people’s comments I could feel the pride they have in their Navy men and women and at the same time knowing when a submarine leaves on patrol that there are risks involved. I had a pang of emotion as I watched the sub continue north up Hood Canal on its way to the Pacific Ocean and destinations unknown.
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