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Cruiser's captain relieved of command over grounding

Mar 2, 2017 09:41 AM

USS Antietam sustained propeller damage during the incident in Tokyo Bay

Capt. Joseph Carrigan takes command of the Ticonderoga-class USS Antietam on May 20, 2016.

Courtesy U.S. Navy

Capt. Joseph Carrigan takes command of the Ticonderoga-class USS Antietam on May 20, 2016.

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI):

(WASHINGTON) — The commander of a U.S. guided-missile cruiser that ran around last month in Japan has been relieved of command, a service official told USNI News on Wednesday.

Capt. Joseph Carrigan was removed from command of USS Antietam (CG 54) by Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, based on the initial findings of a command investigation into the January grounding of the ship.

“While the investigation is still under review by leadership, sufficient findings of fact emerged during the investigation to warrant the relief of the commanding officer,” read a statement provided to USNI News.

U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight did not reveal what details from the investigation resulted in the removal of Carrigan.

“Capt. Jonathan Duffy, deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 15, will assume temporary duties as commanding officer until a permanent relief is assigned,” read the statement. “Carrigan has been temporarily reassigned to commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.”

The service hasn’t offer much more than a basic account on how Antietam ran aground during anchoring in Tokyo Bay. A report in Navy Times said Antietam was at anchor in the bay when high winds and a strong tide pushed the ship aground before the crew could maneuver the ship to safety.

The grounding resulted in the damage of the ship's propellers and the loss of 1,100 gallons of hydraulic fluid — which was missing for days after the incident.

Antietam is equipped with controllable-pitch propellers — complex hydraulic systems that allow a ship’s commander to position the propeller blades to change the speed and direction of a ship without changing the rotation of the ship’s shafts.

Repair or replacement of the propellers would almost certainly require an extensive dry-dock repair period. PACFLT’s Knight would not elaborate on the current status of the ship or its maintenance outlook other than assessments for the repair schedule was ongoing.

The last grounding of a Ticonderoga-class cruiser was USS Port Royal (CG 73) off of Hawaii in 2009. Though the damage was more extensive than the reports of Antietam, the repair cost $40 million in then-year dollars.

As to the missing hydraulic fluid, “based on a joint assessment coordinated with the government of Japan and Japanese oil spill contractor, the U.S. Navy assessed that environmental impact was minimal," read a separate PACFLT statement. “The local Public Works Department and Port Operations also monitored the area to determine if additional environmental responses were needed by the contractor and found no further actions were necessary.”

The following is the U.S. Pacific Fleet statement on the relief of Carrigan:

(PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii) — The commanding officer of USS Antietam (CG 54) was relieved March 1.

Capt. Joseph Carrigan was relieved by Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Task Force 70, due to loss of confidence in Carrigan’s ability to command.

The relief follows an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding a grounding that occurred on Jan. 31 in waters near Yokosuka, Japan. While the investigation is still under review by leadership, sufficient findings of fact emerged during the investigation to warrant the relief of the commanding officer.

With ultimate responsibility for the safety and well-being of the ship and the lives of sailors, commanding officers are held to the highest standards of accountability and must have the full confidence of Navy leaders.

Capt. Jonathan Duffy, deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 15, will assume temporary duties as commanding officer until a permanent relief is assigned. Carrigan has been temporarily reassigned to commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Navy is finalizing plans to accomplish follow-on repairs to Antietam related to the Jan. 31 grounding, which are expected to commence in Japan in the coming weeks.

Antietam is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan since 2012. Through regular, routine and lawful operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Antietam has demonstrated the Navy’s enduring commitment to regional security and stability.

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