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.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

USS Hampton Investigation Coverage

The news of the investigation into what happened to USS Hampton (SSN 767) that caused them to get their keys taken away continues to spread -- and not in a good way. I discussed earlier my thoughts on what may have happened, and intimated that the "word on the street" was that it was pretty bad. Now, a Hampton Roads TV station is wondering whether the "Submarine Life" video that was posted on YouTube last month was behind the investigation -- and they even linked to my post that introduced the video to the submarine blogosphere. Excerpt:
The submarine is under investigation. The Navy has already disciplined one officer and five enlisted sailors, but the Navy isn't exactly telling us why. All it's saying is that a recent routine review "fell short of high Navy standards." It may be an issue with maintenance problems on the ship as they were wrapping up their deployment, but again, the Navy isn't saying.
There are also some who theorizing that a music video that recently posted on YouTube entitled, "What is submarine life exactly?" may be part of the controversy. It was made by a Hampton crew member on the recent deployment and it's fun pictures of the crew joking around together. The worst thing we saw on the video was someone giving the middle finger and slapping someone on the butt. But several blog sites on the internet are wondering whether this music video has something to do with the investigation.
Submarines are very serious about their security. When NewsChannel 3 photographers are on board the subs, the Navy is extremely particular about what we can take video of. But again, the Navy won't say if that video has anything to do with the trouble the sub is in. Again, they'll only say it's "issues" that they're looking into. We'll keep you posted.
I sure hope they're not thinking that TSSBP was one of the "blog sites" wondering whether the video had something to do with the investigation; some commenters here did -- and it was a reasonable supposition -- but I've heard from "the street" that the video definitely wasn't the reason for the initial investigation. Now, I suppose it's possible that, as the investigation expands to the "crawl up their buttholes and look for every possible thing they've ever done wrong" phase, the video might get mentioned -- but it sure wasn't the original problem. Another division apparently getting confused and thinking that because their workcenter name was one letter off from the people who work behind Control, they should do what the other division's name has become submarine slang for -- that was supposedly the thing that Squadron found on the inspection workup. (You submariners can figure out what that means; everyone else can just keep wondering, 'cause we're not gonna tell you.)

Update 2352 19 Oct: Via Vigilis at Molten Eagle, here's an update from the Virginia TV station, with some questions the Navy agreed to answer. Included is a confirmation that the video isn't part of the investigation... for now.


Blogger Mr. C. said...

"Capt. Chip Jaenichen, squadron commander, ordered an investigation under the Judge Advocate General’s Manual, or JAGMan, after some “issues” surfaced while the submarine and squadron were preparing for a normal end-of-deployment examination, Myrick said."

That could be an ORSE or TRE. Or something else.

It'll be interesting to see what's up -- if we ever find out.

10/19/2007 2:45 PM

Blogger Jarrod said...

We've been getting some trickle-down briefings of the issues in the wardroom. I'm not sure an inspection had anything to do with the initial problem, but it might have been. I won't go into the details, but I'm told the phrase "Culture of Criminals" was used to describe the atmosphere on Hampton.

10/19/2007 6:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for the lyrics and the music to this unfolding drama (with one minor mod) -- and we all know the tune:

"I feel a hot wind on my shoulder
And the touch of a world that is older
I turn the switch and check the number
I leave it on when in bed I slumber
I hear the rhythms of the music
I buy the product and never use it
I hear the talking of the DJ
Can't understand just what does he say?

"I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican - whoah - radio

"I dial it in and tune the station
They talk about the U.S. inflation
I understand just a little
No comprende, it's a riddle

"I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican, whoa-Oh, radio
I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican, whoa-Oh, radio

"I wish I was in Tijuana
Eating barbequed iguana
I'd take requests on the telephone
I'm on a wavelength far from home
I feel a hot wind on my shoulder
I dial it in from south of the border
I hear the talking of the CRA
Can't understand just what does he say?

"I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican, whoa-Oh, radio
I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican, whoa-Oh, radio

"Radio radio... Radio radio... Radio radio...
I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican, whoa-Oh, radio
I'm on a mexican radio. I'm on a Mexican, whoa-Oh, radio
Radio radio... What does he say?"

10/19/2007 7:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former bubblehead, I'm still unable to figure out what Joel means in his blog about what really happend??? Will someone tell us in plain english and notin O-Gang terms...

10/19/2007 9:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

re read the text he is speaking of an upperlevel division


10/19/2007 10:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

on another note I truly am sorry that my brothers both khaki and blue are having to go thru this. with out more details I will continue to read this as a witch hunt. happy halloween I guess.


