USS Frank Cable Steam Rupture Report Finished
Both Navy Times and Stars and Stripes have stories out today discussing the "recently completed" investigation into the steam rupture aboard USS Frank Cable last year. This accident was back in the news recently when the death of MMC Delfin Dulay was announced, more than five months after the accident.
From what the articles say, it looks like the investigation confirms the incredible heroism shown by the Sailors in the engine room as it filled with steam. From the Navy Times article:
Walsh makes several recommendations, including improved training and the formation of a board to “review the actions of all personnel involved in this tragedy and determine if personal awards or recognition is warranted.”The report also apparently found problems with the highest levels of the ship's chain of command. From the "Report Recommendations" listed in the Stars and Stripes article:
He commends the sailors on the scene who “displayed courage and resolve in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances by staying their watch and securing the boiler before exiting the boiler room. Their heroic actions exemplified Navy core values of honor courage and commitment.”
The following are recommendations endorsed by Command Submarine Group, Pacific Fleet for the USS Frank Cable.The thing that jumped out at me the most, though, was this statement from the "timeline" provided by the Stars and Stripes. After stating that the MPA and EOOW got permission from the Chief Engineer to conduct the test at 1900, and that the accident occurred 1930, the entry for 1950 states that "(t)he Commanding Officer, executive officer, chief engineer, and boiler division officer are recalled to the ship."
1. The commanding officer and the chief engineer errors in judgment allowing the ship to steam No. 1 boiler in order to perform safety valve maintenance before determining the cause of chemistry concentration and abnormal feedwater consumption of the number one boiler should be reviewed for administration or disciplinary action.
2. The executive officer and chief engineer’s failure to conduct proper mainspace (fireroom) and evacuation training may have led to more serious injuries and said failure should be reviewed for administrative or disciplinary action.
[Emphasis mine] Now, I know they do things differently on surface ships, but as a served Engineer I cannot have fathomed my ship ever doing steam relief valve testing without me on board. Some evolutions are just that critical.
I'll be interested to see if they release the whole report to the general public. In the meantime, the families, friends, and shipmates of the men in the Engine Room that night can know that there's now no doubt that the lost and injured Sailors were, and are, truly the heroes we knew them to be.