The Navy has fired a dozen leaders but won’t explain why


The Navy has fired nearly a dozen officers in leadership positions in less than three months, including five in one week, due to a “loss of confidence” in their ability to command — an unusual string of terminations across land, air and sea teams, experts said.

At least nine commanding officers and two senior advisers have been relieved of their duties since April, when a cluster of suicides on the USS George Washington warship sparked widespread concerns of a mental health crisis.

A total of 13 commanding officers have been fired so far this year, including 12 in the Navy and one in the Marine Corps, the Navy said. Most recently, four Naval commanding officers and a top leader were ousted from June 8 to June 14.

It’s unclear what prompted the personnel changes, which the Navy said were unrelated to each other. The Navy did not elaborate further on specific conditions that led to the firings, but stressed the importance of “trust and confidence” across all levels of the chain of command.

“The U.S. Navy has long maintained high standards for all its personnel. Those who fall short of these standards are held accountable,” said Lt. Cmdr. Devin Arneson, a Navy spokesperson, who added that such an action is “neither punitive nor disciplinary.” 

None of the leaders served the George Washington, where at least five crew members died by suicide in the last year, angering some sailors and advocates who work to reduce military suicides.

“How many service members have to die before this commanding officer is held accountable?” said Patrick Caserta, who along with his wife has been advocating for better mental health treatment in the military, after their son died by suicide while serving the Navy in 2018.

“You cannot hand-pick some commanders as fall guys and leave others untouched,” Caserta said.

At least one George Washington sailor, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, said he partially blames his commanding officer, Capt. Brent Gaut, for the rash of suicides, which include three within a span of a week in April.

The sailor and the Casertas believe Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith should also be fired, following controversial remarks he made during an address to a fragile crew in April. Smith, the service’s senior enlisted leader, is responsible for matters dealing with enlisted personnel and their families.

The sailor said his shipmates still talk about Smith’s comments that sailors should have “reasonable expectations,” and that they were not “sleeping in a foxhole like a Marine might be doing.”

In separate news releases, the Navy gave vague explanations in at least four of the cases and blanket “loss of confidence” statements for the others.

It said an “assessment” of the current climate at the Naval Justice School led officials to fire both the commanding officer and her second-in-command on May 31. However, the Navy said neither officer was involved in misconduct. 

That commanding officer, Capt. Amy Larson, had held the role for about eight months. She has been temporarily reassigned, officials said.

Earlier, a “command investigation” resulted in the April 28 termination of the commanding officer in charge of the Submarine Training Facility in San Diego, the Navy said.

In Hawaii, a “series of leadership and oversight failures” at the government-run Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility led to the April 4 dismissal of the commanding officer of its Fleet Logistics Center.

Most recently, the Navy said the commanding officer of the USS Bulkeley destroyer and his third-in-command were relieved on June 10 due to a loss of confidence in their “ability to effectively function as a command leadership team.”

Military experts said it’s common for commanding officers on ships to be fired, but that it’s rarer to see them booted from teams that handle trainings, fleet readiness and supply centers.

The Navy said an average of about 17 commanding officers have been relieved each year since 2011. It’s unclear if the service plans to announce more terminations soon.

At least at sea, commanding officers are relieved so frequently that it’s become a long-running joke among sailors, said Benjamin Gold, who was a Naval officer for nearly seven years.

Gold said dismissals are easily triggered, especially when complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment and conditions of employment are filed with the Naval Inspector General’s office.

“You always hear about COs being fired for one reason or another,” he said. “We describe command at sea as kind of like an experiment in leadership.”

For commanding officers, there is a very low threshold for a personal infraction, said Gold, who is now a military law attorney. “You’re under the microscope,” he said. “As you get higher up in the ranks, the microscope intensifies.”

Patrick Caserta, 57, and his wife Teri, 56, are baffled that leaders on the USS George Washington are still on the aircraft carrier when other commanding officers have lost their jobs in instances that did not involve any sailor’s death.

“They need to be held accountable for this,” Caserta said. “What’s more indicative of a leader? DUI or people dying under your command?”

The Casertas said they know firsthand how poor leadership impacts a sailor’s decision to die by suicide.

