Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 09, 2021

On Testing Steel

There was a life before I started to write about politics at Moon of Alabama. So when a news story comes up that relates back to my previous life as an industrial engineer I will certainly read it and at times even write about it. Here is one of these.

Metallurgist admits faking steel-test results for Navy subs

A metallurgist in Washington state pleaded guilty to fraud Monday after she spent decades faking the results of strength tests on steel that was being used to make U.S. Navy submarines.

Elaine Marie Thomas, 67, of Auburn, Washington, was the director of metallurgy at a foundry in Tacoma that supplied steel castings used by Navy contractors Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding to make submarine hulls.

From 1985 through 2017, Thomas falsified the results of strength and toughness tests for at least 240 productions of steel — about half the steel the foundry produced for the Navy, according to her plea agreement, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The tests were intended to show that the steel would not fail in a collision or in certain “wartime scenarios," the Justice Department said.

The strength of the special kinds of steel that allows submarines to go deep without imploding must be assured under all circumstance. (Especially when one wants to move undersea mountains by running into them, as the USS Connecticut recently tried.) Special castings on submarines are often used where things like the periscope or cooling water lines penetrate the hull. To have any potentially brittle material at those places could be catastrophic. Due to the falsified test results the navy might have to reduce the maximum allowed diving depth for some of its submarines.

But the reason given by Thomas for falsifying the test results is what I find really concerning:

When confronted with the doctored results, Thomas told investigators, “Yeah, that looks bad,” the Justice Department said. She suggested that in some cases she changed the tests to passing grades because she thought it was “stupid” that the Navy required the tests to be conducted at negative-100 degrees Fahrenheit (negative-73.3 degrees Celsius).

This is an alarmingly 'stupid' quote from someone who is supposed to be a metallurgist. These tests are not 'stupid' but necessary.

There is one standard test for impact strength of steel that is regularly done at subzero temperature. It is the Charpy V-notch toughness impact test (video).


bigger

For a Charpy impact test a part of a casting is cut off and machined into a well defined piece with a notch. Its edges are then put against an anvil. A swinging hammer comes down and destroys the test piece. The difference in heights of the hammer at the starting position and at the end of the swing is an expression of the energy that was needed to destroy the piece.

It is a simple, easy to do test and the results can tell a lot about the material characteristics of the test piece. The pictures below shows the test results for two kinds of steel. The upper piece fractured but did not break apart. The more brittle one below snapped.


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Depending on its inner crystal structure the toughness of a metal can change with its temperature. More brittle material has a body centered cubic structure (BCC) with one atom sitting in the middle of a cube formed by eight other atoms. Tougher steel alloys have a face centered cubic crystal structure (FCC) where an extra atom sits at each face of the cube.


BCC structure - bigger

FCC structure - bigger

To find out which type of structure a piece of metal has one can cool it down and do a Charpy impact test at very low temperatures.


bigger

Below a certain temperature steel with a body centered (bcc) cubic crystal structure will suddenly become weak while steel with a face centered cubic structure (fcc) keeps it toughness. A Charpy impact test at low and normal temperature allows to differentiate between those.

The crystal structure of steel can be influenced in the foundry during the casting. The alloying, the temperature of the melt, the speed of cooling and/or an additional tempering will all effect the structure.

If the foundry has made a mistake during a cast it might have produced a steel with the wrong structure and characteristics. Material testing is the way to find out about possible mistakes. A Charpy test at different temperatures is a simple way to determine if mistakes were indeed made.

To skip the test or to falsify its values, as the person in question has done in this case, is a big no no.

But what really concerns is me that Thomas either did not know or ignored the above. She thought it was “stupid” that the Navy required the sub zero tests even while there are sound and rather simple reasons for these. One wants to differentiate 'good' steel from 'bad' one. It is not only the U.S. Navy which requires such tests. The classification societies and insurers for civil ships and the oil and gas industry have similar procedures.

When the metallurgist who was being trained to replace Thomas found out that she was falsifying test results he immediately recognized the gravity of the problem and informed the company. It was the right thing to do. 

During a part for my engineering education I did an internship in the material testing lab of a large shipyard. We did the coooold Charpy tests only once a week because we needed liquid nitrogen to cool down the test pieces. Liquid nitrogen has a boiling point of −195.8 °C (-321 °F). It evaporates fast but is fun to play with (vid) which I, of course, did a lot.

Posted by b on November 9, 2021 at 19:53 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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Thanks for the technical education. I enjoyed that explanation.

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Nov 9 2021 20:19 utc | 1

Uh oh... looks like dumbing down the educational system for decades has costs.

Posted by: DF | Nov 9 2021 20:23 utc | 2

I knew it, the US has discovered a way to make underwater Titanics. Lucky there were no icebergs around for the USS Connecticut.
**

Thanks b, on reporting about another "small" item that means a lot. In fact the USS Connecticut may even have been lucky that the damage wasn't greater.
*

Reminds me of Gordog's commnts on metals, metallurgy etc. needed for Hypersonic missiles.

Posted by: Stonebird | Nov 9 2021 20:28 utc | 3

Are there other ways to test the difference between FCC/BCC that she may have substituted?

For over 30 years she was employed and may have done this....sigh. It doesn't make me ever want to get in a submarine made with parts by those manufactures.

Is this a lone shooter or is there a "Follow the money..." side to this story?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 9 2021 20:29 utc | 4

Not a metallurgist.From practical experience have ‘always’ known that steel is more brittle at lower temperatures. The test makes perfect sense to a layman. Not even slightly surprised someone hired an ‘expert’ with no practical knowledge and trivial technical knowledge.

Practical knowledge is acquired by children at play. By adults who do things. Children have not been allowed to play for several generations. Adults don’t do anything unless it is done with thumbs or money. Interacting with the physical universe usually means hiring a Mexican.

Posted by: Oldhippie | Nov 9 2021 20:31 utc | 5

Very fascinating indeed. I find entries like this very refreshing and necessary to take the mind off of the terrible news cycle. My uncle was a dam engineer and later in his life used to run a small construction company which I worked at in my late teens and somewhat on-and-off in my early 20s. It was very fun and useful experience and one of the best periods of my life hands-down. I had to get up around 6 AM and worked in the yard until 4-ish and me and him and the workers would gather around during lunch time and have fun and talk smack and stuff. He died a few years ago due to stage 3 colon cancer and I miss him so much. This entry reminded me of him because of its 'engineering' theme. He used to explain everything in meticulous detail and was very knowledgeable. He got his education in Basel but got married relatively young and it was one of his regrets to never have the chance to continue more. Anyways, thx B.

Posted by: Russell Kirk | Nov 9 2021 20:32 utc | 6

Good posting B;

I agree with you about 85% of the time and no more so than here. Ethics, morals, a sense of duty and honor to those who entrust you is the basis for the quality of life hominids now enjoy. And those who employ science should be held to the highest standard.

As a scientist, engineer, machinist, welder, mechanic et al, it is up to us to keep the wheels on society's cart even while it is driven by vainglorious fools. Is that fair? No. But it is what is required, there is nobody else.

Posted by: S Brennan | Nov 9 2021 20:33 utc | 7

Reminds me of the WW2 torpedo scandal. How many people did that kill, how many careers were ruined, and how long did it prolong the war? And yes, surely there was a cover up.
FWIW,
L.

Posted by: Larry Paul Johnson | Nov 9 2021 20:34 utc | 8

How did she ever get into her head that the testing was stupid? Sounds like a convenient rationalization to pass on flawed steel. It reminds me a story of a forensic criminal expert who faked testgs result to send innocent men to jail. The social pressures on these two women in my view over came them and make false claims to make the leadership and their herd lackies proud of her. They would be fired or socially ex-communicated if they claimed opposite results.

