Friday, October 19, 2007

SSN 767 Update(s): USS Hampton

UPDATE (Nov. 2nd): USS Hampton Incident Getting A 'Hard' Look'I Think They Were Pushing The Easy Button,' Commander Of Sub Force Says M.E.: ELTs and CRAs fleetwide will be individually debriefed by their XOs (Engineers may be present) and the UCMJ will be addressed with recent examples at hand.

UPDATE (09:25 Friday): The aftermath of the unfortunate Hampton incident is provided in its simplest form here for adults. (check out *****5*****)

UPDATE (20:32 Thursday): Nuclear sub commander relieved of duty Navy: He failed to do safety checks on reactor, tried to cover up omissions
Cmdr. Michael B. Portland was relieved after a Navy investigation found the ship failed to do daily safety checks on its nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission.
“His oversight of the crew’s performance did not identify these issues” without an outside inspection, Navy Lt. Alli Myrick, a public affairs officer, told The Associated Press.

UPDATE (11:48 Monday) : Navy: Submarine Safety Checks Skipped WASHINGTON (AP) — Sailors on the submarine USS Hampton failed to do daily safety checks on the ship's nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission, a Navy investigation shows.
Th above lends credence to the sub community's rumored story of malfeasance by Hampton's ELTs (see Brian in comments).

The notion that there are 5 ELTs in an SSN crew nowadays underscores how much "necessary overhead" fills first-line subs. While these are qualified submariners and fine people, they take up space, a fact which tends to help those pushing the Navy to make AIP subs one of their new construction imperatives. - Vigilis

It is too early for flurries (not the frozen precipitation, the Admiralty kind). When the squadron admiral speaks publicly, the investigation will be over. At that point, no one contradicts his final words. This is not a criticism, it is a time-honored necessity we should all applaud.

People had suggested a music video posted to by Hampton crew members might be part of the investigation. It shows them joking around some sensitive sections of the sub.

After NewsChannel 3 (WTKR) aired a related story, the Navy did confirm the video is not part of the investigation. That is credible.

This is simply diificult to fathom:
In fact, officials told us [WTKR] they didn't even know about it. [Truth or incompetence alarms going off]. Since submariners are anything but incompetent, I pick the truth alarm.

How could anyone say the Navy did not know about a video created in a secret stealth platform?
Answer: the Navy has shrunk, but its still large enough to find an official spokesperson who can honestly say with a straight face that they did not even know something was on the world wide web. Betcha there was not a CPO in the submarine fleet who did not know the authorized video was out there. If chiefs knew, guess who else had to know?

Right. But, even though the YouTube video has little to do with the ongoing investigation, why pretend YouTube videos slip out of submarines without a submarine admiral's staff's notice? A responsible party at least had to send an e-mail to a squadron clerk, I'll bet you. By the way, the video seen below, looks like an excellent recruiting tool to me (in fact, that is how it is registered on YouTube).

This IS a Recruiting Video...

Now, some experienced bloggers lean more toward problems in the sub's aft end administration that have sidelined one of the Navy's starfleet vessels. If true, that could be one more reason to de-emphasize construction of nuclear submariners in favor of modern AIPs (which, in fact are under consideration). Shhh.

By the way, it looks like whatever the problem, the sub's captain, Jaenichen, who ordered an investigation originally (last month) is off the hook. Six crew members so far have received NJP.

Once an asset like a nuclear sub is taken out of service, someone's head is going to feel the axe. Will we ever find out what the root cause was? No, not officially. We may only know whose unidentified misconduct or error contributed to or created a bad problem.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 21 October, 2007 16:38, Blogger Brian said...

If you know nuke boats what is the smallest division aft. Has 1 officer and 5 enlisted. seems somebody took "what do you want it to be" to a whole new meaning.

At 21 October, 2007 16:54, Blogger Vigilis said...

Brian, hear you loud and clear. You are welcome to take someone else's opinion and make it your own. Unless and until substantive facts emerge, I am also obliged to retain mine.

