Last Friday, a former inspector at the Newport News shipyard was sentenced in a U.S. District Court to 37 months in a federal prison after issuing falsified welding certifications on 13 Navy ships.
The 34-year-old culprit, Robert R. Ruks Jr., had pleaded guilty to two felony counts regarding lying about weld certifications. Ruks was a Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Newport News, VA and on May 14, 2009, he admitted that he lied about performing inspections on a Navy submarine. As Ruks was questioned, he continued to lie about how many inspections he did not perform but certified on Navy subs and hulls. Investigations into the case revealed that unperformed inspections by Ruks yielded 14 defective structural welds and 2 defective pipe welds. Ruks was charged with making false statements to Navy officials and federal authorities, after he was accused of falsely certifying vessels for 2 years.
U.S. Attorney MacBride commented on the case that lying about a weld inspection is a very dangerous crime that threatens the safety of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and now the Navy and its shipbuilding partners are forced to conduct extensive technical reviews and re-inspection of vessels to ensure the future safety of the ships themselves and the crew aboard. He added that they are committed to ensuring that contractors of the government are held responsible in attempts to defraud and put personnel at risk.
Due to Ruks’ neglect, repairs to the vessels cost $654,000 and 18,906 man-hours.