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, January 29, 2007

CO Of USS Newport News Relieved

In the continuation of a tradition in the Submarine Force, another CO whose ship suffered a mishap that made the press was relieved for cause today. From the Fifth Fleet press release:
Rear Adm. Douglas J. McAneny, Commander, Combined Task Force 54, completed administrative personnel actions involving select members of the USS Newport News (SSN 750) crew, Monday, Jan. 29, to include relieving Cmdr. Matthew A. Weingart of command due to a lack of confidence in his ability to command. Capt. Norman B. Moore has temporarily assumed command of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine.
CAPT Moore, the new temporary CO, had commanded USS Columbus (SSN 762) during his normal command tour. The statement in the press release that there were "administrative personnel actions involving select members of the... crew" indicates that more than just the CO went to the green table; normally, the names and specific punishments for those who aren't the CO won't be released, so we don't know for sure yet if they just got letters, were busted, or even got reassigned. All I've heard so far is what it says in this article from The Virginian-Pilot, that, in addition to saying that the submarine suffered damage to the VLS tubes and forward MBTs, also has some rumors about the other punishments:
McAneny's decision to remove Weingart - as well as issue him a punitive letter of reprimand, according to a Navy source familiar with the case - might indicate that the venturi effect was only partly to blame.
A "punitive" letter of reprimand is a fault-finding document, and it is stronger than a general letter of reprimand...
...Besides Weingart, three other sailors faced administrative charges for their roles in the Newport News incident. A source close to the case said charges against one officer were dropped, and two petty officers received "administrative actions."
This firing, coming on the heels of the CO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) being relieved, really didn't surprise me. Those submariners who have ever operated in shallow constricted waters like the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz probably noticed immediately that the reports of how the accident happened didn't seem "quite right" with respect to the boat finding herself in that situation. (Note: While we don't know the exact geometries or locations of the ship's involved in the collision, I don't have to mention that none of us should discuss on this open-source blog the things we noted that seemed "wrong".) I'm just wondering whether the decision to relieve Captain Weingart was due solely to his actions that contributed to the collision, or if it was the result of "discrepancies" noted during the after-mishap "investigation" of the ship's day-to-day operations. Since this accident didn't get nearly as much press as the USS San Francisco grounding, I don't expect that we'll see the Submarine Force go public with all their "damning" evidence like they did with the SFO. My guess is we won't ever find out if the decision to remove the CO was because of a "one strike and you're out" policy, or the result of noted problems in the way the ship was being run. I'm sure all of us will have our opinions, though.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ATTN: BubbleHead

i guess it must be a slow Navy news day since it seems that you wanna re-visit your January 10th post.

we still have no additional information on the specifics of this incident.

we have only learned (from the Fifth Fleet press release), that "the Stupid (we know that the crew ain't stupid) Shall Be Punished"

~ theDdoubleSstandard

1/30/2007 6:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

USS Newport News post script - "The presence of U.S. nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear targets in Iran. With this aim a group of multi-purpose submarines ready to accomplish the task is located in the area," Admiral Baltin said.

the above statement was made following the SSN 750 collision

question - is there evidence to support this allegation?

~ theDdSs

1/30/2007 6:52 AM

Anonymous ex SSN Officer said...

It's interesting to watch old-classmates-become-operational-admirals make their best calls in these hard-edged decisions.

As it happens, I was in the same 1986 SOAC class as Jeff Fowler (MSP op cdr), and the same 1976 2-yr NROTC catch-up class in Newport, RI as Doug McAneny (NN op cdr).

Clearly, Doug made the call to fire the NN C.O. despite any undercurrents (if any) of that being only an administrative chain-of-command thing to do.

1/30/2007 2:01 PM

Anonymous Chief_Torpedoman said...

Dbl Std,

Instead of constantly critcizing Joel's sub blog, you really ought to start your own. I would look forward to reading your intelligent comments on your own blog. As for your question about what the Russian Admiral Baltin said, he is the one who should provide "evidence to support this allegation?"

1/30/2007 3:55 PM

Anonymous bullnav said...

I remember being NAV and having a Navigation Evaluation done on us. The senior evaluator was the ex-CO of USS JACKSONVILLE. He had been relieved following their 1996 collision with the SAUDI MAKKAH near Chesapeake Light off the Virginia Capes. He stressed to both myself and my ANAV that we must have a top-notch training program and outstanding documentation because if we ever had an accident, the investigators were going to look at EVERYTHING. I can't help but wonder if in this investigation they found some serious discrepancies in both the Nav/Ops department and in Sonar/Fire Control. Not to mention CDO/OOD training.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the crew who, although they did not have anyone killed (as MSP did), they are in for a long ride back to Norfolk and undoubtedly have a lot of work to do. Like all crews who go through this type of episode, they will come together and it will ultimately make them stronger.

1/30/2007 4:07 PM

Anonymous cynical said...

Interesting choice of new CO - he had an unpublicized mishap while in command. In today's environment, he'd already be a civilian. Good choice, Doogie.

CO relief in these types of events is now a foregone conclusion. While trying to scare the COs into being more "careful", the Admirals still refuse to address the root causes outside of the ships themselves. Imagine the Admirals chatting amongst themselves, "well, I never got sucked into super tanker while I was in command." and "I routinely dodged uncharted sea mounts right smack in the middle of my open ocean SUBNOTE tracks and reported every single one of them." Of course there are no records of your chart anomaly reports...but what the hay? it sounds good. Or even better, "yeah, I collided with him, but I did all my collision/grounding training so I got to keep my boat."

BTW, we have WAY more Admirals than ships - when is that account going to squared?

1/30/2007 11:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hasn't a submerged transit underneath large displacement ships in congested waters been done 100's (well dozens) of times?

If so, one may infer that this boat may have done something wrong, hence the captains responsible.

1/31/2007 2:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether or not this guy did anything wrong, the yet another "zero tolerance" firing of a CO only makes one oddity even stranger - the CO who drove his submarine into an oiler on the surface, and not only retained his command, but ended up promoting below zone to O-6 - while those under him have to show cause to get promoted to O-4 and O-5. The "golden boy" lives on....

1/31/2007 4:49 PM

Anonymous bullnav said...

Sometimes there is a little less objectivity. I am reminded of running aground and the NAV coming out of it unscathed. CO fired, ANAV fired, XO punitive letter (did not go on to command), NAV nothing. He went on to command and made O-6...

Let us hope (and I am a glass-half-full kind of guy) this was an objective decision...and the right one...

2/01/2007 4:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yikes! Was this the same USS Jacksonville that I was aboard as a visitor in 1984 when it collided with a Turkish merchant? Jinxed ship if ever there was one. If the Turkish ship had not been empty, I would likely not be posting this now....

2/12/2012 4:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bullnav - just in case you're still reading these boards - you will be excited to know that the NAV you speak of in your 2/01/2007 4:58 AM post has now been selected for Admiral

2/12/2012 5:16 PM


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