Next week will mark the fourth year they’ve been without their son, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta, who took his own life while serving a helicopter sea combat unit in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Casertas said their 21-year-old son, a naval squadron flight electrician, had been chronically bullied and abused by a toxic command that denied his requests for mental health services.

The string of dismissals comes as Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro faces pressure to look into toxic command cultures.

On May 17, Del Toro and Adm. Michael Gilday, the U.S. chief of naval operations, visited the George Washington and spoke to beleaguered crew members about living and working conditions. 

At the time, a senior Navy official told NBC News that “several things” were in the works and that recommendations would be developed and implemented “as soon as possible.” 

The Navy Secretary’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the status of those changes since.

“There’s been no accountability, nothing, when all these changes could have happened,” Caserta said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.



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Navy offers at least $25,000 to recruits who ship before June


The Navy is offering at least $25,000 to new recruits who enlist active duty and ship before June 30 to fill shipping gaps between now and then.

The sum is part of an early shipping bonus and marks the first time the Navy has offered a minimum enlistment bonus of $25,000 for any rating, according to Cmdr. Dave Benham, spokesman for Navy Recruiting Command.

Some ratings could rake in even more cash. For example, the submarine information systems technician and the electronics/computer field ratings are eligible for $35,000 early shipping bonuses.

Future sailors scheduled to ship between July and September but who reclassify to ship before the end of June are also eligible for the bonus, the Navy said.

The maximum enlistment bonus is still $50,000, as the service unveiled in February. The early shipping bonus can be paired with other bonuses, like those for sailors going into the nuclear, submarine and information warfare career fields, but bonuses max out at $50,000.

Benham told Navy Times in February that he was not aware of any other instances in which enlistment bonuses had reached $50,000 before.

Enlistment bonus and loan repayment program messages list the max at $40,000 dating back to 2006.

The shipping bonuses are paid following graduation from Recruit Training Command aboard Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois, while the enlistment bonus source rate will be issued to sailors after graduation from A or C school.

The Navy brought on a total of 33,559 new sailors to the Fleet in fiscal 2021, exceeding its active duty enlisted accession goal of 33,400 recruits, Benham said.



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US Navy transforms Arctic ice slab into an AIRSTRIP and military camp with its own cafeteria and internet


THE US Navy has developed an ‘ice camp’ on a sheet of floating ice in the Arctic Ocean where Sailors could experience temperatures down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit.

To service a three-week program called Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2022, the Navy built Ice Camp Queenfish on an ice floe about 175 miles off the coast of Alaska in just a few days.

Ice Camp Queenfish can support over 60 personnel

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Ice Camp Queenfish can support over 60 personnelCredit: Commander, Submarine Force Atlan
The ice camp's runway was built on smooth first-year ice

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The ice camp’s runway was built on smooth first-year iceCredit: MC1 Alfred Coffield/U.S. Navy

Ice Camp Queenfish is complete with a command center, sleeping quarters, cafeteria, restrooms, internet, and even a 2,500-foot-long runway that supports multiple daily flights.

“Although the ice camp and airstrip are built in just a few days, it takes a tremendous amount of practice, planning, and hard work by many highly trained people ahead of time to be successful,” said Rear Admiral Richard Seif, the ranking officer at ICEX 2022.

ICEX 2022 allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic by pushing Sailors to learn and experience the environment while developing relationships with other services and allies.

The ice camp is being used to test out “submarine systems and other arctic research initiatives,” according to the Navy’s press release.

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The runway was built on smooth first-year ice. To prepare the snow for the ice camp runway, the team used all-terrain vehicles, cultivators, disc rakes, and snowblowers.

Not only can the encampment be built in about five days, but it can be flexible if necessary.

The tents that house and support over 60 personnel working at the site are made up of aluminum, carbon fiber, or inflated beams.

The frigid camp wouldn’t be possible without intense research by the Navy’s team of meteorologist specialists, which Navy Lieutenant Seth Koenig called the “first line of defense between the vulnerable ice camp personnel and those dangerous conditions.”

The four-person meteorological team works closely with scientists to use satellite technology and forecasting equipment to stay aware of the constantly-changing environment.

