2 accidents prompt sub force safety assessment
In the wake of two submarine accidents, one of them fatal, the Navy has ordered its sub fleet, including 16 nuclear attack boats stationed at Pearl Harbor, to spend a week assessing practices and procedures.
Cmdr. Mike Brown, spokesman for the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, said the review should not affect normal operations.
The "stand down" ordered by Vice Adm. Chuck Munns, U.S. Submarine Forces commander, began Friday and will run for a week.
Brown said the leaders of the Pacific Fleet Sub Force as well as the skippers of its nuclear subs have been told to review procedures as well as two recent sub accidents.
"It is clear that a common thread through recent problems has been errors conducting normal routine operations," Munns said in a written statement. "We are going back to basics, back to practice."
On Dec. 29, four sailors were swept off the deck of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul as it was leaving Plymouth, England. The accident occurred in rough seas as they were trying to transfer a harbor pilot from the sub to a waiting boat. Two sailors were rescued and two were killed.
Last Monday, the USS Newport News collided with a Japanese supertanker in the Straits of Hormuz. Navy and Japanese officials said damage to the attack submarine and the supertanker was minimal and that there was no oil spillage.
Both nuclear submarines are home-ported at Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia.
The Navy says that following the stand down, "submarine squadron and group commanders will review inputs from the force's submarines and implement actions to improve routine efficiency. The Submarine Force will also take additional actions to incorporate findings from the stand down and better prepare commanding officers with tools and techniques that foster good judgment, technical, and mariner skills."