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.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"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.
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.
The article also says that an officer and a "senior Sailor" lost their jobs, and several others were masted.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ship was told to not jack in the astern direction by a knowledgeable ENS (LDO)from an outside group. They told him to leave the boat and they didn't want his input. That's when they ate them. TSSBP. There is a larger story here on the outright stupidity of this situation. Somebody from KB muster up and tell the rest of the ridiculous story.

5/10/2012 1:46 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

And the CHENG was present when we opened the reduction gears on the port shaft of the brand new cruiser USS FOX (DLG-33), in which I was then Electrical Officer. Before we went in, he cautioned us all about removing everything from our pockets, etc. Then, the inspection port removed, he leaned over it to peer in and - horror of horrors - watched one of the keepers holding on his gold oak leaf collar device pop loose and gavotte in slow motion towards the opening. Closer and closer it came ... and hit the casing about an inch from the hole, bouncing harmlessly down the outside of the gear housing and into the bilge.

We kept that story inside engineering. But we couldn't keep the skipper from knowing when the same guy stood at eight o'clock reports in our first FAST Cruise and lied that 'all engineering equipment is in commission.' The next day, when FAST Cruise unexpectedly turned into an underway Sea Trials (CO had cut a deal with the yard etc. to actually get the new ship underway), the CHENG had to confess that a main feed pump was OIA. This Academy- and PG-Scol-grad with an excellent previous history did not make O-5 and left the Navy shortly after, demonstrating again that time wounds all heels.

5/10/2012 3:58 AM

Anonymous Laughter in manslaughter said...

"inspection was performed without a sense of urgency". I teach at prototype and we are constantly preaching for there not to be a sene of urgency, so either we're teaching all the nukes wrong, or someone needs to rethink their reasons.

5/10/2012 4:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is always a sense of urgency... just not undue and not when talking in a critique

5/10/2012 4:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The senior sailor referenced was the MLCPO, as everyone can deduce. The really ridiculous part of the story happened much much later

5/10/2012 5:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ENG was also relieved but that was not for several months after the fact which also adds to the ridiculousness of what happened.

5/10/2012 5:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - put up or shut up - what was so ridiculous?

I feel like the police chief in Super Troopers - I swear to God I'm going to pistol whip the next guy who says "ridiculous"

5/10/2012 6:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember this when we were visiting KB for some repairs prior to going to the Pac Fleet. I also heard of a rumor, can not confirm or deny, however I heard that it was intentionally done. They had the whole crew on lock down. It was a very interesting day. I am sure someone knows the real story!

5/10/2012 6:53 AM

Anonymous Curtis said...

When I was CHENG the keys to the MRG were in my safe and I was there whenever they were open. No BS. These were the rare times that I followed the rules and didn't seek to learn new lessons "learned" about dropping shit in the reduction gears.

Didn't do SAS after first ship and was totally and specifically exempted from all TPI BS later on. (CMS2K and later revisions up to present day).

Didn't do well on a 3M inspection so never did one again, or an OPPE. Didn't care for INSURV so refused any more chances for success. There's an UP to be considered for being 19 years forward deployed. FU to Group and TYCOM inspections. Oddly, never failed to sail or missed as much as a single day on task.

5/10/2012 9:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reduction gear inspections were always times for the junior guys to mess the ENG's, MPA's, and MLCPO's collar devices and warfare pins. Upside down and backwards.

5/10/2012 9:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pressurizing the sail from within the ship to test seals around the radar mast. Most times I was underway, the water came from OUTSIDE the ship. It displayed a lack of common sense and basic physical principles.

5/10/2012 10:33 AM

Anonymous STS2 said...

At one point in time we had to set up an electrical safety area complete with the worker in a lanyard to clean the analog comps.

5/10/2012 10:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe not a "ridiculous" requirement, but belonging to the "believe your indications".

When I was Shift Engineer at S5G - NPTU Idaho, rumor had it that one of the toilets seats in the head at A1W was warm to the touch. We all made jokes about the skimmers, etc. etc.

