All the stuff we've been talking around in the thread below this one
is pretty much out in the open now in this Navy Times article
According to one source with knowledge of the investigation, the central problem involves how often sailors analyzed the chemical and radiological properties of the submarine’s reactor, which is typically checked daily.
During preparations for the boat’s Operational Reactor Safeguard Examination, which is typically conducted as a nuclear submarine ends its deployment, officials discovered that the sailors hadn’t checked the water in at least a month, and their division officer, the chemistry/radiological controls assistant, knew it, the source said.
They also learned that the logs had been forged — or “radioed,” in submarine parlance — later to cover up the lapse and make it look as though the sailors had been keeping up with required checks all along...
...Referring to the chemical levels, another former submarine commander added: “It’s not that it’s dangerous at the instant. Blowing off the chem sample that day isn’t what’s dangerous, but the operational philosophy adopted by people who would do that, if applied to the other aspects of operating the nuclear propulsion plant watch stations or other aspects of the submarine, could be dangerous. That’s what’s scary. Besides, why the hell wouldn’t you check the chem levels? First, that’s the ELT and the CRA’s job. Second, it takes about an hour and a half each day to do it. Third, you’re on a submarine, so it’s not like you’re going to get away with doing nothing on your free time.”
The Navy had to expect that the story would get out sooner or later -- too many people are just flabbergasted at what supposedly happened. (I should point out at this time that I don't absolutely know if what was described here is what actually happened -- I've only heard rumors, and I was certainly not one of the sources quoted, even though the story does link back here.) If this is what happened, though, I think it's important to realize that this is almost certainly an isolated instance. In any division, you'd only need one guy with integrity to nip a problem like this in the bud. The odds of having 5 or 6 guys all deciding to throw away everything we do as submariners are fairly low -- before this, I would have said the odds were infinitesimally small.
So, has there ever been a time that you were the "one switch" in the chain that kept something really bad from happening? One of those "I did good, but I sure can't put this in my fitrep/eval" type of moments? I had a few (found five or six Weapons guys lowering a guy in a safety harness headfirst into a VLS tube with a couple feet of water at the bottom so he could retrieve a dropped tool, for one) but nothing like what any of these RL Div guys on the Hampton
could have done. The whole situation just breaks my heart.Update
0911 22 Oct: And here's where it gets bad
-- the story migrates out from a publication that is aimed at and at least talks to people who "speak the language" and into the the general media. Distortion and hyperbole follow. Here are some excerpts from the AP story
that's on the wires this morning (for added fun, count the factual errors and misrepresentations in the story!):
In the case of the Hampton, it appears from a preliminary investigation 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...
...Other members of the squadron discovered the lapse during a routine examination required as part of the redundancy built into the system so that problems are caught, he said. The examination was done as the submarine was nearing the end of a West Pacific deployment, which was completed Sept. 17...
...A nuclear powered fast attack submarine, Hampton is the most advanced nuclear attack submarine in the world, carrying a torpedo, cruise missile, and mine-laying arsenal, according to information on its Web site...
...The reported problems with procedures and record keeping in the Navy squadron comes just after the Air Force disciplined some 70 airmen in the B-52 incident...
I'm not sure how they got from the Navy Times
article that squadron members were the ones who blew off the chemistry analyses -- unless the AP writer normally covers the Air Force and doesn't understand the difference between a "squadron" and a "ship". And of course they'd try to link it to the recent Air Force nuclear weapons problems
, which, let's face it, were much, much, much worse than the Hampton
problem in the whole scheme of things.Update
1142 22 Oct: Well, the story
hit the CNN.com front page, so now the solid contents of the san tanks are really going to get blown into the ventilation system's rotating machinery.