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Submarine accident

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  • #16
    Commander of Sub relieved of command

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The commander of a U.S. nuclear submarine has been relieved of duty after two of his sailors drowned, the Navy said Friday.

    On December 29, rough seas swept four American sailors from the deck of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul off the coast of southwestern England. Two of the sailors were rescued.

    The other two, Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas Higgins of Paducah, Kentucky, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Holtz of Lakewood, Ohio, died.

    The four men were taken to a hospital in Plymouth, where two were pronounced dead.

    A Navy investigation determined that the incident was avoidable and caused in part by a poor decision by Cmdr. Edwin Ruff.

    The Navy said Ruff has been reassigned to a post in Norfolk, Virginia. The decision was made by Vice Adm. Chuck Munns, commander of the Navy's Submarine Force in Norfolk.

    "Munns took this action due to a loss of confidence in Ruff's ability to command," a Navy statement said.

    Earlier this week, Ruff and another officer on the submarine received letters of reprimand. The Navy did not provide further details on the findings of its investigation.

    The Minneapolis-St. Paul, assigned to the 6th Fleet, had just completed a weeklong layover in Plymouth, England, about 210 miles southwest of London.

    Based in Norfolk, the sub was heading to sea for routine duties when the accident happened.