Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Asleep At The Helm

This should never happen. Lax discipline leads to an accident where military personnel could have been injured.

The crew aboard a U.S. submarine made dozens of errors before the vessel collided with an American warship in the Persian Gulf, an accident that exposed lax leaders who tolerated sleeping, slouching and a radio room rigged with music speakers, a Navy review found.

I'm gonna check with Cookie on this and if any other submariner has any information on how a submarine is run, please drop a line. I would think that submarine duty is particularly hazardous and that strict discipline is maintained for the safety of the crew.

Navy investigators placed blame for the March collision on the submarine's ineffective and negligent command leadership," including what they called a lack of standards and failure to adequately plan for crossing the busy Strait of Hormuz.

Hopefully, and I trust it is true, this example is the exception rather than the rule. From the Navy Times:

Damage to a submarine involved in a grounding accident off the coast of Italy is worse than officials initially expected, sources told The Day of New London.

Most of the bottom half of the rudder is torn off, and gouges in the hull are deep enough to raise concerns about the structural integrity of the USS Hartford, the newspaper reported.

The damage occurred in October when the Hartford was conducting training drills in the channel as it departed La Maddalena and wandered outside the channel when the navigation team went too long without updating the ship's chart position, sources told the newspaper.

[...] The commodore of Submarine Squadron 22 in La Maddalena, Capt. Greg Parker, and the ship's captain, Cmdr. Christopher R. Van Metre, were both relieved of command Nov. 9. Six crewmen who were part of the navigation party received punishments for dereliction of duty.

I am wondering if the Navy is going to conduct a review of operational readiness and competency throughout the various commands. In any event, the investigation is still continuing.


Subvet said...

Speaking as a sub sailor of 22 years experience I'll say that the behavior cited, "...sonar operators in charge of monitoring nearby ships were chatting informally; the supervisor left his station; the navigator was taking an exam while listening to his iPod; and the officer in command did not check the periscope." is all indicative of an attitude of neglect.

This sort of attitude just begs for incidents like the collision to happen. No excuse for it.

The fact that the COB (Chief of the Boat, i.e. senior enlisted man) was relieved says a lot about the overall lack of professionalism. I've known another COB who was aboard TWO different subs that collided with underwater obstacles, neither time was the man relieved. He was extremely professional and the fault could in no way be laid at his doorstep.

On both of those boats the problems were wardroom related, starting with the Commanding Officer.

Evidently problems aboard the Hartford were much more extensive.

sig94 said...

I was wondering if you were going to climb on this one Subvet. This must really rankle vets like you and Cookie who obviously take a lot of pride in what you did for your country, and rightfully so.

It really is a shame that this happens, we can only hope it is a wake up call for those few who do not take their duties seriously.

Cookie..... said...

From all the circumstances that were described, I must say I've never known that amount of failed disciplinary structure and lack of strong leadreship, at least not on my boat, or for that matter, any other boat where I knew the crew.

Like SubVet stated, for the COB to be relieved says volumns. The COB is almost next to God on the boats and has almost as much authority and power as the skipper. He must also have really been screwing up.