Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, March 28, 2005

More San Francisco Musings

Discussing the San Francisco grounding at my SubVets meeting today got me thinking about a couple of things. Now I haven’t seen anything official, but I’ve heard enough rumblings on some other boards that it sounds like one of the things they’re holding against the San Fran navigation team is that they didn’t get their movement order early enough. Here’s how it works: submarines get a message from their Operating Authority ordering them to get underway; this message includes their route, average speed, and any exercises they’re supposed to do on their trip. There’s a requirement that the boat receive this message a certain amount of time before the underway, which may not have happened in this situation. From what I’ve seen, and from what I know of the Sub Force, this “passes the smell test” as far as being something that they would come up with to blame the boat for.
Assuming this is true, I suppose the boat could have refused to get underway since they didn’t have their movement order in time. How do you think that would have gone down? Do you think the CO would have been recognized for his bravery in standing up for the letter of the law? Show of hands? I didn’t think so…
I don’t know how significant the problem of late-issued movement orders is now, but I can say that I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the times the movement messages to my boats didn’t reach us within the time limits. Did the Navy go back and find out how many such messages have arrived late at the various boats, and punish the navigation teams involved for not protesting? I would guess the answer to that would be “no”, and I wouldn’t expect the Sub Force to do that. To me, it’s just another example of the San Francisco crew getting punished for doing the same exact thing as every other boat in the fleet.


Blogger Vigilis said...

Bubblehead's point is informative, as usual, especially if command tardiness is widespread. Even if valid, however, it is still only a "contributing" cause. The identifiable "root" causes, or gotcha factors are some crew derelictions, even if commonplace.
Anyone disagree?

3/29/2005 8:20 PM

Blogger submandave said...

Also relevent is a CO's ability to submit a SUBNOTE request. I do not know if such a request was made or not, but if a CO knows he's going from Guam to Sydney he may have his Nav lay down a preliminary route and submit the request to SUBOPAUTH. If it doesn't pose MI issues, SUBOPAUTH will often polish it (as needed) and either provide it back to the CO for a second look (time permitting) or simply issue it. I would imagine the ubiquitous nature of SIPRNET these days helps to facilitate this dialog greatly.

Speaking from my time at CSG7, while the method of issuing movement orders seems to have changed (SUBNOTES and MHN vice OPAREAS), one thing I doubt has changed is the pace of operations. The schedule is always changing based upon real-world contingencies, national tasking, unscheduled maintenance, CVBG support, bilatteral and multi-latteral exercise programs and issues with diplomatic clearances. Add to that the SUBOPAUTH responsibilities to deconflict potential MI with allied navies and you have a very dynamic situation.

If either of the following happened it is an issue I think should be looked into:
- the SUBOPAUTH unduly delayed the delivery of the SUBNOTE for avoidable reasons, or
- the SUBOPAUTH issued a SUBNOTE that routed the submarine over charted navigational hazards.

That said, it does not, as vigilis says, absolve the CO and his Nav team of their ultimate responsibility.

3/30/2005 5:39 PM


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