The team works to monitor ice fractures, as well as future temperatures, windchills, and currents in order to guide traveling flights and advise the personnel in outdoor training and research.

“Because it’s a data sparse environment, weather can change really quickly,” Lieutenant Colleen Wilmington, the team’s leader, said.

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“Right now we’re pushing to forecast out about 36 hours, but beyond that, it’s really difficult. It’s really a matter of looking at it constantly and using as much available data as possible to get a look at what’s going on.”

This ice camp training comes as US Army soldiers have been undergoing parachute training at a crucial Alaska base.

Ice Camp Queenfish is complete with sleeping quarters

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Ice Camp Queenfish is complete with sleeping quartersCredit: MC1 Alfred Coffield/U.S. Navy
The ice camp is being used to test out submarine systems

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The ice camp is being used to test out submarine systemsCredit: Commander, Submarine Force Atlan
A team of meteorological specialists research the intense Arctic conditions

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A team of meteorological specialists research the intense Arctic conditionsCredit: Mike Demello/U.S. Navy

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Navy vice admiral reflects on decades of service | We Served


SPRINGFIELD, Virginia – A Cherokee Nation citizen who joined the U.S. Navy in 1984 is now a vice admiral in high-ranking posts as both director of Naval Intelligence and deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare.

“I joined thinking I was only going to be a power plant operator,” said Jeffery E. Trussler, 58, of Springfield, Va. “I had no idea I was going to learn to drive a submarine, shoot torpedoes and missiles and go to and operate in places that most people have never heard of.”

Trussler’s youth was spent in Miami, Oklahoma, where he attended high school and Northeastern A&M Junior College. He was recruited into the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program while attending Oklahoma State University near the end of his junior year in 1984.

“The Navy recruits STEM students to finish their degree program, get commissioned at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and then go through a year of nuclear power plant training,” he said.

In addition to Trussler’s current roles, career highlights include commanding the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, directing future plans of the U.S. Navy, two tours at the Navy Personnel Command, the Joint Staff and the Navy Staff.

Trussler received the Naval Submarine League’s Rear Adm. Jack Darby Award for Inspirational Leadership and Excellence in Command for 2006. Rather than reflect on his own military awards or decorations, Trussler expressed pride for his crew when in command of the ballistic missile submarine USS Maryland from 2003-06.

“We received the highest marks on all competitive areas we were evaluated in, and eight of my officers went on to their own command assignments,” he said.

Trussler assumed duties as the Navy’s 68th director of Naval Intelligence in June 2020.

“In that role, I work in partnership with the other 17 elements of the National Intelligence Community – Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, NGA, etc. – to ensure our Navy can leverage all the intelligence assets available to maintain advantage over any potential adversaries in the maritime domain,” he said.

As the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, Trussler serves as principal advisor for the Chief of Naval Operations on matters ranging from cyber security to precision navigation.

“On behalf of Navy leadership here in the Pentagon, I work very closely with our fleet to ensure they have the information warfare resources, equipment, trained manpower, etc., available to our commanders so they can deter any potential aggression or fight and win any battle,” he said.

The vice admiral says he will likely retire next year.

“I think my current assignment and time in the Navy will be complete in 2023 after 39 years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of my experience in the Navy and am looking forward to the next opportunities.”

Trussler traces his Cherokee lineage to the Trail of Tears and Juda “Tsu-Ta Ki-kum-mah” Cochran, born in 1818 in the Cherokee territory of Georgia.

“During the removal to Oklahoma, she took up with a Scottish trader named Ambrose McGhee who accompanied the Cherokees on the trail,” he said. “They had eight children together in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma. Several of their sons fought with Brig. Gen. Stand Watie in the Civil War. One daughter, Eliza Jane “Nu Cha” McGhee had a daughter, Sarah Fields. Sarah had a daughter, Elizabeth Brown, that was my great grandmother. Elizabeth was born in 1888 and lived to 100 before she passed away in 1988 after outliving four husbands.”

Trussler and his wife, Kirsten, will celebrate 30 years of marriage later this year.



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Submarine work led to death of ex Royal Navy seaman from Blakeney — Gloucestershire News Service


A Blakeney man’s service in the Royal Navy led to his death from asbestos-related cancer, a coroner heard yesterday (Dec 16).

