"Hazing" On USS Columbus (?)
[Intel Source: The Sub Report] There's an interesting post at the "Military Life" blog at the Kitsap Sun about alleged abuse aboard USS Columbus (SSN 762), currently undergoing DMP in Bremerton:
Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating alleged hazing involving sailors on USS Columbus.
The fast-attack submarine formerly based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has been at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton for maintenance since September 2004. A Navy spokeswoman declined to elaborate on details of the allegations, including when the incident or incidents occurred.
Shipyard workers called Seattle's KOMO 4 TV station, a Kitsap Sun media partner, Tuesday to report the alleged hazing, but they declined to give their names. They told KOMO one sailor was badly beaten and his shirt set on fire. Again, the Navy won't confirm any allegations while the investigation is ongoing.
This sounds kind of fishy. A Sailor "badly beaten"? That doesn't happen on subs to any submariner who doesn't steal stuff. "Shirt set on fire"? Sounds more like a stupid prank to me, if it even happened.
I have a couple of theories on what happened here. Maybe the shipyard workers who refused to give their names wanted a couple of days off work, and figured an investigation might shut down the ship and give them some easy days. Or maybe they were new painter/cleaners who saw some stupid but traditional horseplay, and mistook "wedgied" for "badly beaten". Most likely, though, some knucklehead came up behind another guy with a lighter and used it to try to catch an unaware guy's shirt on fire, and succeeded, with subsequent pushing and shoving, which the shipyard "workers" witnessed.
Or maybe it was even some guys from another ship wanting to really screw with the Columbus guys by making an anonymous call to the TV station, claiming to be yardbirds. If so, that's really bad form, considering the recent (last 15 years) Navy policy of "overreacting to the point of ridiculousness whenever there's a chance that 'hazing' might make it into the news".
If it did happen the way I think it did, we can expect a Force-wide anti-hazing stand down with Power Point slides about why you shouldn't hold a flame up to a guy's shirt for fun when you're bored.
Update 0103 21 March: Based on the comments, and some E-mails I got, it looks like the hazing incident was the real thing, and pretty bad at that. From what I've heard, though, the investigation was going on long before the yardbirds called the TV station. I wish the Navy would have been allowed to handle the problem without the press looking over their shoulder, but that's the way it is in a democracy.