WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Naval Sea Systems Command's Submarine Safety (SUBSAFE) Program was awarded the 2013 Secretary of the Navy Safety Award in the Emerging Center of Excellence category, March 20.
The Safety Excellence Awards were established in 2002 and is the Department of the Navy's premier tribute to commands and programs that promote the safety of Sailors, Marines and civilians, and protect aircraft, ships and facilities from mishap. The winner of the Emerging Center of Excellence category is determined by an organization exhibiting promising innovative programs, positive trends and obstacles overcome.
"The SUBSAFE program has had a tremendous impact over the past 50 years on the safety of the U.S. Naval Submarine Force," said Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, deputy commander for Undersea Warfare (NAVSEA 07). "SUBSAFE codifies submarine design and safety requirements and processes, while providing a framework for certifying critical systems for unrestricted submerged operations."
From 1915 to early 1963, the Navy lost 16 submarines due to non-combat related incidents - an average of one submarine every three years. All told, these accidents took the lives of 454 submariners. On April 10, 1963, the attack submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593) suffered uncontrolled flooding during a post-shipyard availability and was lost along with 129 submariners and civilians, marking the single largest non-combat related loss-of-life incident in the Submarine Force's history. After Thresher's sinking, the Navy created the SUBSAFE program, with the goal of providing maximum reasonable assurance of hull integrity to preclude flooding and of the operability and integrity of critical systems and components to control and recover from a flooding casualty should one occur. Since the SUBSAFE Program's inception in June 1963, the United States has not lost a SUBSAFE-certified submarine.
"Our submarines are among the most complicated machines in the world and they operate in an inhospitable environment for extended periods of time," said Jabaley. "For this reason, we apply our SUBSAFE principles for the entire life of our submarines - from design, construction, operation, and maintenance throughout their entire service life - to make sure the Sailors who serve aboard them can focus on their job with the complete confidence in the integrity of their ship."
Team Submarine conducts annual SUBSAFE training for all military, civilian, and seated contractor personnel and hosts a commemoration honoring those lost aboard Thresher as part of an effort to ensure the work force does not lose sight of the program's critical importance.
"Ignorance, arrogance, and complacency are our three greatest enemies," said SUBSAFE Program Manager Cmdr. Daniel Ettlich. "We use this training to remind our people of Thresher's loss and to keep the edge we have spent the last half-century honing to ensure we never lose a submarine like that again."
This year's Thresher commemoration will take place April 10, the 51st anniversary of its loss, at the Washington Navy Yard's Sail Loft located in Building 112 at 1:00 p.m. Christopher A. Hard, vice chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board, will be the guest speaker.
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