No one ever did anything to look into it and one day an electrical distribution panel blew up. Turns out there was a leak in the facility steam piping (not engineering plant related-there were low pressure steam pipes running around the site) was leaking in a utility trench. Also in the trench was the water supply line (causing the water supplying the head to be hot), and also some electrical lines.

The water ended grounding the electrical supply lines with rather exciting results.

Although, not as exciting as the results from two ELTs filling a death ballon with hydrogen on the mid-shift and letting it go with a fair amount of aluminum foil attached.

5/10/2012 10:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is super old. The fleet has trained on this. Move on.

5/10/2012 1:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duh says -

The stupid thing about this issue is how the fleet over reacted with tons of mandatory training, and retraining, duly documented, then having to inform the ISIC that you when you were going to open the MRGs in case they wanted to do a monitor watch.

The acts of the few Stupid
M-FOs on a ship are Punishing the Rest of us Competent full time Submariners.

TYCOMs get asked "How are we going to prevent this in the future" Response - TRAIN, mandatory and tons of it, monitor watches, briefs, walk throughs, certifications, etc.

Need to put in a chit to supply to order 8 more hours for every day just to the all the stuff done!

5/10/2012 2:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard hats in drydock.

The extra inch added to my height was responsible for my banging my head on all the extra ducting and lights, so I guess it was good that I had it on. It still takes a toll on the neck, though.

5/10/2012 2:34 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

What the heck are reduction gears....I thought they were obsolete?

5/10/2012 2:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the submarine flags are:

Navy Capt. Robert P. Burke has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Burke is currently serving as director, Submarine/Nuclear Power Distribution Division, PERS 42, Naval Personnel Command, Millington, Tenn.

AP Choice - Navy Capt. David J. Hahn has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Hahn is currently serving as major program manager, Submarine Combat and Weapons Control Systems, PMS-425, Program Executive Office for Submarines, Washington, D.C.

Navy Capt. Charles A. Richard has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Richard is currently serving as chief of staff, U.S. Strategic Command, Special Activities Atlantic, Norfolk, Va.

I guess it's going to suck to be at USNA for a couple of weeks!

5/10/2012 2:44 PM

Anonymous Bullnuke said...

Lots of silly things happened at A1W concerning that utility trench as well as the RWDS tunnel some 40-odd years ago. There were more than a few strange cross-connections available, one of which could flush the toilets on the second floor of the admin building while drawing a bubble.... That was a mid-shift to remember.

5/10/2012 3:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/10/2012 3:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Supid work control of the day is having to take 'modified electrical safety' to "work" on any gear less than 30v. Imagine seeing a bunch of nuke ET's dressing up in almost full electrical safety gear just to hook up some voltmeters to a panel.

To add insult to injury, it now requires CO's permission.

I'm curious how many death or serious injury cases the Navy has from this kind of thing. I've heard of all the blatant ones, but they all involve 450v.

Coming soon: full electrical safety suits to work on >300v.

5/10/2012 3:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The senior sailor wasn't the MLCPO (who was also fired) it was the MMCM EDMC who was prior squadron elt and EDMC. And yes both we're fired well after the fact by SUBFOR after they had fixed the problem and gone back out for a SSGN patrol.
And yes this electrical safety stuff is getting ridiculous - a lot of extra work with little value and safety added IMHO.

5/10/2012 4:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange that Capt Hahn was selected for one start since he was in charge of PMS425 while Ralph Mariano was stealing between 10 and 20 million dollars. Previously he was the Captain at Navel Undersea Warfare Center and also was Ralph's boss since Ralph was a NUWC employee that was "loaned" to NAVSEA

5/10/2012 4:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had to fully suit up with lanyard tied around my waist to change the BQH-1 card for the diving officer one time when SQ-17 was onboard doing a TRE... at PD and it was powered off.

Former STS1?SS

5/10/2012 4:38 PM

Anonymous Former Squadron Rider said...

Had to not open my mouth while taking a comment from NRRO at Norfolk Naval Shipyard because my "X" wasn't fully inside the circle.

