The machinist’s mate then hammered the evidence to smithereens and shot his laptop.
A Navy employee allegedly snapped photos of secret components in a nuclear submarine that adversaries could use to overpower the United States, court filings show.
But the newly unsealed papers contain no indication Kristian Saucier, 28, was acting out a script of the FX series "The Americans," in which KGB spy families pose as U.S. citizens in the Washington suburbs.
He apparently was only taking smartphone "photographs of classified spaces, instruments and equipment of the USS Alexandria" for himself, an indictment states. This allegedly happened on three separate dates in 2009.
One petty officer recalled Saucier saying, "It was for myself; it's not like I texted them to somebody" or something to that effect.
Saucier went to great lengths to eviscerate the evidence after investigators brought him in for questioning.
Following an interview, Saucier "returned to his then-apartment where he collected a laptop computer, a personal camera, and the SD card from the camera, took these items to the apartment's basement, and smashed them with a hammer into several pieces,” prosecutors claim. He was based in Connecticut at the time.
A garbage dump manager found an LG Electronics cellphone on top of a pile of trash in a dumpster, they added. The supervisor "decided to keep it to use as his new personal cellphone" but after examining its contents, he discovered photographs that appeared to be a Navy ship's instrument panels, the indictment states. “He also saw photographs of Saucier, who he knew from Saucier's many trips to the waste station."
Relatives later saw a broken laptop in the woods of Saucier's grandfather's property. Saucier told his grandfather the machine died, "and he had used it for target practice."
Prosecutors allege the images shot could provide nuclear powers or countries vying to become nuclear powers "an advantage against the United States." Saucier was indicted Thursday
Saucier told authorities he was the owner of the mobile device held in evidence, but denied snapping the pictures, according to prosecutors.
Two photos taken offered a panoramic view of an area where the nuclear, steam and electrical systems of the submarine are monitored and controlled, and they depicted details of the control panels, the complaint states.
The controls "are so clear that a person could read the gauges and determine the condition of the submarine when the photos were taken,” according to the indictment.
By examining the images, once can discern the location of the submarine, as well as the maximum speed of the boat.
Other images show "substantial design information" about the reactor core as well as the reactor plant, the filings state.
Saucier is accused of engaging in the unauthorized gathering and possession of national defense information. In 2012, he allegedly intentionally obstructed an FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe by attempting to "destroy, mutilate and conceal a tangible object that is, a laptop computer."
Saucier spent four-and-a-half years stationed as a machinist's mate aboard the USS Alexandria, based at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
The case is being prosecuted at a time when China and Russia are trying to enhance their submarine warfare capabilities.
China is building up submarine assets in tandem with its militarization of the South China Sea, where the country has been manufacturing artificial islands large enough to accommodate a 10,000-foot runway and aircraft hangars.
“A 10,000-foot runaway is large enough to take a B-52, almost large enough for the Space Shuttle, and 3,000 feet longer than you need to take off a 747. So, there’s no small airplane that requires a runway of that length. They’re building revetted aircraft hangars at some of the facilities there that are clearly designed, in my view, to host tactical fighter aircraft," Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said Friday.
Earlier this year, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, told a Senate committee that in 2014, China twice deployed submarines to the Indian Ocean.
"The submarines probably conducted area familiarization to form a baseline for increasing China's power projection," he testified. The country continues production of JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Stewart added.
Meanwhile, Moscow is carrying on with development of a Dolgorukiy ballistic missile submarine, while Iran is taking steps to bolster its submarine force, he said.