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Subís top officers reprimanded in deaths
Stars & Stripes ^ | 01-17-07 | Sandra Jontz

Posted on 01/17/2007 9:44:51 AM PST by mfnorman

NAPLES, Italy — The commander and the former executive officer of the submarine USS Minneapolis-St. Paul received punitive letters of reprimand Tuesday, following a hearing on the fatal December incident in which two sailors were swept off the sub’s surface during bad weather, a Navy official said.

Rear Adm. Jeff Fowler, commander of Submarine Group 8, conducted five nonjudicial punishment hearings Tuesday related to the Dec. 29 incident and issued letters of reprimand for the top two officers, said Lt. Chris Servello, a spokesman with Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet. Fowler dismissed charges against three other crewmembers: two officers and a chief petty officer, Servello said.

The sub’s commander, Cmdr. Edwin Ruff, took command of the Minneapolis-St. Paul in December 2004. Servello declined to name the former executive officer, citing privacy laws. Typically, information on nonjudicial punishment hearings is not released publicly. The former executive officer had been replaced because of a normal rotational cycle, not because of the incident.

(Excerpt) Read more at stripes.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 01/17/2007 9:44:52 AM PST by mfnorman
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To: mfnorman

He may as well retire and apply for a job at Home Depot.


2 posted on 01/17/2007 9:53:15 AM PST by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to.....otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: stuartcr

He can go work with Scott Waddell


3 posted on 01/17/2007 9:54:46 AM PST by PurpleMan
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To: mfnorman

Don't they have safety lines? Or did the sub go under while they up top?


4 posted on 01/17/2007 9:56:01 AM PST by DrGunsforHands
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To: DrGunsforHands

They had safety lines, but were washed overboard by rough water. The sailors that were killed were held close to the boat, and were either drowned before they could be pulled out, or were battered against the hull by the waves.


5 posted on 01/17/2007 10:06:04 AM PST by SmithL (Where are we going? . . . . And why are we in this handbasket????)
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To: DrGunsforHands

According to the article all four had safety lines - two of them longer than the others.

The two that were on the shorter lines died. It's not clear what exactly happened - they may have become fouled in their own lines.

The two that survived had gone into the water but somehow were free of their lines and did not get tangled.

The boat did not submerge with crew topside.


6 posted on 01/17/2007 10:06:55 AM PST by Jambe ( Save the Cows ! -- Eat a Vegan !!!)
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To: mfnorman
Same thing happened when my husband was on board the USS Grant, two officers died after replacing to non-coms who were ordered to go above and secure a hatch latch in a sea state 5. The Officers died and the Capitan was court Marshaled. They were tied to the ship and the enrtire crew had to listen to the bodies hit the hull until they could be retrieved. That is likely similar to what happened in this case. It's criminal negligence on the part of the Captain.
7 posted on 01/17/2007 10:07:52 AM PST by Danae (Anail nathrach, orth' bhais's bethad, do chel denmha)
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To: mfnorman

I'm sure the captain is beating himself up over the loss of the men worse than anything the NJP could do.


8 posted on 01/17/2007 10:08:55 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: mfnorman

I'm an Army guy so I don't understand Navy mentality sometimes. Can someone explain to me what the officer did wrong? Sounds to me like the crew were following safety procedures with having their safety lines.

I don't get it.


9 posted on 01/17/2007 10:11:21 AM PST by taxcontrol
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To: mfnorman; All
This is all very interesting ... Now:

1) What did the CO and Exec do wrong?

1a) What, if anything, did the deceased sailors do wrong?

2) What should future COs and Execs do in order to avoid this sort of problem?

10 posted on 01/17/2007 10:12:36 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Danae

What would you have done, left the hatch unsecured?


11 posted on 01/17/2007 10:13:42 AM PST by SmithL (Where are we going? . . . . And why are we in this handbasket????)
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To: SmithL

Good point ... My questions above apply to that incident (and probably to a great many others) as well.


12 posted on 01/17/2007 10:14:55 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: taxcontrol
There are more people eligible by Command at Sea than there are Commands available, so even bad luck can get you fired. It wasn't always like that, but that's how this modern Navy works, and every CO understands the rules.