5/10/2012 8:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, times have changed. Back in the day on usedtafish we used to go single side engineroom about 3 times a week. You had a higher RPM limit if you weren't windmilling a main engine. Therefore, we would disconnect a main engine 3 times a week. You had to open the reduction gear to do so. We had a full FME area, everything on a lanyard, everyone was taped up, everytime, no chance of anyone's collar device falling in?!? But then again, we had the best M division in the fleet ;-0..

5/10/2012 9:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the retards in KB requiring hardhats on the pier at all times? Or family not allowed on the pier due to FP?

5/10/2012 9:10 PM

Anonymous mark/MM1(ss) said...

Wow Mulligan - you really are breathtakingly ignorant. Yes, the worm plasma drive has rendered reduction gears obsolete...

5/10/2012 9:54 PM

Blogger FastAttackChief said...

Definitely the most absurb safety requirement in the fleet right now is electrical safety. I love the fact we have to take full electrical safety to verify equipment deenergized, but it is perfectly acceptable to go verify a multimeter on an electrical socket (>30 volts) with no precautions at all. I especially love the new arc suit we are required to stow on the boats. Like we did not have enough room already to stow all our geodunk in the engineroom.

5/11/2012 2:11 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I ran around the ocean in a submarine with only a huge main motor powering our screw.

I waiting for the day where they convert electricity directly from fuel and it will bypass the whole lot of back aft?

5/11/2012 6:27 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Coming soon: full electrical safety suits to work on >300v.

Already here in utility industry. Including taking voltages on >300 volts requires minimum 25 calorie suit, hard had or hood, face shield, hearing protection, and gloves with leather gauntlets.

5/11/2012 10:58 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

And if you think $2.2 million is expensive for a set of reduction gears, try eight weeks of forced outage costs and a new turbine when some idiot leaves in a roll of paper towels in the piping and it gets sucked into the turbine blading.

5/11/2012 11:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ And that my friends is why midnight maintenance exists. Can't get away with in commercial land, but would imagine it can still be done on the boats.

- Former EM1(SS/DV)

5/11/2012 11:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious.

How do you field day the battery well considering the hazards?

Confined space entry.
Work on energized gear.
Corrosive chemical environment. Toxic gas environment.

Rubber suits?
40 cal Arc Flash suits?
EABs and tethers?


5/11/2012 1:56 PM

Anonymous mark/MM1(ss) said...

Yeah, I figured Mulligan; and do you recall what your top speed was? Why do you think only one was built? This is obvious shit to any former nuc with half a brain...

5/11/2012 8:20 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

So you are now looking at it through the lens of 30 years of history...a so called mistake. It is a whole different situation looking in real time, at a experimental sub through the lens of our technological prowess, with the greatest scientific nation on the planet and the world had very limited fragmentary information about our experimental ship. You never knew what was up the scientific hands of them god dam Americans.

5/13/2012 11:08 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

When we put on our cloaking device we could not be heard?

5/13/2012 12:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mulligan must have Mother's Day off from his janitor's job at the nuke plant.

Mulligan - get out of your mother's basement and spend some quality time with her - and leave the rest of us ALONE!!

5/13/2012 1:28 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

She is 89 years old...she is 90% blind and one of her knees is just about destroyed by arthritis. Sharp as a tack though. My 17 year old son spends lots more time talking to his gamma that he does with my wife and me. They have become vast buddies. They love arguing about sports and politics.

What are you stupid, they won't let me into a nuclear power plant. I am one of the lead people in the USA today advocating broad reforms of the NRC and never have we been closer with getting that realization.

The people running these plants today are leaving the next generation in terrible shape.

5/13/2012 3:55 PM

Anonymous mark/MM1(ss) said...

Just about every tap on your keyboard goes to prove my original point, Mulligan. What's funnier is that you still have no idea why.

5/13/2012 8:13 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Who the hell know what goes on in your head?

5/14/2012 11:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're all so busy slagging off Mulligan that no one's noticed they're going with E-drive for the OHIO replacement. The past is the future.

(Page 11 for those of you with short attention spans)

5/14/2012 2:56 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleted a comment.

5/14/2012 8:24 PM

Blogger scada said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/16/2012 2:59 PM

Blogger scada said...