10/19/2007 10:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, Your riddle/hint works well for the 688 Class, but does not work well for all boats. I can't tell you the details of every class, but I'm pretty sure that the Radio Room is forward of Control on both the 640 Class (and all the other old Boomers?) and the 726 Class. As I am Fast Attack Tough, that's based on recollections from repair work I was involved with onboard (and not too much in Radio) as I am really a Nuke by trade, but that's the way I remember the layout anyway.

10/19/2007 10:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One officer, five enlisted....kind of narrows down what engineering division that could be

10/20/2007 6:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

grumpy old ido thanks for your post as to work center locations in relation to Joels riddle/hint. As a former 640/637 class boat sailor I was struggling with the hint. With your location clarification it became crystal clear....

10/20/2007 12:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch, I was in that division for years and you can never escape that! Riddle immediatly solved!

10/20/2007 10:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still don't get the humor?? Spent 3 yrs on 637 class out of SD and know sonar and radar were aft of control... Went to 688 class for a year and ET's and Radio were aft of control... Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on??? I left the Navy in 1996.. Got educated and still can't understand O-Gang terms...

10/20/2007 11:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ELT's blazed an entire years worth of results for a certain analyses that rhymes with pink. Forged CO's sig on record's. All ELT's fired. But they are "confident that the integrity issue was strictly RL division". Now what do you want chemistry to be?

10/20/2007 11:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A long time ago (30 years) in a place far, far away, I was a midshipman on my first class cruise on the now long-retired USS Bainbridge (CGN 25).

When the appropriate time came, I was sent to maneuvering to observe. After entering, I stood and stared at the control panels that were full of 1930's-era meters and a soon-to-be shiny-faced computer science major ...naturally figured I'd been set up: nothing, and I mean Nothing was digital.

My quick, serious and briefly silent assessment at the time was: "What kind of moron do these guys think I am to believe that this is the nerve center of one of the military's front-line nuclear power plant control stations?"

So, deciding to further the cause of midshipmen everywhere being used for something other than searching for "relative bearing grease," I quite literally stood there and asked them as kindly as I could to stop pulling my leg and point me in the direction of real there was no way that this totally analog, clunky-control-switched, Harley-Davidson-like throw-back of technology was what I was looking for.

A couple of years later, in 688 newcon, I...along with the entire rest of my now fellow-nukes...spent a whole lot of time in the immediate vicinity of a near identical panel that looked a whole lot like this.

My point: By now the nuclear Navy has moved on and put most if not all of the 1930's-era instrumentation in the Smithsonian -- where it certainly belonged 20 years ago. But...given the gist of this most recent seems that it continues to use archaic, highly manual technology when it comes to monitoring and managing the work center that we're all talking about.

It would seem that seriously investing in some modern technology would go a long ways toward improving the integrity, results and "chemistry" of this too-long on-going situation.

10/21/2007 9:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the previous anonymous post, integrity depends on your organizational culture and the individual character of each of your personnel, not on how modern your equipment is.

I'd love to see better equipment design as much as the next guy, but this isn't the place to raise that banner.

This *is* a good opportunity to question why nukes are asked to be completely honest with respect to maintenance, yet administer training programs which are one part binder, one part wink and one part nudge. Nukes are trained from Day One at Power School that leadership must massage test scores to get "acceptable" grade distributions... all while standing beneath posters proclaiming integrity as a core value.

I don't know the details, but it's always an easy bet that this investigation ends with no one above the paygrade of O5 tarnished. After all -- perhaps related to the hypocrisy inherent in ever-growing written and "unwritten" administrative requirements -- the Submarine Force has firmly established through previous investigations that accountability rarely extends beyond the CO and never extends beyond the Squadron. Otherwise the paperwork just becomes too hard.

10/21/2007 11:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of integrity, a number of years ago, an SSN conducted a normal surfacing operation. Because the surfacing operation was conducted incorrectly, the SSN later inadvertently submerged from its "surfaced" condition, almost running aground in water about 100 meters deep. Fortunately the bridge was not manner at the time or the SSN could have been lost.

A subsequent investigation signed by the Squadron Commodore effectively found the SSN's Commanding Officer blameless.

Say again all after "subsequent investigation"?

10/21/2007 11:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Submarine Iconoclast's points-well-taken on the integrity issue: it wouldn't hurt if the two-lettered responsible organization would take a time-out for some basic leadership courses.

