Questions about the construction of the new class of submarines have arisen even as the USS Missouri is being built.
The USS Missouri is among the elite, state-of-the-art Virginia class attack submarines, with enhanced stealth capabilities and highly accurate, lethal missiles. Yet, the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard recently revealed an inspector signed off on three joint-weld inspections that he hadn’t performed.
Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus (MAY bus) isn’t worried.
"I think the fact that they found it, they corrected it and that it’s not going to have an impact on either safety or timing has allayed any concerns that anybody might have had," Mabus says.
A statement issued by the shipyard emphasized the issue involved the inspection of welds as opposed to the welds themselves. The trade publication Defense News reported it had obtained an internal report that revealed the inspector had performed most of his work on four Virginia-class nuclear subs, including the Missouri.
The issue is important, because of Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, stated desire to invest in flexible weapons systems. He says subs provide tremendous capability for intelligence and surveillance.
"A submarine covers the whole gamut," says Roughead. "When I commanded the Pacific Fleet, submarines were my favorite tool."
Roughead calls the latest line of nuclear submarines "the ultimate stealth weapon".
Northrop Grumman fired the inspector, calling the situation a personnel matter.