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.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

USS Frank Cable Steam Rupture Report Finished

Both Navy Times and Stars and Stripes have stories out today discussing the "recently completed" investigation into the steam rupture aboard USS Frank Cable last year. This accident was back in the news recently when the death of MMC Delfin Dulay was announced, more than five months after the accident.

From what the articles say, it looks like the investigation confirms the incredible heroism shown by the Sailors in the engine room as it filled with steam. From the Navy Times article:

Walsh makes several recommendations, including improved training and the formation of a board to “review the actions of all personnel involved in this tragedy and determine if personal awards or recognition is warranted.”
He commends the sailors on the scene who “displayed courage and resolve in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances by staying their watch and securing the boiler before exiting the boiler room. Their heroic actions exemplified Navy core values of honor courage and commitment.”
The report also apparently found problems with the highest levels of the ship's chain of command. From the "Report Recommendations" listed in the Stars and Stripes article:

The following are recommendations endorsed by Command Submarine Group, Pacific Fleet for the USS Frank Cable.

1. The commanding officer and the chief engineer errors in judgment allowing the ship to steam No. 1 boiler in order to perform safety valve maintenance before determining the cause of chemistry concentration and abnormal feedwater consumption of the number one boiler should be reviewed for administration or disciplinary action.
2. The executive officer and chief engineer’s failure to conduct proper mainspace (fireroom) and evacuation training may have led to more serious injuries and said failure should be reviewed for administrative or disciplinary action.
The thing that jumped out at me the most, though, was this statement from the "timeline" provided by the Stars and Stripes. After stating that the MPA and EOOW got permission from the Chief Engineer to conduct the test at 1900, and that the accident occurred 1930, the entry for 1950 states that "(t)he Commanding Officer, executive officer, chief engineer, and boiler division officer are recalled to the ship."

[Emphasis mine] Now, I know they do things differently on surface ships, but as a served Engineer I cannot have fathomed my ship ever doing steam relief valve testing without me on board. Some evolutions are just that critical.

I'll be interested to see if they release the whole report to the general public. In the meantime, the families, friends, and shipmates of the men in the Engine Room that night can know that there's now no doubt that the lost and injured Sailors were, and are, truly the heroes we knew them to be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boiler relief valve testing is Not SG safety valve testing. Been there done both. The former is relatively routine 18 month PMS, while the latter is NRRO monitored, 2 hour briefed, ENG in manuevering, 60 month PMS. The ENG on a boat can't leave (ever) because his supporting cast is a bunch of 24 year old 1120's. Not the case on a Tender.

5/12/2007 5:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 600 lb steam eoow and later diesel CHENG, I cannot imagine leaving the ship while testing relief and lifting safety valves. It was MY job.

There are few left of the steam propulsion crowd and mostly I think they don't go to sea anymore. When I got started about 90% of the USN was steam driven. Now it's down to less then 10%.

5/13/2007 10:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

600 PSI steam EOOW & MPA, destroyer tender XO. "Relatively routine" perhaps, but valve testing is a CHENG-in-person evolution.
Not trying to be objectionable (especially on a submariner blog--thanks, Bubblehead!), but I suspect that part of the problem could be the attitude displayed by the first comment. If you consider boiler "relief valve" (actually _safety_ valves, multiple) testing as "relatively routine" compared to anything nuclear, perhaps you treat it too casually?

5/14/2007 6:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dsl Sub Tender CHENG, EX-NUC, EX-MMCS(SS), LDO CO, X0 (x3). After serving over 5 years at that same SITE -III berth, there is no doubt in my mind that the CHENG and MPA should have been onboard ship during this critical non-routine testting. True this in not steam generator testing but it ranks awful close given the experience level of the typical tender ENG Dept. Train and monitor - its the CHENG's job. This is not the first significant sub tender boiler incident clearly resulting from lack of supervision and inadequte training. Been there - seen it!

5/14/2007 11:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CAPT Goff (the CO in question) was on of my ENGINEERS on the 667 boat. He was the kind of ENG that I would have expected would have been onboard for this.

5/15/2007 10:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having served for Capt Goff until my November 2005 transfer, I can honestly say this report does not surprise me. He was the type of CO who enjoyed playing mind games with the E-7 and above group, while at the same time tried to portray himself as a kind and giving Captain to the rest of the crew. Also, CMDCM Kramers firing by Capt Goff was totally unjustified, and was a result of said mind games.

5/18/2007 11:18 AM

Blogger paperclip said...

Goff serves as ultimate accountability for this tradegy. As well the ENG. Or CHENG.

Goff used to preach and pound his fist at 'operational risk management' (CO SSN-705). Constantly throwing the training flag. Which I had no issue with.

However Goff is a true 'wannabe politician' in a Navy uniform.

