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.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

USS Nebraska Accident Report Completed

Navy Times is reporting that the Navy has released some preliminary information from the investigation into the tragic death of MM3(SS) Michael Gentile aboard USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) (Blue). Excerpts:
A Navy investigation into the Sept. 20 death of a submariner found that the sailor got himself into a deadly situation aboard the ballistic missile submarine Nebraska...
...Gentile, of Waterville, Maine, had gotten caught and stuck in the rudder ram, which lies in the submarine’s aft section, during a cleaning evolution.
The investigation report was completed by the Silverdale, Wash.-based Submarine Group-Trident under the Judge Advocate General’s Manual.
“It has been determined that while performing routine watchstanding duties, Petty Officer Gentile disregarded posted safety warnings, which ultimately led him to become pinned between the rudder ram and nearby stationary equipment,” officials said in a statement released Wednesday...
Without further details, it's hard to determine where the truth lies. My own experience is that if a boat is planning on doing cleaning in Shaft Alley while underway, you station a phone-talker with direct comms to Control to verify everyone is clear before moving any control surface. If, on the other hand, they weren't specifically cleaning in Shaft Alley, you have to trust in the posted warnings and training.

Update 1725 26 Nov: The article has been updated and expanded since I first posted about it; it now also discusses shortcomings found in the command climate, "specifically lack of enforcing safety rules and the cleaning habits and practices in shaft alley, where some sailors had taken to using sticks or bilge grabbers to reach and clean its tight confines." It goes on to say that the CSS-17 has been assigned to determine any additional administrative actions to take against the ship's leadership; this article from the Kitsap Sun, however, says that any such administrative action would not include being removed from duty aboard the ship.


Blogger cheezstake said...

On the 727, we always had a phone talker back in shaft alley. Normally it was a 1st Class A-Ganger or M-div'er.

11/26/2008 2:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just trying to share some facts. Not many pople on the ship other were familiar with the SORM requirements for working near moving equipment. Bet that's now got an asterisk by it on the GMT LRTP. And, as I think has been posted here before, he was the on-watch Aux Aft, just trying to clean up the oil from a leak on the aft end of the rudder ram. Absorbents had been put on the deck, but no one had built a catch under the leak to divert the oil somewhere else. Sorry if I come off as snide, but I'm still pretty pissed off about this whole experience. Just hope the command can take take the appropriate steps to put things right for the future.

11/26/2008 3:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the CO is still in command why?!?!

Run aground, collide or get someone killed and you get fired.

11/26/2008 4:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And the CO is still in command why?!?!"

Answer: SSBN?

11/26/2008 6:03 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Was any officer complaining about the oil back there?

11/27/2008 5:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that rudder ram is like any other rudder ram on any other trident, it was in the ESL, the IMA had been asked to fix it, the ship had generated comments on it during zone inspections, and it was prelisted on the ORSE/TRE hit list.

Short answer: YES.

11/29/2008 6:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a retired A-ganger on fast boats (SSN 681), old boomer (SSBN 644)and trident (SSBN 742), I can tell you that the officers I had to deal with had the mentality that "oil was to be in the pipes not on the deck". I agree with cheezstake about the phone talker that was our policy also. But, during field day everyone on or off-watch was expected to clean in their area or watch station. We will also never know what untold statement (orders) from the higher ups about keeping the area clean was given to the watchstanders int he engine room especially if the oil leak was bad or getting worst. We all know the CYA approach if something goes wrong.

Hopefully some mentality changes will come this about field days and deep cleaning.

My prays to his family and the crew of the "Big Red".

12/02/2008 5:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CO is being relieved next week. It was moved up some months in advance.

1/05/2009 11:17 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know shipmates.. This story shocks me! I found this site while I was showing a civilian friend stories about serving aboard our boats and the professionalism of the crews etc. I'm jabbed a lot because I use to make my brokers repeat my requests like we do.. LOL they loved it after a while.. "give me a fire control solution on X client or deal" meant, tell me how we are going to close this deal! - we didn't make mistakes!
Forgive my emotions, I just read this story.
I served as a TM3(SS) aboard the Phoenix - 702 from 89-92, and went through the DMP. I'm waiving my respectful bull shit flag on the report. "He disregarded safety warnings, etc." then proceeded to clean up the residual oil from the previous leak, which obviously wasn't bad enough to cause a general alarm..or warrant immediate attention. my point is, no one is going to risk their life to clean something.. just sounds fishy.. did the party working on it fail to put up the necessary safety warnings, and he coincidentally enter the space? Who was really responsible? Its easier to call it an 'accident'. I just have too much respect for our training and procedures to believe this happened. But, how fast it can happen can be told in my dumbass story.. We were mess cranking and gathering stores from the 21 man berthing storage area for breakfast, but did not put the safety grate over the hatch since it wasn't there, and it was 0330 anyway. Who would be up anyway in a PO1/2(SS) only birth?... pretty scary when a STS2 rolls out of his rack and the deck isn't there, and FALLS straight down through the hatch and lands by you... could have accidentally killed him! That screwed me up for a while. I had never almost seriously hurt someone before. After that rude awakening, and when I finally got my dolphins I added to my list of other collateral duties, divisional safety PO. Again, accidents happen usually because of carelessness, but not when performing a procedure by the book or witnessing danger signs.. not on a sub, a skimmer, yes. Not a boat!

2/12/2009 2:25 AM

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