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.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

San Francisco Chart Preparation

Lubber's Line has an interesting post up on his thoughts of the chart preparation issue relating to the San Francisco grounding. While I'm sure I don't have much more information than he does, if I had to guess where the charges of "inadequate chart preparation" came from, I'd say that the Navy might be saying that the San Fran didn't use the "most useful" chart available. When planning a voyage, there are actually several charts one can choose from, depending on the area of the world you're transiting; obviously, there will be more available for places like the Mediterranean than other areas.
Choosing which chart to use as your primary planning chart is really more of an art than a science; the Navy doesn't come out and tell you which chart to use. Some charts have lines connecting areas of like depth (isobath lines) while others may have more detailed information on unexploded ordnance, shipwrecks, and the now infamous "discolored water". I know from experience that it's sometimes hard to tell which chart to use; it usually doesn't matter, but in this case it may have. Of course, in retrospect I suppose investigators could decide which chart was better for one given situation, but come on... does choosing the "wrong" chart, which was revealed as wrong only with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, really rise to the level of a punishable offense?

Update 0958 12 Apr: Lubber's Line has a follow-up post.


Blogger WillyShake said...

No matter which chart they chose--and presumably it was the one with the most useful scale--wouldn't they nonetheless be required to transfer/update/modify it with the information from the other charts? In other words, I would expect that they used the one with a convenient scale and then added restricted areas and/or maximum bearings and so forth to prevent any approach to a questionable area.

Just a question; my memory is too rust to recall requirements. LOL. I'm getting old, I guess!

4/04/2005 1:02 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I'm with you... I don't remember the whole thing, but I don't remember a specific, easily understandable requirement to do that. I imagine, though, that if there wasn't one, there probably will be one soon...

4/04/2005 2:14 PM

Blogger Lubber's Line said...

Bubblehead thanks for the link back to my blog, I got some increased traffic from you and The Sub Report (not that I had any traffic in the first place). My intent was more to educate myself on the topography and charts of the area and doing so move toward understanding the specific NJP charge of negligence in chart maintenance. I never did any of the voyage planning or chart maintenance when I made patrols as a NavET but remember having the QMs coming into the Navcenter and taking our large plot table to do their updates. Seemed like a tedious process that E4 or E5 did and required a second review and signoff by the senior E6/7 QM.

I agree that chart selection could have played a role in the grounding and was probably a part of the reasoning along with chart maintenance in the navigation division NJP’s. The more serious charge of course is the missed yellow sounding which brings to my mind the question how confident was crew in chart prep? It seems a breach of procedure not to report and confirm a sounding that didn’t agree with the charts in a signifcant way. I feel that the crew of the San Francisco, as demonstrated in their actions to save the ship, are some the best in the Navy. But I remember a saying from my enlisted days “It only takes one Aw Sh*t to wipe out a thousand at-a-boys”. Bad luck played a significant role here but the Navy also found a couple of Aw Sh*ts along the way.

4/04/2005 10:28 PM


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