What not to do on Ch. 16

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USCGA 2006
10-Year Member
Nov 25, 2007
For all you future ship driving SWOs, here's some advice...from another ship driver.

Calling yourself "Warship XX" is a turn off to other mariners, especially in US waters. Yes, it is true, you are a warship, but remember 95% of the time you're talking to a fisherman or a merchant mariner and you may be the a major part of their image of the United States.

When making crossing, meeting, or overtaking situation you get in contact with the other vessel, agree on the situation you find yourself and agree on a course of action. What you don't do is tell the other vessel what course of action to take. I saw a "Warship" call a merchant vessel on Ch. 16. The quote from the conversation was "Turn to Starboard and take my stern at no less than 4000 yards." Yes, that is 2 nautical miles. At no time did the warship state the situation they were in. At no time did the warship agree on the course of action they would both take. At no time did the warship even state which ship he was. Sure he said "this is Warship XX" but at no time did he let the merchant vessel know which set of lights in the dark sea that name belonged to. Telling a vessel to take a course of action makes you liable for the outcome. For this merchant vessel, he probably believed he was required to do what the US Navy warship commanded, but this is not the case. There were many other courses of action that the merchant vessel could have taken.

Yes the merchant vessel took the warship's stern at 2NM, but because of the warship's demand, it put the merchant vessel well within 2NM of my ship, and that is something I did not appreciate.

Perhaps a Conn out there might want to crack the Rules of the Road book, and see what the IMO has to say about crossing situations.

Remember, if you find yourself on the bridge of a US ship, whether that be Navy, Army, or Coast Guard, you share the seas with every other ship out there, you don't own it.

Sounds like an exciting day at work! I am sure you will have many more stories for us to enjoy.
I confess I don't know anything about driving ships -
but doesn't the Navy have a protocol for their warships (or any ship) to follow?
What would have happened if the merchant ship did not follow the orders from the Naval Warship?
If it was ok for the merchant ship to be within 2NM of the warship then why was it not ok for the merchant ship to be within 2NM of your CG Cutter (right?)?

Just wondering - perhaps some Navy folk can chime in here as well.....
There is a minimal distance vessels must stay away from Navy ships. This can be done in a crossing situation many ways, and the give-way vessel (the merchant vessel this time), can do what is needed. They can reduce their speed. They can come to starboard and take the stern, come to port and do a million 360s or parallel the course of the vessel. They could come to all stop. He would avoid passing ahead of the stand-on vessel (Navy ship here)

If a Navy vessel told me what to do with respect to a Rules of the Road situation, I would not be obligated to comply. I would be required by law to stay away at that minimum distance however.

It is inappropriate for a vessel to dictate the movement of another, especially in this situation. It left us with some choice words on the bridge early in that watch, as a third party.

Yes, there is a distance requirement for US Navy ships and a different distance requirement for US Coast Guard cutters (well within 2NM).

Later in that watch another Navy ship was in the same situation and contacted the merchant vessel, agreed upon the situation and the merchant vessel said he would come to starboard and take the Navy ship's stern. That was the right way to do it. The merchant ship declared his course of action and the Navy ship agreed with the course of action and maintained his course and speed. A tale of two ships. The first did it the wrong way, the second the right way, and we had nice words of support on our bridge for the second Navy ship.
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You have given me the image of 95 in DC at the mixing bowl:eek:

I always invisioned never seeing another ship around...man I feel stupid now:redface:
LITS, Warships do things that:
A. Restrict maneuverability
B. They do not necessarily want to broadcast to the world when what they are doing
C. Do not necessarily want every ship in the ocean within binocular range

Example: A towed array may both restrict maneuverability and create a hazardous zone astern. Furthermore, they do not want to announce when and where they are doing it. I think there are still Soviet ‘trawlers’ around.