Posted by: Erelis | Nov 9 2021 20:39 utc | 9

I knew a guy who'd been CEO of a foundry in Conn. that made turbines and such for Electric Boat. He told me that Soviet subs were largely made of titanium rather than steel; in fact he'd started a company that made golf clubs from Soviet sub scrapped hull material. Do you know about this? Also do you know about the acquisition of Electric Boat by Henry Crown c. 1959? The Crowns along with the Pritzkers were the big bucks from Chicago behind the ascent of Barak Obama. Henry Crown was a notorious gangster. What do you think might be the effect on quality control of having a military industry in the hands of organized crime? How about Boeing?

Posted by: NOBTS | Nov 9 2021 20:51 utc | 10

"More brittle material has a body centered cubic structure (BCC) with one atom sitting in the middle of a cube formed by six other atoms."
... eight other atoms. :-)

Posted by: ee | Nov 9 2021 20:51 utc | 11

If you drive over or under bridges this affects you too.
In my working life, I was a Certified Welding Inspector. A lot of my work was checking the weld and steel quality in plants making bridges for roads, railways and highways in the north east, mostly in New York but other states too.
Part of that was approving the steel plates and shapes used. I relied on certifications provided by the supplier, who had performed the tests at the steel mill, including CVN and analysis of the steel content.
I now wonder if any of the steel used in the constructions I supervised were tested by someone like Ms Thomas.

Posted by: Irwin Hutchinson | Nov 9 2021 20:57 utc | 12

@4 psychohistorian
"Are there other ways to test the difference between FCC/BCC that she may have substituted?" yes, magnetically. ferrite is quite magnetic, austenite is not, martensite is again magnetic.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 9 2021 21:06 utc | 13

Isn't relying on certifications provided by the supplier themselves part of the problem too? (Like having Wall Street or Big Pharma or police forces regulating themselves ...)

If the US Navy or other branches of the US military don't periodically test or audit what they receive from suppliers - and this went undetected for over three decades - what other problems might lie undetected?

Posted by: Canadian Cents | Nov 9 2021 21:08 utc | 14

As a Technical Officer in a large UK manufacturing plant I had to meet and discuss many varied things with 'experts' from many places. I realised at some point during the 1980s that almost all the people I met who were 40 - 45 or older were indeed generally expert in their field and could answer even the most obtuse questions. Those younger were almost all totally lost if questions strayed out of the range of their brief, in essence they did not truly understand or know their field. The price I deemed, for the marked decline in educational standards and the lack of practical experience that accompanied it. As far as I can see, standards are even worse today.

Posted by: Peter Charles | Nov 9 2021 21:11 utc | 15

Wouldn’t be surprised if she was somehow slipping some alloy into those batches of steel which could fail when irradiate with 5G waves. Or collapse when injected with various gene therapies. Or not. Nothing is out of the question now.

Posted by: Ripplewiggler | Nov 9 2021 21:20 utc | 16

thanks b, excellent article. Btw. even those with not a lot of love for the US military won't be happy with nuclear subs with structural damages.

Posted by: aquadraht | Nov 9 2021 21:39 utc | 17

Mission Accomplished

Wonder what allies we have sold our brittle ships to?

Someone above alluded to the Titanic.

https://www.nist.gov/nist-time-capsule/nist-beneath-waves/nist-reveals-how-tiny-rivets-doomed-titanic-vessel

NIST Reveals How Tiny Rivets Doomed a Titanic Vessel

Did someone say "brittle".

The slag made the rivets less ductile and more brittle than they should have been when exposed to very cold temperatures—like those typically found in the icy seawater of the North Atlantic.

Posted by: librul | Nov 9 2021 21:41 utc | 18

psychohistorian at #4:

"Follow the money", for sure... Even an Electrical Engineer (myself included) understands the differences in materials' characteristics due to temperature changes (as the one revealed by the mentioned Charpy test). Every Engineering student is teached that, no matter the future specialization area.

Posted by: C Khosta y Alzamendi | Nov 9 2021 21:45 utc | 19

This reminds me of freezing the rubber bunsen burner hoses in the school chemistry lab using dry ice froma co2 extingisher and then whacking them with a hammer (the gas valve was off at the time). Very pointless, but rather satisying seeing them shatter.

Posted by: Kaiama | Nov 9 2021 21:52 utc | 20

Thanks for sharing this.
Makes me want to break out the old Physics of Materials text to see if I can understand the why.

Posted by: Platero | Nov 9 2021 22:00 utc | 21

Craig Murray

Posted by: Quentin | Nov 9 2021 22:07 utc | 22

My excuses. My post at no. 22 is a mistake. Please delete.

Posted by: Quentin | Nov 9 2021 22:08 utc | 23

A FCC crystal is somewhat denser than a BCC crystal of the same chemical composition. That could be exploited by differences in speed of sound, attenuation of radiation, electric conductivity.

Do they keep samples of each lot used for manufacturing?

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 9 2021 22:18 utc | 24

16

lol.the possibilities are endless

Posted by: mcohen | Nov 9 2021 22:31 utc | 25

Hopefully not an early diversity hire.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 9 2021 22:32 utc | 26

WOW Amerikas subs now join the f-35 as more Amerikan trash.

Posted by: jo6pac | Nov 9 2021 22:42 utc | 27

After reading b's essay the first thing that jumped into my mind was the Titanic. I see a number of others above had the same reaction. What a total f** up!

Here some questions? What are the odds that this idiot who faked the results of those tests will be punished? What are the odds that this idiot will be demoted? What are the odds that she will be promoted?

I have been reading Martyanov for awhile now. One can make some good guesses on the above questions based on his analyses.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 9 2021 22:45 utc | 28

Faking "steel tests metallurgists" are all over the production chains of the USA, a country where pride, conscience, responsibility are manhandled, of late.

Posted by: nietzsche1510 | Nov 9 2021 22:49 utc | 29

@8 Larry Paul Johnson My daughter was a big fan of the band "21 Pilots", who got their name from an Arthur Miller play regarding sub-standard metal parts in fighter planes. Twenty one pilots died as a result.

Let's hope in the decades ahead there isn't a band calling themselves "135 sailors" or even, God forbit, "155 sailors".

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Nov 9 2021 23:03 utc | 30

Thanks for the helpful explanation, b. I’m no engineer, the mere sight of numbers and calculations brings a blank expression to my face. I do better with words. Like the word stupid. b noted that the explanation given by Thomas for falsifying the tests is because she thought it was “stupid” that the Navy required those tests.

I came across that word in an article from PBS about a Frontline documentary on the 1981 massacre in El Salvador. “Massacre in El Salvador” airs tonight, Nov. 9, on PBS. The below article reports on the dangers to journalists in El Salvador:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/el-mozote-massacre-journalism-el-salvador/

“President Nayib Bukele told his 3 million Twitter followers that our story was entirely false. … I answered a couple times, and then Bukele wrote that everyone who believed in my reporting was stupid.” Embedded links to the Tweets in the article.

