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.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Russian Sub Force: Mess Up Your Logs, Go To Prison!

Some "details" have emerged on the "cause" of the fire suppression system casualty on RFS Nerpa I posted about earlier. The Russians have charged one of the submarine's watchstanders with entering the wrong temperature data into the ship's environmental system:
The business daily said, quoting a source close to the investigation, that sailor Dmitry Grobov is suspected of having entered the wrong temperature data for the submarine's living quarters, which caused the fire safety system to release Freon gas.
The source said that according to information obtained from the sub's Rotor data block, similar to an aircraft's black-box, "the temperature...increased sharply all of sudden and the fire safety system reacted as programmed."
The daily said that at the time of the incident Grobov was on a scheduled watch and the access code to the fire safety system was written in pencil on the surface of the equipment...
...However, former Navy officers have told the paper they doubt that Grobov was solely to blame as it is impossible for one person to activate the system, which is protected from unauthorized activation by multiple levels of confirmation...
...Investigators earlier announced that they had brought criminal charges against the crew member, and that he faced up to seven years in jail.
"Military investigators have determined the person who activated, without permission or any particular reason, a fire safety system on board the submarine. He is a sailor from the crew, and he has already confessed," Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office, said on November 13.
This is almost too stupid for words. Do the Russians expect people to believe that one incorrect data entry will cause an automated system to engage? Has no one ever heard of a temperature sensor failing high before? Who would design a system to automatically actuate based on one false reading? (OK, you nukes all know about one particular protective action that happens because of that, but we won't discuss that here. It couldn't kill anyone, anyway.) It's becoming apparent that the sub's fire suppression system was put together incorrectly, but the Russians are trying to deflect blame from the shipyard and/or the possible problems inherent in taking over 15 years to construct a submarine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I read that I thought it was a Sailor adjusting the Russian equiv. of a prop. con. (Not that a US Sailor would every adjust temp in berthing without authorization!!)

11/17/2008 7:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some officers would be surprised what equipment is operated or adjusted by Sailors under their "command" without authorization. Sometimes it's just easier to press the "I believe" button!

11/17/2008 8:21 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

You are right, BH, the latest explanation defies reasonable credibility.

If a faulty temp. setting (or even reading) alone could activate a "hazardous to life" fire suppression system, a simple hand-pull station would be far superior (after proper announcement had been made, of course).

There is much we have not been told and we should not hold our breath for reliable answers.

11/17/2008 8:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys need to back off - the Russians clearly know what they are talking about.

It will come out that this sailor not only radioed his log, he also pushed the prominently placed "KILL ALL HUMANS" button, which is right next to the soda dispenser. While I was often tempted to give it a little tap, particularly after a tough drill, i always resisted...

11/17/2008 8:47 PM

Anonymous laughter in manslaughter said...

Damn, I bet the russkies were hoping we wouldn't find out about the "KILL ALL HUMANS" button. This was a major league screw up and while I agree that they are lying about being able to actuate such a dangerous system with one button, these are the idiots who pulled off the Cheronobyl incident.

11/17/2008 9:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Russian version of NCIS probably had his confession ready when they made port. How do you say scapegoat in Russian?

11/18/2008 5:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now if only the Russian had a JAG officer, they could fly in Commander Rabinski and quickly get to the bottom of this incident. Oops, it is probably not best to say bottom when investigating a submarine accident.

11/18/2008 6:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before you discount it completely, think about this: perhaps the system is automated and is activated by
1. Temperature or
2. RATE OF CHANGE of temperature

Sooo, if a technician is adjusting the controller too quickly or erroneously he could send a false fire signal to the actuator.

Any former Akula Sailor lurkers care to elaborate?

(Side note: how many hits do you get from Russia and China Joel?!?!)

11/18/2008 6:18 AM

Anonymous subbubba said...

Completely absent from this discussion is why the masks that the crew and shipyard workers were wearing didn't work properly.

Although some of the shipyard workers may not have worn them properly, that doesn't explain all of them.

11/18/2008 6:37 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Subbubba, a former Russian officer's comments about the respirators was published early on in this tragedy.

He believes training in use of the devices, which another spokesman has termed "complicated", could have been inadequate for the civilians.

As you know, proper training in such things as EABs always entailed practice drills and actual wearing of the devices.

Was time taken to train shipyard workers? Who knows.

11/18/2008 9:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{As you know, proper training in such things as EABs always entailed practice drills and actual wearing of the devices. }

You can't make a yardworker suck rubber.

11/18/2008 9:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't make a yardworker suck rubber.
But you can make him wish he had or least wish he could be doing it now! ;-)

11/18/2008 10:29 AM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

Had an incident on SSBN 610 coming out of overhaul in 1974 Sea Trials. About 115% of crew on board and a whole sh*tload of yard workers.

Someone drops and breaks a case of amonia (or whatever they use in nukeland) and it is quickly picked up by the venilation system all over the boat. Right in the middle of a big spaghetti supper.

The word gets passed for all hands to put on EAB masks. I was the rover in missile compartment and after putting mine on, I had a whole bunch of yard people surrounding me wanting a mask on too. Everybodys eyes were stinging. I passed out every mask in the locker and then looked up and saw 3 or 4 more people than masks. I just shrugged my sholders and continued my rounds. What could I do? A couple of them had a real look of fear on their faces too. Fortuneately, we came up and ventilated.

11/18/2008 1:06 PM

Blogger beebs said...

PLUS, most of the freon's have this effect (from a MSDS)


We lost a guy who was using freon as a degreaser in a valve repair shop on AS-41.

11/18/2008 3:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beebs, just curious, does the MSDS for Halon have the same effects as taht one for freon?

11/18/2008 5:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very confusing...

It sounds at first that they are saying the sailor entered a wrong number as part of his duties. But later in the article it seems they are accusing a watchstander of operating a system that he wasn't supposed to touch.

Here is the only plausible scenario I could see this being truthful: The system is designed to be setup and locked and only manipulated in troubleshooting. What the sailor actually did was adjust the setpoint below normal temperatures. The reason he was able to do so might have been if he had a password that he shouldn't have had and thought it would be funny to "pull the fire alarm". The officers who are defending him might be concerned about the failure of a process where they have some skin in that game.

In any event, it seems that a lack of training and poor design are likely the primary causes.

11/18/2008 7:56 PM


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