Michael Berry, of All Saints rd, Blakeney, who died on December 6th at the age of 74, had worked on the removal of asbestos from a number of Naval vessels during his life as a seaman and submariner, the Gloucester inquest was told.

When his terminal cancer was diagnosed at the end of 2019 he was awarded a £140,000 lump sum by the Ministry of Defence in recognition that the condition was due to his Naval work, the assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Roland Wooderson was told.

The coroner recorded a conclusion that Mr Berry died of industrial disease on 6th Dec 2021 at his home address.

Mr Berry’s son Dan found him dead that morning when he took him a cup of tea, said the coroner.

Mr Wooderson added “Prior to his diagnoses with mesothelima he was pretty fit and well. It seems likely he had exposure to asbestos when working on submarines in the 1970s.

“After his Naval service he worked as a publican in various parts of the country.

“He was a widower and he served in the Royal Navy from 1962 to 1976 including a period on the Ark Royal and then on submarines.

“He was working on submarines when they were being refitted. “

Conclusion: Industrial Disease.



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USS Connecticut: How did a $3 billion US Navy submarine hit an undersea mountain?


The Connecticut is now pierside at a US Navy base on the Pacific island of Guam. The Navy says it got there — more than 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) east of the South China Sea — under its own power and its nuclear reactor was not harmed, although 11 of its crew of suffered minor injuries in the collision.

The Pentagon has not released details of the damage the vessel incurred nor how long it might be out of action in a region which, with the rise of the Chinese navy, is seeing growing demands on the US fleet.

Which leaves US military planners with some big questions to answer in the coming weeks and months.

Not the least of which is, how did this happen?

Driving a submarine

The Navy on Thursday gave a hint of what might have led to the accident when it relieved the Connecticut’s leadership of their command due to loss of confidence.

The commanding officer, Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani, was relieved of duty, as were the executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin, and the chief of the boat, Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers.

Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of US 7th Fleet, determined that “sound judgment, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident,” according to a statement about the decision.

The undersea environment is unforgiving and even small mistakes can have huge consequences.

“Submarining is hard, it’s really hard. Not everything goes right all the time,” said Thomas Shugart, who spent more than 11 years on US submarines, including commanding an attack sub.

Members of the crew sit at the controls aboard the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter in 2005.

Surface ships or a sub operating at periscope depth can relay on global positioning satellites to give sailors a very accurate location, said Shugart, now an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

But at depth, the GPS systems are not available. Submariners use their compasses and charts.

Accurate charts (with a resolution of 328 feet or 100 meters) of the sea bottom are compiled by sending surface ships over an area and bathing the bottom in sound waves — a method called multi-beam sonar.

But the process is expensive and time consuming, leaving as much as 80% of Earth’s seafloor unmapped.

In the busy South China Sea, through which a third of the world’s maritime trade passes and where China has been building and militarily fortifying man-made islands, less than 50% of the sea bottom has been mapped, David Sandwell, a professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, told CNN.

“It’s not surprising that you could run into something,” he said.

The US Navy has not said exactly where the Connecticut hit the seamount.

Officially, the service says it was in Indo-Pacific waters, but US defense officials had previously told CNN it occurred in the South China Sea.

Sandwell tried to narrow down the area.

Using a method called vertical gravity grading — taking satellite altimetry measurements of the Earth’s gravitational field — and overlaying those results with mapping of the bottom of the South China Sea, he was able to identify 27 places where the Connecticut could have hit a seamount that was not on US Navy charts.

“These are places where the gravity predicts there is something shallower than 400 meters (1,312 feet), around the depth where a submarine might run into it,” he said.

Officially, the Navy says Seawolf-class subs have a maximum depth of more than 243 meters (800 feet), although some experts put their maximum depth around double that.

Submarines do have their own sonar, but using it comes at a price — loss of stealthiness.

Those sonar pings — so ubiquitous in submarine movies — also give away the sub’s position to opposing forces.

“Sonar is your only way to look at the bottom, but you don’t want to put out more sound than you have to,” Shugart said.

