After Two Accidents, Navy Orders Subs to Stand Down

Monday, January 15, 2007
The Navy has ordered an operational stand-down for all submarines following two recent accidents, charging commanders to “focus energy and intellect back onto the basics of submarine operations,” according to the Submarine Force’s leader.

Vice Adm. Chuck Munns, U.S. Submarine Force commander, lamented that the two incidents — one which resulted in the death of two sailors — happened under standard operations.

Normal operations will continue while commanders review recently completed operations and future planned evolutions, and evaluate areas of risk and risk mitigation, a statement said. They have a week to do it — reviews are due Jan. 19. The two incidents that sparked Thursday’s order involved four sailors swept from the top of the submarine USS Minneapolis-St. Paul as it pulled out of port during bad weather on Dec. 29 in Plymouth Harbor, England.

In a separate incident, the fast attack submarine USS Newport News collided with a Japanese oil tanker Monday as the tanker passed over the submerged sub in the narrow Strait of Hormuz. A preliminary rundown of the investigation indicates that the oil tanker’s high speed created a sucking flow, known as the Venturi effect, that made the sub rise and collide with the ship, said Loundermon, refuting media reports that the sub was on the surface or trying to surface.

According to Loundermon, in the past five years, there have been four submarine collisions: • On Sept. 5, 2005, the USS Philadelphia and a Turkish merchant ship collided off the coast of Bahrain, resulting in minor damage. • On Jan. 8, 2005, the USS San Francisco struck an undersea mountain near Guam, killing one crewman and injuring 24. • On Nov. 2, 2002, the USS Oklahoma City struck a Norwegian merchant ship in the western Mediterranean Sea, resulting in minor damage. • On Feb. 9, 2001, the USS Greeneville rammed into and sank the Japanese fishing trawler Ehime Maru off Hawaii, killing nine people and sparking tension and protests. The submarine surfaced beneath the trawler while demonstrating an emergency surfacing maneuver for civilian guests aboard during a day trip. Source: Stars and Stripes

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