Nukes are nifty boats (I was assigned to two), but with all their enormous advantages, they come with significant drawbacks compared to the relative simplicity and economics of state-of-the-art AIPs.

Thanks for your candid comment, any are always welcomed here.

At 21 October, 2007 17:19, Blogger Vigilis said...

Just checked for any new substantive facts - lots of inuendo, but still no new facts yet. Over at TSSBP it seems an "anonymous" source [10/20/2007 11:15] said "ELT's blazed an entire years worth of results for a certain analyses that rhymes with pink. Forged CO's sig on record's. All ELT's fired."

That would do it, but is it real and factual? In my day we had one (1) ELT aboard. If there is truth to this anonymous allegation, I am staggered trying to imagine modern crews including more than one ELT (much less 5). That kind of nuclear "overhead" tends to make some in the the Navy's case for AIPs imperative.

At 22 October, 2007 19:43, Blogger Brian said...

We had 4 onboard the LELT 2 qualified and a nub. They all had to qualify mechanic watches and were on the watchbill. I was on a trident. I am not sure what fast boats carry.

At 22 October, 2007 20:30, Blogger Vigilis said...


At 10 November, 2007 13:54, Blogger Mark said...

I am retired submariner, and I have thought long and hard about the recent events surrounding the brouhaha in question. Let’s face it, the issues here did not just “pop up” on the Hampton,…they have evolved across the service, and were shaped and honed over many, many years. I observed the very same disturbing symptoms in the years leading up to my retirement in 1997, and to my own shame, I never did anything about it. The Navy did not just “catch” this problem, as so many of you have already pointed out – the Navy was forced to stare into the harsh light of day, and come face-to-face with an ongoing problem that has plagued the submarine service for years. I believe someone,…an individual of great strength and courage has stepped up and taken a bullet for “the home team”. And now, the sub service must clean house and take care of our own.

In the military, we give medals of honor to men and women who have thrown themselves in harm's way to selflessly give their lives for the security of others,...and they most certainly deserve that honor. Yet, when someone who possesses the ethical and moral convictions to say that “enough is enough”, and tells the truth about the ills that plague our service, they are vilified for it and never recognized for the strength of their convictions and their selfless behavior. In fact, that are attacked for the path they have chosen.

This situation is not about a squadron, a ship, its crew, the skipper or a single individual. This is about the US nuclear submarine service, which has a rich and deep tradition that harkens back to the earliest days of a man that embodied the essence of integrity, morals, ethics and standards that were so difficult for others to understand. This is a man that the Navy did not promote him beyond the rank of Captain - Congress did. His name was Hyman Rickover, and he was the father of the modern nuclear Navy. Admiral Rickover's personal qualities were so profound and so pure,...that the military-industrial structure that he interfaced with absolutely struggled with his requirements for perfection. It was not only his demand for perfection in the ships we sailed, was his demand that every sailor embody a higher conviction and commitment that could not be found anywhere else. He wanted to know that each individual would willingly give their lives to protect our nation - and there was no compromise, quarter.

For reasons that I will never be able to comprehend or discern,...the sub service has broken down and compromised itself. Officers and enlisted alike have conducted themselves in a way that has damaged the integrity of a branch of the US Navy that has been referred to as the "tip of the spear". In the process, these same dedicated people have privately struggled with who they are,...and have questioned their own actions. While I am certainly not positive of my supposition, I believe that a single person (or a few persons) started the dominoes to fall. For too long, the submarine service has needed someone brave enough and strong enough to bring all of this to light,…and I think that someone threw himself on the grenade for those who still serve beneath the waves. I believe that someone’s actions and choices embodied the spirit of Hyman Rickover. He would have been proud to call this lone soul "shipmate", and Rickover would have steadfastly stood side-by-side with him if he had to face the court,....because he knew he was fighting for everything that Rickover stood for,...and everything that defined the service. I believe this individual’s actions will positively impact the lives of countless sailors who serve our nation in the nuclear submarine force,...and I hope those responsible will help to return a once proud service to its roots.

Whomever you are, thank you for your dedication,...thank you for your service,....and thank you for taking a bullet, honor us all.


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