Backing Off the Newport News Accident
As we all know, Vice Adm. Charles L. Munns, commander of Naval Submarine Forces based in Norfolk, ordered a week-long, fleet-wide, submarine safety stand-down:
"I am fortunate to have assigned the best people America can produce-they are well trained, they have the best equipment in the world," stated Vice Adm. Munns. "This operational focus, 'stand down', will continue our success in national tasking and also improve our daily operations."
Two recent incidents, coupled with four other significant submarine collisions in the past six years, led to this drastic stand-down, which is absolutely the right thing to do.
To put things in better perspective, I will introduce a qualification difference in submarine division officers (yes, subordinates of the CO) that people too often forget, then, I will cite a current event that highlights an amazing and fatal lapse of professionalism in the realm of surface ships that is totally anathema to the US submarine service.
First, the qualification difference:
My 1974 version of Submarine Officers Indoctrination Course includes a two-page listing for Qualifications as Officer of the Deck (Surfaced). It ALSO includes two more pages for Qualifications as Officer of the Deck (Submerged). Of course, there are many, many more requirements in the one-inch thick manual covering other areas like atmosphere control, diving and surfacing, silencing, submerged operations, escape (hmmm) training, and nuclear stuff. If the point of this paragraph is not yet obvious to you, you may stop now.
Finally, the amazing and fatal lapse of professionalism:
SEATTLE -- Two Coast Guard divers, one a female Lt., killed in a botched Arctic training dive were loaded with too much weight and were assisted by untrained crew members who had been drinking beer, an official investigation has found.
Molten Eagle hopes that every mitigating circumstance will be taken into account before the Navy considers cutting short the career of another fine submarine commander. He is truly in a different league, and was performing the nation's business to the best of his abilities in hazardous circumstances.