Update On The USS Frank Cable Boiler Accident
A story in The Navy Times has some of the first technical details I've seen of the accident:
The mishap took place at 7:30 p.m. local time Friday during maintenance operations in the Guam-based ship’s engineering spaces while anchored in its home port’s Polaris Point area, according to Naval Forces Marianas spokesman Lt. Donnell Evans.Based on this report, it sounds like they might have been doing something like relief valve testing -- the initial conditions sound right for that evolution. If that's the case, they probably had a lot of extra watchstanders in the Engineering spaces for the test. (It also makes sense from the perspective of you're more likely to have a piping rupture while setting up conditions for relief valve testing.) Normally when you do something like this, you put in the "first team", so the injured Sailors were probably the best the Cable had. Considering so few people were injured, my guess would be that the stricken Sailors took all the right immediate actions to isolate the compartment, at great risk to themselves. They, as much as anyone on the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq, should have our thanks and admiration for their heroic act in putting the safety of their ship and shipmates ahead of their own -- because that's what Sailors do.
The ship had returned earlier that day from a family day cruise, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the Pacific Fleet Naval Submarine Force. That evening, sailors were conducting maintenance checks in the No. 1 boiler room that had to be performed while the ship was still “lit off” — that is, while its boilers, which provide steam to the main propulsion turbines and auxiliary services, were running.
At some point, a rupture occurred in the No. 1 boiler economizer — a series of metal tubes that allow combustion gas to preheat water as it flows into the boiler. Davis couldn’t provide more detail on exactly what happened, citing an investigation that’s been launched. He didn’t know when that part of the ship had last undergone heavy maintenance...
...Davis said the ship could still get underway with the No. 2 plant if necessary.
(My initial post on the accident can be found here.)
Update 2312 05 Dec: An update on the condition of the injured Sailors can be found here, along with some background on the Burn Care Center at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. It appears that the injured will be in for a very long and arduous recovery process.
Remember last month when we had the opportunity to donate to Project Valour-IT? Well, they're on the ground in Texas, and are ready to use our donations to provide any help the injured heroes need. xformed at Chaotic Synaptic Activity has the gouge from an E-mail he received:
Just wanted you to know Soldiers’ Angels is on the ground in San Antonio and in an protective overwatch position & I am personally looking out for the injured sailors and their families. We will support them in any way we can as their treatment progresses. The families have arrived and are being tended by the staff and chaplains.As always, the military community and those who support them can be counted on to step up to take care of our own.
Thanks to Blackfive and the other MIL Bloggers, Soldiers’ Angels will be providing a new laptop for each of these six heroes as soon as they get out of the ICUs and we hope they will be blogging their story themselves very soon. Our prayers are with them and their families.
Update 2304 07 Dec: One Sailor involved in the accident has died of his injuries. Sailor, rest your oar.
Update 0635 10 Dec: The identity of the fallen Sailor has been released. FN Jack Valentine (although the story says Seaman, I think it's more likely Fireman) was a true hero in every sense of the word, as the pastor of the Lutheran Church of Guam explains:
Meanwhile, the Lutheran Church of Guam has established the Frank Cable Heroes Fund to collect money to assist the victims and their families.
The fund name includes the word “heroes” because “I was told that they could have left the area,” said pastor Jeff Johnson, but then “there would have been much more danger to other members of the crew and to the ship.”
The men stayed to mitigate the danger, he said, “They prevented further tragedy. They are heroes.”