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A source says Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, above, is slated to appear before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in Yokosuka on Saturday morning in connection with the Jan. 8 grounding of the USS San Francisco, shown below in dry dock at U.S. Naval Base Guam.

A source says Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, above, is slated to appear before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in Yokosuka on Saturday morning in connection with the Jan. 8 grounding of the USS San Francisco, shown below in dry dock at U.S. Naval Base Guam. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

A source says Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, above, is slated to appear before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in Yokosuka on Saturday morning in connection with the Jan. 8 grounding of the USS San Francisco, shown below in dry dock at U.S. Naval Base Guam.

A source says Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, above, is slated to appear before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in Yokosuka on Saturday morning in connection with the Jan. 8 grounding of the USS San Francisco, shown below in dry dock at U.S. Naval Base Guam. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

(Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

The skipper of the nuclear-powered submarine that crashed into the side of an undersea mountain is quietly being sent before an “admiral’s mast” in Japan this weekend to face charges of endangering his ship, according to several active-duty and retired Navy sources familiar with the case.

Cmdr. Kevin Mooney was slated to appear before 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in Yokosuka on Saturday morning, the sources said.

The Navy’s highest form of nonjudicial punishment, admiral’s mast falls short of the criminal proceedings of a court martial, but can result in anything from full exoneration to fines, reprimands, and loss of qualifications.

Publicly, Navy officials decline to comment on Mooney’s case.

“It would be inappropriate to discuss any nonjudicial punishment proceedings at this time,” said Greenert’s spokesman, Cmdr. Ike Skelton.

On Jan. 18, the San Francisco, a Los Angeles-class, fast-attack submarine, is believed to have rammed into an undersea mountain 350 nautical miles south of its homeport at Guam. One sailor was killed and another 23 injured in the incident.

The sub suffered massive damage to its sonar dome and bow structure, but was able to limp back to Guam where it is now in dry dock. Navy officials are still unsure if the sub can be salvaged.

Mooney’s mast, however, comes before the detailed investigation into the accident is complete. And unlike most nonjudicial punishment throughout the rest of the military, sailors from sea-going commands cannot refuse mast and demand a court- martial.

At issue, say officials, is whether charts supplied to Mooney provided any clue of dangerous waters. Officials at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Bethesda, told reporters after the accident that the main maps used by the U.S. Navy did not reveal any obstacle anywhere near the sight of the crash.

Officials familiar with case, however, say another, much older chart was believed to be aboard the San Francisco indicating discolored water several miles away.

Early findings of the Navy’s investigation appear to indicate some level of “questionable” practices by Mooney, according to a Feb. 7 letter obtained by Stars and Stripes to Greenert from the commander of Pacific submarine forces Rear Adm. P.F. Sullivan.

Preliminary findings of the grounding, reads the letter, “highlights the questionable Voyage Planning processes and navigation practices Cdr. Kevin Mooney implemented and maintained while in command. He was responsible for the safe surfaced and submerged navigation of the ship, and should be held accountable.”

Still, the vast majority of the three-page letter outlines Mooney’s many accomplishments while in command of the San Francisco.

Sullivan said he had personally selected Mooney “to correct significant command climate and performance issues” aboard the ship.

Since taking command in late 2003, Sullivan said Mooney was directly responsible for transforming a down-in-the-dumps crew into one of the best in the fleet.

The ship, he wrote, got the highest marks of any Pacific submarine in a grueling Tactical Readiness Evaluation, among other top line certifications of its nuclear propulsion system and engineering departments.

Mooney’s “operational planning skill and command presence ensured the ship’s success in dynamic operations of vital importance to national security,” adds Sullivan.

“In the face of huge quality-of-life challenges faced by his ship, including a five-month deployment to San Diego for material repairs and transforming Guam into a viable submarine homeport, retention and reenlistment rates significantly exceed fleet norms” under Mooney, writes Sullivan.

“Despite the intense scrutiny under which he has been placed as a result of this tragedy, Cmdr. Mooney has conducted himself with honor and dignity. I ask that you consider his positive contributions to the U.S. Navy during your deliberations at Admiral’s Mast.”


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