When was the last time that they wrote a letter of commendation, or pinned-on a NAM or NCM or MSM, for someone who blew the whistle on a seriously FUBAR situation that they should have fixed long ago...?

Once the laughing subsides, think about it: have these guys ever done anything except publicly disembowel anyone who's pointed out a seriously screwed up situation in their area of responsibility? I think not.

10/21/2007 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats the old nuke joke, ask et what 2+2 is they say 4 ask em 2+2=4 ask mm(i was one) 2+2=5 ask elt what 2+2 is they ask what do you want it to be or something along that line. Hampton Plankowner

10/21/2007 8:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess is the 'pink', based on the 1.5 hr time requirement. Since that is done with a periodicity that other watchstanders would know (EOOW, EWS), my guess it wasn't the required one, but the check chem for proficiency. I am also assuming that other boats will get busted. I hope this is the case, because there really would be no risk to the boat.

10/22/2007 6:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former nuke ET who read for countless primary samples, I am racking my brain trying to remember all the primary analyses. I came up with a bunch but none that sounded like "pink". Anybody give me a hint?

PB Sterling
ET1/SS SSN 751

10/22/2007 10:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the check chemistry requirements are exactly what was missed here. Even the worst ELT wouldn't blow off samples for a year (or a month as reported at other sites). Forged CO signature.... Think about it, the RCA is supposed to be checked periodically (with the "ENGINEER" present). The check on the RCA is usually blown off to some degree (and usually the Eng defaults to the LELT to witness the check). My guess is they forgot to do their quarterly checks on the ELTs, including the RCA. They realized a month later and tried to "radio" the checks. However, the Engineer didn't buy into it. At this point, COs initials (for review) were already mysteriously their.

On a side note, don't you love hwo the press is equating this to the Air Force moving nuke warheads!

10/22/2007 10:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you former guys are not going to "remember" the analysis in question because it is a new additive that is sampled for monthly. And yes, from what I have heard, the ELTs did blow off this analysis for 1 year. I also heard that when the CRA when to Admiral's Mast, he dropped dimes on the entire ship (fore and aft) which is one of the things that lead to the current situation. HAMPTON can't even load potable water without CSS-11 permision and supervision.

10/22/2007 11:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only signatures that I remember getting from the CO were for RAM transfers and inventories. There were a couple of tricky inventory periodicities for the Rx core that were easy to miss. Nothing really worth forging, though.

p.s. Zinc rhymes with pink.

10/23/2007 7:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former nuke on both 688 and 726 class subs, I can say this is not suprising. ELT's have always been thought of as shady. The new digital analysis equipment being installed would have alerted people to this fraud.

10/23/2007 10:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was an ELT for 11 years, and I did not know everyone thought we were "shady".

BTW 2+2 can be anything you want it to be.

10/23/2007 3:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that ORSE is a joke running unrealistics drills that never happen and reviewing records no one really cares about! Nuke training is a joke you have weekly exams with the one token failure (new guy) or your average is too high or too low and you still train so many hours a week you can barely get your real work done. Work it may shine it must. "24 year nuke" and glad to be done with it!

10/23/2007 4:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ORSE isn't at joke! Its a chance for "shady" people to catch other "shady" people. These are the people who not to long ago were being "shady" themselves and teaching others how to be "shady". Wonder how they always know just where to look?

10/23/2007 8:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, as it turns out, ORSE is a joke...or two.

10/23/2007 10:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, help me out here... I am a former ELT, albeit on a target.
IF the posters on the blog are correct and it was a newer test for rhymes with pink (not one I had to do), that would imply that all the other samples are taken.
If you are in the sink anyway, why miss one of X samples...?


10/24/2007 8:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few comments re the Navy Times article:

"Nuclear personnel aboard the submarine Hampton have been punished for lax safety procedures and for forging log books to cover their tracks, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation."

**Well actually, they're being punished for getting caught.

"The accusations are already sending shockwaves through the tight-knit Navy nuclear community, which prides itself on its devotion to nuclear safety rules and regulations."

**... and not getting caught.

“During a routine review ... [the crew’s] conduct of procedures, although found to be safe, fell short of high Navy standards,” Submarine Squadron 11 officials said in a release Myrick provided to Navy Times. Those “standards” relate broadly to operations, record keeping, training and qualifications, she said."

** She was specific so as to dispel any notion that high standards might apply to women that submariners may take home at closing time.

"It’s not that it’s dangerous at the instant. Blowing off the chem sample that day isn’t what’s dangerous..."

