Crew of nuclear submarine captain who ran aground had been awake for 36 hours

An investigation from a Navy submarine mishap in 2015 that racked up a million dollars in damage revealed that the skipper of the vessel had warned that his crew was not ready.

The submarine in question was the Ohio-class USS Georgia, which ran aground in November of 2015.

Near the entrance of the St.Marys River, the sub collided with a buoy and ended up causing over a $1 million in damage.

A subsequent investigation was conducted, and the findings were only recently released to via a public records request.

The USS Georgia was apparently going too fast as it approached the tug vessel carrying the Pilot (the local navigation expert who would effectively valet the sub into port), and the poor positioning of the tugboat made proper maneuvering difficult.

The investigation also revealed that the ship’s skipper, CAPT David Adams, had expressed concern over crew readiness and experience. Adams was relieved of his post due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

“His inability to effectively manage the complexity of the situation and failure to respond to the circumstances in a manner sufficient to protect the safety of the ship and crew is beneath my expectations for any CO,” Rear Adm. Randy Crites, then-commander of Submarine Group 10, wrote in a report.

Crites claims the inexperience of the crew was inconsequential, and that Adams and other officers should have been on top of the matter.

“Ultimately, had this crew (and the Pilot) executed the same plan in the same manner during broad daylight, there is nothing in the ship’s planning effort, demonstrated seamanship, or response to tripwires that indicates the outcome would be any different,” he wrote.

In the report, Adams disagreed.

“CO/XO/NAV have not piloted into Kings Bay in the last 20 years. All of the untoward [incidents] I know of occurred between [St. Marys] and Fort Clinch,” he wrote. “My assessment is that this is not a prudent plan for [return to port] … Having just been at sea for a few weeks, I have not built enough depth. I am concerned about the fatigue level of my command element. Given an all day evolution and subsequent [underway], we will have spent the majority of 36 hours awake and are set to Pilot out and submerge on the mid-watch at 0330.”

In the end, however, Adams assumed fault.

“Despite my significant reservation- expressed face-to-face, on the phone, and In emails with staff and leadership… concerning the risks of proceeding Into Kings Bay In the dark with an inexperienced team, when my requests to delay [return to port] one hour later were denied, I failed in my command responsibilities by driving to achieve mission success at the expense of appropriately acting to mitigate risks to increase our margin of safety,” he wrote in the report. “In retrospect, I should have loitered at [St. Marys] until I was satisfied that the risks were commensurate with the mission gain.”

Adams retired in 2016.

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