San Diego-Based Ship Not At Fault in Crash: Report

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2009  |  Updated 7:16 AM PDT
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San Diego-Based Ship Not At Fault in Crash: Report

Getty Images/U.S. Navy

In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, the nuclear-powered fast attack submarine USS Hartford is moored off the U.S, Naval Academy in 1999 in Annapolis, Maryland. According to reports from U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, two U.S. Navy ships, USS Hartford and USS New Orleans, collided on March 20, 2009 in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula. One of the vessels, the USS Hartford a submarine, was nuclear-powered.

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Sailors on a nuclear submarine that collided with a San Diego-based Navy ship in March were sleeping and spent too much time away from their stations, according to a report that was recently obtained by The Day of New London.

The USS Orleans, the San Diego-based ship, "bears no fault" for a March 19 collission with the USS Hartford, according to the report, which the Day says is a “heavily redacted copy of the previously top secret investigation." 

The report blames "ineffective and negligent command leadership" aboard the USS Hartford for the crash, which occurred in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passage between the Gulf of Oman and the Persion Gulf and a key waterway for tankers carrying oil from the Middle East.

The USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine based out of Connecticut, and the USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship based out of San Diego, collided, sending thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into the ocean.

"This was an avoidable mishap," Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, wrote in endorsing the Judge Advocate General Manual investigation, the Day reports. "Correction of any one of nearly 30 tactical and watchstander errors, or adherence to standard procedures, could have prevented this collision."

The report also says the USS Hartford's brass did nothing to punish five known “sleepers,” who were known to nod off on their watch. Two of them were on duty when the crash happened.

Various other tactical errors were also mentioned in the report. The USS Hartford's commanding officer left the control room as the ship crossed the strait, a sonar supervisor left his station often and the navigator taking an exam and listening to an iPod, the report says.

Fifteen sailors were slightly hurt aboard the Hartford in the collision. The New Orleans' fuel tank ruptured, spilling 25,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel into the Strat of Hormuz.

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