Thursday, January 20, 2005

Commanding Officer Relieved

January 20, 2005
Skipper of submarine San Francisco relieved of command
By William H. McMichael
Times Staff Writer

The skipper of the sub that struck an underwater mountain south of Guam 12 days ago has been relieved of his command, the Navy’s 7th Fleet said. Cmdr. Kevin Mooney was reassigned today to unspecified duties at Guam’s Submarine Squadron 15 by 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.

Cmdr. Ike Skelton, a spokesman, said Mooney was effectively relieved but that the permanence of the move or any punitive action would depend on how the investigation into the mishap’s cause turns out.

San Francisco’s new commanding officer is Cmdr. Andrew Hale, deputy commander of Submarine Squadron 15.

The Jan. 8 grounding killed one sailor, injured almost half of the 137-man crew and left the attack sub with “extensive” damage to its bow, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, Pacific Fleet Submarine Force spokesman. The forward ballast tanks, the sonar dome and sonar sphere all are damaged, he said, while the inner pressure hull “does not appear” to be so. Also undamaged were the sub’s engineering, propulsion and electrical systems, he said.

Davis also said the Navy is planning to put the San Francisco into a floating drydock in Guam to enable technicians to make the most accurate assessment of damages. Still to be determined: if the drydock is nuclear-capable, something the Navy continues to check out. Davis said that’s expected to happen. If it does, the sub could be in drydock in about a week, he said.
No estimate of cost for repairs has been announced.

William H. McMichael is the Hampton Roads bureau chief for Navy Times. Reach him at (757) 223-0096.