Skip to comments.Revealed: American nuclear submarine came close to 'catastrophe' during fatal incident off Devon
Posted on 06/22/2011 7:57:20 AM PDT by Lou L
A U.S. nuclear submarine came within feet of running aground as it left Plymouth naval base, a report has found.
The drama unfolded as the USS Minneapolis-St Paul entered rough seas and tried to take evasive action resulting in five crewmen being swept overboard, two of whom died.
Chief Petty Officer Thomas Higgins and Petty Officer Michael Holtz were attached to the submarine with safety lines and had been helping the habour pilot to disembark when the submarine changed direction.
They died as they were repeatedly pounded 'like rag dolls'
The 2007 Royal Navy report into the incident, released this week under the Freedom of Information Act, said that the 110m-long, 6,000 ton vessel, 'came within less than her own length' of hitting rocks and becoming stuck with 'catastrophic consequences' as she turned to get back into protected waters.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
I don’t rememebr the incident from 2006, but new information just release makes it sound pretty scary. Just goes to show that nothing is “routine” when you’re in the military, even disembarking a pilot during sea-and-anchor detail.
Sorry, I searched, but didn’t find anything.
A tribute to Senior Chief Thomas Higgins
Define catastrophic. The San Juan hit an underground mountain at a full bell and was so banged up it had to sit and wait for a sea going tug to come get it. But no one died. What happened to those men is much more catastrophic than running into some rocks.
Perhaps it was already posted but I’m glad it was posted again as I had never seen this article. We don’t always see all the articles for one reason or another so...when there is a duplicate post I don’t mind...
If its already posted please provide a link to the original thread.
I think the submarine was "in extremis" as it got too close to the rocks, but the "catastrophic consequences" came when the OOD/Captain decided to take evasive maneuvers to avoid grounding. It then exposed these sailors to the heavy seas. Being tethered, they could not get free from the sub, and instead were bashed against the hull. This was a case where simply being swept overboard might've been the safer option.
“Sorry, I searched, but didnt find anything.”
Yes, but you forgot to first get approval from the “Already Been Posted” police.
The sub commander was disciplined, but on reading the first part of this story, my first reaction was that the Harbor Pilot was probably most to blame.
Sure enough, the story mentions that: “The harbour pilot was also later dismissed, a decision upheld by the Civil Service Appeal Board.”
A Harbor Pilot is basically in charge of a ship until it is outside the harbor and he gets off of it. He gives the orders. It was evidently his decision to bring the sub to that point, in rather heavy seas, and to disembark in those dangerous conditions. That left the sub commander with the difficult choice of endangering his sub or endangering his crew on deck.
The pilot made the decision to disembark in a dangerous spot in dangerous conditions. Maybe he wanted to get back on shore for his dinner or a drink without further delay. So I think he is primarily responsible for those deaths.
In this case, the captain made a split second decision--does he potentially endanger his enture crew by running aground, or does he endanger the two sailors topside? It was an unfortunate call, but probably the "most correct" one from the choices presented.
Anyone know what the CO should've done under ideal circumstances? Over-ridden the harbour pilot?
LOL, i normally dont engage in it, but I had just closed out the window with that thread, and saw a fresh link in the list.
I think you mean the USS San Francisco. The San Fran was my boat before they wrecked it. One sailor did die in the collision actually, an MM2 in A-gang.
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The collision I was thinking of was in the Pacific in the late 90s but I can’t remember the boat name. The San Juan has always been on the East Coast so I did get that mixed up. It’s bugging me now since a class mate from weld school had just gotten there when the collision occured. I’m getting old.
And yes, they would break down your door and shoot your dog if they could.
Hmm. In the late 90s? I don't recall any major collisions. What you described sounds exactly like what happened to my boat in 2005: All ahead full into a sea mound in the Pacific, about 350 miles from Guam.
I looked up the San Juan, and in 1998 it collided with a boomer in the Long Island sound. That I do remember, as I was on the San Fran at the time and it was a hot topic. Didn't remember the boats involved, but I did remember it happening. It was a minor collision. No one was hurt, and both ships returned to port under their own power.
Could you be blending the two incidents?
I got out in late 1997, it was before that.
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