Posted by: Bruised Northerner | Nov 9 2021 23:09 utc | 31

I doubt she was a professional metallurgist. I'm guessing she started as a technician doing pre-defined testing and during her career moved her way up through the company until she became the director of metallurgy, which probably wouldn't necessarily need to be a professional metallurgist because of the nature of the work. This demonstrates why we need regulations.
BTW, during WW2 while US shipyards turned out many Liberty ship using welding, British shipyards continued to use riveting because "they were behind the times". The problem was American welding was good it wasn't good enough for the Arctic conditions found north of the North Cape and failed by cracking quicker than expected. The "obsolete" riveted ships had no such problem. The solution to this problem; the Liberty ships were only allowed to complete a limited number of trips round the North Cape.
Makes you wonder, how well modern American warships will do if they have to operate in the Arctic Ocean, you know that Russian ships have no such problems, and are American aircraft carriers fitted with de-icing systems or have they been tested for stability when iced up?

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 9 2021 23:09 utc | 32

She thought it was “stupid"?!   So feelings then?   I can imagine what the Navy is thinking.   For 32 years, everything produced from where she worked at is now in question.   After a quick check, it appears that at least half of the Virginia-class sub are now in question.   Are submarines the only thing affected?   It'll be interesting to find out how many other things have been affected.

As for the money angle, it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone IF true.   I'm surprised she didn't try to deflect the blame away from her, or someone (beside her replacement) who worked under her for the past 32 years didn't report the problem.   This wouldn't be the first time a company cut corners nor will it be the last.

This story reminds me of someone who wanted to leave work early so he decided to set the submarine he was working on, on fire.   He's currently taking a 17 year break, in prison.    Well, one thing Elaine Thomas won't need to worry about is her career since she's retired.   I wonder how many more people like her we'll hear about in the coming years.

Posted by: Ian2 | Nov 9 2021 23:28 utc | 33

Canadian Cents | Nov 9 2021 21:08 utc | 14


Isn't relying on certifications provided by the supplier themselves part of the problem too?

This seems to be a very common problem. Inspection really is the key to quality. Where the quality assessment is subject to conflicting monetary interests, naturally, the quality often suffers. It is utterly predictable. For the same reason, private medical care and private pharmaceutical companies should be banned and all in-house issued quality certificates should be disregarded when lives depend on the quality being "certified".
This point was driven home (a striking example indeed!) by b's write up of the Boeing saga.

The existence of private pharmaceutical firms is a real killer, as I found from my own experience. Bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria) were discovered in 1919 and from shortly after their discovery they could be bought OTC in pharmacies around the world. (They were widely used and never showed any side effects.) In the 1960s the companies providing them were bought up and closed down by Big Pharma.

Around 2002 I had an infection of MRSA which looked as though it would cause my injured leg to be amputated or possibly would kill me. No antibiotic the hospital tried on it, halted the steady erosion of my flesh. I lamented to by wife that I could not get bacteriophage to treat it. To my astonishment and delight, she replied "I can get bacteriophage in my (Ex Soviet) country!" She then went home and came back with some. I managed to persuade the hospital to allow me to spend a weekend at home. As soon as we could, we undid the dressings and sprinkled a few drops of bacteriophage on my leg. I think I also swallowed some. Within an hour, my infected flesh went from grey to pink and it proceeded to heal from that time, until it recovered completely. Today, it is perfectly OK. People in the West are dying of NRSA and the pharmaceutical companies are selling them antibiotics that they know often fail to cure them, while preventing them from having access to, or even knowledge of bacteriophages. The US Military has Bacteriophages in their battlefield medical kits, but the civilians are denied them!

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 9 2021 23:32 utc | 34

Could be an excuse for Australia to back out of the sub deal. If they dare.

Posted by: dh | Nov 9 2021 23:54 utc | 35

Larry @ 8
The great torpedo scandal, 1941-43
Posted on February 17, 2020
by Frederick J Milford

https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2020/02/17/the-great-torpedo-scandal-1941-43/

Another fascinating story there.

Posted by: David G Horsman | Nov 9 2021 23:54 utc | 36

@4
Another way to test the crystal structure (albeit not get other information e.g. if some part of the alloy changes the strength) is X-ray diffraction, although my background is more electronic materials, so someone else would have to speak to the utility of such a test for mechanical/civil applications.

Posted by: Johan Meyer (2) | Nov 9 2021 23:58 utc | 37

Permit me some reminiscences, please, as they involve steel foundries. I worked for ESCO in Portland, OR in the early '80s. Atlas in Tacoma was our best-known competitor on these types of castings (Navy primarily, also oil patch). I thought that they disappeared around 1984 due to all of us losing 'custom castings' business to Mitsubishi, et al. Also, the Reagan recession cut oil drilling business, too. Ironic to me that Bradken now owns Atlas, as they were an ESCO licensee in Australia for digger teeth and related business.

Our strengths were design (again, digger teeth), quality control, and our Technical Director, Larry Venne - and his non-merry band of young metallurgists. Larry made his rep on Argon-Oxygen Decarburization (AOD) and taming HY80 by cutting the carbon level down to 0.20% - or less. AOD helped in that regard, but it also tended to drive out any Hydrogen and fugitive Oxygen. He used the same approach in improvements of CA6NM stainless by bringing it toward CA3NM. Same principle - get the carbide-formers out of there.

I met Elaine several times at Steel Founders' events, but never discussed metallurgy with her. Atlas had a good reputation in the industry at the time, so she was regarded as an expert. I know what she means about the -100F Charpy test being "stupid" in that the steel will never experience anything close to that temp underwater, but, of course, she misses the point of using the test to establish a safety factor.

Observation on question by Kevin @ 24 - yes they keep test blocks of each heat for many years.

Observation on Titanic - might well be that rivets failed, but more likely that they were pulled apart by the stresses on the hull. Last explanation of the main failure that I read some decades ago was Manganese Sulfides in the main hull sheets, which are long, stringy impurities that tend to precipitate out of the melt on cooling and act as 'seeds' for solidification of the iron matrix. During rolling, they actually get elongated further. In any case they decrease cohesion of the matrix crystals. Low-temperature impact tests will show low values (failures) in the range of near-freezing water. The reviews/reports that I read said that the hull 'unzipped' in places after the impact from the iceberg.

Posted by: Paul Spencer | Nov 10 2021 0:03 utc | 38

I get the science behind it, but the sheer complexity of tests ranging from material test, to components tests, to subsystem and system tests with a systematic increase in complexity and load variation and function performance...And they passed, all of them? And only now they noticed? Yeah, right...And I am Santa Claus...Xoxoxoxox...

Large systems that have many suppliers and subcontractors usualy control the incoming material in some way. If I were them I would check my "checks and balances" cause if this wnet unnoticed for 20 years, soemthing is awfully wrong or the lady is right...This test at these temperatures is irrelevant to the performance of the component...I think something is wrong.

About testing at a big company, world class supplier of automotive industry...A conversation I acctualy had, it is paraphrased but, yes it did happen.

Me: We need to test this, or at least measure it!
They: We dont need to test it, it comes from our supplier. The data said it is fine.
Me: Dude, the plastic is melting during ultrasound welding.
They: Well should it not melt during welding?
Me: It should change shape within defined parameters, but not spill over everywhere.
They: There are no defined parameters for that dimension.
Me: Yes, there are.
They: Where are they?
Me: On the drawing in front of you, the tolerance field is defined.
They: Are we within tolerance?
Me: No. That is why we are here.
They: But supplier test data did not change.
Me: But the material we got did. Two weeks ago we did not have this problem, and now we do.
They: Do you have any proof the material changed?
Me: No, but the welding is becoming problematic.
They: Since you have no data to refute the supplier we will go ahead with the current process.
Me: It will not pass visual inspection at the Quality check.
They: Is this defect checked for during the visual inspection?
Other: No, we never had this issue, so it is not in our defect portfolio.
They: So what is the fuss about?

