USS Newport News Makes Bahrain
The USS Newport News (SSN 750) made port in Bahrain after her collision with the Japanese tanker M/V Mogamigawa. The linked article confirms that the damage to the sub is confined to her bow. Word on the street is that there's less damage than might have been expected, which is good news. Of course, if the stories are correct, and the Newport News got sucked up into the tanker's screws, one might expect that the 12 hatches on top of the forward MBTs may have taken some damage, and working around their payload may increase the complexity of the repair job.
In response to the recent accidents onboard the Newport News and USS Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Submarine Force commanders have ordered a week long force-wide Safety Stand Down (some background and additional information are here). Vigilis has general thoughts on the purposes of such actions here, and PigBoatSailor makes some really good points about this particular stand down at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. (I tend to agree that it seems to be a reflexive CYA reaction at this point, but maybe they'll make it really worthwhile.)
Update 1031 12 Jan: It turns out the "Safety Stand Down" is just designed as an admin drill. From this Navy Times article:
All submarine skippers worldwide — including those on ballistic missile submarines — will spend the next week conducting thorough reviews of past operations and future plans, according to a Jan. 11 news release from Naval Submarine Forces. They've also been ordered to "evaluate areas of risk and risk management."Emphasis mine. From the looks of the announcement, it looks like they're setting up to blame the CO's ORM Review process for the accidents on the MSP and Newport News. Basically, everyone will have to cram in a "politically correct" review into their normal work- and drill-days. Hopefully, the Force won't decide to punish any CO and crew who takes this seriously and actually does report improvements they could have made in the past.
The reviews will be sent up the chain of command, and submarine squadron and group commanders will review the data "to improve routine efficiency."
The Submarine Force will also use the findings to "better prepare commanding officers with tools and techniques that foster good judgment, technical and mariner skills," according to the release.
“It’s clear that a common thread through recent problems has been errors conducting normal routine operations,” said Vice Adm. Chuck Munns, Submarine Forces commander .
Normal operations will continue until the reviews, due Jan. 19, are complete. But crews will also need to take time to conduct reviews and evaluations, according to Lt. Cmdr. Chris Loundermon, spokesman for the Atlantic Fleet Naval Submarine Force.