"Believe Your Indications"
One of the overriding principles pounded into Submariners from the time we start training is the idea that you should, in the absence of overwhelming evidence that there's something wrong with it, "believe your indications". It's not only gauges -- it can be something as obvious as an abnormal noise in the reduction gears that starts very soon after a periodic inspection.
According to an article in Navy Times (not yet online) that's based on their review of the command investigation obtained via a FOIA request, USS Georgia (SSGN 729) somehow ended up with a loose bolt in their reduction gears after an inspection, and then, "(i)gnoring standard operating procedures and common sense, the crew kept turning the engines and shaft at varying speeds over the next two days in a vain effort to find the cause". Repairs efforts by TRF, although lauded for their quickness, still kept Georgia from participating in the NATO efforts in Libya last year, in addition to costing $2.2 million. Excerpts from the article:
But when Georgia was preparing for its Dec. 28, 2010, inspection, none of the technicians or supervisors reviewed the maintenance procedures in detail prior to starting, the report said.The article also says that an officer and a "senior Sailor" lost their jobs, and several others were masted.
Other findings: Oversight was insufficient, the inspection was performed without a sense of urgency, and participants had not been trained for the procedure.
Capt. Tracy Howard, then-commodore of Submarine Squadron 16, wrote in his review of the investigation: “I conclude the ship demonstrated inadequate sensitivity to the risks inherent with a MRG inspection, as manifested by the inadequate preparations, supervisory presence and imprecise execution, which directly resulted in foreign material introduction.”
The sub’s remedy — continuing to turn the shafts after an abnormal noise was heard — made the situation worse.
When I was Eng, one of the most boring things I did was personally supervising reduction gear maintenance and inspections -- and in the shipyard, there were a lot of those. Still, I recognized that the requirement to have the Eng present when the gears were open were one of those Navy rules that was written in blood and treasure. Some of them seem silly (and I'll admit, I didn't enjoy the catcalls from the crew whenever another officer and I would transport "Two Person Control" material through the ship), but I generally agreed with the rules that, to an outsider, might seem stringent beyond all sense of necessity. The sea (or the enemy) can kill you too quickly if you make a mistake that these rules are designed to prevent.
That being said, which submarine safety and maintenance control "rules" did you think were just too ridiculous? (One of the few I always thought was kind of over-the-top was the requirement to have all references -- even the general "don't piss on live electrical wires" manual -- present at all RC Div maintenance.)
Update 15 May 0503: The online version of the Navy Times article referenced above is here.