Navy contractor found guilty after lying about critical hull welds
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Navy contractor pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Friday to making false statements after admitting that he did not inspect critical welds on Navy submarines and ships.
Robert Raymond Ruks, 34, of Portsmouth, Va., falsely certified welds on the vessels and then lied to agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service about how many false claims he made, said a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of Virginia office.
Ruks is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12. The U.S. attorney’s offices said Ruks faces a maximum term of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and full restitution for each offense.
On May 14, 2009, Ruks admitted to supervisors that he falsely certified three lift pad welds on a submarine, according to court documents.
About a week later, Ruks, who was working for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, lied to NCIS agents about other falsely certified welds, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
After Northrop Grumman re-inspected the welds, it found a defective pipe joint weld known as a SUBSAFE weld, according to the news release.
SUBSAFE, which stands for Submarine Safety, is a quality assurance certification applied to systems critical to flood prevention and ship recovery.
Re-inspecting the welds brought into question by Ruks’ negligence required 18,906 work hours at a cost of about $654,000, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The case marks the second time in recent months that a Northrop Grumman contractor or subcontractor was found guilty for not doing work that could critically affect ship and submarine safety.
On March 4, an Eastern Pennsylvania District judge sentenced James Bullick, 42, to 41 months in prison and $1.35 million in fines for selling falsely certified metal built into Virginia-class submarines and a new aircraft carrier.
Bullick was head of Bristol Alloys, which was hired by Garvey Precision Machine, a Northrop Grumman subcontractor.