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Investigation finds foundry metallurgist covered up submarine steel test failure


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Investigation finds foundry metallurgist covered up submarine steel test failures

SEATTLE — A metallurgist alleged to have covered up test failures of newly-produced steel used to build Navy submarines will soon be charged with committing major fraud against the United States, and the company she worked for had to pay $10.9 million in an effort to settle the case, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

A multiyear investigation by the defense and Naval criminal investigative services found Elaine Thomas, who worked for decades at a Tacoma foundry that manufactured steel for the country's submarine force, forged numbers for 30 years to make it appear the steel was strong and tough enough for service — when many times it wasn't.

Further, the feds allege Thomas' company, Bradken, Inc., did disclose the discrepancies in 2017 but did not disclose they'd occurred because of alleged fraud — all while the Navy scrambled to ensure submarines built with the Tacoma-produced steel were safe for continued operation.