US navy crash blamed on ‘catastrophic’ leadership

A collision between a nuclear-powered US Navy submarine and a US warship in the Strait of Hormuz was caused by “catastrophic failure” in management, a US Navy report says.

US Navy investigators found that “ineffective and negligent” management and the failure of navigation practices were to blame for a March 2009 collision between the USS Hartford and the USS New Orleans, an amphibious vessel.

“This incident comes down to weak and complacent leadership, which led to inadequate planning and preparation of the crew,” the Navy Times said in its report.

Commander of United States Fleet Forces Command Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. endorsed the findings of the report and described the collision as “avoidable.”

“Correction of any one of nearly 30 tactical and watchstander errors, or adherence to standard procedure, could have prevented this collision,” he was quoted by AFP as saying.

“In this case, the command team failed to do so, and a high price has been paid for that shortcoming,” he explained.

Fifteen sailors aboard the submarine were injured. One of the diesel tanks of the New Orleans was ruptured, which resulted in an oil spill of approximately 25,000 gallons (90,000 liters) of diesel fuel.

The collision also inflicted hefty financial damages at a time when the United States is still recovering from recession. The USS Hartford is undergoing an extensive repair, which is expected to cost about USD 100 million, while the USS New Orleans suffered damages worth USD 2.3 million.

The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway between Iran and Oman, connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s crude oil passes through this waterway.

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