View Full Version : Navy Whistleblower Raised More Alleged Safety Violations at Maintenance Facility

07-24-2017, 02:11 PM
A whistleblower who uncovered life-threatening fuel risks to Navy pilots and others was raising new safety complaints before managers fired him in early June.

Glenn Schwarz, a civilian aeronautical-engineering technician, says his civilian managers placed him in a highly technical job calibrating equipment used for testing weapons systems and equipment that support aircraft—a position for which he did not have the training or knowledge to perform. He also has asserted that the on-the-job training managers provided did not comply with Navy regulations.

"Glenn is unqualified, and thus not authorized by Navy regulation to conduct calibration activities," his lawyer said in an email to an attorney for the Navy's Fleet Readiness Center-East in Cherry Point, N.C., Schwarz's employer. "On-the-job training is not going to correct that deficiency."

Cheri Cannon, his attorney, said Schwarz's placement in a job for which he was unqualified reflects a larger problem with workers lacking credentials in violation of Navy regulations at the Metrology and Calibration (METCAL) laboratory and across the Fleet Readiness Center-East (FRC-E).

"Glenn is one of several employees at the METCAL lab who apparently lack either the proper education, training, or experience to properly do the job and this is an accident waiting to happen because of it," she said.

The lax training and qualification standards is part of a broader history of flouting of Navy safety standards at FRC-E, some of which Schwarz has already played a role in exposing, she said.

The Office of Special Counsel, an internal federal government watchdog, is investigating Schwarz's firing as an act of reprisal. Another quasi-judicial government agency for federal employees, the Merit Systems Protection, imposed a temporary 45-day halt to Schwarz's firing while the OSC investigates.

A spokesman for the FRC-E declined to comment on the agency’s reasons for firing Schwarz, citing privacy laws designed to protect personnel. The U.S. Navy's Air System Command public affairs office did not return calls seeking comment.

Safety concerns are running high across U.S. military communities in recent days after a Marine Corps KC-130 crashed in rural Mississippi a week ago, killing 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles. The Marine Corps has officially said only that the aircraft "experienced a mishap" but provided no details on whether it was related to maintenance problems or pilot-error.

The KC-130 was coming from the Marine Corps Station in Cherry Point, the same location of the FRC-E maintenance and refueling facility at issue in Schwarz’s initial substantiated safety disclosures.

In addition, the Air Force temporarily grounded an F-35 fighter wing in Arizona last week after five incidents in which pilots suffered from oxygen-deprivation problems. Navy officials in recent months have described a rising rate of "physiological episodes" of those affecting pilots who fly all models of the F-18 aircraft, which is often described as the backbone of naval aviation