Submarines: December 25, 2003

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An American nuclear sub (the USS Hartford) that grounded itself while training off the Spanish coast two months ago, apparently suffered worse damage that originally thought. The sub has just recently been dry docked and examined in detail. It was known that the bottom half of the rudder was torn off, but  the gouges in the hull were deeper than first thought. Initially, it was thought that the damage was less serious. Although the sub was able to steam back to dry dock facilities at Groton, Connecticut, it had to do so at half speed, taking a month for a trip that normally is made in two weeks. The cause of the accident was sloppiness by the six sailors in the navigation team. Too much time was allowed to elapse between position updates and the sub went aground while navigating shallow coastal waters. All six sailors in the "navigation party" were punished for dereliction of duty. The captain of the sub, and his boss (the commander of Submarine Squadron 22, based in Spain), were both relieved of duty. The implication here is that the training and discipline of the navigation party were not up to standard, and the ship's captain and the squadron commander are responsible for training and discipline. The damage to the Hartford may require expensive repairs to the hull and keep the sub out of service for up to a year.

 


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