Monday, April 10, 2017

Most Prophetic Submarine Quotation of the 21st Century ( Yet )?


On 9 February, the USS Greeneville, a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered attack submarine, prepared to depart Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to conduct a public relations mission under the USN's Distinguished Visitor Embarkation program.  For this mission [set up during the final days of Pres. Clinton's final term], USS Greeneville would carry 16 civilian Distinguished Visitors: eight CEOs with six of their spouses; and a free-lance sports writer, with his spouse. [2]   

A Navy investigation found the USS Greenville's captain had rushed through mandatory safety procedures while demonstrating an emergency surfacing drill for the benefit of civilians touring the submarine. The report said the captain didn't want the submarine to be late returning to Pearl Harbor with the 16 guestssource

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Revealing but Unrealistic?

"In the seas below them, the submarine USS Greeneville was setting up for a emergency blow to the surface. The crew was in the final steps of determining if it was safe for the rapid ascent to the surface.

As a final check, the submarine conducted a visual search using the periscope. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation, while an officer was in the midst of his search routine,
the captain bumped him off the periscope and quickly completed the search,  precluding independent verification that it was safe." - 
David Marquet, CAPT, (USN-ret.)  28-year veteran of US Submarine Force. Commanded nuclear submarine USS Santa Fe; author of  Turn the Ship Around; Quoted from, April 9/2017, "Avoid Disastrous Decisions With These Four Meeting Practices" by David Marquet.
Leadership Tips From A Nuclear Submarine Commander.

Compounding Pressures in Retrospect

Why was this "PR mission" really scheduled, and who were those Distinguished Visitors? Eight years after the Ehime Maru Tragedy, the main purpose of the "VIP" PR mission now comes to light.  In 2009, during the first months of Obama's Presidency, his NavySecretary, Ray Mabus, began the process of permitting females to serve on submarines. [71] Note 
One notes that of the 16 distinguished visitors aboard Greeneville at least 7 were females.

The combination of politically invited guests including including 7 females allowed usual standard operating procedures to become unusually upset among Greeneville's well-trained and seasoned crew.  Everything from Informal communication language, normal etiquette, and  routine  operations suddenly had to be performed to impress the visitors favorably.
[Political pressure].

Such stresses were compounded by the presence and keen monitoring [Performance pressure] of Navy Captain Robert L. Brandhuber, Chief of Staff for the commander of the submarine component of the United States Pacific Fleet, who also noted that the Control Room was unusually crowded with people [Interference pressure].

 The DVs were scheduled to be served lunch in two sittings, first from 10:30 to 11:30 and the second from 11:30 to 12:30. After lunch, the submarine was to display its operational abilities and then return the DVs to Pearl Harbor for a reception that was scheduled to begin at 14:30. The lunch service ran late, and other Greeneville officers repeatedly reminded Waddle that the submarine needed to begin its demonstration maneuvers or it would be late back to port  [Time pressure].

Rear Adm. Charles Griffiths Jr., chief naval investigator into the crash, testified ... that, because lunch with the civilians took longer than scheduled, the Greeneville's captain performed certain safety procedures faster than was normal practice. One periscope check to make sure the surface was clear of other vessels took only 80 seconds, rather than the usual three or more minutes.

But Brandhuber did not step in to override the captain's orders, Griffiths said, because Brandhuber "specifically told me he did not see any action that met the threshold" for such a step. Subsequently, both Brandhuber and the Greenville's CO, Waddle, good career officers, were ousted from the Navy.

The collision was avoidable.  Few would dare quibble with the Naval inquiry's findings nor penalties for an avoidable tragedy.  Some obvious accountability is still overlooked in M.E.'s opinion. A nuclear fast attack submarine is such a highly complex platform that very few men ever demonstrate enough proficiency to command one.  

Adding, time, interference and political pressures for cosmetic (PR) purposes to an arduous job is equally unnecessary and ill-considered by civilians atop the chain of command unless they specifically authorize the attendant risk.  Few politicians present much less understand honest  risk:reward ratios.  And few senior officers feel comfortable risking promotion or pension by pushing back more effectively.  So, the avoidable loss of another SSN with crew becomes politically more inevitable.

Submarines are always silent and strange.


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