** Blowing off ORSE can cost you your birthday, however. And blowing the Old Man's retirement can cost you your naught bits.

As I most diligently defended AMR2UL from empty coffee pot casualties one night, I heard the ELT tell the EOOW "You can review my Chem Add if you want, but I'm just gonna add whatever I want to, so why not just sign off?"

Gotta love those ELTs!

10/24/2007 1:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel for the ELTs in the nuke community a former ELT it is going to become rather painful for the rest of them...I don't think anyone would have blazed off logs for a year...maybe for a week or two tops...

10/24/2007 3:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ELT who cares you all are basing your assumptions on a group who don't represent the majority. That old saying what do you want it to be retired with most of you. I have been fighting it since I became a "Superior Mechanic and God Like". I am sure if any one else was placed under a microscope as much as we are you would be surprised at the things found. Furthermore if you knew of any integrity issues in your day with us, then your integrity is just as much in question as their's.

10/24/2007 3:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a currently serving LELT, I can see that many of you don't have much of an idea how RL division works. Sure, you may be able to rattle off a list of chemical analyses, but you have no earthly idea what they real purpose of performing them is. Same goes for the radiological side. No one gives a rat's ass about radcon but RL div, and maybe the engineer and CO. RL division as a whole is held to a higher standard than any other division onboard a submarine. We are the smallest division onboard, but we generate by far the most paperwork. We own more auditable programs than the rest of the engineering divisions combined. Our jobs get harder every month. Every time you see an App.1 ZOZZ, that means there are some new requirements for documenting surveys, reading TLDs, controlling RAM, or analyzing samples. Commands expect perfection when it comes to RL Division programs, and when some guys fall behind, they make bad decisions like falsifying records. I will personally step to the plate for any of the guys in my division if their integrity is brought into question, they log what they get. It took me a while to train them the right way, but that's where we're at now. There's none of this "what do you want chemistry to be" crap on my boat. "Back in the day," ELTs got a bad reputation because they did blaze stuff off. Those days are long gone and the ELTs on submarines now shouldn't have to suffer from the past or a few morons on one boat.

10/25/2007 5:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have stirred the ELT nest. The stigma comes from not doing Surveys for a year(happened). Mabye from "Correcting ERC's" that have errors. Or even losing a TLD, getting a new one, faking the numbers/New ERC and only getting 1mrem for the month while standing watch in ER Fwd. Can you say "oops I forgot to expose the TLD or I would have got away with it". Not saying that the other divisions are angels but......
Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has feathers. ITS A DUCK.

10/25/2007 10:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! It's not just the Nuke's that have a problem. It's the Leadership.

What ever happened to that bumper sticker??? PRIDE RUNS DEEP

If you don't like what your doing vote with your feet and "un-volunteer" Wouldn't be the first time a sailor walked off a boat. You guys sound like a bunch of whining lazy sailors that never learned the difference between right and wrong.

To the all the officers on the
Hampton,your probably a big part of this problem. The only reason the CO is still there is those above him are cowards.

10/25/2007 11:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I posted a set of comments meant to be humor before reading how upset some folks here (rightfully) are. Despite my story (really about an elt scaring a JO) my ELTs were gods. I saw lots of ORSE teams searching our ELT stuff in vain for mistakes. But I’m sure our radlads felt the "Let's make this go away" pressure from time to time. And I know that the stresses of paperwork and hoop jumping have gotten far worse in the eon since I joined Navy Anonymous (We're Trying To Quit). A friend who retired recently has told me that recruiting nukes has been a problem, so add the ever mounting nonsense that guys have to wrestle with to the fact that the training bar has been lowered a bit so as not to fail too many youngsters and you have a problem that is about more than just some guys who made a lousy choice.

Back when I was babysitting the reactor, I violated something we are taught about from very early on in Nuke School. It was a major badness. Throughout his investigation, my CO kept looking at why some of his most senior watchstanders had messed this up. In the end, it was about finding the root of the problem (in our case, an ill-timed watch relief) not about crucifying the guilty. This was a lot better way to find the flaws.

It sometimes seems like the simplest way to deal with things, to keep them quiet. But it can be disastrous. I heard of a guy who was contaminated and chose to keep it quiet with another guy or two. Years later, he got sick (in a way that every nuke would see as a smoking gun) but was hard pressed to prove it was a VA issue, since he had chosen to cover up the incident.

