The USS San Francisco the nuclear-powered submarine undergoing initial repair at Guam Shipyard is racking up millions in repair costs.
Journal sources said initial work at the shipyard and docking costs already totaled $1.8 million as of Feb. 23.
The San Francisco hit an underwater mount on Jan. 8 on its way to Australia resulting in the death of one sailor injuries to 23 personnel and extensive damage to the vessel.
The San Francisco entered the shipyard on Jan. 26. Lt. Cmdr. Jeff A. Davis spokesman for the Pacific submarine force commander said Feb. 12 that assessment of the damage to the San Francisco was proceeding (See "Military " in the Feb. 21 issue of the Journal). Davis further stated that a large steel dome about 20 feet high and 20 feet in diameter would be engineered to fit the submarine’s bow for surface transit. He said shipyard workers in Guam were planning to make temporary repairs to the bow of the ship so it could be moved under its own power to a shipyard where it could be repaired.
The submarine and its future was one of the first subjects of questions to Rear Adm. Arthur Johnson commander of Naval Forces Marianas when the admiral addressed a general membership meeting of the Guam Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 23 at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa.
“What we are communicating to the crew ” he said “is that they will be here through July. Once a fuller assessment has been made of that particular ship and its future a following decision will be made. I think the premise that brought the San Francisco here still stands and is still valid.”
Lt. William Willis supply officer for Submarine Squadron 15 said he could not comment on the figure of $1.8 million but did confirm that the dome had arrived on Guam. "Within the next 30 days the cone will be put in place " he said. He said the submarine would need to be x-rayed "to see what structural damage there is and to determine the watertight integrity. The assessment is still ongoing " Willis said.
The San Francisco could transfer for final assessment to either Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton Wash. or Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Honolulu.
Personnel from the naval shipyard in Honolulu shipyard are understood to be on Guam at present advising on assessment of the submarine. Naval Forces Marianas personnel are monitoring progress on the submarine. Puget Sound shipyard personnel worked at the shipyard when the USS Frank Cable drydocked there is the first quarter of 2004. (See “Shipyard wins biggest job ” in the Oct. 20 2003 issue of the Journal.). Willis said "No real decision has been made about where the USS San Francisco will go to complete assessments."
Matthews Pothen president and chief executive officer of Guam Shipyard declined comment for this article. MBJ