Bad luck, they say, comes in threes — and the Navy is getting its trio this morning:
— Some of its $2 billion Virginia-class attack submarines — the most costly sub now being built — are shedding their special stealth coatings, which are designed to make them tougher to detect.
— The new F-35 fighter being developed for its aircraft carriers has been grounded because problems with its fuel pump could cause the plane to stall.
But all those involve hardware. The most interesting story today involves software — the men and women who sail such vessels.
The former No. 2 officer aboard the San Antonio is demanding a court martial — instead of a lesser non-judicial punishment — to detail problems with the San Antonio’s design that he believes contributed to the death of a sailor early last year. Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kearns, who has a degree in naval architecture from MIT, wants a military jury to hear how he thinks the vessel played a role in the drowning of sailor Theophilus Ansong on Feb. 4, 2009, in the Gulf of Aden.
Ansong was tossed into the gulf when a small inflatable boat he was in flipped over as it was being lowered from the San Antonio. His body was never recovered. Kearns’ lawyer told a military judge last week that the boat-lowering system aboard the San Antonio was less safe than earlier designs to preserve the San Antonio’s stealthiness — its ability to hide from enemy radars. It’s amazing how the push for one military advantage can cause unexpected costs down the road — or out at sea. Which brings us back to the de-stealthifying molting now taking place on some of those Virginia-class subs. That hasn’t killed anybody, yet.