“You’d have to do that about every 20 seconds or so,” to get an accurate picture, Sandwell said. “It makes a lot of noise.”

When it comes to knowing the terrain beneath them, even astronauts might have it easier than submariners, according to Shugart.

“Basically, the surface of the moon is better charted than the bottom of the ocean is,” he said.

A history of submarine groundings

The USS Connecticut isn’t the first US Navy sub to be involved in an underwater collision.
The attack submarine USS San Francisco sits in dry dock, on January 27, 2005, in Apra Harbor, Guam to assess damage sustained after running aground approximately 350 miles south of Guam on January 8, 2005.

On January 8, 2005, the USS San Francisco, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, struck a seamount about 350 miles (563 kilometers) south of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.

The incident killed one sailor and injured 97 others among the crew of 137.

A Navy investigation concluded the San Francisco was traveling at maximum speed at a depth of 525 feet (160 meters) when it hit the seamount, which was not on the chart the sub’s commanders were using at the time.

But the probe found the commanders should have known the undersea mountain was there based on other charts in their possession, which indicated a navigational hazard in the area.

“If San Francisco’s leaders and watchteams had complied with requisite procedures and exercised prudent navigation practices, the grounding would most likely have been avoided,” the Navy report said. “Even if not wholly avoided, however, the grounding would not have been as severe and loss of life may be been prevented.”

Other incidents have been less serious but illustrate the difficulties of maneuvering subs even in familiar waters.

For instance, in November 2015, the USS Georgia, an Ohio-class guided missile submarine, struck a channel buoy and grounded as it was returning to port in Kings Bay, Georgia.
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia departs Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in 2015.

The 18,000-ton, 560-foot-long (170 meters) sub sustained more than $1 million in damage and its captain was relieved of command.

And in 2003, the USS Hartford ran aground while entering a NATO base in Spain, resulting in a $9 million repair bill and its commander being relieved of duty.

Despite those incidents, Shugart, the former US Navy sub commander, defends the US Navy’s record under the sea.

“We have more submarines, they spend more time at sea, they go a lot farther away from home and they operate at higher speeds than probably anybody else’s,” he said.

“We do the most challenging submarine missions that anybody does and the farthest away from home,” he said, adding: “even the pros have bad days.”

What makes the USS Connecticut so special?

The Connecticut is one of three Seawolf-class submarines in the US Navy fleet, each costing about $3 billion to build. The 9,300-ton, 353-foot sub, commissioned in 1998 and is crewed by 140 sailors.

What are nuclear-powered submarines and how do they work?

Like all modern US Navy attack submarines, the Connecticut is powered by a nuclear reactor, which enables it to be fast but quiet, with none of the noise produced by a combustion engine. Nuclear power enables such subs to stay at sea and underwater as long as provisions for the crew hold out.

The Navy doesn’t give exact figures in publicizing the abilities of its submarine, but experts say the Seawolf-class is exceptional.

“These subs have some of the most advanced — in fact the most advanced — underwater capabilities in the business,” said Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy at King’s College in London.

The Navy says it is “exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors.”

A Navy fact sheet says the Connecticut is capable of going faster than 28 mph (46.3 kph) under water. That’s faster than the average container or cargo ship on the surface of the sea and almost as fast as the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

As it is larger than even the newest Virginia-class attack subs, the Connecticut can carry more weaponry than other US attack submarines — including up to 50 torpedoes as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to a US Navy fact sheet.

The USS Connecticut was commissioned in Groton, Connecticut on December 11, 1998.

And despite being more than 20 years old, it’s also technologically advanced with updates to its systems performed during its service life.

Though the Navy doesn’t give details on the missions its submarines undertake, the three Seawolf-class subs are thought to be important intelligence-gathering assets, especially in shallower environments.

“The robust design of the Seawolf class enables these submarines to perform a wide spectrum of crucial military assignments — from underneath the Arctic icepack to littoral regions anywhere in the world,” the manufacturer, General Dynamics Electric Boat, says on its website.

“Their missions include surveillance, intelligence collection, special warfare, cruise missile strike, mine warfare, and anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare,” Electric Boat says.