Your question is rational, but irrelevant.

Commanding Officers do not usually get to decide when to go to sea. You may safely assume that the USS Minneapolis St. Paul's departure was not the Captain's option.

A pilot is required within the harbor, but he cannot go to sea with the submarine. Therefore, he had to be let off the boat. Since he couldn't get off by himself, the crew had to help him.

If there were lapses in the safety precautions, someone should be punished, but I've not seen anything that indicates that there were any lapses.
Submarining is still a hazardous profession, even for professional submariners.
13 posted on 01/17/2007 10:28:56 AM PST by SmithL (Where are we going? . . . . And why are we in this handbasket????)
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To: ArrogantBustard

1. The Capt will always be relieved when the death of a sailor occurs, or an accident.

2. If he is found guilty thru NJP, he can not then be charged with murder or some other crime under double jeopardy.

I remember, when as a prison guard (a prison chaser), they told me that if I shot one of the prisoners, I would be found guilty of something, fined $1, and given a carton of cigarettes. Probably was an urban legend, tho.


14 posted on 01/17/2007 10:31:29 AM PST by Lokibob (Greatest snow on earth. www.utahweatherlinks.com)
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To: Lokibob

That's a statement of policy. It's not an answer to any of my questions.


15 posted on 01/17/2007 10:33:47 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: mfnorman

was the sub's CO, on the 'outside',
when this happened?


16 posted on 01/17/2007 10:34:54 AM PST by greasepaint
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To: taxcontrol

It sounds like two of them had the safety lines set wrong, and the captain is held responsible for any dereliction by the crew that could be forseen and trained.

But it's speculation on my part based only on the information in the article.


17 posted on 01/17/2007 10:39:35 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: mfnorman
When this story broke, I predicted this outcome. Some disagreed:

"To: Al Gator ' Some one will lose a commission over this.'

Unless they dove while people were up top, I doubt it. Man Overboard should not kill careers. 9 posted on 12/29/2006 1:00:19 PM EST by xxxxxxx2000

You don't lose guys over the side like this and keep your job.

18 posted on 01/17/2007 10:42:24 AM PST by Al Gator (Refusing to "stoop to your enemy's level", gets you cut off at the knees.)
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To: SmithL; taxcontrol; ArrogantBustard
I'm an Army guy so I don't understand Navy mentality sometimes. Can someone explain to me what the officer did wrong? Sounds to me like the crew were following safety procedures with having their safety lines. I don't get it. …. taxcontrol

What did the CO and Exec do wrong? …. ArrogantBustard

The crew was putting off the pilot. They were still involved in that when the sub cleared the breakwater and exposed the topside crew to the full force of the sea conditions that included 50 MPH winds and 20 foot swells.

The CO and the XO should have ensured that the pilot transfer was completed in a timely manner before the sub cleared the breakwater.

19 posted on 01/17/2007 10:42:32 AM PST by Polybius
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To: SmithL
Therefore, he had to be let off the boat. Since he couldn't get off by himself, the crew had to help him.

The articles I've read don't say much about the other vessel the pilot was being transfered to. Could the two sailors have been crushed between the two after falling overboard?

20 posted on 01/17/2007 10:43:41 AM PST by Sax
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To: mfnorman
Water is a powerful thing. Our sub went to sea and we could not close the upper weapons shipping hatch due to ruff seas. We had a diver washed over but recovered and a chief had two lines hooked together. He was going down the side of the sail and a wave took him off the ladder. The next wave came by and as the water receded, he was hanging back on the ladder.
21 posted on 01/17/2007 10:44:03 AM PST by bmwcyle (If no one buys illegal drugs, we win the war on drugs)
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To: Polybius

Thank you.


22 posted on 01/17/2007 10:45:12 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: SmithL

"Submarining is still a hazardous profession, even for professional submariners."




Do they have a high rate of death and serious injury compared to what we generally consider hazardous jobs?


23 posted on 01/17/2007 10:47:47 AM PST by ansel12 (America, love it ,or at least give up your home citizenship before accepting ours too.)
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To: mfnorman

Our entire military command is a gutless, politically correct joke.


24 posted on 01/17/2007 11:54:17 AM PST by stinkerpot65
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