Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ominous submarine portents - Part 2 All Investigations Collapsed into One

This installment updates Ominous submarine portents Part 1 (July 02, 2012)

Previously...

USS Miami
"The fire, the Navy said, started when hot welding slag in a vacuum cleaner caught fire when the implement was placed among some cleaning supplies and left unattended." - NavyTimes

Navy leaders have vowed to repair the 22-year-old submarine — which already is scheduled to be taken out of service in 2020 — but no decision is expected until the investigations are complete.


To do this, additional interviews may be conducted as well as additional documentation collected.” - Capt. Chris Sims, for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.

snip.....
ME: Why would an approved (or unsupervised unapproved) government shipyard housekeeping subcontractor suck up slag in a vacuum and then store the apparatus unplugged among unspecified, highly flammable (or volatile) cleaning supplies stored on a US nuclear sub during welding or cutting work? Two prominent possibilities are evident, but have not been addressed publicly.

News... (July 11, 2012)...

The Bangor Daily News, KITTERY, Maine — Jim Haddadin, Foster's Daily Democrat [bold and color emphasis added by ME]

Investigators believe the fire was started by an undisclosed “heat source” that was sucked into a shop vacuum, igniting the debris within...

All investigations currently under way regarding the fire will be collapsed under the jurisdiction of the new panel, according to information provided by a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command this week. They include the ongoing investigations run by Naval Sea Systems Command and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The panel will also have the authority to request “any other available information necessary to obtain a complete understanding of the event,” according to the Fleet Forces Command spokesman. That could include conducting supplemental interviews and collecting documentation related to the fire.

The Navy has approximated the damage to the submarine at $400 million, plus another $40 million for so-called “secondary effects,” such as disruption to other planned work across all Navy shipyards and the potential need to hire private contractors...

snip.....
ME: Just as predicted 9 days ago (in Part 1), the underestimated cost to taxpayers has already increased by $40 million (10%) with the latest news report. The slag reported by NavyTimes earlier (in Part 1) as the fire initiator, is now redescribed as an undisclosed “heat source”.

It now appears that PNSY will have less of an investigative role in the new panel than it may have contributed earlier to safety and subcontractor factors, and may also become subject to gross negligence investigations itself. As taxpayers, we recognize that had the catastrophe occurred in a private yard (EB) instead of a government yard (PNS) the Navy could have sued on behalf of taxpayers for loss recovery. PNS's chain of command must be considered potentially conflicted in whatever mitigating details they provided that cannot be substantiated by hard evidence.

Of PNS's Shipyard Commander, Deputy Commander, and Command Master Chief, only the CMC has actual submarine service. The Deputy Commander has tender and skimmer experience, and the shipyard commander was a skimmer. This investigation is going to be very interesting on many levels.

As we posited (in Part 1) major questions are yet unanswered:

a) the cleaning subcontract had been awarded to minority-owned company with political connections and little if any shipyard, much less submarine, experience; or,

b) one of the last persons operating the vacuum at the time and in the space of the fire's inception was a minority, an arsonist, an agent of an unfriendly government with a point to make, or (hat tip to Juan Caruso) an Islamist fascist, whom the government has been habitually loath to identify as such but eager to say "acted alone".

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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