With no combat taking place in the South China Sea, the focus of the sub in the current environment is likely to be in intelligence gathering.

And that’s why China is paying close attention.

The  guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, rear, and the Royal Australian Navy  frigate HMAS Ballarat sail together during integrated operations in the South China Sea in October 2020.

Questions from Beijing

Following the collision, Beijing has accused Washington of not being forthcoming about what happened and how it could affect countries around the South China Sea.

“We have repeatedly expressed our grave concern over the incident and asked the US side to take a responsible attitude and provide a detailed clarification so as to give a satisfactory account to the international community and countries in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said this week.

The subject of nuclear-powered submarines has been prominent in Chinese state media over the past few months in the wake of Australia’s decision to acquire such vessels from the United States and the United Kingdom under a deal known as AUKUS.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in September the AUKUS deal “seriously damages regional peace and stability.”

The Connecticut incident just added fuel to Beijing’s propaganda push.

Washington issued its first public statement on the collision five days after it occurred. It did not disclose the fact that the Connecticut hit a seamount until earlier this week, nearly a month after the incident.

US Navy officials told CNN on Wednesday the delays stemmed from concerns including keeping the damaged sub safe and ensuring a thorough investigation of the incident, as is standard.

“Due to operations security, we could not disclose the location of the submarine or the incident to the public at an earlier date,” Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a public affairs officer for the US 7th Fleet, said in an email.

Sims said two internal investigations were launched, one on the command of the sub and a second on safety procedures.

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The first, she said, “determined USS Connecticut grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region” and has been submitted to 7th Fleet commanders for review.

The second probe, being conducted by Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, is ongoing.

A spokesperson for the sub force, Cmdr. Cindy Fields, told CNN this week the submarine is in “a safe and stable condition” at the port in Guam.

“USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational,” she said.

The Navy said Thursday the Connecticut would be moved to Bremerton, Washington, for repairs.

According to a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang called on Washington to clarify “the intended navigation of the nuclear submarine, whether the specific location of the incident was in an exclusive economic zone or territorial sea of any other country, or whether the incident has caused nuclear leakage or damaged the marine environment.”

The US has not revealed any of those details, but when it comes to the South China Sea, Washington’s policy is consistent.

After a US destroyer performed a freedom of navigation operation in the waterway in September, a US 7th Fleet statement responded definitively to Chinese objections: “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” the statement said. “Nothing (China) says otherwise will deter us.”

CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.



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Damaged US Navy sub was operating in one of world’s most difficult undersea environments, analysts say


By Brad Lendon, CNN

The US Navy submarine that struck an underwater object in the South China Sea last weekend was operating in one of the world’s most difficult undersea environments, one filled with noise from ships above and a seabed with constantly shifting contours that can surprise any submarine crew, analysts say.

US defense officials on Thursday did not give details of the accident that befell the USS Connecticut, saying only that a number of sailors aboard were injured when the sub struck an object while running submerged in the South China Sea.

The service said the injuries were minor and the sub was making its way to the US naval base on the island of Guam under its own power.

The Connecticut is one of three Seawolf-class submarines in the Navy fleet, with a price tag of about $3 billion each. The 9,300-ton, 353-foot sub, commissioned in 1998, is powered by a single nuclear reactor and crewed by 140 sailors.

As it is larger than even the newest Virginia-class attack subs, the Connecticut can carry more weaponry than other US attack submarines — including up to 50 torpedoes as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to a US Navy fact sheet.

And despite being more than 20 years old, it’s also technologically advanced with updates to its systems performed during its service life.

The Navy says it is “exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors.”

“These subs have some of the most advanced — in fact the most advanced — underwater capabilities in the business,” said Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy at King’s College in London.

How did it get into trouble in the South China Sea?

While the Navy hasn’t revealed what the Connecticut struck, analysts say conditions in the South China Sea can be a challenge for the sub’s sophisticated sensors.

“It could have been an object small enough to be missed by sonars in a noisy environment,” Patalano said.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, naval vessels use what is called “passive sonar” to detect objects in the water around them. Unlike “active sonar,” which sends out pings and then registers how long their echoes take to return to the vessel, passive sonar detects only sound coming toward it.

