Complex Repair Under Way On Submarine Montpelier
WASHINGTON — More than a year after a collision that tore off the upper rudder and damaged the hull, the submarine Montpelier remains under repair at Newport News Shipbuilding, Va. The work, envisioned early on as needing only a few months, turned out to be much more extensive, and the ship isn’t expected to be returned to full service until April.
The work has involved completely rebuilding the rudder assembly and replacing a large chunk of the pressure hull over the engine room.
“I can’t recall another collision that directly impacted the aft control surfaces,” Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, the deputy commander for undersea warfare at the Naval Sea Systems Command, said during an interview Nov. 18. “This repair has been a lot of things that we haven’t done before.”
The Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine was on maneuvers with the cruiser San Jacinto off the northeast Florida coast when, on Oct. 13, 2012, she was struck by the cruiser’s bow while rising to periscope depth. The sub tried to dive back down, but the stern was smacked by the cruiser’s large underwater sonar dome.
“There were actually two significant impacts between the San Jacinto and the Montpelier,” explained Jabaley. “The first was on the aft starboard side of the engine room, causing a fairly significant dent in the pressure hull” — the portion of the submarine containing the crew, reactor and operating machinery. “Then there was a bounce away, then a second impact in the vicinity of the rudder. That separated the upper rudder and knocked the lower rudder out of alignment, such that the lower rudder was scraping against the non-pressure hull when it was operated.”
The impact also caused a crack in the non-pressure hull, an area consisting largely of ballast tanks and free-flooding spaces.
No damage was suffered by the ship’s nuclear reactor, the Navy said
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