The personal shipyards in San Diego answerable for defending Navy warships haven’t been following safety protocols meant to guard these billion-dollar belongings, and the Navy was alerted to the lapses greater than two years in the past, an inewsource investigation has discovered.
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The Navy is aware of the truth of waterborne threats, particularly because the lethal terrorist bombing of the united statesCole in Yemen in 2000. That’s why it ensures its contracts with BAE Techniques San Diego Ship Restore, HII San Diego Shipyard and Common Dynamics NASSCO embrace cash for cover – patrol boats, robust limitations and signage.
It’s all spelled out in an inventory of necessities the Navy calls for of personal shipyards that work on its vessels. It reads, partially, “A dedicated waterborne security boat shall patrol within 200 yards of the protected vessel.”
inewsource is an unbiased and nonprofit journalism group in San Diego, and depends on grants and philanthropists to help its investigative content material. Click on right here to study extra.
But Joseph Allen, a former Navy lieutenant commander, informed a gaggle of safety professionals at a San Diego convention in October, “the vulnerabilities of the bay scare me.”
Requested afterward to elaborate, Allen advised inewsource, “I’ve spent a lot of time on the bay and see security gaps that could put billion-dollar warships at risk. If someone decided to actively case this bay, they could see those gaps.”
Allen is the CEO of Six Maritime, which supplies safety providers, together with on San Diego Bay. He declined to reveal particulars about his firm’s work.
However to his level about questions of safety, a number of journeys inewsource made to watch safety procedures on the bay discovered BAE and HII San Diego have been both not offering the required variety of patrol boats inside 200 yards of ships – or weren’t offering any in any respect. NASSCO additionally seemed to be in violation however later provided an evidence.
Paperwork obtained by inewsource present the shipyards’ lapses usually are not a current improvement – the Navy was alerted to them no less than two years in the past.
“I can’t think of why they wouldn’t have boats out there,” Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, a member of the Home Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, stated after studying concerning the safety issues from inewsource.
Peters stated it was “an issue of concern” to him, particularly “as someone who’s responsible for the national defense, but also as someone who’s responsible for the protection of people who work and live in San Diego.”
The Navy wouldn’t inform inewsource or Peters how a lot it pays the shipyards for safety, and neither would the shipyards. Susan Lawson, a Navy spokeswoman, stated the quantity is “business/competition sensitive” and “its release would impact the Navy’s ability to secure required services at the best possible price.”
inewsource has pressed the Navy for greater than a yr for data detailing how a lot taxpayers are paying the shipyards for cover they don’t seem to be all the time offering. The Navy won’t present the contracts however did e-mail the next info:
- All shipyards are required to comply with the safety necessities and that settlement is included in each contract.
- These necessities particularly say waterborne patrol boats have to be current when port safety obstacles will not be in place.
- The shipyards have safety boats which are conducting patrols in compliance with these necessities.
Moreover, Lawson informed inewsource in a November e-mail that the Navy conducts common evaluations on the three shipyards in San Diego and has discovered “no significant concerns with security at those facilities.”
An hour after receiving that e mail, an inewsource reporter drove to San Diego’s downtown waterfront, obtained on a ship, took pictures and movies of the shortage of patrol boats on the yards, and provided to ship them to Lawson.
A month later, on Dec. 7, a unique Navy spokeswoman responded to inewsource, saying “there are no known issues of non-compliance by the private shipyards.”
inewsource additionally requested for the dates and findings from the Navy’s final three critiques of safety on the shipyards.
As an alternative of offering that info, the Navy wrote, “The private shipyards in San Diego have maintained compliance with Navy security requirements.”
Three days of surveillance
The BAE, HII San Diego and NASSCO shipyards lie between Naval Base San Diego to the south and the Port of San Diego’s 10th Avenue Marine Terminal to the north. The Navy paid the yards greater than $2 billion since 2017 to construct, restore and keep its warships, based on knowledge from Propel San Diego.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin laid up on the HII San Diego yard throughout three days in September, October and November. inewsource noticed no safety boats guarding the billion-dollar asset – a federal requirement that got here with the Navy’s $37.eight million contract for updating and enhancing the ship. Nor was there a ship guarding the united statesComstock, a dock touchdown ship that sat on the opposite HII San Diego pier in September.
HII San Diego, previously often known as Continental Maritime, is a division of the publicly traded Huntington Ingalls Industries, the most important army shipbuilding firm within the U.S. Final yr, Huntington Ingalls agreed to pay $9.2 million to settle allegations that it violated federal regulation by knowingly overbilling the federal government for labor on Navy and Coast Guard vessels at its Mississippi shipyards.
A spokeswoman for Huntington Ingalls, Beci Brenton, informed inewsource, “As a matter of policy we do not discuss the security measures we have in place, but they are adequate and do comply with the security requirements dictated by the Navy for the ships we have under repair at our facility. The Navy audits us weekly.”
inewsource then despatched Brenton a follow-up inquiry, accompanied by photographs, displaying these measures weren’t in place.
