I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Close call for nuclear missile sub in local waters!

One of the nation's ballistic missile submarines (homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor), loaded with Trident D-5 nuclear armed missiles, had a close call not far from Seattle in the Strait of Juan de fuca a little more than two months ago.  You can read about it in the news story below.  I've also included links to a couple of other stories on the incident.  As for the Navy replacing the Commanding Officer of the submarine involved in the incident - When dealing with the greatest destructive force ever conceived there is no margin for error.  You don't get second chances with nukes.

Nuclear sub narrowly avoided collision in Strait of Juan de Fuca, newspaper reports*

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News
December 25, 2011

PORT ANGELES — A nuclear-powered submarine narrowly avoided colliding with a cargo ship in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in October, according to the Navy Times.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the USS Kentucky, a ballistic-missile sub based at Bangor, was traveling at periscope depth when it came within 900 yards of a 839-foot-long cargo ship on Oct. 12.

The officer of the deck had failed to check for other vessels while making a course change, the Navy Times said.

Both ships turned to avoid colliding.

The crew of the Kentucky became aware of the danger after being hailed by another vessel, asking if they had contacted the merchant ship to arrange passage.

The captain of the cargo ship, the Midnight Sun, which was crossing in front of the sub, had noticed the periscope and ordered the ship to turn left, helping to avoid a collision.

The Kentucky’s bow swung clear of the ship, the newspaper reported, but the stern was in danger of striking the vessel.

The sub’s commander, Joseph Nosse, ordered use of more rudder to “check the ship’s swing.”

The newspaper did not say where in the Strait the incident occurred.

In an email, a Navy spokesman declined to provide the location or additional information, adding “it is U.S. Navy policy not to discuss specific submarine operations.”

Coast Guard spokespeople could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Nosse was relieved of his position in October after the incident and reassigned to Submarine Group 9, the newspaper said.

He was replaced by Capt. Paul Skarpness, head of Submarine Squadron 17.

A Navy spokesperson told the newspaper the decision did not arise solely from the near-miss but from multiple “shortfalls in professional performance.”

The newspaper said the control room had a made series of accumulating errors, including confusing the inbound cargo ship as an outgoing vessel, and the commanding officer, concerned about a trawler, ordering a change of course but not saying in which direction.


*Article found at http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20111225/news/312259992/nuclear-sub-narrowly-avoided-collision-in-strait-of-juan-de-fuca
Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Other stories on this incident:

Near miss with merchant ship led to submarine commander's firing, by Ed Friederich, The Kitsap Sun, December 14, 2011

Near-miss cited in firing of sub CO, by Sam Fellman, Navy Times, December 21. 2011

Why Joseph Nosse Lost His Command: Bangor N-Sub Almost Collides with Cargo Ship in Strait, By Rick Anderson, Seattle Weekly, December 27 2011

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