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, May 09, 2005

Reaction to 711 Report from MM2(SS) Ashley's Father

The AP story that's been making the rounds of all the newspapers and web sites has a couple of quotes from the father of MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley, the submariner who died in the San Francisco grounding. The article on is typical:

"Ashley's father, Dan, received the report Friday and said he was not surprised with its findings. He expressed concern about the vessel's "sub notes," which are created by senior Navy commanders to chart the vessel's course and sent to crews before they embark on a mission.
Had Navy officials corrected those notes, "the accident would've never happened and my son would still be alive," said Ashley, who served in the Navy for eight years."

I was interested to read some further comments from Mr. Ashley in his local newpaper, the Akron Beacon-Journal. (May require registration) Here are some excerpts:

"The father of a Summit County sailor killed in a January submarine accident believes there are more to blame for his son's death than those who have been disciplined so far.
"Dan Ashley's reaction came following the release this weekend of a 124-page Navy report that concludes the accident that killed Manchester High School graduate Joseph Ashley could have been avoided...
"...Dan Ashley, a resident of New Franklin who works for Babcock & Wilcox in Barberton, said Sunday that guilt should be shared by those who wrote haphazard ``subnotes'' -- papers he described as the map provided to the submarine for its journey in the Pacific.
"Ashley, 53, said he and his family have forgiven Cmdr. Kevin Mooney and the other six who apologized for their roles in the accident...
"...Ashley said the release of the report over Mother's Day weekend was extremely difficult for his wife Vicki and their family.
``Today is a bad day,'' Ashley said Sunday."

These thoughts of a grieving father who obviously doesn't want anyone else to suffer the pain that he and his family are feeling are quite understandable. I'm not sure if he wants those he feels are also responsible to be punished, or just accept guilt. I personally don't want to see anyone else punished, but I'd like it if the Navy would perhaps let people know that the actions of the San Francisco navigation team were not completely out of line with normal fleet practices, and let people know that needed force-wide changes, if any, are being made.


Blogger ninme said...

Good heavens, I didn't even think of the Mother's Day timing. That sucks.

5/09/2005 11:52 PM

Blogger Chap said...

I'd like it if the Navy would perhaps let people know that the actions of the San Francisco navigation team were not completely out of line with normal fleet practices, and let people know that needed force-wide changes, if any, are being made.
....but that would be wrong. The actions of that team were substandard and not in keeping with what I saw on the waterfront at the same time. Bottom line, the weren't doing things the more successful boats on the waterfront were doing. The processes some of them used caused audible gasps when discussed to active duty submariners outside the WESTPAC loop.

That said, any given boat is a bunch of good guys trying hard, like the rest of 'em. They're not evil or stupid. There but for the grace of God et cetera. Some things revealed will improve all boats, like any incident report.

But they aren't blameless and shouldn't be treated that way. I saw this reaction during Greeneville--this nice guy couldn't have been to blame!

But they were.

5/10/2005 9:48 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I think this is where we'll have to agree to disagree, Chap. While there's no way to go back and ask they guys on the boats "Hey, what would you have done in this situation", the feeling I got from the waterfront is that most boats wouldn't have done much different. Maybe it was different in Pearl than it was in San Diego or Groton, and apparently Guam... I still think that if the Navy were to go back and pull the string, they'd find the most boats in similar situations had done pretty much what the San Fran had done (i.e. not refused to sail if the subnote arrived late, not requested a lower SOA/subnote mod if they saw something weird, not put restrictions on their transits every time they saw an "unknown" on a chart -- outside of a TRE scenario, of course...). And c'mon... was anyone honestly using VMS last year? I've been to those briefs before, too, and everyone's all "shocked and horrified" by what they've heard, and maybe I was in the minority for thinking in the back of my head "there but for the grace of God...".

5/11/2005 12:08 AM

Blogger Chap said...

Yeah, this one would be kind of hard to reach agreement, since we're both relying on our informed instinct and gut reactions. In any case this is a business not without risk, and they definitely did get the black marble.

Senior guys were warning a group of us analyzing groundings and collisions, in January before the grounding, not to demonize the crews of the ships we analyzed because they were selected just like us and could easily be us if not for opportunity of failure and some mistakes. I think that's a worthy caveat.

(They then demonized the CO of Greeneville-Ehime Maru, but that's a different kettle o' fish...)

5/11/2005 5:51 PM


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