Result: 150k damage in tooling damage, customer claim, nothing changed, "They" still in charge, still not verifying customer provided results

To reduce cost big corps choose to "trust" their suppliers...Testing is expensive they say...

Posted by: ForWhomTheBellTolls | Nov 10 2021 0:11 utc | 39

OT but very much related ... a CIA psychopath writes book on Syria

https://booktrib.com/2021/09/24/former-cia-analyst-integrates-espionage-love-and-betrayal-in-gripping-thriller-damascus-station/
While I have not read the book, I've read not just his book reviews but people reviewing him. To me it looks like hero porn and ... surprise, the western audience loves it

It's on my 'bucket list' of books to read if only to see how degenerate our CIA has become.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Nov 10 2021 0:22 utc | 40

This reminds me of freezing the rubber bunsen burner hoses in the school chemistry lab using dry ice froma co2 extingisher and then whacking them with a hammer (the gas valve was off at the time). Very pointless, but rather satisying seeing them shatter.

Posted by: Kaiama | Nov 9 2021 21:52 utc | 20

Hardly pointless, you now understand very well the effects of drastic temperature (give me that one) change on materials ! I bet you've made decisions based on this understanding.

Posted by: Sarlat La Canède | Nov 10 2021 0:24 utc | 41

Could be an excuse for Australia to back out of the sub deal. If they dare.
Posted by: dh | Nov 9 2021 23:54 utc | 35

Bradken, which operates a foundry in Tacoma, Washington, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Kansas City, Missouri, operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bradken Ltd. of Newcastle, Australia.


Karma

Posted by: RefractiveReflection | Nov 10 2021 0:39 utc | 42

It seems never to have entered Elaine Marie Thomas's head to ask Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding or the US Navy why the tests had to be conducted at -100 degrees Fahrenheit / -73.3 degrees Celsius.

Now she faces 10 years in jail and a huge fine of US$1 million after retiring and being caught out by her replacement. What a way to spend your twilight years. All because she failed to find out why the US Navy's specifications seemed so extreme.

Incidentally here in Sydney the entire light rail system that goes out from Central railway station to Dulwich Hill, and which goes through Glebe, Pyrmont and the Sydney Fish Markets has had to close down after cracks were found in the wheels of the entire fleet of 12 Urbos 3 light-rail vehicles. The light rail network has been decommissioned for 18 months.

The ABC.net article also mentions that cracking was also found on the Urbos 3 light-rail vehicles on a line from Wolverhampton to Birmingham in the UK in June this year.

The problem also surfaced in 2017 on the light rail network in Besançon (France) and the company CAF Urbos agreed to pay for remedial work on the cracks in the train carriages.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 10 2021 0:39 utc | 43

@39
Yep. Too true. The "anti-vertical-integration" business structure has this effect IMO. That's having independent corp. entity for each supplier, subtier supplier, sub-sub-tier supplier, and so on. Out of sight, out of mind, times the number of layers of subcontractors. The liability for the parent company gets washed away, but so does the ability to home in on problems after production has ramped up. For stuff like medical or, I imagine, MIC, there is enough excess money in the system to band-aid typical issues. And then, sometimes not.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 10 2021 0:49 utc | 44

Son of a WWII Submariner and a Naval Officer interned on Subs as a Midshipman here.

Went into MIC Contractor Engineering/Mfg/Production Mgmt. Mostly Avionics/Electronics/Systems.

Just Fraud for Thomas?

Add Criminal Negligence, Reckless Endangerment, Strip Security Clearances, then Lock Her Up until the Navy Subs/Ships which used Castings cleared by her Firm are Decommissioned.

Overhauls for those Subs could be the opportunities to replace those Castings. Expensive? Yes; but considering the Forces Encountered - especially the Explosive Ones intended to Shock/Stress/Compromise - can't "cut corners" (pun intended).

Posted by: IronForge | Nov 10 2021 1:04 utc | 45

I dabble a bit in welding myself and find the technical aspects of the subject interesting. Anyone who has made a more than cursory investigation of metallurgy should be able to attest to the vastness and complexity of the domain. B's observations above only scratch the surface.

That aside, "@Canadian Cents | Nov 9 2021 21:08 utc | 14" hits the nail on the head. Mrs. Thomas is quite obviously a scapegoat for much wider and deeper ranging corruption of the managerial and procurement levels at the steel mill and US Navy respectively. Who really got rich of this fraud? A mid-level technician, or stock option-endowed corporate directors and procurement officers winking at the revolving-door?

If Mrs. Thomas effectively was the sole and critical link in the quality control chain, that mostly points at a much larger organizatorial fuck-up. How come the US Navy did not check and double-check the quality of materials delivered? How come reporters of this incident did not ask these questions? (Et tu, Bernhard)

Kudos to "foolisholdman | Nov 9 2021 23:32 utc | 34" for bringing up that unrelated but super interesting tangent. Added to Bernhard's generally high standard of reviews, comments like @14 and @34 are prime examples of what makes MoA a worthwhile read.

Posted by: Lurk | Nov 10 2021 1:07 utc | 46

Elaine was correct. Whoever wrote the Spec for submarine steel requirements did not know what he was doing.

Requesting LC2 steels for submarines is a great overkill and significantly and unnecessary increases cost of manufacturing. Submarines will never, ever be subject to such a low temperatures therefore requirement is stupid.

If someone wants to learn more about subject please check ASTM A352 Standard for Steel Specification for Low-Temperature Service.

Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 1:27 utc | 47

The motive for her to do this entirely escapes me. I'm guessing we'll see more executives in court as the scam unfolds.

Posted by: steve | Nov 10 2021 1:38 utc | 48

Being an industrial engineer as well, but somehow ended up me working for a period of time as an assistant civil engineer in a construction company, I have to say that one of the most hated thing by suppliers and contractors was the TEST. So my only take of this is she was corrupted.

Metallurgic subject was a very hard subject back then in the university times.

Posted by: Man | Nov 10 2021 1:38 utc | 49

I doubt she was a professional metallurgist. I'm guessing she started as a technician doing pre-defined testing and during her career moved her way up through the company until she became the director of metallurgy, which probably wouldn't necessarily need to be a professional metallurgist because of the nature of the work. This demonstrates why we need regulations.
...
...
Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 9 2021 23:09 utc | 32

Yep. My first thought too.
One can imagine an eduphobic person believing that the FCC/BCC test was irrelevant because no ship is ever going to operate in water with a lower temperature than about -3 degrees C.
However, the lack of curiosity about the nature and purpose of the FCC/BCC test is unforgiveable. i.e. had she truly believed the test was irrelevant/superfluous, a professional would have set out to PROVE it was unnecessary. For that reason, and the fact that women eager to do a blokey job usually strive to do it better than a bloke would, I suspect sabotage.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 10 2021 1:51 utc | 50

#37
As far as I am aware x-ray diffraction needs a thin sample, and the x-rays pass through (and are diffracted in doing so). Such were the catalyst samples I have had tested periodically.

Posted by: Walt | Nov 10 2021 2:10 utc | 51

From another angle, it's not clear that her omissions caused any submarine mishaps. If that's true then it suggests that the safety margins in the structural design of submarines, together with Standard Operating Procedures for crews, provided a margin of safety which compensated for her own whimsical standards.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 10 2021 2:12 utc | 52

The process of imbecilization affects STEM people, too. STEM people are still humans, they're still subject to the laws of Humanities, therefore to the laws of History.

