[ RadSafe ] US Nuclear sub crew faked inspection records
Tom_Johnston at nymc.edu
Thu Oct 25 10:55:28 CDT 2007
Back in the day, as I recall, we sampled every watch which means at
least every 8 hours. And the shift supervisor and engineering officer on
watch had to sign off on this also.
Thomas P. Johnston
Radiation Safety Officer
New York Medical College
Valhalla, NY 10595
tom_johnston at nymc.edu
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Peterson, Ken
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 1:04 PM
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] US Nuclear sub crew faked inspection records
I find it hard to believe they didn't take a primary coolant sample for
a month. More likely a piece of analytical equipment broke and they
didn't do one of the redundant tests.
New details on submarine cover-up
By Gidget Fuentes and Andrew Scutro - Staff writers
Posted : Tuesday Oct 23, 2007 18:20:32 EDT
Nuclear personnel aboard the submarine Hampton have been punished for
lax safety procedures and for forging log books to cover their tracks,
according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.
The accusations are already sending shockwaves through the tight-knit
Navy nuclear community, which prides itself on its devotion to nuclear
safety rules and regulations.
So far, one officer and five enlisted sailors have received nonjudicial
punishment following a preliminary investigation, but a broader Judge
Advocate General's Manual investigation is underway, said Lt. Alli
Myrick, spokeswoman for Submarine Squadron 11, which oversees the
The nature of the punishments has not been disclosed, but the six have
all been reassigned to the squadron, she said.
Hampton completed an overseas deployment Sept. 17. The transgressions
were discovered during the boat's transit to Naval Base Point Loma,
Calif., its new home port. It hasn't moved since docking.
"Right now, it's not leaving the pier, it's not getting underway,"
Hampton's skipper, Cmdr. Mike Portland, was still in command as of Oct.
19, Myrick said. Executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Chad Hennings and chief of
the boat Master Chief Yeoman (SS) Tim Baisley were also still assigned
to the sub, she said.
Navy officials declined to discuss the investigation because it is not
complete. It was ordered by squadron commander Capt. Chip Jaenichen
after "issues" surfaced while the submarine and squadron were preparing
for a normal end-of-deployment examination, Myrick said.
"During a routine review ... [the crew's] conduct of procedures,
although found to be safe, fell short of high Navy standards," Submarine
Squadron 11 officials said in a release Myrick provided to Navy Times.
Those "standards" relate broadly to operations, record keeping, training
and qualifications, she said.
Once the investigation is complete, it is possible additional crew
members could be implicated and further discipline may follow. Myrick
declined to speculate.
Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said the sailors
involved "clearly fell short of the rigorous standards that we set. But
never in any way did that conduct result in an unsafe situation."
According to one source with knowledge of the investigation, the central
problem involves how often sailors analyzed the chemical and
radiological properties of the submarine's reactor, which is typically
During preparations for the boat's Operational Reactor Safeguard
Examination, which is typically conducted as a nuclear submarine ends
its deployment, officials discovered that the sailors hadn't checked the
water in at least a month, and their division officer, the
chemistry/radiological controls assistant, knew it, the source said.
They also learned that the logs had been forged - or "radioed," in
submarine parlance - later to cover up the lapse and make it look as
though the sailors had been keeping up with required checks all along.
Failure to maintain proper chemistry controls could lead to long-term
corrosion in the system, the source said. "The reason you maintain water
chemistry within certain parameters is to prevent corrosion. But we
measure also for general radioactivity levels in the water to make sure
the reactor [fuel elements are] intact."
A retired submarine commander described the rigorous process this way:
"As the sampling is done and analyzed, it's checked by the watch
standers in the propulsion plant so they can take any actions the
samples indicate. That's the first echelon. Second, they are
exhaustively reviewed by the ship's chain of command - the lead
[engineering lab technician], the CRA and the engineer. All review these
on a frequent basis - daily, weekly, monthly. And then the captain and
the XO periodically review them as well.
"That is the ship's chain of command. The third echelon is outside
monitors and inspection teams, the squadron and [Naval Reactors] who
sends monitors to the boat at any and all hours. Those guys don't give
you notice; they just wake you up at 2 a.m. to tell you they're already
on the boat. Having your chem levels out of whack is a good way to get
That this process was apparently completely ignored shocked the former
"I'm outraged," he said. "It's incredible in the full sense of the word,
as in, this isn't to be believed. I'm having a hard time getting my mind
around it. The system, by design and practice, is very closely woven and
densely packed with people to make sure that it's done right the first
Referring to the chemical levels, another former submarine commander
added: "It's not that it's dangerous at the instant. Blowing off the
chem sample that day isn't what's dangerous, but the operational
philosophy adopted by people who would do that, if applied to the other
aspects of operating the nuclear propulsion plant watch stations or
other aspects of the submarine, could be dangerous. That's what's scary.
Besides, why the hell wouldn't you check the chem levels? First, that's
the ELT and the CRA's job. Second, it takes about an hour and a half
each day to do it. Third, you're on a submarine, so it's not like you're
going to get away with doing nothing on your free time."
Although there is no evidence at this stage that the problem goes beyond
the Hampton, the source familiar with the investigation said it will
prompt further examination throughout the community. "Because once you
see the problem once, you have to assume it exists in other places."
Davis said that, although the investigation is still ongoing, "we have
absolutely no reason to believe that this is a fleetwide problem."
When asked about the sailors' motivation, the source replied that it was
Concern has reached all the way to Adm. Kirkland Donald, director of
Naval Nuclear Propulsion, the source said. "They know what happened and
who was complicit," he said.
Discussion has already begun on submarine-related blogs.
"We all heard what happened and it is quite bad. This is going to be a
ripple effect hitting everyone. Standby if you know what I'm saying.
I've gotten all my stuff dug through twice already this month," wrote an
anonymous poster on the blog at http://bubbleheads.blogspot.com.
Portland took command of the submarine Aug. 3, 2005. Most recently, the
submarine spent seven months at sea on deployment, which included two
major exercises and an "emergent" deployment to the 7th Fleet region.
"Emergent" usually means unplanned. At the end of the deployment, the
boat marked its official homeport change, from Norfolk, Va., to Point
This year, 10 commanding officers spanning different communities have
been fired for a variety of reasons, some for accidents, others for
command climate or lapses in judgment.
More information about the RadSafe