When a “Cookie” costs the lives of two Sailors

Update: 4/17/07 I’ve purposefully stayed away from sharing my opinions on news or political events in this blog.  This week world events stepped in and put the spot light on something so bright to ignore it would be impossible.  The Navy Times reported on the investigation details of the MSP.  In the report the CO describes the COB’s body being thrown up against the boat again and again until his body was unresponsive, the same senario followed with the Second Class.  All I could think of was “what if this was my husband”, “this could have been my husband”.  My heart was pounding out of my chest, I just had to write my opinion on this subject.  If it’s seems harsh, it is.  If it’s seems I’m a little upset by this event, I am.  To suggest this CO should not be held accountable for this, that we should all be understanding and sympathic and brush it under the rug, is criminal.  If that happens to be your view as you read this, I have one question for you.  How would you feel if it was your husband?  


070403-N-8655E-002 NORFOLK, Va. (April 3, 2007) - The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), returns from her final six-month deployment before inactivation. The crew demonstrated the great flexibility of fast attack submarines conducting a wide range of joint requirements supporting national security as well as multiple operations contributing directly to mission objectives and the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelvin Edwards (RELEASED)If you have been reading here awhile, then you have read the posts about the two fallen Sailors aboard the attack submarine Minneapolis-St. Paul.  They were swept overboard by a huge wave.   The death of those two Sailors is a tragedy that in my opinion, could have been avoided.  The story is heartbreaking, frustrating and inexcusable!   

The Navy Times prints news that has been released on the details of this tragedy.

I know I am certainly not an expert on the Navy, but I have learned a few things along the way.  I am certain my views will differ with some of the readers who will find this post.  All I ask is that ifyou leave me a comment with an opposing view that you use your manners, you are after-all a guest around here.  A guest I will treat with respect, and with manners….I’ll also make sure you have the best seat in the house.

Having said all that, here is my point of view.

Many of the views in the blogshere have the opinion the CO did “the best he could”, and that he is somehow being held accountable for something that “no one” could have predicted.

To that I have to say, it is HIS responsibility to KNOW to state of the seas.

It is no secret the CO’s get a “cookie” if they get underway “on time”.  In my opinion he was in a rush, did not put safety first and should have turned that boat around the minute he realized the sea condition or when the boat was taking on water.    Even that seems like “common sense” to this little ole Navy Wife.

From the Navy Times article :
Printed 13 Apr 07 – Tethered Sailors washed off Sub, report finds…

Ruff was frustrated with the slow pace of the pending transfer and told the COB to hurry up…..

This statement proves the fact the CO was more interested in getting underway on time, than the safety of his crew.  

As the pilot prepared to scramble up on deck, the first violent wave slammed into the submarine, pushing the heavy outer hatch down on top of him. The ocean’s force made him bite through his upper lip and sunk him in seawater inside the bathtub-like inner hatch. He pushed the heavy lid back open and looked topside.

If the fact no other boats were underway that day, and the rough seas did not make an impression on this CO, then this should have been the THIRD clue they should not have gotten underway that day and they should change course.

“Had I known British ships were not allowed to leave, or that seas were expected to build inside the breakwater,” Ruff wrote, “we would not have attempted the pilot transfer where we did and may not have gotten underway at all.”

It is his JOB to know the conditions of the sea.  To know if British ships were or were not allowed to leave.  Again, it is apparent he was not concerned enough to find this out.  Or if he already knew this, was more concerned with getting underway on time vs. putting safety first.

Minneapolis-St. Paul returned to Norfolk on April 3, following a six-month deployment. Each sailor stepping off the ship was greeted by Tina Higgins, wife of the fallen chief of the boat, Thomas Higgins. She gave them each a personalized command coin on his behalf.

God Bless this woman.  I cannot even imagine what that day was like for her.  I bet her husband was smiling from heaven at her strength to be able to do this.

If I was her, I would want the man responsible for this tragedy in jail.


2 Responses to “When a “Cookie” costs the lives of two Sailors”

  1. 1 Tracie (Navy wife) 18 April, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Navy wife, I agree with you. When I first saw the news about this, I was shocked that they would even get underway in those conditions. But as my husband informed me, that’s not all that uncommon and I can’t pretend to even closely understand the decision-making that goes on when getting underway in various sea conditions. However, I still think it’s insane and irresponsible to get underway in those conditions. The higher ups should be a bit more cautious so things like this don’t happen.

  2. 2 Kate 25 April, 2007 at 7:53 am

    When my Hubby heard about this – he’s also a submariner – what stuck in his mind was the fact that the men did not have knives on them to cut through the ropes holding them to the boat. If they had been able to break away, they could have been rescued. Probably.

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