It is a mistake an Empire can keep its intellectual vibrancy by merely propping up STEM while defunding Humanities or turning Humanities into the dumpster of pseudo-scientists and charlatans. The bill will eventually come, and Western STEM will also see its Golden Age end.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 2:18 utc | 53

Double checking, redundancy, oversight, and safety are the first thing to go with deregulation and with the ever-increasing financial cut going to upper management and stock holders. Boeing’s 737 Max crashes, the shooting on the set of “Rust,” or the burning down of Paradise CA by PG&E are direct consequences.

An armorer who is not paid enough to do the job correctly, not handling the guns and bullets personally, leaving them unsecured on a table, is dangerous. But the ruling Western ideology puts profits over lives. Until this changes and CEOs are jailed for manslaughter many more American deaths are inevitable.

The USA is unwilling, unable, to do the basic national public health practices to eradicate coronavirus because it requires increasing taxes to pay for it and a functioning government. The 21st century dysfunctional White House has killed more Americans than died in combat in all of its 20th century wars. It is of no matter to the Overlords.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Nov 10 2021 2:31 utc | 54

Lurk 44

Mrs. Thomas is quite obviously a scapegoat for much wider and deeper ranging corruption of the managerial and procurement levels at the steel mill and US Navy respectively. Who really got rich of this fraud? A mid-level technician, or stock option-endowed corporate directors and procurement officers winking at the revolving-door?

She has a plea bargain and they are recommending a minimum sentence. That usually means she is cooperating in an investigation of the big fish.

Posted by: Keith McClary | Nov 10 2021 2:43 utc | 55

The duplicity extended beyond Ms. Thomas. According to the Yahoo article linked in the post:

Bradken fired Thomas and initially disclosed its findings to the Navy, but then wrongfully suggested that the discrepancies were not the result of fraud. That hindered the Navy’s investigation into the scope of the problem as well as its efforts to remediate the risks to its sailors, prosecutors said.

In June 2020, the company agreed to pay $10.9 million in a deferred-prosecution agreement

Posted by: Alan | Nov 10 2021 2:50 utc | 56

The duplicity extended beyond Ms. Thomas. According to the Yahoo article linked in the post:

Bradken fired Thomas and initially disclosed its findings to the Navy, but then wrongfully suggested that the discrepancies were not the result of fraud. That hindered the Navy’s investigation into the scope of the problem as well as its efforts to remediate the risks to its sailors, prosecutors said.

In June 2020, the company agreed to pay $10.9 million in a deferred-prosecution agreement

Posted by: Alan | Nov 10 2021 2:50 utc | 57

@ Lurk 44
If Mrs. Thomas effectively was the sole and critical link in the quality control chain, that mostly points at a much larger organizational fuck-up. How come the US Navy did not check and double-check the quality of materials delivered? How come reporters of this incident did not ask these questions?
YES! YES!!
Obviously one person should not have been allowed to subvert the US naval force for thirty years. The contractor's quality program and Navy's quality assurance people looking over the contractor's shoulders should have seen this problem and eliminated it. But they never did. The Navy has about as many admirals as it does combat ships. What do they do, besides firing underlings?

Craig Hooper, Forbes, Nov 8:
U.S. Navy In New Crisis: Says USS Connecticut Debacle Was Avoidable

In the latest sign of serious, systemic decay within America’s national security enterprise, the U.S. Navy announced last week that the USS Connecticut (SSN 22), one of America’s three multi-billion-dollar Seawolf-class attack submarines, was crippled in an entirely avoidable mishap. . . .
The Navy’s Command Chain Is Breaking Down
The seriousness of the incident was reflected by an initial round of therapeutic blood-letting. The U.S. Seventh Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, sacked the USS Connecticut’s entire command trio—firing the sub’s Captain, Executive Officer and the Chief of the Boat due to loss of confidence. Other disciplinary steps—both up and down the command chain-are either still pending or have yet to be publicly announced. . . .
Navy’s reluctance to implement tough, necessary steps to prevent major preventable accidents—accidents that have, over the past four years, resulted in the unacceptable loss of at least 17 lives and billions of dollars in irreplaceable Navy and Marine Corps assets—is getting harder and harder to ignore. The Navy’s command chain is breaking down, with far too many naval personnel defying authority and, basically, “picking and choosing” what rules and regulations apply. . .
Amid terrible signs of institutional decay—unpunished honor violations at the Naval Academy, revelation of a second major naval bribery ring, and other incidents—the avoidable ship losses and avoidable deaths have come and gone with minimal accountability. . . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 10 2021 2:55 utc | 58

Notice in the video that the nerd is in no way interested in telling anyone about what is actually going on, scientifically. It's all forced faux dramatic "wow!" and "awesome!" and "watch this!". Who cares. What a stupid video.

Posted by: Sarcophilus | Nov 10 2021 3:56 utc | 59

Oldhippie | Nov 9 2021 20:31 utc | 5

"Practical knowledge is acquired by children at play. By adults who do things. Children have not been allowed to play for several generations. Adults don’t do anything unless it is done with thumbs or money. Interacting with the physical universe usually means hiring a Mexican."

Excellent! Brought forth a large guffaw...

Posted by: donten | Nov 10 2021 3:57 utc | 60

Speaking of the Titanic.

Something I heard a long time ago has stuck.
During the hearings that followed the sinking of the Titanic
eyewitnesses reported that the ship had split in two.

The "experts" who design these unsinkable ships
snorted and guffawed at the reports by the eyewitnesses.

The eyewitnesses were not believed even though they
and not the experts had been there.

As we all know now, 70 plus years later,
modern day oceanographers found that the Titanic
had split in two just as the eyewitnesses had said.

Posted by: librul | Nov 10 2021 5:27 utc | 61

It is quite amusing for me to read all comments so far.

Commenters are “accepting the rules” as given and correct (Navy testing requirements) and you are going by those rules (Mrs. Thomas is an amateur and guilty for not obeying the government (Navy) requirements.

If I apply the same principle regarding covid testing and vaccination (FDA, CDC, WHO etc. requirements) I should be by now be triple vaccinated. No question asked. It was requested by government (and other authorities) and it was supposed to be done as requested.

Let me tell you how things work in a technical world:

Buyer writes the Scope of Work including Design Requirements, Material Requirements, Testing Requirements, List of Approved Suppliers, List of documentation to be submitted etc. Large companies (and Navy is a large company) have all those documents written long time ago (they are called Specifications) and when Project Manager is placing the Purchase Order he just pulls applicable Specifications and add them to the list. Usually he has Project Engineer (or Engineers for each discipline) do that for him because he is not knowledgeable enough to do it by himself.

There are plenty of steps where things can go wrong. For example, the engineer deciding which Spec to use may be just a kid fresh from university or someone not really knowledgeable on the subject. (Best engineers do not usually work for the Army; they are after higher income than that). Following the rule “better be safe than sorry”, guy will pull more stringent Spec than required. So instead to pull Spec for seawater equipment he would pull Spec for ballistic missiles or arctic equipment where requirements are more stringent than those for seawater (there you got -73 deg C instead of – 5 C).

And things keep rolling. There is no one down the road who dares to say that requirement for low temp is nonsense because one has to take responsibility for changing the Spec.

What exactly Mrs. Thomas has falsified is unknown. Text says:

“The tests were intended to show that the steel would not fail in a collision or in certain “wartime scenarios," the Justice Department said.”

This is nonsense. Tests CAN NOT show that “steel will not fail in a collision”. Tests only can confirm Yield Strength, Ultimate Strength and Charpy Value. (RT, MP and other nondestructive tests are separate).

The only numbers Mrs. Thomas seems to be “altering” are tensile strength at low temperatures (and she is guilty for doing that, no question).
However, as a mechanical engineer who makes living by doing machine design I have to agree with Mrs. Thomas. Requirements for tensile strength at low temp and impact tests are irrelevant for submarine application and should have never been requested because submarine can not operate under those conditions.

Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 6:02 utc | 62

@59 librul

Thanks for that memoir. It speaks to a vast array of lies.

It should be that every time an official claim is made, one who challenges that claim gets a coupon valid for fifty years, where all discussion and conclusion is suspended for that time until the actual truth is revealed.

And then we might see that all the intervening period that hurt us and impassioned us all so much was saturated with bullshit, and an obscuration of the truth - a complete waste.

But we live short lives. So we could save time by telling the truth in the moment that it matters. But we live short lives. So it will take many generations of these pitiful lives to learn that wisdom.

~~

We can't blame anyone for the fact that we are so short-sighted as a people. We can only wish for wisdom to hasten. Because we live such short lives.

And lies are spread like manure, while the truth is the single diamond.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 10 2021 6:51 utc | 63

@librul | Nov 10 2021 5:27 utc

There are some interesting things regarding sinking of the Titanic (if one digs a little bit).
One of those is a story that Titanic had a long life and was pulled from service in 1935 while the one that sank was not Titanic but a sister ship Olympic.
According to the story Olympic was badly damaged on her fifth voyage when she collided with cruiser HMS Hawke and she was intentionally sunk to get insurance. Unfortunately some details of the plan went wrong (according to the story).

Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 6:58 utc | 64

Posted by: NOBTS | Nov 9 2021 20:51 utc | 10

Thanks for the heads up on Henry Crown.

Crown, formally Krinsky, has twenty entries in the book 'Supermob' by veteran journalist Gus Russo, too many to summarise.

I can't quite believe Crown began his career as a street peddler in NYC and eventually owned the Empire State Building among other assets in his business conglomerate.

This crooked and vile man had extensive gambling, Teamster, NJ, NYC and Chicargo connections.

No wonder the science and metallurgy was faked.

Posted by: Paul | Nov 10 2021 7:43 utc | 65

librul | Nov 9 2021 21:41 utc | 18

Titanic.
One reason given for the rivets being replaced by ones that did not meet the original specifications, was that they were a whole lot cheaper.

It was the age of ultra-capitalism after all.

Posted by: Stonebird | Nov 10 2021 7:46 utc | 66

Hello.

Long time reader, first time to respond. I was a Navy Nuke Machinist Mate(SS), did a major refueling overhaul at a GE prototype, rode an attack sub in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Worked with metals much of my life, glad to see someone else paying attention.

I was qualified Quality Control (Atlantic) and Quality Assurance (Pacific) supervisor, I saw a lot of work done in shipyards. Actually had a true "flooding at test depth" casualty once (what a ride!).

My addition to the conversation is this: I recall we would laugh as we would recite the official unofficial motto of the Nuclear/Submarine Navy "Lie.Lie.Deny.Deny."

There is such a huge gap between experienced personnel who can see the actuality of the situation and the goals of the "management class" that what I call the "theory to reality gap," continues to widen.

My boat was actually "lost at sea" BEFORE it was commissioned. Who can find the hull number?

Much love to all, thanks for thinking!

Posted by: zendeviant | Nov 10 2021 7:47 utc | 67

This particular post by b has revealed a lot of generally silent participants of this site. Great to know the variety and breadth of technical talent present here. Salutes and respects..

Posted by: R | Nov 10 2021 8:19 utc | 68

Many thanks b. Very interesting and shocking at the same time.
A few thoughts :
Why/how is this public knowledge ? I should have thought this a matter of national security, not to mention confidence crushing to naval personnel, especially submariners.
How on earth has it taken so long for this to be noticed.
Additional to the more brittle nature of the steel in colder conditions, is it also more susceptible to pressure at depth ?

Posted by: Mike Smith | Nov 10 2021 8:41 utc | 69

was it not the case that the metal used in the Titanic's hull was too brittle at low temperatures?

Posted by: Malchik Ralf | Nov 10 2021 8:45 utc | 70

posted too soon...

Posted by: Malchik Ralf | Nov 10 2021 8:47 utc | 71

@psychohistorian @4

Are there other ways to test the difference between FCC/BCC that she may have substituted?

Yes there are but not really. Grinding to a fine surface, acid etching and then microscoping to see the crystal structure. Various magnetic tests may also tell a bit.

But all the methods of steel testing are complementary (tensile strength, stiffness, hardness, toughness, microstructure etc.). One can not replace one with another. None on its own is sufficient.

Posted by: b | Nov 10 2021 8:49 utc | 72

Walt @ 49,, x-ray diffraction needs a thin sample <=but the sample selection is a problem?
LostInTime @ 45 Requesting LC2 steels for submarines is a great overkill and significantly and unnecessary increases cost of manufacturing. ASTM A352 Standard for Steel Specification for Low-Temperature Service.

my question is what do these metals look like in stress strain curve Instron analysis, the penetration tests , and can you find their breaking strengths in both longitudinal and radial stress-strain analysis..and relate the data to the Charpy V-notch toughness impact test?
Where is a good book on testing metals .. I have the 5th edition of Materials Selection in Mechanical Design by Ashby, and am familiar with www.grantadesign.com databases.. but I feed inadequate about physics of metal science..


Canadian Cents | Nov 9 2021 21:08 utc | 14 Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus MSRA difficult to resolve infections<= Bacteriophage are useful to help resolve. MRSA(gram positive, characterized by small red bumps w deep, painful staph characteristic abscesses) is but one.
Denying Americans access to cheap, proven treatments is an example of big pharma use of its the government big Pharma controls.

There are no natural monopolies. Without a law making nation state there would be no (patents, copyright or licensing authority to create, grant and transfer monopoly powers to private entities). These private entities use grants of monopoly powers, made by the governments they control, to deny competition access and to control price and product availability and prevent others from engaging in competitive research.
How many more things do privately owned Big Pharma use government to sell they goods to?

Personally, I have lost all trust in anything government and since Covid all of its licensed physicians, they are all on the take. ?

posted by Paul Spencer Nov 10 2021 @ 38 <=
I worked for ESCO in Portland, OR in the early '80s. Atlas in Tacoma was our best-known competitor on these types of castings (Navy primarily, also oil patch). I thought that they disappeared around 1984 due to all of us losing 'custom castings' business to Mitsubishi, et al. Also, the Reagan recession cut oil drilling business, too. Ironic to me that Bradken now owns Atlas, as they were an ESCO licensee in Australia for digger teeth and related business.

No Paul what happened was copyright and patent laws (monopoly power) were used to transfer the business out of America and into a different place. In the fibers business, the excuse was price competition forced the plants to be shut down. and the processed were licensed in exchange for royalties (monopoly power of patents; eliminated Americans from the jobs they had, but increased the owners profits). The moving the production of the fibers was part of the big plan to transfer everything of value out of America into countries like Korea, China, India, Taiwan, and other cheap labor places. The story is the same in industry after industry.

I was in the oil and gas business in Tennessee at the time, and EPA raised the cost of production and cost of license to drill so high, none of the 3 million Americans in that business were able to stay in business.

The Steel mills in Birmingham, Alabama were shut down and the foundries transferred to China.

My point is your job was probably a victim of the intentions of the powerful global oligarchs many of whom do not even live in the USA. and it was executed against your livelihood, by the monopoly powers granted by the USA to its upstream owners, the Oligarch and their leg breaker corporations. In the old days the British government would make their lords land grants in the lands that existed in the places that the British Oligarchs were trying to do the same thing the Oligarch of today were doing, basically they were looking for cheap labor, efficient product in places were no competition was possible. That is why slaves were brought to the colonies.