This enables the submarine to stay quiet and hidden from adversaries, but it means subs must rely on other devices or multiple passive sonars to triangulate the location of an object in its path.

Because the South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and fishing areas, all kinds of noises from vessels on the surface can mask what might pose a danger to the submarine below, analysts said.

“Depending on the place the incident occurred, noise interference of sorts (usually from traffic above) might have affected sensors, or indeed operators’ use of them,” Patalano said.

And it’s not just shipping that can pose problems for a submarine in the South China Sea, said Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain and past director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.

“It is an area with a very poor acoustic environment,” Schuster said, with even the nature of the waters themselves creating problems.

“Ambient noise from currents passing between the islands and inconsistent water conditions affect acoustic reception,” he added.

It’s also possible that something from below could have caused a problem, Schuster said.

“Those waters’ environment and the sea bottom are in a state of slow but inexorable change,” Schuster said. “It is an area that requires constant bottom contour mapping. You can hit an uncharted underwater mountain down there.

“That’s why the countries in that region, the US and China are constantly surveying and patrolling them.”

The accident was the second involving a submarine in the region this year. In April, an Indonesian submarine sank in the Bali Strait, killing all 53 crew aboard.

Indonesian Navy officials said the accident was caused by “a natural/environment factor,” but did not give further details.

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Super-fast sub “Golden Fish” lives on in North Russian Navy town


It was one of the most innovative projects of the Soviet Navy. The K-222, also known as the Golden Fish, was capable of sailing as quick 44,7 knots (82.8 km/h) in submerged position

It was a unique effort by Russian engineers and vessel designers, who had been commissioned to develop a brand new kind of submarine radically different from all former projects. The result was Project 661, an extremely fast attack submarine built with a titanium hull.

The vessel was laid down in late 1963 and commissioned six years later.

In December 1970 it set its official world speed record. An attempt to push for even higher speed was made in 1971. The new record was originally to be announced at the start of the 24th Soviet Party Congress, but that time schedule failed because of bad weather in the Barents Sea. Still, later that same day, the ship captain set out to the Motovsky Bay north of the Kola Peninsula and pushed the vessel’s two reactors to the utmost. Three stretches were planned, but only two executed, reportedly because the turbines were about to get out of control. The speed during the tests reached 44,85 knots (83,06 km/h), but it is still the result from 1970 that has remained the official record, notes at Wikipedia read.

The world had never seen a vessel like the K-222.

But it came with a hefty price. The submarine is believed to have costed up to two billion rubles, or approximately 1 percent of the Soviet Union’s 1968 GDP. It became the only vessel built of the project. In addition to its high cost, the K-222 created too much noice and had several more downsides.

The Golden Fish served in the Northern Fleet from 1970 to 1984. It had its home base in Zapadnaya Litsa and later Ura-Guba on the Kola Peninsula.

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It was officially taken out of service in 1989 and decommissioning started in 2008. In 2015, the spent nuclear fuel was remove and the reactor compartment is to be brought to the storage site in Saida Bay near Murmansk.

But the life of the historical submarine did not completely come to an end. The conning tower of the vessel is now being rebuilt to become a memorial in the city of Severodvinsk, the site of its original construction.

In early July, the tower was brought from the submarine repair yard of Zvezdochka to the nearby yard of Sevmash.

 

The tower of the K-222 is up for a facelift. Photo: Sevmash

 

According to Sevmash, the reconstruction will start as soon as an agreement is concluded with the city of Severodvinsk. When completed, the K-222 memorial will be placed in the local Primorsky Park.

The memorial is dedicated to builders of the sub, as well as its designers and experts that undertook repair works and upheld its battle preparedness, Sevmash reports.

 

 



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Indonesian Navy Submarine Still Missing; Officials Say Time Is Running Out : NPR


An Indonesian navy ship searches for the submarine KRI Nanggala 402 that went missing this week in the waters off Bali.

Eric Ireng/AP


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Eric Ireng/AP


An Indonesian navy ship searches for the submarine KRI Nanggala 402 that went missing this week in the waters off Bali.

