After more than two years at EB, USS Minnesota transferred to sub base to prepare for fleet operations

Groton — After more than two years, the USS Minnesota (SSN 783) left Electric Boat's South Yard at 1 p.m. Friday for its homeport at the Naval Submarine Base to prepare for fleet operations.

The USS Minnesota was one of at least three Virginia-class attack submarines that were found to have unauthorized and undocumented weld repairs.

The shoddy parts affected the steam pipes associated with the submarines' nuclear reactor.

"USS Minnesota has completed all repairs associated with her Post-Shakedown Availability at Electric Boat. To prepare for upcoming fleet operations, Minnesota will be towed from Electric Boat to Naval Submarine Base New London to support crew training," Chief Steve Owsley, spokesman for waterfront operations at the base, said by email.

Owsley added in his email that "the fitting replacement work is complete on Minnesota."

The submarine was expected to spend most of 2014 at EB as part of its post-shakedown availability, which was extended so officials could investigate the issue.

Following delivery to the Navy and before its maiden deployment, a new submarine undergoes a PSA — essentially a last-minute check to correct deficiencies found during the shakedown cruise and an opportunity to address other needed improvements.

The USS Minnesota, which has yet to go on its maiden deployment, had been at EB since February 2014.

In addition to the USS Minnesota, the USS North Dakota (SSN 784), which is also homeported in Groton, and the USS John Warner (SSN 785), were affected.

"As part of an ongoing investigation into a quality control issue with a supplier, General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) determined that three steam pipe elbows supplied by the vendor in question required additional testing and repair due to unauthorized and undocumented weld repairs having been performed on these elbows," said a statement from Naval Sea Systems Command circulated to news media in August 2015.

The issue was identified as part of a Department of Justice Civil Investigative Demand (CID) into a quality control issue with the supplier. A CID is a subpoena for documents or, at times, statements. Sometimes a CID is triggered by a tip from a whistleblower

According to the Navy Times, pipemaker Nuflo Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., is the focus of the investigation.

j.bergman@theday.com

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