Here it is the same.. cheap place, no competition, but still its a gift by government (paid for by the masses) to a few.

Posted by: snake | Nov 10 2021 10:16 utc | 73

That is precisely why there is the material certification type 3.2 which requires all material testing to be witnessed by Client's approved inspector = you have four eyes on the test and no single person can falsify it. I thought this would be normal requirement for military grade steels. Same as for pressure vessels and material subjected to extremly corrosive process conditions in oil&gas (which is my business area as a mechanical engineer). Similar cheating happens quite a lot in Chinese and Indian foundries, which is why my offshore customers now either exclude certain countries of origin, or require type 3.2 certification for all process steels from these countries, or require re-testing of each batch we buy at an independent lab. Nobody in my industry would trust the foundry's own lab when it comes to critical applications. How can the defense industry be so negligent?

Posted by: Matthias | Nov 10 2021 10:43 utc | 74

RE: Posted by: Matthias | Nov 10 2021 10:43 utc | 74

“ How can the defense industry be so negligent? “

The defence industry are not being negligent, they are following “updated processes/cultures” from design, specification, through manufacturing/QA to certification ” not restricted to ship/submarines,partly as a function of facility of employees from the 1980's onwards – “Morning in America” refers -, but also to maximise profit, and have been doing so for circa 10 - 20 years.

Examples are not restricted to military production but include civil aircraft produced by the “defence industry” Boeing being the most “found out” and “whitewashed” across their ranges, whilst Lockheed Martin and others are also “beneficiaries” since, when the price of "cocoa “ increases, some reduce/increase the size of the chocolate bars whilst reducing the cocoa solids content.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 10 2021 11:22 utc | 75

@ Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 6:02 utc | 62

Your hypothesis doesn't explain why she gave herself the trouble to falsify the tests in the first place.

Even if the Pentagon's specifications were overkill, it doesn't change the fact that the test would be the same. It would cost her nothing to simply not falsify the tests.

The Pentagon guaranteed the demand at the necessary price to her company. It was a zero-risk enterprise. Either she was pressured (directly or indirectly) to walk that extra mile to falsify the tests so that her company could get that extra profit from the fixed prices, or she's extraordinarily dumb and lazy for the standards of her job, or some combination of both.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 11:33 utc | 76

@62 LostInTime

Did you work at an engineering consulting shop? I ask because your reasoning reminds me of conflicts (direct experience and others' descriptions) with such personnel.

The example in the OP is appropriate to illustrate. The test instrument is economical to construct for testing at low temperatures, to estimate parameters at high temperatures. Directly testing at operating temperatures is much more expensive. Yet somehow the fact that the test is conducted at low temperatures somehow needs to imply that the parameters being estimated are those being measured at low temperatures, rather than extrapolated on the basis of physical theories, to those at higher temperatures.

Another example: a mine (multibillion dollar project) is commissioned. A year later, a certain engineer with a hard science mentality (third world background---I have mentioned him and this episode before on this blog) does some calculations, and suggests that very expensive piping and tanks should be failing. A manager takes him up on his prediction, removes insulation at substantial expense to check, and confirms the predictions. Legal action ensues, and the consulting shop demands to see his exact equations (he points them at the relevant literature, while steadfastly refusing to do their work for them; gets sidelined, and moves on to other pastures). Of course, for the general (engineering) personnel at the mine and consulting shop, it is "weird" and "nothing like what they have seen in their experience."

Then again, those people could already be identified in the education phase: "calculus is a waste of time, nobody uses it in industry" et cetera.

Posted by: Johan Meyer (2) | Nov 10 2021 12:55 utc | 77

RE: Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 10 2021 11:22 utc | 75

My point is why does the Defense industry not have practises that are commonplace in Petrochemical industry? Oil&Gas constantly raised their quality standards after each catastrophe, after my 25 years in this industry this is a trend clearly visible and ongoing. When Oil&Gas companies source in cheap countries (which they increasingle do) they compensate by doublechecking the quality.

I would call it neglience if a Defense contractor blindly trusts the integrity of their key suppliers of critical materials where mistakes can cause a sunken ship and thus cost hundreds of lives and destroy a billion of value in a single event. Of course the same goes for civil aviation, but in that market there is competition and thus an incentive for Boeing et al to lower standards. A state actor such as US Navy has no competition, and did not lowered their standards for sure. They could have predicted how the rising domestic cost puts pressure on domestic suppliers and gives incentive to US foundries to "reduce the cocoa content", and they could have counteracted by tight inspection. After this case popped up, I'm sure they will.

Posted by: Matthias | Nov 10 2021 12:56 utc | 78

As I was reading the story it reminded me of another story so much I thought they might be the same company.

Sapa Profiles Inc(now Hydro Extrusion USA) falsified the results of tensile tests on aluminium products for 19 years. This was discovered by NASA and other government agencies and the faulty products were blamed for 2 NASA mission failures, OCO and Glory. At the time I was looking forward to the results of the Glory mission, as it filled a gap in surveillance for aerosols and atmospheric chemistry.

They falsified the results to meet production targets and receive bonuses. The company was fined $46 million and had to pay a number of American companies and government agencies.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/aluminum-extrusion-manufacturer-agrees-pay-over-46-million-defrauding-customers-including

This problem probably happens a lot as it is impossible to test every component of a large project and it is so easy to lie about the results.

Posted by: Mighty Drunken | Nov 10 2021 13:06 utc | 79

33
Its a major problem with self assurance.
My engineering firm had it with MoD,DoD,BNFL and major railways.
Shit sometimes just happens even without any malicious intent,in fact I made a good separate income fixing
elaborate screw ups from machines that were 'perfect' by the books but failed promptly when put into use.

Posted by: winston | Nov 10 2021 13:07 utc | 80

RE: Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 11:33 utc | 76

If you re-read, the test was not the same. What the Navy asked is a test at temperatures far lower than usual (the Charpy test is routinely done at -46°C) which requires considerable extra work and time. In other words, it's a nuisance and she did not see the value of going through with it.
I can also relate to the metallurgist's attitude of not wanting to do things she considers "stupid" although in the quality business this is a dangerous attitude to have. My Clients often specify things that are provably stupid, and if I can convince them to drop a requirement because it is not applicable or necessary for the situation, we both win. But I would never skip or simplify a test if I don't fully understand what I'm doing and (!) without asking permission from the Client. And of course I would never falsify a test.

Posted by: Matthias | Nov 10 2021 13:10 utc | 81

@ Posted by: Matthias | Nov 10 2021 13:10 utc | 81

It doesn't matter. The Pentagon is the client, the company was paid. The client came with the specifications for the product it wanted, and paid accordingly. It received an inferior product for the price of the superior product.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 13:26 utc | 82

@ Posted by: winston | Nov 10 2021 13:07 utc | 80

Apparently, that was not the case. The engineer made her personal judgment and falsified the results of the test.

It's one thing for the theory to be wrong. It's another thing for someone to deliberately falsify data from a test or experiment for completely arbitrary reasons.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 13:29 utc | 83

This sort of narcissism is as American as apple pie.

Let us face it, exhaustive testing of your product before releasing it is not as profitable or enjoyable as just making sure it doesn't blow up too often and letting the users do the testing. It's a win-win, and the users are so good at it.

And we don't regulate much here, so you can get away with it for a long time.