Eric Ireng/AP

Rescuers scouring the Bali Sea for a stricken Indonesian submarine with 53 sailors aboard are hoping the crew could still be alive, but as the hours since the vessel’s disappearance tick by, the chances of survival grow increasingly slim.

The Indonesian navy chief of staff, Adm. Yudo Margono, told reporters Thursday that a search of the vicinity where the diesel-powered KRI Nanggala 402 is believed to have gone down, about 60 miles north of the resort island of Bali, had located an object with “high magnetic force” floating at a depth of 50 to 100 meters (about 165 to 330 feet). “We hope it is the KRI Nanggala,” he said.

But the navy had said previously that it believes the submarine may have sunk in a particularly deep spot in the otherwise relatively shallow sea — about 600-700 meters (2,000-2,300 feet) down — much deeper than the boat’s maximum operating depth and likely below its crush depth.

Even in a best case scenario, the navy chief of staff emphasized that with oxygen expected to run out early Saturday a quick rescue would be critical. “Hopefully we can rescue them before the oxygen has run out,” he said.

The KRI Nanggala was conducting a weapons training exercise early Wednesday when the navy said the sub was given permission to dive and then never made radio contact again.

Earlier, rescuers reported finding an oil slick on the surface and the smell of diesel fuel, but there was no way of knowing whether it came from the sub. While an oil slick might be a sign that the vessel was destroyed, the navy said it could simply mean that the submarine’s fuel tank had been damaged. It could even be a deliberate signal from the crew.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Thursday that he had ordered an “optimal” search for the submarine and that the rescue of its crew was the “main priority.” He expressed sympathy with family members over their ordeal.

The German-built submarine has been in service since the early 1980s. Despite its age, a refit of the vessel by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering was completed in 2012. A Daewoo official told The Associated Press that the company had upgraded the boat’s internal structures and systems.

Speaking to reporters, the navy chief of staff said the submarine had “received a letter of feasibility from the navy” and that “it was ready for battle.”

Navy spokesman Julius Widjojono told Indonesia’s KompasTV earlier that the boat could sustain a depth of 250-500 meters (about 820-1,640 feet). “Anything more than that can be pretty fatal, dangerous,” he said.

A Daewoo Shipbuilding official, Ahn Guk-hyeon, told the AP that the submarine would collapse if it goes deeper than about 200 meters (about 655 feet).

If the vessel is intact, it could be too deep for a rescue, said Frank Owen, secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia.

“Most rescue systems are really only rated to about 600 meters (1,969 feet),” he told the AP. “They can go deeper than that because they will have a safety margin built into the design, but the pumps and other systems that are associated with that may not have the capacity to operate. So they can survive at that depth, but not necessarily operate.”

He said the Indonesian sub was not fitted with a special hatch seal that would allow the crew to escape into a different vessel during an underwater rescue.

“So the only system they have is to get to the surface and abandon the submarine on the surface; or if they’re in water that is less than 180 metres [590 feet] in depth they could put a special suit on so they can breathe and not burst their lungs and they can get to the surface,” Owen told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s still risky but it’s doable,” Owen said.

The Indonesian military said Thursday that at least 20 navy ships, two submarines and five aircraft have been searching the area and that a hydro-oceanographic survey ship equipped with underwater detection equipment was also on its way to the area of the oil slick.

Australia, South Korea, the United States, Germany, France, Russia, India and Turkey have all offered to assist in the search for the submarine and a possible rescue, the Indonesian navy said.

Vessels from Singapore and Malaysia are also reportedly joining in the search but won’t be able to reach the area until the weekend.



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HII Awarded $194M Navy Submarine Overhaul Support Extension


March 25, 2021
Contract Awards, News

HII Awarded $194M Navy Submarine Overhaul Support Extension

USS Columbus submarine

Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE: HII) will continue engineered overhaul work on USS Columbus, a nuclear powered fast attack submarine in the U.S. Navy’s Los Angeles class. under the potential $194.5 million contract modification.

HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division in Virginia will receive nearly $191 million at the time of award for continued efforts toward completing the fiscal 2018 project for SSN 762, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

The company initially secured a $288.6 million in August 2015 to help the branch plan modernization of the undersea vessel and received a $136 million modification in November 2019 for repair, upgrade and maintenance services.

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