The point is that there is an element of truth in both sides of the back and forth here. Cheating a little makes it easier to cheat a lot, and that can be a real safety/mission issue. Sometimes the cheaters are just slackers. We’ve all known some and they wear all ratings (and for that matter, collar devices). But there are also people who are just buried in work and start down that road as a survival strategy. The trick is for the folks at the top to ask the right question – why – and support those who want to do the right thing.

10/25/2007 11:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

word is co/xo/eng all got fired

10/25/2007 11:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a LELT and spent more than 10 years on fast attack boats. You guys who get offended at comments like "2 + 2 = what you want" need to get a grip. Sure, it's offensive, but there were always some ELTs who took unacceptable shortcuts. Believe me, I thought about most of them, that's how I could catch most of the things that new guys tried to slip by me! The pressure to do "more with less" has always been a big deal with submarines, and what some vets may not understand is that manning levels were reduced in the last 15 or 20 years, so that there is even more pressure.

This kind of thing isn't all news, either. Back in the 1980s there was a boat that radioed pH readings for more than a month, and the whole division (CRA and 5 ELTS) got hammered. The root cause was a problem with poor quality of the electrodes, which many people were aware of but nobody wanted to admit. Again, a bunch of young guys got hung out to dry before anything happened. Everyone was "shocked, shocked" to see that results were being radioed.

When I was LELT, getting people to document what they really added to a SG, instead of making the logs look nice, was always a problem. Most ELTs felt this was easier than trying to explain to an EOOW why the final results came up different. Some people just didn't understand the concept of hideout. It's a lot better in the civilian nuclear world, less pressure to pretend everything is always perfect.

Many of these comments get to the real issue, you have to select and train people of character so that you can trust them with the responsibility, but when the folks in charge are themselves dishonest, you really can't expect the worker bees to be the most ethical and honest folks around. (You reap what you sow, right?) It's something the Navy should really consider very carefully. I hope the investigation isn't limited to just the Hampton, or to ELTs, but rather that someone looks hard at the whole "do more with less" philosophy and what it's doing to our sub crews.

10/25/2007 4:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The FBI lowered thier standards and look what it got them. 9-11.

10/25/2007 4:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

some hot skinny... from a 608 Class nuke IC (what is that?)

LOS ANGELES - The commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Hampton was relieved of his duty Thursday because of a loss of confidence in his leadership, the Navy said Thursday.


Cmdr. Michael B. Portland was relieved of duty after a U.S. Navy investigation found the ship failed to do daily safety checks on its nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission.

"His oversight of the crew's performance did not identify these issues" without an outside inspection, Navy Lt. Alli Myrick, a public affairs officer, told The Associated Press.

It appears from a preliminary investigation on the Hampton that sailors in Submarine Squadron 11 had skipped the required analysis of the chemical and radiological properties of the submarine's reactor for more than a month, even though a daily check is required.

10/25/2007 6:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former "nuke MM", all I can say to the concerned individuals is, "Thanks a lot!"

Up until now I was able to say with some pride I used to be part of this cloak and dagger club (nuke in general, not CRA Div).

You have got to be f'kin kidding me?! A month's worth of labs?! In the field where INTEGRITY was hammered into us each and every day from day one of nuclear training?!

This says a lot for the values individuals coming in these days have.

10/25/2007 10:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RL Div
not CRA.
It's been ten years.

10/25/2007 10:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is easier to cast stones than to look inward and sometimes you don't want to look inward for fear of what you might find out about yourself. As a former ELT who later served as an Engineer, the one thing I do know is that all the facts are not out there for public consumption, and probably never will be. You can speculate on what may or may not have happened, and this is certainly the forum for that, but none of us speaks from a strong base of knowledge on this issue. The bottom line is that this crew (not just ELTs) adopted a culture that all of us recognize as unacceptable, and the chain of command allowed that culture to persist either by actively supporting it or by benign neglect. The reason issues like this go unnoticed is because people who are supposed to uphold the standard don't demonstrate the importance of it by showing interest in it.

The CO is the man. He is accountable for everything that happens on his watch. That is the Navy way, and has been for a long time. Every man who has served as CO recognizes this, and no one who has not served can grasp the ramifications of it. The CO should go down - he has failed his crew.

Many of the programs and requirements that are in place are designed to be able to demonstrate to the public that we can operate our ships safely. The public doesn't care about whether we have missed a sample, but they do care if we can't keep all the bad stuff inside the hull. We have to be able to prove that we have done everything correctly. You can easily convince yourself that what you are doing does not matter. We do not have to understand the reason for each thing we do (how many of you with civilian jobs now know all about why you do what you do?), but we do have to do it as part of job. Whatever happened to pride in doing the job correctly?

