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Hartford returns, a bit worse for wear
Sub damaged in March collision scheduled for repairs at Electric Boat
By Jennifer Grogan Published on 5/22/2009
Groton — A wounded USS Hartford returned to the Naval Submarine Base Thursday.
Metal braces supported the sail, which leaned to the right.
Telescopes, decking, railing and antennas were added on top so the submarine could travel on the surface.
The waterline hid the damaged port bow plane.
The Hartford, SSN 768, has been through a “traumatic ordeal,” said Capt. Harvey Guffey, deputy commander for Submarine Squadron Four, the Hartford's squadron.
The Hartford collided with a Navy amphibious ship in the Strait of Hormuz on March 20. The sub's commanding officer and chief of the boat have been relieved of their posts.
Cmdr. Chris Harkins, deputy commander of Submarine Squadron Eight in Norfolk, Va., took command of the submarine in April for the trip back to Groton, which he said was uneventful.
But “it was a long ride,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chris Yaras of Groton, who met his month-old daughter, Ella, for the first time Thursday.
Many of the crew's families were at the base to welcome the Hartford home. Yaras called it “awesome” to be back.
As the corpsman, Yaras treated the injured crew members after the collision. Most had minor cuts and scrapes, he said.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I went from 'I don't think we're going to make it through this to holy cow, there's no one hurt.' ”
Investigators believe the Hartford rolled about 85 degrees in the collision. Fifteen crew members suffered minor injuries. No injuries were reported on the USS New Orleans, the San Diego-based amphibious ship.
Initial repairs to the sub were done in Bahrain. The Hartford has spent the past month traveling on the surface, with an escort, back to the sub base.
“It's great to have them home,” Guffey said, adding that the “recovery process” to make the ship fully operational again will continue now that the sub is back in port.
In July, the Hartford will go to Electric Boat, which has been awarded a $15.8 million contract to restore it to “full service condition,” according to a Defense Department release on Thursday. The work is expected to be completed by October.
The formal investigations into the collision are still in the endorsement phase, with senior leaders providing their input. The crew has been given a month off.
Harkins said he will soon turn over command of the Hartford to Cmdr. Robert Dunn, who was serving on the staff of the commander for the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet.