Australian Submarine Safety "Controversy"
It happens in Australia too... some internal Navy memorandum gets leaked, and the papers are all over all the "highly disturbing and embarrassing" revelations they contain. Part of this comes from the understandable desire of the newspapers to make everything as sensational as possible -- it sells more copies. It also seems to usually be coupled with a failure to understand that submariners, as a rule, only put the bad things down in reports. Imagine what a hullabaloo would erupt is some boat's ORSE report were ever made public... even the reports with higher than average grades read as if the crew can't tie their own shoes. When such reports are released, you end up with articles like this and this, and quotes like this:
"The report says that in April 2000, HMAS Waller suffered an on-board fire in the "main propulsion starter resistor" at the back of the submarine. "The fire, adjacent to a main battery circuit-breaker cabinet, could have had catastrophic consequences," it says.
"Yet the findings of those who investigated the accident could not be implemented because "funding is not available".
"The report revealed that all of the Collins-class submarines were at risk of main battery short-circuit faults.
"Such faults would be uncontrollable and catastrophic," it says. "Submarines have suffered cable damage, through poor installation and wear, which could have resulted in battery short-circuit faults."
"It warned that the submarines' diesel and hydraulic oil systems "may fail and cause fires", yet at the same time questioned "the effectiveness of the Collins' Halon fixed firefighting system".
"The report also disclosed that audits had raised doubts about the integrity of the submarine's pressure hulls, but gave no further details. "Cracks in the hull! This could be catastrophic," it said."
It looks to me like the report contains a lot of obvious generalites -- of course oil systems may fail; of course cracks in the hull would be catastrophic; of course batteries may develop internal shorts -- but it doesn't seem that any of these worst-case scenarios have happened. (And c'mon, what boat hasn't had the nuke boat equivalent of the Main Propulsion Starter Resistor -- the EPM starter cabinet -- catch fire. Or at least send up so much dust after the EM3 warming up the main engines for Maneuvering Watch went just a little past "stop" on the handwheel that it looked like there was smoke pouring out of the thing...) This is not to minimize the concern we should be having for HMAS Dechaineux's flooding. It's just that this report isn't going to convince me that the Australian submarine fleet is any more dangerous than most First World sub fleets...