Publication: shippingscene Issued: Date: 2012-09-14 Reporter:

Submarines Accident was like a Fender-Bender - SA Navy




Date 2012-09-14
Web Link

The accident to the SA Navy submarine SAS QUEEN MODJADJI on 17 July, when the boat hit the seabed during a training exercise, has been passed off by the navy and others as the equivalent of a ‘fender-bender’ collision between cars.

This surprising appraisal of an incident that could under other circumstances have had tragic results, may make for a neat deflection but hasn’t escaped the attention of a Freedom Front politician, Pieter Groenewald who asked some searching questions of the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. The minister responded that a board of enquiry had been appointed and would be looking into the affair.

Meanwhile, the minister continued, the submarine has been repaired and will be available to take part in the forthcoming Operation Atlasur IX and IBSAMAR involving the navies of several South American nations (Atlasur) and later Brazil and India (IBSAMAR).

The accident happened during a routine diving safety drill off the KZN coast but the submarine struck the bottom of the seabed, resulting in a 1.5 x 1.5m dent in the boat’s outer hull opposite the area of the main ballast tank. Fortunately the seabed was mud and sand. There were no injuries to crew on board at the time and the submarine was able to resurface and proceed to Durban where an inspection by divers could be carried out. Once it was ascertained that there was no immediate risk to the submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji resumed her voyage and returned to Simon’s Town where she was taken out of the water for a full inspection and repairs.

Hydraulic oil pressure failure was offered as the reason for the accident.

Groenewald was having none of this and said he wanted to see disciplinary action being taken. “The reply of the Minister confirms my allegations that there had been negligence and poor training. The exercise was carried out precisely to imitate such a situation where the hydraulic pressure in the submarine should be stopped. Such exercises have strict security measures that have to be followed and it is clear that these measures were not implemented. The outcome of the Board of Inquiry is being awaited and disciplinary steps should be taken.”

Naval apologists have tried to pass off the accident as something that just happened, giving examples of other navies that have experienced similar accidents. While the inquiry will hopefully reveal the full facts, the accidents in other navies offers little reason for feeling complacent with what happens in this country’s navy and a full public explanation of the inquiry’s findings must be made available.

With acknowledgement to shippingscene.

The naval apologist of note and of relevance is their man on the outside and the inside, Helmoed-Romer Heitman.

There are only two explanation for this accident.

1.      It was carried out in water that was too shallow.

Therefore there was insufficient headroom to plane out of the dive caused by the simulated plane failure caused by cutting hydraulic power to the diving planes.

The captain is guilty of recklessness and negligence.

2.      The crew actually lost control of the submarine during the simulated plane failure.

The sea bottom saved the boat.

The captain and his crew are guilty of ineptitude.

Real hydraulic oil pressure failure is highly unlikely.

Even still, if there was real hydraulic oil pressure failure, this is a very easy situation from which to recover.

The submarines motors simply get switch to neutral and then to reverse.

The submarine cannot sink on its own to below its preset depth.

So it stops diving under forward motor and plane control and then reverses back to it preset depth.

Then the planes are unjammed or the hydraulic pressure rectified and then the submarine returns to the surface - or dives again for the gungho or in wartime.

This is a matter of inexperience and poor training as well as possibly negligence - not system failure.

Keelhaul them and the bullshitters who protect them.