Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by scoutpilot, Jan 14, 2019.
This story is no surprises to anyone that has been on the bridge of a ship.
(My shipboard time was limited to Midshipman cruises, and even I could have predicted the results of the investigation).
These type of "accidents" don't just happen, they are almost always the result of a breakdown in a system that has a number of checks and balances built in. I am usually critical of military bringing criminal charges against personnel that are just trying to do their jobs, but this is one of those cases where heads have to roll. (I haven't checked..but suspect they already have)
The article and report is scathing in regards to the command climate on the Fitz. The same flag officers who surely wagged their fingers at Charlie Oscar for running a jacked up ship should also be held to account. Colliding warships, plural, like we've had recently indicate a systemic problem. I read awhile back that the Academy stopped teaching the sextant but has since brought it back. The lack of respect for old school seamanship and the reliance on electronics contributed to this collision. The Mikomoto Shima traffic separation scheme is one of the world's busiest sea lanes. Poor command climate or not, and even if the OOD didn't trust the info from CIC, what about the radar repeater on the bridge? The OOD, JOOD, and QMOW are responsible for tracking all contacts.
A little on the comment about the Fitz having no Chief Quartermaster. Of the four ships in which I was ship's company, not one had a QMC except for when QM1 Jackson and I went through initiation together. It is not uncommon for small boys to have several ratings with a PO1 as the senior in their rating. The CO and or XO not being on the bridge during this transit is inexcusable. I don't believe the "tired crew" excuse. Sailors and officers must go without sleep at times. The dysfunctional CPO Mess is a huge contributor to this. Chiefs don't run the navy but make the navy run. On this night they helped make it run into a large merchantman. I'm very embarrassed for them and also for the Surface Navy. The world's best Navy is better than this.
ADM Arleigh Burke is twirling in his grave at Hospital Point at USNA.
Cascading problems of culture, training and basic seamanship across, up, down and sideways. The issues extend upward too - if another ship’s officers struggle with Rules of the Road, and there is a trend in collisions and near-misses, what does that say about Fleet oversight and prioritization.
As one of my first bosses used to say, “Ensign, you might have some good reasons, but there is NO (creative string of f-centered words) EXCUSE.”
It breaks my heart to know sailors died for no good reason, and in a horrible manner.
What amazed me was when they tested the sailors on the ship they didnt know the answers and was even worse was when they tested other ships, the results were the same. I would hope that they dont charge people who werent trained properly
As a senior Surface Warfare Officer, qualified OOD, TAO, CIC Watch Officer and Navigator, I will tell you that while the Rules of the Road test sounds very bad, it is kind of a red herring here and perhaps obscures the real issue here. Although the lack of rest, difficult schedule and equipment issues make the job more difficult, the 800 pound elephant in the room is the absolute lack of awareness by the watch teams of what was around and even more shocking is the reluctance to communicate between the OOD and TAO or for that matter, the Bridge and CIC. The TAO was sitting on her watch station doing her REGULAR JOB instead of maintaining situational awareness. This was a Department Head and even though, she was not the OOD, I would expect her to provide leadership and guidance to the OOD. The OOD MUST get out and look around from the bridge wings from time to time and also MUST ensure that the Lookouts are alert and reporting ships that are around them. The CIC Watch MUST be watching for traffic, especially in restricted waters/traffic separation scheme. The Bridge and CIC MUST be alert to what is going on round the ship at all times and BOTH need to not only be alert but also be communicating what is happening with the other watch station.
As a young LT I encountered a watchstander who was endangering the ship and took immediate action. I was the Ship's Navigator and had the authority to take the deck from an OOD when necessary and did so one night and then notified the chain of command. CO and XO were very glad that I'd done so. Senior Watch Officer (who had to rework the watchbills) was not happy with me and made life difficult for me whenever he could but it was the right decision and I'd do it again if necessary.
Hear, hear to all above - the culture was a massive part of it. I will never forget being told “BE HERE NOW” when in live operational situations. Leave the admin in the stateroom.
@Devil Doc The Admiral of the 7th Fleet was already dismissed for these collisions. Don't know if others were dismissed or if others deserved to be dismissed.
Others were dismissed - the Squadron Commodore for one.
It really made me sad to hear how dismal the moral was. How depressing!
I agree with your sentiment as I have endured low morale as well. Very depressing indeed and the desire to get the heck out of there is oppressive. That though does not relieve professional military men and women from their duties on the high seas.
I know you didn’t say anything excusing their performance that night. I just jumped in on your comment.
Are navy bridges equipped with ARPA [Automated Radar Plotting Aid] radars and AIS?
I think the reality, both in U.S. waters and international waters, is the Navy tends to do what it wants, and since "Do What I Want" isn't in the Rule of the Roads, it can get messy, quickly. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a Navy ship telling another vessel what to do in a routine situation, I'd have.... more than a dollar.
Most ships don't need a CIC to call in contacts. Most ships can do it with a few people. An OOD should be able to pull out a MoBoard and determine if another contact is CBDR. Of course, because those cogs do exist on a Navy ship they certainly need to work well together.
What was surprising to me on a ship was, how quickly slow moving ships far apart can suddenly become issues for each other. Driving a car at 15 mph, you would be able to avoid most collisions, especially with another 15 mph car. Make it a ship and it seems there are a million different possibilities exist. The real question is "does risk of collision exist?"
I always had backup or at least Comms with backup (CIC) but I NEVER EVER had the deck without watching where I was going and always having a plan to deal with (avoid/not hit) any contacts in the area. Yes there were other members of the bridge and CIC watch teams who were also making recommendations but I considered them to be ADVISORY in case I missed something.
Navy drops all criminal charges against commander, junior officer in Fitzgerald collision cases.
"The Navy is expected Thursday to drop criminal charges against the commanding officer of the warship Fitzgerald and another officer who were facing court-martial trials tied to the fatal 2017 collision with a merchant vessel, according to Navy officials and the family of one of the fallen sailors."
(click blue link above for entire story)
Here's some insight to what was probably happening with her defense team ( Lt Combs).
That is good news for the LT.
That's a technicality and a half.
She ran her ship directly in front of a merchant vessel and caused the deaths of 7 sailors. The merchant vessel being improperly lit doesn't change or excuse that.
Have you read the original article that was posted by scoutpilot? Below is my favorite part [ "Fort" is Rear Adm. Brian Fort].
"When Fort walked into the trash-strewn CIC in the wake of the disaster, he was hit with the acrid smell of urine. He saw kettlebells on the deck and bottles filled with pee. Some radar controls didn’t work and he soon discovered crew members who didn’t know how to use them anyway."
Separate names with a comma.