10/25/2007 10:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My question is...Where is the Goat Locker? As a 688 EDMC, this, and other situations like are leadership issues. The wardroom is not the place from where leadership should originate. There is a serious problem in the Nuke CPO community.

10/26/2007 6:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, NR is taking a lot of crap in the above comments, but an oversight organization, out of the normal Navy chain-of-command, is the *only* reason the NNPP does not have its own SL-1 or TMI-2 stories.

When there's a problem with the plant, and some Zero trying to make admiral says say "Suck it up and get out there", it's *NR* who steps in with a sanity check: "not until its fixed & safe". If the $500 switch is safer than the $5 one, NR orders the more expensive part - they're not worried about shaving a few bucks off the budget to try and get a NAM. And, with all the pressure to do more with less, how well trained do you think the operators would be without an independent evaluation? If they could cut the nuke pipeline in half (to save money of course - it's a "lean" thing), they would in a heartbeat.

Be glad NR exists - its why NNPP is welcome in ports the world over.

10/26/2007 8:04 AM

Blogger sydwynd said...

My wife linked me here when she saw the article and sent it to me. I'm a former Nuke officer from USS Bainbridge and spent many a share of my days doing spot checks of these analyses. I also happen to be a chemist, so I took more than a passing interest in the processes. While I've had many an ELT tell me they could make the numbers look like whatever you want, I must say that there was a serious lack of oversight on the entire chain of command for something like this to occur. Start with the DIVO and Chief for letting it happen. What about watch officers? They should have been spot checking. Who was reviewing the logs outside the division? And what ever happened to professionalism? I've been out a while now, but I recall the vast majority of nukes had too much pride in what they did to let something like this seriously happen. Sure, we all bitched about stuff, but at the end of the day we got our jobs done.

10/26/2007 11:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The incessant questioning of "How could this happen?" is ridiculous. Lets consider the facts:

- HAMPTON completes a DMP (Depot Modernization Period) in 13 months, changing everything onboard from SONAR and Fire Control to Reactor Instrumentation. During this time, her crew is working 12-15 hour days, and some weekends, in order to assist the shipyard in completing the repairs as efficiently as possible.
The reward: When HAMPTON's CO points out obvious flaws by shipyard labor, he is told that his ship is now his, and he'll have to make the repairs himself, on the governments dollar. Shipyard politics don't allow the Navy any room to complain.

- HAMPTON charges forward, and completes an ORSE, BSA (Basic Submarine Assessment), and TRE (Tactical Readiness Evaluation), all with grades of Average or Above Average, in 10.5 months, 2 months less than required.
Her reward: Assignment to San Diego, no time to allow crew members a break to leave the boat to move their families. The Navy, constrained by cost overruns in other areas, needs HAMPTON in the Pacific.

- HAMPTON goes on a 6-month...oops, 7 month deployment. HAMPTON is promised a 2 month standdown, a promise quickly rescinded by the Squadron into a 6-week standdown...a promise that eventually turns into a 2.5 week standdown, with almost half of her crew not properly moved in by the Navy. Plus, limited assistance by the eastern squadron allows the Personnel Support Department (PSD) to blow off HAMPTON sailors who travel cross country with letters from the CO saying they can get their personal goods ASAP. They are told by a civilian worker "They'll have to make an appointment."

- During deployment, HAMPTON never gets an extended availability to repair damage to equipment. In fact, due to her transfer from fleets, Squadrons on both coasts refuse to commit funds or other help. Contact is minimal with squadron until ORSE preps come up.
Reward: Where squadron oversight earlier could have helped nip problems at the bud, HAMPTON is forgotten, allowing one or two bad apples onboard in senior positions to screw things up even more.

Every sailor, enlisted and officer, onboard HAMPTON worked their butt off to get the ship underway, on-time and on-budget. So far, the Navy's reward was minimal, if even existent.

There is no excuse for integrity problems in the Navy, but neither is there an excuse for the ridiculous excess of requirements by Navy chain of command and NR on submarine operations, without appropriate compensation in training, manpower, or time.

Thought: How many of you have exceeded the speed limit after getting through a construction zone, justifying it in your head as "necessary?" What about lying on your taxes, if ever slight, because you were too busy to find the right documents, or figured the government was screwing you anyway? If these simple things cause you to skirt integrity, how much more the temptation must be when you're stressed out and overworked?

I challenge every one reading this to think of the HAMPTON sailors as real people, trying to do their best as constrained by the US Navy and Naval Reactors oversight, and as any group of people, sometimes a bad apple or two comes in and is missed for some time. Get off your high horse, and step down to the reality all of us live in.

