Thursday, September 13, 2001

Greeneville’s new
skipper relieved
of command

Cmdr. David Bogdan is
held responsible for the sub's
grounding in Saipan on Aug. 27

By Gregg K. Kakesako

For the second time this year, another skipper of the USS Greeneville has been relieved of command for mishandling the Pearl Harbor-based nuclear attack submarine.

This time, Cmdr. David Bogdan was taken before an admiral's mast -- an administrative hearing -- Tuesday along with several of his officers for numerous deficiencies in navigation that led to grounding of the 362-foot submarine in the channel leading into Saipan harbor Aug. 27.

Bogdan and Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer, Greeneville's executive officer, and the submarine's navigator and assistant navigator -- both of whom the Navy did not identify, citing privacy reasons -- were given punitive letters of reprimand.

Rear Adm. John B. Padgett III, commander of Pacific Fleet's Submarine Force, relieved Bogdan "due to lack of confidence in his ability to command." Capt. Robert H. Guy Jr., chief of staff of Submarine Group Seven, was assigned as temporary commanding officer. The navigation officer and assistant navigation officer were removed from their duties by Padgett but remain on the Greeneville.

Bogdan encountered rough seas while entering the channel on the western end of Saipan and decided to reverse the sub, but ended up scraping its hull twice. But the Navy's investigation said the rough seas did not cause the accident and that Bogdan used poor judgment in refusing to use the harbor pilot.

The report also said Bogdan's crew did not even realize when the Greeneville first went aground and that the Greeneville scraped the reef several times while reversing its course.

Saipan Harbor Master Tony Cabrera said it would have been wiser for Bogdan to go all the way to the end of the channel rather than try to reverse or turn the sub around because of the storm.

Cabrera said the channel is 400 feet wide and 40 feet deep. The Greeneville is 362 feet long with a draft of 31 feet.

The Navy's investigation concluded there were several navigation and piloting deficiencies that led to the grounding, including:

>> Use of an incorrect edition of a navigation chart with improperly applied chart corrections.

>> Preparing and using a navigation course that did not adequately take into consideration the channel's shallow areas.

>> Failing to utilize the harbor pilot to lead the sub into port.

>> Not recognizing the impact of the international buoy system in use in the Western Pacific.

The Greeneville was taken to Guam, 130 miles south of Saipan, for repairs that cost $120,000, Lt. Cmdr. Kelley Merrell, Pacific Fleet Submarine Force spokeswoman, said.

The incident is the second accident for the Greeneville this year. In April, Cmdr. Scott Waddle, at another admiral's mast, lost command of the sub because he was in charge when it rammed the Japanese fisheries training vessel Ehime Maru nine miles south of Diamond Head. Nine people were lost in the Feb. 9 incident.

Since early last month the Navy has been involved in an unprecedented $40 million operation to raise the 830-ton Ehime Maru and tow it to shallower waters so divers can search it for the remains of the nine missing people. However, the Navy has run into several obstacles in attempting to rig the sunken vessel to prepare for the move.

The Navy said it wants to move the Ehime Maru from its 2,000-foot watery grave before the end of September, when weather and sea conditions might jeopardize the success of the mission.

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