On my boat, a 637, we were doing a reduction gear inspection and my M-Div Chief wanted all of us to look in to see how the oil was sprayed on the gears etc. My LPO was there at the hatch in the exclusion zone to lift the hatch up so we could look. When he opened the hatch up I got a nose full of the oil fumes and almost threw up into the reduction gears. Needless to say I hightailed it out of there as quick as I could!

5/16/2012 3:01 PM

Blogger scada said...

Does anyone have a link to the actual Navy report?

NHSparky; if you are talking about the incident on a 7FA gas turbine, technically the roll of paper towels never went into the compressor. It was just sitting on the support and surprisingly did not go past the IGV's. The roll caused an inbalance in the airflow causing the compressor blades to unload when they rotated to that area. This cause the blades to rock and contacted the stationary blades resulting in partial instantaneous disassembly.

During our recent outage on a 1X1 CC with a 7FA I was the hole watch for the guys cleaning the inlet bellmouth and IGV's and blades. Worst job, I'd have rather of been in the hole doing the work. Trying to keep track of everything that goes in with uncooperative dicks that don't want to be doing the job. Especially when they reach out and grab rags from the box without counting them.

On the coal plant side they had a lifting device, I forget what it is called, the type that screws in but swivels in 2 directions. Any way it came apart and left part of it in the turbine, requiring an extended outage and turbine repair 12 months after the overhaul.

Another 2x1 CC with 7FA had a blade liberation event on the compressor and then 18 months later left what I heard was a 1/4 inch drill bit in the unit.

All these incidents were done by guys that were very capable and knowledgable. Most of the time re-assembly happens after weeks of 7-12's and everyone is tired.

We had an injury when some guys were using a portable gantry to move equipment instead of the pallet jack that was right next to them. They were trying to save time by combining steps. Gantry wheel hit a rock on the ground and caused the gantry to topple, breaking all the bones in one of the guys foot. IMHO that was caused by the work area being on the other side of the plant and out of sight of the foreman.

5/16/2012 3:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Helena Back in the early nineties wrecked her reduction gears during ORSE workup. What IU heard, and you NUCS correct me, is that they had a loss of lube oil drill. Shaft stopped and placed on the jack. Drill ran its course. When lube oil was restored, someone did a wrong lineup and blew the jacking gear into pieces which fell into the reudction gears. Long 2500 mile tow to Pearl.

5/18/2012 1:09 PM

Anonymous THE ONE said...

"...0n0 0n0d."

Had a big day today. Just had to share.

5/18/2012 4:28 PM

Anonymous THE ONE said...

P.S. WHY hasn't someone invented a high-speed trip for the jacking gear mechanism by now? this rocket science?

5/18/2012 4:31 PM

Blogger Adam said...

The Helena Story is fairly accurate. I can say that there were a couple of Sailors whose EAOS's expired during the tow, resulting in an immediate, but brief pay increase of 25% for the duration.

5/19/2012 7:35 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Anon--I was on Buffalo when the whole deal on the Helena went down. Spent two weeks on the SPM before they got an ocean-going tug to pull them in the rest of the way.

The day they pulled in I was taking stuff to the Cal Lab (around S-11/12, IIRC) and the Helena had just tied up. The COB was on the pier, bitching out the Pier Sentry up one side and down the other.

Seems someone had left a sign for the Helena that said, "For Sale--Slightly Damaged--25 percent off."

And we went over what happened there in great detail in preps for our next ORSE. NNPI, so no details.

5/20/2012 10:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't understand why the CO was not relieved. Must have been the O-6 protection cloak kicking in.

5/21/2012 5:46 PM

Blogger Kinole said...

Morale was not very high at the time and a silver bullet was found on the XO's pillow. There was a sense of urgency as they searched every locker, rack, and space on the boat. The urgency, however, in fixing the morale issue never materialized.

5/26/2012 10:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or lunging through wtd's and stopping dead because of the extra inch...

anonymous said...
Hard hats in drydock.

The extra inch added to my height was responsible for my banging my head on all the extra ducting and lights, so I guess it was good that I had it on. It still takes a toll on the neck, though.

6/06/2012 10:40 PM


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