10/26/2007 3:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure has been a while, and things haven't changed a bit. I've been there, as an ELT on an '88 and a RCSS on a tender.

All I can say is WOW! Primaries are sacred.

But I do have stories; and they are all mine, and only mine....

10/26/2007 8:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Anonymous (10/26, 3:55PM) really sets the stage for the completely predictable: no one in DC or at TYCOM, and certainly no Flag Officer, is ever culpable for bad things happening. Submariners prove our toughness by always getting the job done even when the guys on the beach set us up for failure - and anyone who says differently is just a whiner. Meanwhile, let's hand out eagles, stars and/or sweet contractor jobs to the guys lucky enough not to be standing (on sea duty) when the music stops.

Just like virtually every other incident report written: nothing here is new and nothing here has happened for the last time.

10/26/2007 9:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former ERS/RCSS/EWS/COW/QAS who retired in 1998 (594's/726 and an AS), I will have to side with the one who posted the comment @ 3:55 on 10/26. The crew on fast boats are people too and after getting expected to take it take it and take it some more ad infinitum without support in return, I can see where things would get difficult to say the least. On one hand I understood the need for all the various checks & procedures but on the other hand I would still see people standing in a circle arguing about how to wipe up water. I am proud I got through nuke training (even though I wonder how), got to serve as a nuke and feel grateful I got to leave the program with everything intact (at least on the outside). As for my brothers who work with the "shaft back aft", hang in there! The time will come when you can go walk off the boat one last time or continue to punch holes in the ocean and help keep this country free.

10/26/2007 10:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former Hampton sailor, I dealt with the CO for about a year. He deserves everything that is happening to him. He should have listened more closelsy to the check out I did with him. Maybe all this could have been avoided, and prevented.
As for the sailors that were found guilty, they did what any other human being would have done to survive that boat. It was eventually going to hit rock bottom, and it did. The CO wanted every thing his way and would not listen to the "Goat Locker" at all. You know it is the Chiefs who run the boats, not the officers.


10/27/2007 10:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To any current squids feeling shafted, just look around at the current opportunities in commercial nukes. At a bare minimum, you can start for no less than $65k/year. If you've got a degree and/or EWS, more like $120k/year. The renaissance is coming - keep your eyes and wallets open.

10/27/2007 3:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above poster... As an 11 year ELT/EWS I will agree that the renaissance (or at least a lot of retirements from the civilian plants) is coming... but those numbers are not what I would consider accurate. I was just hired by a civilian plant and I am not going to make over 65k without overtime... now with overtime, I should make about 85k (fingers crossed). I was hired on as a NEO or Aux operator with the expectation (from the company) that I would go into Reactor Operator/Senior Reactor Operator training within the next 3 years... only then will I be in the range of making 6 figures without mad overtime. Maybe some plants up in the Northeast and Northern Midwest start for a little more... but the cost of living is MUCH higher than here in the South. Is it better than the Navy? Yes for me it would be much better even for 50k... mostly because of things I have seen/heard that are very Hampton Roads-esque.

On topic... I don't appreciate the rampant ELT beating that goes on in the nuke ranks, but some of it is deserved... and all that is deserved is due to simple human laziness. Those of you who are defending the specific ELTs on the HR either don't know what you are talking about or you have some very lame priorities. From what I hear trickling in, this wasn't just "fudging" a number or massaging some data to delay having to do an add... this was not PERFORMING the pri chem analysis (all of them)for a month. This is nothing more than gross laziness.... it is also not some kind of mistake... since the whole procedure has to be called into maneuvering as valves are manipulated... so every day for 30 days or more at least one of them called in all of the valves and punched a bunch of fake numbers into the computer so they could print out a FAKE log to get it reviewed by the watch officer. All to save themselves from about an hour of work each day.

Now you can compare this to going over the speed limit if you want to... but when I was an ELT (about 2 months ago) I used a very simple rule to keep myself on the straight and narrow... I always tried to do the job in such a way that I could be proud if my kids were watching me and learning from my example. My conscience doesn't bother me when I go 5 miles over the speed limit with the kids in the car. But I would be damned before I let them see me lie about doing the primary job I was tasked with, just so I could spend an extra hour sitting on my ass in the Nuc lab.

