WASHINGTON — The US Navy has restricted the operations of its three newest submarines — including one placed in commission just last Saturday — pending inspections and repairs to a key steam plant component.
At issue are problems found with elbows in 10-inch pipes that funnel steam from the reactor plant to the propulsion turbines. Elbows are installed in piping to get around corners and other obstructions.
The problems, said a senior Navy official, were detected earlier this year, prompting a civil investigative demand leading to an investigation begun in April. A fleet message restricting operations of the three submarines was sent Aug. 5, and congressional authorities were notified the same day.
Rory O’Connor, a spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington, said the problems affect the submarines Minnesota, North Dakota and John Warner. He described the situation late Wednesday in a statement: