March 3rd, 2007 by xformed
Table of contents for USS SARATOGA (CV-60) fires on TCG MAUVENET (DM-57)
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part I
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part II
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part III
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part IV
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly after Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part V
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part VI
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part VII
- Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part VIII
And onto the topic of Explosives Handling Personnel Qualification Certification Program (EHPQCP). There is a history to this program (like all others) and it has it’s good and it’s bad sides. Like the Personnel Qualification System (PQS), the EHPQCP arose from disaster, and formalized what has been done in the past by less bureaucratic means. PQS will be dealt with later in detail, separate from this series.
One of the bad parts of the EHPQCP was it “pig-piled” on other qualification processes, which increased the administrative loading on the Fleet operators, which takes time away from actual training efforts.
While the EHPQCP does not play a direct role in how this incident occurred, it was something we had been checking on surface ships for compliance during the Combat Systems Assessments, and during Cruise Missile Certification exams.
In the surface Navy, the program had been emphasized at the paperwork level, in detail by the Combat Systems Assessments. Surface Navy sailors would routinely question the need for such “extra” work, as there were systems such as PQS in place for the ordnance systems, complete with plenty of safety knowledge requirements, but they did it, albeit most times grudgingly.
Then, an incident in the surface Navy brought the EHPQCP right to the forefront: USS IOWA (BB-61) on 19 April 1989. The loss of 47 lives in that explosion resulted in a Court of Inquiry, in which a co-worker of mine had to sit at “the long end of the green table with no coffee cup and no ashtray” and answer some uncomfortable questions. He, a few months before, had been the inspector that gave a passing grade to the EHPQCP after scanning a small portion of the many thick notebooks of records aboard the ship. Needless to say, this brought a whole new level of attention to not only the forms, but the process in place aboard any vessel in the surface Navy. The inter-community friction over this program was that aviators caused the problem, but it was the surface ships who were chastised for not keeping up the extra paperwork, while the air Navy thumbed their nose at it. Even the Naval Air Forces, Atlantic Ordnance Handling Officer thought we were way too obsessive with the program (and that was in the early 90s, after IOWA’s accident)
As a result of the carriers I had to visit in the wake of the SARATOGA incident, I can say many ships did not use the program.
There’s a little history involved in several other parts of my Naval experience, that also was an area we would inspect.
The saga will continue….
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