USS HARTFORD - "SHIP OF FOOLS?" - SKIPPER
OF NUCLEAR SUB RELIEVED OF COMMAND AFTER
COLLISION WITH NAVY SHIP IN GULF OF HORMUZ
CMDR RYAN BROOKHART "WALKS PLANK" AFTER
CRASH - OVER $100 MILLION IN DAMAGES TO SUB
USS NEW ORLEANS (LPD 18) NEEDS $2 MILLION IN
REPAIRS - INVESTIGATORS FOUND LAX SAILORS
LISTENING TO MUSIC, NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO
DUTY - NAVIGATOR STEERED BOAT WHILE ON
iPOD - LACK OF DISCIPLINE AMONG CREW
Yes, we know. A submarine is a "boat," but the USS Hartford, (SSN 768) was also a "ship of fools."
At least the skipper, CMDR Ryan Brookhart and several members of his lax crew are very foolish. He ran his craft like a frat house. Piped in music in the radio room. Helmsmen that slouched back in their chairs with just one hand on the controls. A navigator who listened to his iPod when he should have been paying attention to where the submarine was headed.
It all led to disaster March 20 when the Hartford slammed into the USS New Orleans (LPD 18) in the Strait of Hormuz, almost crunching it's conning tower like a wad of paper. When the battered sub limped back to port, it looked like it had been in a battle - and lost. The damage was extensive. It will take over $100 million taxpayers' dollars to fix things. The other craft was luckier. That repair tab comes to "only" a couple million.
A Navy investigation revealed Brookhart exhibited "ineffective and negligent" leadership. He was relieved of command in what will surely be an end to his naval career. The sloppy skipper allowed crew members to regularly sleep on duty and goof off when they should have been highly alert. Not only did the collision cost millions, 15 sailors suffered injuries in the smash-up. The probe found "nearly 30 tactical and watch stand errors which led to the avoidable accident."
CMDR Chris Harkins, deputy commander of Submarine Squadron 8, has assumed command of the Hartford.
This is not the first time the unlucky sub was involved in a mishap at sea. Back in 2003, CMDR Christopher Van Metre and Captain (Commodore) Greg Parker of Submarine Squadron 22 were fired and sent packing when the Hartford ran aground near La Maddalena in Spain. The boat's rudder, sonar, and other equipment was severely damaged.