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.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.
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."