Admiral: Complacency caused sub collision
By Andrew Scutro - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 28, 2009 16:37:46 EDT
MCLEAN, Va. — Complacency and poor management of surface contacts led to the March 20 collision between the attack submarine Hartford and the amphibious transport dock New Orleans in the Strait of Hormuz, according to the Navy’s leader of the undersea fleet.
Speaking Wednesday at the annual Naval Submarine League meeting, Submarine Force commander Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly described a control room with “a lot of informality” and a “series of personnel failures” he blamed on the sub’s leadership.
The collision, which happened at night, came as the sub was making a submerged transit to Jebel Ali, its last port call before heading home to Groton, Conn.
The crew had just finished an intense operational phase of its deployment and “everybody let down their guard” for what was actually one of the most challenging phases, crossing the strait at periscope depth, he said.
“There was a great deal of complacency involved in the crew,” he said. “They had been at sea for 63 days operating in areas with high contact density.”
After the collision, both ships limped into Bahrain, New Orleans with a giant gash in the hull and Hartford with a sail partially torn from its hull, among other damage. No one was seriously injured in either crew.
Hartford’s damage was complicated and the ship is still in the yard. New Orleans rejoined the fleet from Bahrain.
The commanding officer of Hartford, Cmdr. Ryan Brookhart, and chief of the boat Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Stefan Prevot were both fired after the incident.
Speaking in response to a question after his prepared remarks, Donnelly said he had just spent a day on Capitol Hill last week explaining the incident to House and Senate armed services committees.
He also noted that more or better technology would not have helped the situation, as the sub knew the New Orleans and another ship were nearby.
“There were a whole host of watchstanders that failed to recognize the sensor data that was presented to them,” he said.
Lessons learned are already being integrated into submariner training, he added.