12. February 2005 · Comments Off on Mooney To Face Charges · Categories: Military

This from Stars and Stripes:

The skipper of the nuclear-powered submarine that crashed into the side of an undersea mountain is quietly being sent before an “admiral’s mast” in Japan this weekend to face charges of endangering his ship, according to several active-duty and retired Navy sources familiar with the case.

Cmdr. Kevin Mooney was slated to appear before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in Yokosuka on Saturday morning, the sources said.


Mooney’s mast, however, comes before the detailed investigation into the accident is complete. And unlike most nonjudicial punishment throughout the rest of the military, sailors from sea-going commands cannot refuse mast and demand a court- martial.

At issue, say officials, is whether charts supplied to Mooney provided any clue of dangerous waters. Officials at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Bethesda, told reporters after the accident that the main maps used by the U.S. Navy did not reveal any obstacle anywhere near the sight of the crash.

Officials familiar with case, however, say another, much older chart was believed to be aboard the San Francisco indicating discolored water several miles away.

Early findings of the Navy’s investigation appear to indicate some level of “questionable” practices by Mooney, according to a Feb. 7 letter obtained by Stars and Stripes to Greenert from the commander of Pacific submarine forces Rear Adm. P.F. Sullivan.

I can understand relieving him of command, and making him fly (or is it “sail” in the Navy?) a desk, until the matter is fully settled. But this seems really premature to me.

Update: Mooney has received a Letter of Reprimand:

The commanding officer whose submarine ran into an uncharted underwater mountain south of Guam Jan. 8 has been formally relieved of his command and issued a career-damaging letter of reprimand at an administrative hearing in Yokosuka, Japan.


Skelton said Greenert concluded that “several critical navigational and voyage planning procedures were not being implemented aboard San Francisco. By not ensuring these standard procedures were followed, Mooney hazarded his vessel.”


The crew, meanwhile, will remain in limbo on Guam until officials decide the submarine’s fate, Davis said.

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