The Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service is seeking information regarding the destruction of government property aboard the nuclear attack submarine USS Texas on or about March 29th while the boat was at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
USS Texas (SSN 775) is a Virginia-class attack submarine commissioned in September 2006. These vessels are tasked with open ocean and littoral missions. They were built as a lower-cost version of the Sea Wolf class and replaced the older Los Angeles class at the end of the Cold War.
The Virginia class boats are undergoing a 20-month upgrade program to extend their service life including new computers, sensors, and new bows enclosing a wet sonar array.
The exact nature of the damage to the submarine is unknown and the navy is keeping a lid on information regarding the type of vandalism and the extent of the damage. We do have information that says an armed security watch is aboard the sub with orders to shoot any unauthorized person who attempts to get aboard. Generally speaking a vessel in dry dock will have a skeleton crew that stands security watches in secure spaces like the reactor compartment working with civilian law enforcement officers at the dockyard.
Submarines in drydock will have had their weapons removed and their reactors are shut down since the power needs of the boat can be easily met by power ashore.
Unfortunately, vandalism to US Navy vessels is not uncommon by protestors, civilian workers, and even active-duty members of the crew.
In 2019, seven Roman Catholic activists from the Plowshares movement gained entry to the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base in Georgia. They were on the base unchallenged for several hours. The activists cut a padlock and then cut through a security fence. They then spilled blood on Navy wall insignias, spray-painted anti-war slogans on a walkway and beat a monument to lost nuclear sailors using hammers made of melted-down guns. Their stated goal, was to symbolically disarm the weapons on the submarines. Kings Bay stores nuclear weapons and is considered a very secure facility. The protestors did not attempt to board any of the submarines in port because they are protected by a couple of layers of armed security that will get you shot dead if you try to board one without authorization. The defendants are looking as more than 20 years in federal prison if convicted on tresspassing, destruction of government property and other counts.
In 1996, former priest and anti-war protestor Phillip Berrigan with four accomplices also with the Plowshares Movement boarded the Guided Missile Destroyer USS Sullivans while under construction at the General Dynamics Shipyards at the Bath Iron Works in Maine. They smashed $80,000 worth of navigation equipment with hammers and Berrigan was sentenced to two years in prison and fined for his portion of the damage.
Not all of the damage is done to active duty vessels either. In October 2018, several people snuck aboard the USS Ling, a World War II-era submarine docked at the New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, N.J. The vandals stole items from the vessel and then deliberately flooded the vessel, sinking her at the pier.
SOFREP reached out to the Public Affairs Office of the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service seeking information on the nature and extend of the damage to the submarine and any details on how it might have occurred. Our request was kicked over to the Public Affairs Office of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which released this statement:
“NCIS is offering a $2,500 reward to anyone with information leading to the identification of a suspect in connection with the damage of U.S. government equipment aboard the USS TEXAS (SSN-775) on or about March 29, 2022, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. We are unable to comment further on the situation or the investigation at this time. The Department of the Navy takes every act of vandalism seriously and we will hold individuals responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”
The NCIS Twitter account posted the notice below which has since been deleted, which may suggest that information on the suspect’s identity had been obtained.