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.)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

LantFleet Releases MSP Accident Report

Atlantic Fleet HQ (now called "Fleet Forces Command") has released several hundred megabytes of reports on the tragic loss of two submariners from USS Minneapolis-St. Paul last year. The Navy Times has a new article on what happened during the sub's egress from Plymouth, and MilitaryTimes.com has a video of the MSP that day that shows what seas were like.

Reading over the Command Investigation, you can see standard Sub Force hand-wringing and demands for perfection in hindsight alongside what appear to be honest attempts to do the right thing.

I'm just wondering what the investigation would look like if a sub in homeport, say moored at the end of Mike Pier in San Diego, got T-boned some day by a rogue merchant with a jammed rudder. I'm sure they'd say that the CO would have had more than enough information to predict that a merchant that might suffer a rudder jam would be going past the Sub Base, and the CO should have moved his ship to a safer berth. And then they'd fire him, and not do anything to the senior rider.

Update 2143 15 Apr: A sharp-eyed reader noticed that while the initial investigation recommended no action be taken against the senior rider on the MSP, the CSG-8 endorsement disagreed with that recommendation. Good on RADM Fowler.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They call it a breakwater for a reason. One would expect that the CO (and about half a dozen other people) should have recognized that having people on deck and a hatch open past the breakwater with sea conditions as are apparent in the video would be problematic at best.

Submarining is a demanding occupation. "S*** happens" is not the standard to which we hold ourselves. Two men didn't come home to their families because of poor command-level decisions. Should nobody be accountable for that?

4/14/2007 3:39 PM

 
Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

I'm just wondering what the investigation would look like if a sub in homeport, say moored at the end of Mike Pier in San Diego, got T-boned some day by a rogue merchant with a jammed rudder. I'm sure they'd say that the CO would have had more than enough information to predict that a merchant that might suffer a rudder jam would be going past the Sub Base, and the CO should have moved his ship to a safer berth. And then they'd fire him, and not do anything to the senior rider.

Oddly enough, I find it difficult to disagree with you....

4/14/2007 5:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been out of the Navy for 10 years now and would dispute the comment that several others should have known better for being topside outside of the breakwater. If you are talking about the civilian I'd agree with you. But all you bubbleheads know damn well as a JO,Dept Hd, Xo, or COB you didn't get where you are at or where you want to be someday(Command.. Duh..)by questioning the Old Man.. The Navy has facilitated this thought process..

4/14/2007 11:09 PM

 
Blogger Chap said...

Olympia, Dubai, 1999.

And that's what I've got to say about that.

4/15/2007 11:54 AM

 
Anonymous SKCS/SS said...

The title of your blog is The STUPID Shall be Punished and in this case they were. In my 20+ years in the submarine force I have countless maneuvering watches topside and everyone knows if you are taking water over the back of the ship you better be changing plans quick. The CO stated he was rushing the COB to get the transfer over with. The CO's concern was not the safety of his crew but getting the ship out to sea again. It is also his job to KNOW the conditions of the seas. To not know is unforgivable and the death of those Sailors rest squarely on his shoulders. I have seen too many mistakes made by CO's who are more concerned what will be written in their FITREPS than whether or not they are doing the right and safe thing. And if this trend does not stop, one of our boats is not coming home!

4/15/2007 1:39 PM

 
Anonymous SSN Wife said...

Seriously, is the CO of a submarine God (I know many think they are)? Is he supposed to be able to predict the slightest weather change when information is not being provided by the Pilot or anyone else from the Harbor? Can any of you who are posting comments about how stupid the CO and the rest of the command was on that day honestly tell me that you have not been out in worse conditions? Have any you actually read the report?

Again, I have to say, people died; families have suffered; and the most any of you can do with your 20/20 hindsight is blame someone. Try talking to someone who was there and ask them what they think and then make an opinion. Try being sympathetic for a moment to those who suffered through this tragedy and lets move on with lessons learned and do our best to not let it happen again.

Let us all also take a look at how Tina Higgins stood proud as the MSP returned home and greeted each of those sailors with a Challenge Coin she made up in memory of her husband. Behind every great man, is a great woman! http://www.dailypress.com/news/local/dp-98017sy0apr04,0,1443891.story?coll=dp-news-local-final

I say a prayer of thanks each day that the MSP returned home safely from the second half of its deployment and I will continue to pray for the crew and all the other submarines and crews out there on the pointy end of the spear, protecting your right to comment and speak freely. For those of you who have served prior, I thank you for your service!

4/15/2007 6:13 PM

 
Anonymous skcs/ss said...

Yes, have read the report. Yes, have been in the North Atlantic in worse conditions. And, Yes have cancelled ops and tug transfers. Taking water over the back of a submarine is an indicator that you don't need to be topside. I have sympathy for the COB's wife and for the Second Class' family, but not for a CO that was careless and reckless.

4/16/2007 8:48 PM

 
Anonymous vulpes libertas (mm2/ss) said...

In my Navy experience, the search for someone to blame is superceeding the need to fix problems.

Sometimes anavoidable things happen, not always, but sometimes. In the event of the hypothetical moored submarine/rogue merchant collision, I think it is consistant with the current policy of the Navy to fire the captain.

The two root problems I see are:
1. The officers in charge of assigning blame are often the guilty parties.
2. People like us, who call out for blood the instant a story like this hits the press, then forget about it a week later. We, the public, are more concerned about following sensationalism, than we are about fixing problems.

-My respects to the families and fellow sailors of those lost.

4/17/2007 2:58 PM

 
Anonymous SSN Wife said...

Thank you Vulpes. Everyone now a day is always about blaming someone. I know the people who commented on this story were not there and therefore really have no idea what happened or why it happened. Only those on the MSP can know what really happened. So those who choose to speculate, try to keep it to yourself since I am sure MSP families are reading this blog.

From what I read of the report, I do not believe the CO or anyone else who provided input to the CO about getting underway is to blame for the deaths. I strongly believe that the wave was an Act of God. No one can predict what God has in store for us but we do know He has a plan for us and for the men and families of the MSP and we have to hold strong to that. We also need to believe that part of his plan is to have an accurate and implemented Lesson Learned.

To anonymous, re-read the report. The MSP was inside the breakwater when the men went topside to help the Pilot transfer off.

To SKCS/SS re-read the report or talk to someone who was there that day, and then you can point fingers if you still feel the need. But leave the CO's family out of your condemnation. They certainly were not there that day. Would you want your wife and children being blamed if you were the CO?

4/18/2007 5:43 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All in all it is the CO that is responsible for any actions onboard. However, I seem to recall many occasions in riding the Boats for over 20 years that if someone were to have uttered a phrase akin to “is that safe or wise?” Even the most obnoxious self centered CO or XO would hear and 95% of the time re-evaluate the situtation again in their heads. Perhaps just perhaps, rendering a different outcome. I noticed near the end of my career, although the Boat sailor is still a Cut Above the rest, they are not being held to as high a standard as in the past.

In the waning years of my career I saw more COBs and fellow Chiefs accepting of conditions or situations that were not accepted a few years back. Did this add to the occurrence of the incident? Can’t really say. Yet as a Boat Sailor I will say the fault should be shared by all and the responsibility is of course the CO’s.

Example…the Knock and Enter tradition for the Chief’s Quarter’s….Had a COB that told the XO to leave when he walked in and sat down without knocking. How many have the gumption to do that today? I dare say not many…they will say they have lost the authority that was once commanded by the CPO’s in the Navy and I say it wasn’t lost it is still there just not being exercised……
Fair Winds and Following Seas to all....

4/26/2007 8:43 AM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home