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 10 2021 13:37 utc | 84

RE: Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 11:33 utc | 76

“The Pentagon guaranteed the demand at the necessary price to her company. “

But not the necessary profit, the guarantee of demand decreasing the necessary profit, encouraging derivatives of Gosplan post 1980.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 10 2021 13:37 utc | 85

Bom dia, gostei bastante da explicação. Um lado que passa despercebido pelos leigos.

Posted by: carlos araujo | Nov 10 2021 13:52 utc | 86

I apologize for my post @40, wrong thread.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Nov 10 2021 13:58 utc | 87

Manufacturing quality: U.S. / USSR trading places

THIS post is ON topic. The eerie thing is that the truth that is leaking out about the quality of the U.S. military resembles our disinfo campaign against Russia, 'Putin's Russia is so corrupt that they cannot make anything without it falling apart'. It also resembles some actually true stories about the Soviet Union such as the Kursk, Chernobyl, and the widespread environmental damage that was being done at that time.

Yet another reason for the U.S. to get our own house in order rather than being the World overseer and looking for flaws in everyone else.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Nov 10 2021 14:05 utc | 88

The foundry should be commended for being so ahead of the curve in prioritizing diversity over competence. That prioritization may be the standard now across all industries in America but back in the 1980s there were still many old fashioned racists and misogynists in charge of hiring who though competence should be a consideration when filling positions.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 10 2021 14:06 utc | 89

Not condoning what she did, but what is the minimal temperature a submarine would expect to be exposed to in real operational conditions ? Or put another way where did the -100 Def F come from ?
I've been involved to a small extent in the past with environmental testing for the military and sometimes I was left scratching my head as to why testing was carried out against conditions the kit would never, ever experience. We know the MIC are wasteful and that safety and security are a catch all for unrestrained spending.
She was wrong, but is the system right ?

Posted by: Henry Smith | Nov 10 2021 14:06 utc | 90

Well, I bet she aced her gender studies.

So all was not lost.

Posted by: Mike from Jersey | Nov 10 2021 15:02 utc | 91

@LostInTime #many
It seems quite clear you didn't read the entire article b posted.
Nowhere is it stated that the testing conditions are to reflect operating temperatures.
The test is intended to verify the type of steel that is supposed to be delivered.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 10 2021 15:26 utc | 92

. . .from the archives June 15, 2020
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's office
Western District of Washington

Bradken Inc. pays $10.8 million to settle False Claims Act allegations and enters into deferred prosecution agreement

Former lab director charged criminally for falsifying test results--Tacoma foundry provided substandard steel components for naval submarines for 30 years
Seattle – The Department of Justice announced today that Bradken Inc. (Bradken), a subsidiary of Hitachi Construction Machinery, has paid $10,896,924 to resolve allegations that Bradken produced and sold substandard steel components for installation on U.S. Navy submarines, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Division Jody H. Hunt and U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington. Bradken and Bradken’s former lab director have also been charged criminally.
... Thomas falsified results for over 200 productions of steel, which represent a substantial percentage of the castings Bradken produced for the Navy. As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, Bradken admitted these allegations.
...The court filings state there is no evidence that Bradken’s management was aware of the fraud until May 2017.
. . .Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite stated that “U.S. Navy suppliers must meet the very highest standards of quality. . ."
. . . If Bradken complies with all of the deferred prosecution agreement’s requirements, the government will dismiss the charge after three years.
. . .Bradken is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Kansas City, Missouri, operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bradken Ltd. of Newcastle, Australia, which is a subsidiary of Hitachi Construction Machinery. . . . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 10 2021 16:22 utc | 93

re: my 92
Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite stated that “U.S. Navy suppliers must meet the very highest standards of quality. . ."
. . .from thedrive:
In 2019. . . Huntington Ingalls Industries, the largest U.S. military shipbuilder, was accused of falsifying tests and certifications on stealth coatings for its Virginia class submarines. A federal court was told at the time that the alleged falsified records “put American lives at risk” and that the company acted “knowingly and/or recklessly.” Authorities were alerted to that incident by the actions of a whistleblower, a former Huntington Ingalls employee. . . the alleged shortcuts taken by Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia left the class of attack submarines “plagued” with problems, according to reports.

In a separate issue, back in 2018, it emerged that faulty welds had been found in some of the missile tube assemblies being manufactured for the future Columbia class SSBNs. While building these in advance was meant to save costs, the service ended up having to address costly and time-consuming fixes. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 10 2021 16:31 utc | 94

@vk Nov 10 2021 13:10 utc | 81

It doesn't matter. The Pentagon is the client, the company was paid. The client came with the specifications for the product it wanted, and paid accordingly. It received an inferior product for the price of the superior product

No wander you are pro vaccine.
Government has mandated vaccination and they know what they are doing. It is not our job to think. Our job is to obey.

Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 17:16 utc | 95

@ Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 17:16 utc | 94

The Pentagon paid for the better steel. The company literally adulterated the product.

If I want a stainless steel knife and pay the price for it, I won't accept a "chinesium" knife just because it can also technically do the job. There are many reasons why people pay extra for something made out of a better material.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 17:22 utc | 96

From fiction to reality: The China Syndrome's plot centered around the falsification of welds done on the structure of a nuclear power station that threatened the integrity of the core during a SCRAM event, and the guilty construction company was planning to do the same with a new plant undergoing construction. While not precisely the same, the falsification's goal was the same for both--greater profit. As with the movie, the ongoing falsification wasn't stopped until someone having greater moral concern than profit blew the whistle.

I submit what we're seeing here is a big defect in morality when it comes to safety over profit with the best example being Boeing, but there're a host of others that stretch back over the entire Era of Industrialization--it was the Muckrakers who forced Republicans to enact the laws that produced what was called the Progressive Era, although some industrialists did show some vestiges of morality by agreeing the public needed to be confident their products were safe and sanitary/wholesome. However, it also appears that period was an exception to the general rule of putting profit ahead of people's welfare, which is very visible today with the gutting of those aspects from Biden's "stimulus" proposal. The Donor Class controlling the Duopoly doesn't want anything to subtract from their grifting.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 10 2021 17:28 utc | 97

I myself was, long ago, promoted from mechanic to metallurgist in a foundry. I did such tests. My only qualification was the ability to read and think - and I became familiar with the theory - largely from reading Mark's Handbook and in the foundry library. The only reason for the tests was to deceive the customer. As soon as "we" got the contract I was demoted again to plant mechanic. Fraud's disgusting. Soon after I quit.

A colleague who worked on the "new bay bridge" in San Fransisco had similar stories about the steel used in said bridge. They got a discount when the steel failed spec, and used the defective steel anyway.

Good tutorial Mr b. Thanks.

Posted by: Walter | Nov 10 2021 17:40 utc | 98

@ karlof 96
I submit what we're seeing here is a big defect in morality when it comes to safety over profit
...memories of Ralph Nader...
wiki
Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile is a non-fiction book by consumer advocate Ralph Nader, first published in 1965. Its central theme is that car manufacturers resisted the introduction of safety features, and that they were generally reluctant to spend money on improving safety.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 10 2021 17:40 utc | 99

Posted by: Walter | Nov 10 2021 17:40 utc | 97

It is the same with Pfizer and the "vaccine" noted in the BMJ. The subcontractor Ventevia Research Group fixing data on the 5-11 kids trial, and Pfizer continuing to use them on further trials, including on pregnant women, despite the exposure.

Not only that but the FDA inspections of the subcontractors' sites Pfizer used in the trial was limited to 9 of 153, and none of the 3 Ventavia sites was inspected.

Then you have Pfizer's CEO, Albert Bourla, saying that "people who spread vaccine "disinformation" are criminals. The pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Nov 10 2021 18:08 utc | 100

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