As for the rest of the "justification" that was posted above, I was on the NIMITZ when it refueled, got kicked out of the SY early, changed homeports from Norfolk to Sand Dog, went through 9/11, went on an 8 month underway... Yet somehow neither I, nor anyone I worked with, ever felt the necessity to "blow in" a primary. If the reports I am hearing are true, then the HR guys are "real" people alright... real lazy, real stupid people.

10/27/2007 10:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if there is any confusion created by my ignorance of the name of the boat in the above post. There is no edit function here and I just realized the name is USS Hampton.... not the Hampton Roads as I thought. My sentiments however, remain unchanged.

10/28/2007 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that very few of the active-duty guys are jumping on the HAMPTON dogpile, while the further removed posters are from service and therefore from accurate information about what really happened, the more willing they are to self-righteously attack the individuals involved.

I'll just be interested to see the final results of the investigation.

10/28/2007 10:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prior Anon @ 10/28/2007 10:33 AM:

That's an emotional response you're having...but not an honest one.

As one example against your statement, my 10-year experiences were 20 years ago. I don't think you'll find my posts beating up Hampton at all...quite the opposite.

As another example against your point, the "MM(SS) CWO NRRO" appears to be active duty, and for all I know he is still kicking the jackboot at Hampton via loud-mouthing at the local NRRO.

What I have noticed is the wide disparity between those who are quick-to-shoot, and those who are quick-to-get-facts-first. I don't see that time-out-of-service has anything to do with it, but, rather, lots of frustration with the lack of info that's been released...which is leading some to hip-shoot with what extremely limited info is available.

Everyone needs to go to the direct source information on this story to find out what has actually been factually released by the Navy. The short answer is: not much. Not yet.

On the other hand, we have the Navy Times article that created this tempest in a teapot, whose lead reporter is "Gidget" (I kid you not...go look), which has its last updated report referring to all of this in the top paragraph as an issue of lax "safety" procedures. In terms of facts, it all goes downhill from there.

That sort of highly inaccurate hyperbole is simply yellow journalism of the worst kind. Moreover, if this all comes back to "the pink" as being the only 'serious' issue, my personal assessment of this incident will be that the Navy has truly lost its collective mind.

Since when have good submariners -- active and former -- been so quick to make judgments before getting all the facts? If the guys on Hampton had truly engaged in sabotage as some have claimed here, they'd be up on charges for that.

Speaking for myself, if the facts change I'll change my mind then and there...but not one minute before that.

10/28/2007 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am anon from 10/27 10:59 and I guess I fall into the quick to shoot category simply because I have gotten all the info I can and as the ex-eng pointed out there is not much that is official. As far as regular on the street journalism is concerned, this story is dead... the Nav has said all it is going to say about this to the public and that makes sense to me ... in reality it makes little difference to the general public.

However, since I have heard more than one ELT brag openly over the years about EXACTLY the type of thing I postulated in my earlier post, I think it is plausible that my information is correct. Also, relieving the CO for missing a couple of "pinks" is extremely unlikely, my speculation (based on the grapevine) is additionally probable. There was certainly more going on here than a missed "pink" or two.

We will all know for sure when the incident report comes out.

As far as the idea that those who have separated/retired have all gotten religion theory... well... here's an experiment, if you are on board a boat and you have gotten a new ELT in the last 2 years from Charleston, ask them what the 626 NTA ELT told them about integrity and doing the right thing in circumstances just like this. I have been preaching this very "uncool" message for a long time... Mainly because I was SICK of the reputation we ELTs have gotten.

More than anything, the long "justification" post above really got to me. Please, by all means tell me they made a mistake or screwed up... just don't tell me they had to falsify logs because they had a lame CO or a bad underway or the Navy screwed them on their change of homeport.

That's irrelevant. And everybody knows it.

10/30/2007 10:34 PM

Blogger Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

Anonymous wonders why less active duty personnel are dogpiling the Hampton than retirees or ex-bubbleheads. I was wondering that too. Last I checked incompetence and dereliction of duty were not virtues to be admired, let alone tolerated.

11/02/2007 6:50 PM

Blogger SSNwife said...

What makes a Great COB? I am looking for feedback from as many as possible, this seems likes a good place to start. Can you tell me what made your best COB, the best? What did he do different that the worst COB you've had? If you could tell a future COB "Hey, you really should give some attention to XYZ", what would you say? I'm very new at this blogging thing, please bear with me. ...and, I agree many of your GMTs are taking up valuable time. The FFSC is under Navy contract to count as many heads as possible, not enough people, no contract. That is why they push their programs so much. Anyway, thanks, and I would love to hear all opinions and feedback.

11/13/2007 8:20 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home