USS Greeneville under repair after running aground
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
As the Navy attempted to lift the Ehime Maru by its rudder yesterday, the nuclear submarine that rammed and sank the Japanese fisheries training vessel was in Guam being repaired after it briefly ran aground Monday in Saipan, officials said.
The USS Greeneville was damaged when Cmdr. David S. Bogdan decided conditions were unsafe to enter the port in "extremely rough seas" and reversed course, the Navy said. A "red sounding" from the fathometer had indicated shallow water under the hull.
Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Merrell, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Fleet submarine force, said a preliminary investigation found the 360-foot Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine received "minor" scrapes along its keel and to its rudder following a "momentary grounding."
Additionally, a support leg and bolts were sheared from an outboard motor fairing on the underside of the sub, she said. The outboard motor is used for maneuvering.
"What all that means is there are relatively minor damages," Merrell said yesterday. No cost estimate or timeline for completion of the repairs was given. Merrell was not sure if the port in Saipan is a particularly difficult one to negotiate.
"Certainly, you have to be very, very careful when entering a harbor," she said. "I think what you are looking at here is the weather played a very large factor."
She said a more thorough investigation will look at conditions at the time of the grounding, as well as piloting procedures, chart accuracy and ship-board preparation for entering the port.
No action has been taken against Bogdan, Merrell said. The investigation's results will be forwarded to Rear. Adm. Joseph E. Enright, commander of Submarine Group Nine.
Bogdan, 39, took over command of the Greeneville in April. He replaced Capt. Tony Cortese, who served as interim commander after Cmdr. Scott Waddle was found guilty of violating military law in the Feb. 9 sinking of the Ehime Maru.
The Greeneville, which left Pearl Harbor Aug. 15 for a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific, needed $2 million in repairs following the Ehime Maru collision.
Reach William Cole at email@example.com or 525-5459.