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, March 15, 2010

Brit Submariners Reprimanded

It looks like the Royal Navy leaves their submarine officers who crash their boats dangling in the wind a bit longer than we do. Here's a story about the court-martial of the former CO of HMS Superb (S 109) that grounded while running submerged in the Red Sea in May 2008. Excerpts:
The hearing heard that the three officers had failed to notice on a chart that they were heading towards a pinnacle that rose to 132m as the submarine travelled in about 1,000m of water in the Red Sea.
Cpt Stuart Crozier, prosecuting, told the hearing that when the submarine collided with the pinnacle, the vessel was brought to an almost immediate halt...
...Cpt Crozier said: "The submarine collided with the underwater obstacle reducing its speed from 16 knots to three knots in a very short time...
...She said Cdr Drysdale, who has served in the navy for 25 years, had inspected the chart but had misread the depth of the pinnacle as 723 metres rather than 132 metres.
Interestingly, it looks like the Navigator is continuing his career in submarines. Glad to see the Royal Navy understands the concept that people can learn from their mistakes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learn from a mistake? A mistake is being 5 minutes late for a meeting due to poor planning. A mistake is the wrong date on a form or a misspelled word. Hazarding a war ship and putting a crew’s safety in extremis and peril is criminal negligence.

3/15/2010 6:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, sevens DO kind of look like ones if you don't study the charts.

who placed a lot of trust in the quartermasters

3/15/2010 6:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brit subs dont use QMOWs, the OOD does it all. This makes the Nav's obvious failure all that more glaring.

3/15/2010 6:38 PM

Anonymous ret.cob said...

Hey, Nav, could you double-check that seven? Make sure it isn't actually a one, if you please. Our PIM track takes us right over it. Thanks, mate.


3/15/2010 6:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say oh chap, maybe we should have the hull cleaned, we appeared to have slowed down somewhat and that loud noise transient appears to be own ship. I hate it when we make simple mistakes. COX to the con, the CO has shat himself, is sucking his thumb and is in the fetal position and he is mumbling something about attending bloody truck driver school. These simple mistakes always happen. What are all those red lights and alarms sounding in maneuvering? These bloody simple mistakes.

3/15/2010 7:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learn from a mistake? Minding one's duty requires neither learning nor re-learning. It requires an expected dose of self-discipline.

In this case, redundancy of error was involved, and the only people who must learn are those fortunate enough to have gotten by with their own inattentiveness short of hazarding another ship, possibly a mission, and certainly the lives of sailors minding individual duties.

Reprimand of HMS Superb's CO serves only to tell the world how thin is the UK's pipeline for sub skippers. What has happened to the senior service?

M.C. Gould, Portsmouth

3/15/2010 9:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The WANKER got what was comming!! From all accounts he had big eyes for the little guy and now its all but a memory. Heard he's Mr. Big at a chip joint theses days.

3/16/2010 4:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the full article notes that the Brit CO admitted his error so all stuff aside, he did what many leaders do not do and actually manned up to it.

3/16/2010 4:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learned from his mistake:

"While Nimitz was a 22-year-old ensign in the Philippines and conning the destroyer Decatur, his ship ran aground on a mudbank. However, he successfully rescued a man overboard when the ship ran into the mudbank. Nimitz was court-martialed and convicted of hazarding a Navy ship and received a letter of reprimand."


3/16/2010 8:22 AM

Anonymous ret.cob said...

Nimitz was an ensign. These guys are running submarines into charted sea mounts at high speed. They're skippers and navigators and OOD's. This is about basic submarining. IMHO, there is no comparison.

3/16/2010 9:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are right, no comparison whatsoever.

3/16/2010 10:03 AM

Blogger Defense said...

Ensign or not, Nimitz was the skipper of the Decatur.

3/16/2010 2:36 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

So true, Nimitz was still an Ensign (not at all unusual for USNA graduates at the time) when he became first CO, of the C-5.

Chester W. Nimitz's assignment to subs was also not something for which he had ever volunteered.
Like many in today's submarine force, Nimitz served his country to the best of his impressive abilities.

Cdr. Drysdale must have been an equal credit to the UK to merit only a final reprimand. As Mr. Gould implied, however, it certainly does not hurt the UK's recruiting.

3/16/2010 2:58 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

We do let people stay on who commit errors. But there has to be a threshold somewhere. Ours it set lower than the Brits, so what. They do a lot of things we are not interested in, and keeping COs in command after egregious errors is apparently one of them.

Your son goes to sea on SFO and the CO/XO/NAV/OOD/QMOW team hits a mountain: you voting to keep them all in their jobs because they goofed? I doubt it.

3/16/2010 3:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont the Brits have a different setup with their submarine officers? They used to have the sub drivers/operators and the engineering officers and they were in totally different career paths. They also used to have the Perisher course which some American officers have completed and the course had a reputation for being very challenging. Have the Brits let their standards slip over the years?

3/17/2010 5:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is it possible that your position would be different had you "bumped" into a submerged seamount?

I served with the guy who went on to skipper the Ray. He was CO when his boat hit the seamount. He was an outstanding leader when I knew him and others afterward must have though as much since he kept his job. I'd bet he has a different viewpoint than yours.

3/17/2010 10:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you served with the CO from the Ray's '77 bump you must have been in the canoe club in the 60s or early 70s. The Ray had a very long surface transit in '77.

3/18/2010 5:55 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Every situation is unique.

The RAY hit an uncharted seamount in an area of relative flatness. The SFO hit a mountain, in an area of reported discolored water, running at flank, in an area of active geologic features and islands that have a surprising tendency to pop up.

The JFC hit a charted seamount.

The GRV hit a fishing boat that they held on sonar and never even tried to spot while at PD for <80 seconds.

There are mistakes, and they are not all created equal. My question is not why the Brit CO was court-martialed, but why no US COs are ever treated the same. Waddle killed 9 people due to criminal negligence, not a mistake, and there was no court-martial.

3/20/2010 2:24 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

To answer the question, of course my tag would be different if I had hit a would be 'ret_@_20_w_no_band'

The brits still have perisher and they still have dual career tracks. What this proves is that no one is bullet proof.

I would like to know the real percentages of the UK Tier 1 events, since they are advertised by the US as better than ours; but I do not know the real numbers.

3/20/2010 2:27 PM

Blogger Rogue Trident said...

To err is human and mistakes must be tolerated. It's how innovation happens and the human race evolves. However, running a submerged submarine aground at high speed due to an oversight that should have been double-checked is unacceptable.

3/21/2010 1:02 PM

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3/31/2010 5:05 AM


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