US Navy nuclear submarines have been made of substandard steel for over 30 years

Entre 1985 et 2017, la moitié des moules produits par la fonderie de Tacoma ne répondaient pas aux critères fixés par le Pentagone pour résister aux pressions des profondeurs.

Elaine Thomas, 67, pleaded guilty to gross fraud in Washington State Court on Monday for falsifying those tests to cover up the fact that the steel cast on her smelter did not always meet the standards required by the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines are made of non-conforming material, after a 30 – year – old American metallurgical engineer forged a test of the strength of steel that can withstand extreme diving pressures and extreme temperatures.

Elaine Thomas, 67, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in a Washington state court in the northwestern United States on Monday, Nov. 8, for falsifying these tests to cover up the fact that steel was found in its foundry. Comply with the standards required by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. When the judge rules next February, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine.

In the 1970s, Elaine Thomas, one of the first female metallurgical engineers in the country, oversaw the inspection of the Bradken Company’s foundry in Tacoma, a suburb of Seattle. This foundry is located near the large Kitsap submarine base, capable of producing steel strong enough to meet the needs of the U.S. Navy, and is being turned into a defense unit by American attack submarines. As General Dynamics or Huntington Ingles Industries.

Each time steel is cast for submarines, a portion of the metal must be poured into a test mold of a thickness similar to that of the submarine’s structure to withstand tremendous pressure from the depths. This test mold is analyzed to ensure that each product meets the strict standards set by the Pentagon. However, between the retirement of Elaine Thomas in 1985 and 2017, half of the molds produced by the Tacoma plant did not meet these standards, so it improved the results obtained by manual calculations.

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“Intent to deceive the US Navy”

In some cases, she explained, she did it because she was sentenced. “StupidThe U.S. Navy requires tests to be performed at -100 degrees Fahrenheit (-73 degrees Celsius). Among others, she explained that she used her. “Engineering JudgmentFixing a number because everyone else looked good.

The fraud was discovered when Elaine Thomas reduced her business before retiring and did an internal review of her tests and informed the foundry management. In June 2020, the Bradken Company took responsibility and agreed to pay a $ 11 million fine. Elaine Thomas has “Established and used a system intended to deceive the U.S. Navy», According to the charge sheet. she has “The results of more than 240 steel productions were forged, a significant portion of the Bradken Steel built for the Navy.“In his defense, the former metallurgist claimed.”It is never intended to compromise the integrity of the material.

She said to herself “Satisfied that government inspections do not indicate that the structural integrity of any submarine was actually compromised.“, According to the defense. But according to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Navy.”Significant steps had to be taken to ensure the safety of the affected submarines.

The U.S. Navy declined to comment. Between 1985 and 2017, the Pentagon acquired dozens of submarines, 40 of which are still in service.

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