Saturday, February 8, 2014


A comic crew first time at sea could have made the purported ridiculous mistake of charting errors. If an experienced crew with a commander of 19 years of exemplary service, could make such a silly mistake, there would be such a silly accident every month of the year. So why is this accident the only exception?

On one hand, the crew and commanding officer were guilty of stupidity. Yet the same crew were also commended for the post grounding response and their exceptional effort in steaming the beleaguered near-fatal submarine back to Guam unaided without any external repairs and outside assistance. Hard to believe the same crew and captain could have morphed from incompetence to brilliance in a matter of minutes.

Equally hard to believe was the recognition of “actions of the crewmen who saved the ship after the accident, including nine men who received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal”. Where were these men before the submarine dived blindly at full speed kamikaze style into a problem (seen or unseen).

The captain was found guilty of putting the ship in danger at an admiral's mast last month, and relieved of command. Last week, six more crewmen were cited for putting the ship into danger or dereliction of duty, and received punishments that included demotions and letters of reprimand.

The findings however did find misconduct with the leadership of the submarine.
The report stated about the commanding officer of the San Francisco, "He [Commander Kevin Mooney] chose to operate the USS San Francisco at maximum speed with no navigation risk mitigation measures in effect, despite several islands, atolls and rapidly shoaling areas in the vicinity of the ship's intended track. Further, he chose not to take precautions such as stationing additional navigation watch standards, establishing limits on speed and depth, and reducing the navigational sounding interval. Had the commanding officer instituted specified operational procedures and exercised prudent navigation practices, the grounding, even if not avoid altogether, would have been significantly less severe."
The report stated neither the commanding officer nor his navigation team exercised due care. As for why the seamount did not appear on the chart the navigation team was using, according to the report, they failed to examine all charts that were available and on board the submarine. Said the report, "Charts and supporting documentation products aboard the USS San Francisco were sufficient to identify navigation hazards along, and adjacent to the ship's intended track. Continuous and complete reliance on the accuracy and fidelity of a single navigation chart, when other charts with critical information were readily available, led to this grounding."

"Although the grounding incident compelled me to punish (him) and remove him from command, in my opinion it does not negate 19 years of exemplary service," the admiral wrote. "Prior to the grounding incident, USS San Francisco demonstrated a trend of continuing improvement and compiled an impressive record of achievement under (Mooney's) leadership. Moreover, the crew's post-grounding response under his direct leadership was commendable and enabled (the sub's) recovery and safe return to port."
Greenert also criticized the executive officer and navigation team for their share of the responsibility, saying their "failure to adequately and critically review applicable publications and available charts led to submission of an ill-advised voyage plan and hindered the commanding officer's ability to make fully informed safety-of-ship decisions."
The maths do not add up either.

Let's look into the micro scale of things. A diagrammatic illustration is always a great help to check on the maths. Several eye-witness accounts stated the submarine dived for 4 minutes at full speed (assume a max speed of 30 knots) before collision. Using the same facts as the tri-university case study; ie the starting depth before diving 2000m (6562 ft) and crash depth of 160m (525 ft); maximum average seabed gradient is 26 deg. From the depths and distances picked off Google Earth, the average seabed gradient is 17 deg. Now these are pretty steep terrain. The slopes on the low Macondo escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico range from 3 to 7 degrees while most seabed terrain slopes are less than 1 degree.
Consider first the crash location #1 with the average slope of 17 deg. It would be too far at 17,000ft from the dive point. At crash point #2, it would have been too near by 1260 ft. The two slopes hence serve as the max and min limit. The discrepancies get larger (obviously) at lower speeds, say at 20 knots or at higher dive angles. For example at 10 deg dive the depth of collision had to be at least 1300ft (as compared to the reported 525 ft) or even faster than 30 knots or the seabed gradient steeper than 26 deg.

So assuming the time of 4 minutes was in error (ie less than 4 minutes), the angle of collision (#2) would have been an obtuse angle of at least 150 deg. Any physic student or crash analyst would tell you, the submarine (or any crash object) could not decelerate from 30 knots to 4 knots in a split second as reported. Further the submarine would not bounced off (as implied in the reports) but would have continued tangentially with the submarine hull scrapping the seafloor bottom until the speed ran out.

We have had many unfortunate crash grounding at speeds of 10 knots in the Arabian Gulf. The Indian Captain was later found to be unqualified and subsequently sacked. Most of the times, it happened during our dinner when the skipper was rushing back to port and could not see the below-surface shoals ahead. Those 2nd world war flat-bottom landing craft were sure tough. Other than flying plates and some concussions, we suffered no serious damage but had to wait for the next high tide to be able to float and back out.

No I am not suggesting the submarine collision to be the same but at those obtuse angles, the submarine would have landed on the atoll surface on its belly rather than a large “punch out” hole at its bow. How come there was no trailing indentation on the belly of the submarine? If the submarine had been diving as it hit the “unsuspected” shoal, the underside of the bow would have sustained the most damage while the top would not have been affected at all (unless it is collision #4 type).