“I have nothing further to add,” she replied.
A couple of hundred yards south of HII San Diego, six warships – value billions collectively – sat at BAE Methods on Sept. 6. BAE’s contract with the Navy requires two patrol boats – one for each three warships – however throughout a number of passes on that day and on two follow-up visits, inewsource noticed just one.
BAE is a publicly traded multinational protection, safety and aerospace firm headquartered in London that employs greater than 83,000 individuals. It pleaded responsible to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. authorities in 2010 and was sentenced to pay one of many largest legal fines within the historical past of the Division of Justice’s effort to fight abroad corruption – $400 million.
A BAE spokesman offered a press release to inewsource that stated, “The safety of all our amenities is of paramount significance to BAE Methods. We work intently with the U.S. Navy to make sure all applicable safety protocols are in place. We don’t publicly talk about particular safety particulars.
Since inewsource started asking questions of the Navy, BAE has put a second boat within the water.
Basic Dynamics NASSCO is the southernmost of the shipyards. It’s the largest full service shipyard on the West Coast and is a part of one in every of America’s largest protection contractors – Common Dynamics. inewsource noticed 4 Navy ships within the yards on Oct. 24, accompanied by one patrol boat: Three ships laid alongside piers and one was in a dry dock.
NASSCO stated the one boat fell beneath an earlier model of Navy guidelines that didn’t require patrol boats guard ships in dry dock.
inewsource requested for the proof behind that assertion – a contract, for instance – however NASSCO didn’t present any.
The Achilles’ heel
Between renting an house in San Diego and crashing Flight 77 into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Saudi-born terrorist Khalid al-Mihdhar additionally helped plan the deadliest terror assault towards a classy U.S. Navy vessel in historical past.
On Oct. 12, 2000, two terrorists approached the united statesCole in Yemen throughout a refueling operation. They stood, saluted, then detonated greater than 500 kilos of explosives – ripping a 45-foot gap within the ship and killing 17 sailors.
The broken USS Cole is proven with a 45-foot gap in its aspect following an Oct. 12, 2000, terrorist bombing in Yemen that killed 17 sailors. (FBI)
A authorities report launched the subsequent yr discovered “waterborne terrorist threats proved to be the Achilles’ heel of the Navy’s counterterrorism program.”
These threats “must receive more attention,” the report beneficial.
Fifteen years later, safety lapses on the San Diego shipyards caught the eye of Michael Owen, who served within the Marines and educated troopers in Afghanistan.
Owen and his pal Brent Olds, who additionally served within the Marines, advised inewsource in October that they couldn’t flip off their “combat mindset” whereas fishing close to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
With a grasp’s diploma in homeland safety and educated in anti-terrorism drive safety, Owen stated he realized, “If we had a wetsuit and a tank, some bad stuff could happen, because we have the capability – and a lot of people have capability. It’s malicious intent.”
“It wouldn’t have taken much,” Olds added.
“Not at all,” stated Owen, who wrote about his considerations to Congressman Peters in 2016.
“There is an identified security risk to the ships in these private yards as there is not currently adequate security for them on the water side; they should have waterborne security patrols in front of them,” he wrote.
Michael Owen (left) and Brent Olds, who each served within the Marines, are proven on Oct. 12, 2018. They run VETality Corp., a nonprofit devoted to using veterans, and observed safety lapses on the shipyards whereas fishing on San Diego Bay in 2016. (Megan Wooden/inewsource)
Owen, who runs VETality Corp. – a nonprofit targeted on using veterans – noticed the gaps as a chance. He informed Peters that dozens of veterans could possibly be put to work if the Navy required the shipyards to adjust to correct safety protocols.
Peters’ workplace despatched the letter to the Navy for a response.
A month later, Vice Adm. Thomas Moore responded that Navy departments have been working collectively “to ensure that the commercial shipyards are in compliance with all applicable security requirements.”
A contract resulting in a “full and open competition for waterborne security” will come out – within the subsequent yr or so, Moore wrote.
But when safety continues to be a priority greater than two years after Moore’s letter was written, Peters stated that raises a query about whether or not the Navy “looked at it hard enough.”
“We generally trust the military,” Peters informed inewsource final month. “I don’t presume to tell the military how to do its job.”
The proof inewsource introduced “justifies taking the next step,” Peters stated. His workplace has reached out to 2 subcommittees of the Home Armed Providers Committee to get the maritime safety points addressed.
“And I suspect that the people who are leading the Armed Services Committee – both Republicans and Democrats – would want to get the answer to this, as well,” he stated.
Easy methods to contact Home members
If you wish to e mail San Diego’s congressional delegation about this story, click on on their names: Rep. Scott Peters, Rep. Susan Davis, Rep. Juan Vargas, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Darrell Issa. If you wish to contact members of the Home Armed Providers Committee, click on right here.
Security Lapses Found At San Diego Shipyards Despite Navy Rules was final modified: December 12th, 2018 by inewsource
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