A syndrome which I call 'white collar well-ware'. Too true about mind games and then protraying himself as a kind and giving person.

I cannot tell you people how many squids he persuaded to reenlist under his command because he alluded to them his endorsement for officer packages. Of course he never delievered to the few and far between. This has always been one of his 'underlying agendas' to maintain his FITREP. Whatever it takes I guess. Ethics or No Ethics.

An example that comes to mind was in 1999' during a drydock period in
NLON, CT. We came in to work to field day from 0500-0800. I have no clue what field daying the boat at the butt crack of dawn accomplishes.

Thats not true I can tell you what it accomplishes. It accomplishes a
junior sonarman falling in the engine room and breaking his clavicle, damaging his rotator cuff, in which surgery was required to repair. Operational Risk Management...? How much does that cost the VA long term ?

I am tired of this dope and his dopey leadership.

WOW, I can picture Goff at quaters bellowing to the crew of AS-40 after this tragedy. " THESE MEN WERE WORKING A CRITICAL

What the hell was so critical that it cost the lives Valentine and Dulay ? Where was Goff and the CHENG ?

I don't see any honor in this tragedy.

I sure as hell don't see any operational risk management.

I need to see Goff's accountability.

7/15/2007 7:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has someone wearing stars on their collars decided to do the right thing (finally) and fire Goff, or was there a super secret change of command for the AS-40?

8/02/2007 8:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disregard all....


8/05/2007 3:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goff wasn't fired. He transferred as planned. CHENG and MPA are still on board 9 months later.

9/12/2007 1:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who knows about this event first hand, I can tell you that true most of the time lack of training is a big factor. In this case it is completely the oppsite. The man incharge that day in the Fireroom(not the Engineroom like all of you keep saying) had done 2 tours on that ship and was more than qualified to supervise the evolution. It was the lack of information, more specifically the extreme chemistry problem the boiler was having that day whiched caused undue wear on the tubes that ruptured. And the higher chain of command disreguarding the advise of its resident experts to secure the boiler in question earlier in the week due to the various chemistry issues the boiler was having. The importance of that day was not wether the boiler was safe to steam, it was if we could conduct the friends and family cruise scheduled. Now I ask you whats more important, securing a boiler with a serious chemistry problem and canceling a Tiger cruise, or continue to steam a degraded boiler to put on a public affairs show and have the end result we can't change we are stuck with today.

9/30/2007 7:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laugh at the ChEng who claims to be needed for testing boiler safety valves; what can he do other than witness the pressure setting and reseating. The BTC is the guy that counts! Forget the Captain__unless he just happened to have graduated from a Maritime
Academy where Engineers actually learn to do these jobs, he is as
useless as tits on a boar hog!
Like the guy who was there and done that, so have I and I went further than that in Merchant Marine. Boiler water chemistry is very critical with higher steam pressures, but scale on the interior of a tube did not get there overnite; it probably was result of several incidents. Do you recall "surface blow" and "bottom blow"? A steaming boiler could use a surface blow to alter the chemistry, but a bottom blow should never be attempted when steaming__only when fires are secured and boiler has been allowed to settle for awhile.
As for problems with nuclear plants, don't know verymuch about those babies. I do know this; the USN is a practitioner of "screw the little guy", "make me look good" is the primary objective.
Smokescreen__marine engineer

2/01/2008 7:38 PM

Blogger Malin said...

Wow. I used to run that boiler in '96. Was on the Cable '93-'97 as BT and later EN. The problem on "the Love Boat" is that there is (was?) a total break down of communication. Cap'n never came down to the pit. Recommendations went up the chain of command and got lost. I actually got in a fist fight with the lieutenant acting as B Div Officer (he was from weapons dept.) because he ordered me to operate my boiler in an unsafe manner (I was burnerman). Instead of hearing me out, he threw a punch.

Bottom line is this: CHENG should have been on the ship. Schedules need put aside when it's a safety issue (screw the Tiger Cruise). The politicians/officers need to listen to their experts/technicians/enlisted. If somethings wrong, the guy on the deckplates working the machinery will be able to feel it. The men in officer country are too removed and just see numbers on a report, etc.

9/05/2008 5:33 PM

Blogger j.louie said...


Now each of us from time to time has gazed upon the sea
and watched the mighty warships pulling out to keep this country free.
And most of us have read a book or heard a lusty tale,
about these men who sail these ships through lightning, wind and hail.
But there's a place within each ship that legend's fail to teach.
It's down below the water-line and it takes a living toll
- - a hot metal living hell, that sailors call the "Hole."
It houses engines run with steam that makes the shafts go round.
A place of fire, noise, and heat that beats your spirits down.
Where boilers like a hellish heart, with blood of angry steam,
are molded gods without remorse, are nightmares in a dream.

