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Big stories of 2009: USS Hartford collision

Jennifer Grogan

Publication: The Day

Published December 26. 2009 4:00AM   Updated December 28. 2009 10:10AM

The Navy found the crew of the USS Hartford completely at fault for a collision with a Navy surface ship last March.

About 30 tactical errors occurred onboard the Groton-based Hartford (SSN 768) in the hour prior to the March 20 collision with the USS New Orleans in the Strait of Hormuz, investigators said.

Correcting any one of them, or adhering to standard procedures, could have prevented the crash, Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, wrote in August, to endorse the Judge Advocate General Manual investigation.

The investigation, obtained by The Day through a Freedom of Information Act request, placed the blame on the Hartford's "ineffective and negligent command leadership," and described the informal culture onboard.

Sailors would occasionally fall asleep on the job, spend too much time away from their stations and chat informally while working. Those driving the ship would often slouch in their seats and sometimes take their shoes off.

The Hartford's leadership did not immediately correct this behavior, the investigation said, and the hands-off style created a climate that "gave the appearance of tolerating routine inattentiveness and lax professional standards."

The collision, Harvey said, was an "avoidable mishap."

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