Even if there is a head-on collision with a vertical pinnacle (collision type #4), the submarine would have sustained a “punch-in” rather than a “punch-out” damage. See illustration of the submarine toppling over the solitary pinnacle model in figure 164c. The speeding submarine might even punch through the reef (if the pinnacle column was not too big) and again landed on top of the atoll. Alternatively, at such high speed, inclination and water resistance & buoyancy, the submarine might actually somersault over the pinnacle. We too have a lot of experience with our underwater tow-fishes hitting coral pinnacles.

If the USS San Francisco was north of the uncharted it had to head south-westerly to hit the port side of the bow. But it was reported the submarine was heading in the easterly direction (away from its Brisbane destination). Not only is the port side damage inconsistent with the sailing direction, the claim that the crew and commander were unaware of the uncharted atoll had to be totally absurd. In the south-east straight line projection from Guam to the purported crash site, the submarine had to cross the long E-W West Fayu to Pikelot atolls chain. Either that or the submarine had to detour by 20-40 nautical miles to circumvent the island ridge. Either way, the crew had to be aware of shallow terrain or would have crashed earlier.

So even if the submarine had detoured, it would still be in the south-easterly direction. So the collision would be on the starboard side not the port side. To hit it on the port side, the submarine had to make a greater than 90 deg turn, to sail back the course it had came from. Even though it was on a leisure cruise, the commander had no right to waste tax-payers' money on making round-about courses that led no where. Again we have to invoke the Law of Stupidity or Physics of Impossibility to explain the absurd. Would it not be easier to admit the head-on collision did not happen? The fakers did their calculations alright but all on the assumptions of surface linear distances read off from the charts. In my training courses, my first caution is always:

To fool humans is easy but to fabricate survey data to fit the facts of life is impossible. Even leading survey contractors routinely fake data, to cut costs, to skim on operation time or simply to cheat simply because they could; with impunity. There is no one to stop this industry-wide unscrupulous practices. QC consultants are normally bought to keep their eyes shut and to concentrate on frivolous safety issues with the crew; like not wearing their safety helmet or goggles.

Evidence of a blast from inside the submarine rather than an impact collision.

Figure 164-1 shows one of the first publicised photos of the damaged USS San Francisco at dry dock. Even though the damaged bow was partly covered in blue tarp (the Pentagon said was necessary to conceal "classified equipment" which it had been carrying at the time of the shipwreck), the circular outline of the damage suggests a powerful blast from inside the submarine rather than a head on collision. The damages speak for itself.

A head-on collision would have indented the nose of the submarine backwards or curved into the inside of the hull (punch-in). Even a port side only collision, would have shown indentation consistent with a collision. The jagged edges of the inner hull could not have protruded forward of the outer hull armor, unless an inside explosion had torn off the outer hull (punch-out).

Never mind the discrepancies in minor details. A dive of 4 minutes means the submarine could not have travelled more than 2 miles at 30 knots (less at lower speed); a distance within visual sighting of shoals beneath water level. Submariners are known to be cautious seamen. Is it not reckless to dive at full speed in shoal area especially when there had been charted atolls around?

At the very least, it would have dived at slow speed. But then a grounding at low speed could not have caused such an intense damage. See the inconsistency? So they had to fake the incident at high speed.

If the submarine had collided with the undersea terrain on the port side of the bow, the extent of damage could not have terminated so abruptly in a circular outline. Even a low speed collision would have shown some trailing indentations or drag/scratch marks on the port side of the hull. A vessel in water cannot bounce off in an acute angle change of direction, to escape such indentations or at the very minimum drag or scratch marks.  
Only an idiot would dive at full speed into an “uncharted sea mount” when there are islands all around. But Commander Moore and the crew were not idiots. How could he be, with 19 years of exemplary service? All mariners know that nautical charts have accuracy limitations, according to their respective scales. Hence when surrounded by islands and ridges, you always approach or dive with caution. If the submarine did dive blindly at full speed, the commander and crew would have been charged with more than just “reckless driving”. Running aground a multi-billion nuclear submarine at full speed with intend to cause massive destruction is high treason punishable by death. Irrespective of the lame excuses (“deficiency in the chart review process”...give me a break), the punishment must be more than just relief of command and demotion. But could the navy mete out a much heavier punishment for a crime Commander Moore and the crew did not commit? No. The fact that he was willing to take the rap and public humiliation is already a huge sacrifice to cover a more sinister agenda.

Navy Petty Officers Robert Hutson (left) and Andrew Tillman are the only two crewmen who have remained with the submarine San Francisco since its 2005 crash. (Eduardo Contreras / Union-Tribune) - Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph "Joey" Ashley, 24, was killed in the 2005 submarine accident.

Continue …...Part 3 – Mysterious delay in the Medivac Emergency Response to the USS San Francisco accident
Fukushima was much cleaner job.

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