Whose threat from the fires roar, is like a living doubt,
that at any moment with such scorn, might escape and crush you out.
Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in Hell,
are ordered from above somewhere, they answer every bell.
The men who keep the fires lit and make the engines run,
are strangers to the light and rarely see the sun.
They have no time for man or God, no tolerance for fear,
their aspect pays no living thing a tribute of a tear.
For there's not much that men can do that these men haven't done,
beneath the decks, deep in the hole, to make the engines run.
And every hour of every day they keep the watch in Hell,
for if the fires ever fail their ship's a useless shell.

When ships converge to have a war upon an angry sea,
the men below just grimly smile at what their fate will be.
They're locked below like men fore-doomed, who hear no battle cry,
it's well assumed that if they're hit men below will die.
For every day's a war down there when gauges all read red,
twelve-hundred pounds of heated steam can kill you mighty dead.

So if you ever write their songs or try to tell their tale,
the very words would make you hear a fired furnace's wail.
And people as a general rule don't hear of these men of steel,
so little heard about this place that sailors call the "Hole."
But I can sing about this place and try to make you see,
the hardened life of the men down there, 'cause one of them is me.
I've seen these sweat-soaked heroes fight in superheated air,
to keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they're there.

And thus they'll fight for ages on till warships sail no more,
amid the boiler's mighty heat and the turbine's hellish roar.
So when you see a ship pull out to meet a war-like foe,
remember faintly if you can, "The Men Who Sail Below."


12/07/2009 8:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny. "Stupid shall be punished" However, the one person cough cough cough (CHENG) who had the information in regards to boiler leakage, chemistry problems, etc decided to HAFA DAI at the Point Club!

If anyone didn't know. This site was edited and since '06 more than half the comments were removed. Now all that is left of what was good for the guys still sitting at the burn center is gone. These sailors saved the ship!

They also read this blog from time to time to help cope with the memory. I know because I just got done talking with one.

I was, I did, I have an EOOW letter doesn't mean shit. You are not a steam engineer anymore. LDO once a Chief always a Chief. Cut that garbage the hell out. Fact remains it was to hard. You guys gave up. As it was hard in 1980 is now obsolete.

There are still steam ships around that are underway 340+ days out of the year.

Everyone seems to know everything jacking off behind a desk somewhere thinking you are a real engineer. You aren't! You gave up! Chief drop outs!

12/07/2009 8:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The abnormal consumption of feedwater should have told all the hold snipes something was wrong. I sailed on the Cable in the early 80's in the engine room and that should have been enough to secure that boiler until the problem was found. The Cable can sail under full steam with just 1 problem...we did it. You just can't 24 knots anymore

1/15/2011 8:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there on duty that day. In fact that night I was on my way to the boiler room when and HM invited me to the pier to smoke. Four Puffs and the pier shook, we ran back on ship. Steam burned people still have flash backs. Friends hurt.....

That PMS we did not want to do it had been rescheduled so much that we were going to lose it. Tiger cruise was over (the boiler held) and friends and family were at the point club.

Still remember Valentine. He is the one who crawled into DCC and died there....................

1/26/2011 5:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI ive been stationed on the
Frank Cable back in 93 to 97. I started of as a fireman to a BT3 petty officer, stood crazy and long watches down there for years, been through all kinds of boiler situations but never that bad. I remember being on watch so many times wondering when those boilers would blow. I remember it being so damm hot, tempetures up to 98 degreess sometimes, only forced air vents runin down there, 6 on 6 watches with full working days out at sea. I still miss the Navy, though times was hard being out at sea as a BT or snipe, i think it kinda etches deep memories in a kid at 19. Well i remember when i first came aboard, a first class named Madore, i believe, took over our division in the Boiler room and made damm sure all componets and machines were safe and free of black oxide metal. I remember him as being like a hero. He was cool in my book, he probablly saved my life and others, thanks.

3/26/2011 1:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This incident was 100% preventable if some one would have stopped for 2 seconds and pulled their head out of their a$$. I was assigned to ATG when this incident happened. I read the report numerous times and saw the pictures of the accident. The Chief of the fireroom, the CHENG, and the MPA are all to blame. The boiler was losing chemicals with no explanation, they kept losing fires, and there was water leaking from the air casing. It doesnt take an Engineering Degree to figure out you have a tube leak. They lit the boiler off for testing safeties anyways. The Chief should have refused to light that boiler off and done anything possible to prevent it.
After the investigation the CHENG did not get fired, he completed his assigned tour and turned over eventually. The CHENG cost men his lives and had no bussiness being a CHENG on a boiler ship. His submarine career does not prepare to run an Engineeirng Department that operates boilers.

11/03/2011 7:18 PM


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