POLITICS
06/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Party Sub' Crash Costing Taxpayers $89 Million

American taxpayers are on the hook for an $89 million repair bill after a crash involving a submarine where the regulations apparently went overboard.

According to the Navy Times, that's the latest estimate to fix the USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine that smashed into an amphibious ship last March in the mouth of the Persian Gulf while the sailors at the controls were playing games and listening to music.

The sub's commander, Cmdr. Ryan Brookhart, was relieved of duties after the Navy found that "an informal atmosphere, crew complacency, a 'weak' command and inferior submariner skills led to the 'avoidable' accident," the Navy Times reports. "Specifically, the navigator was listening to his iPod during a critical evolution, watchstanders were known to sleep on the job, and stereo speakers were rigged for music in the radio room."

The New London (Conn.) Day newspaper reported in November that the Navy investigation "paints a picture of submarine crew members falling asleep on the job, spending too much time away from their stations and chatting informally while working":

Those driving the ship would often slouch in their seats with one hand on the controls, and sometimes take their shoes off. Sonar operators and radiomen were missing from their stations for extended periods. Stereo speakers were added to the radio room to listen to music during work....

Investigators said that in the hour prior to the collision, about 30 tactical errors occurred onboard the Hartford.

Sonar operators, in charge of monitoring the ships near the submarine, were chatting informally for most of that hour. One of the sailors inserted a false sonar contact into the system so "he could use up all of his sonar trackers for amusement."

The sonar supervisor left his station frequently and the navigator was taking an exam while listening to his iPod in the wardroom. The officer in command did not look out of the periscope.

Repairs to the other ship cost $2.3 million.

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