While I do not think it arrogant for a Navy ship’s Captain to promulgate special rules for special situations, I do not necessarily feel the same for someone with very little underway experience attempting to criticize him.
Airdale, go back to the flight deck.

There are "Special" situations that exist, being a Navy ship who wants to sneak around in US shipping lanes within 20 NM from shore is not one of them.

"I'm in a grey boat and don't want you to know" doesn't show up anywhere in the Rules of the Road....of course I'm not sure if they make SWOs read that little book.

Unfortunately as well, if they don't want anyone in binocular range, I wouldn't enter US waters near Chesapeake, we're not going to give them 12 NM CPAs....sorry. Not carrying about other mariners is what gets boats full of students hit by submarines. We share the road. Want to have fun on the high seas? Head out beyond 200NM and do as many man overboard drills as you want.
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Airdale, go back to the flight deck.

You seem overly concerned about my background so please allow me to interject that I probably have more time on the bridge of a Navy ship than you have in your entire active duty career.

Let's take the remainder of the discussion, one step at a time. You challenge the use of the word "Warship", implying that it is unnecessary and arrogant. And your area of concern appears to be around harbors while they are getting underway and returning to port. Might I remind you that the movement of US Naval ships is considered confidential and priviledged information. Announcing the name of the ship with every Ch 16 transmission would simply allow our enemies to very easily satellite monitor our ship's movements. I suppose, in lieu of their name, they could use the daily changing three letter call sign. Those whose living is the sea would recognize and act accordingly. However "This is Sierra Three Kilo" would mean absolutely nothing to the guy out there on his maiden voyage in his Cigarette wearing his Speedo and multiple gold chains and smoozing the three platinum blond office assistants. I suppose "we're the big gray thing on your port side" might seem more PC in this "user" friendly 21st century, but after a few beers, the guy in the Speedo might think it is the broaching whale next to him trying to talk to him.

Therefore, I ask you for your input on what Navy ships should call themselves and then we will move on to the remainder of your concerns.
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Airdale, go back to the flight deck.

I'm wondering why it's so hard for you to keep a civil tone, or, at least, show any respect for a senior officer.

Airdales command such ships as Aircraft Carriers and Command entire Task Groups. I believe that they have at least the ship handling skills of a CG (jg). Secondly, I'm uniquely aware how difficult it is to safely surface a submarine in coastal waters. The tragedy, that you alluded to, cost that CO his command and any hope for promotion. The "school kids" was a Jap fishing boat that was floating with no engine noise, and the sub did a cursery 360 on the scope and missed the fisherman.

I really don't think it wise for you to comment on other's seamenship when some of us have flushed more seawater than you've sailed on. I gave you the respect due an officer, albeit unearned, and I would hope that you would reciprocate the respect to another officer, regardless of your emotional disposition about that officer.

Try to understand, even a (jg) can be wrong about some things.
some of us have flushed more seawater than you've sailed on.

Hey, I was going to use that one but I could think of no way to state it so eloquently as you. I guess I should have spent more time in the Chief's Mess.
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USNA69....When I hear Warship Fife Zero, I pull up Jane's Recognition Guide and I find the name. It is NOT confidential, aka, the name of the ship has NO classification level, not CONFIDENTIAL, not SECRET, and not TOP SECRET. I would guess the name of the ship isn't even FOUO, given the fact that the name is written on the hull of the ship. What would I have them call themselves? Hmmm...USS XXXX, Navy ship XXXX....letter or the law, my ship is a Warship too. How confusing would it be for port control at a Navy base if I pull in refering to myself as Warship XXX. Is it wrong? No.

SubSquid, your opinions known, I would say that I don't really care how you feel I should refer to another officer. Secondly, I attended a school with a CWO who was very familiar with the CO of the sub we're talking about, and he wasn't surprised. FAC day, elected official onboard, giving someone a good show...please. Oh, but at least he got to write a book.

What is still not a surprise is that SubSquid and USNA69 still have yet to show WHERE exactly it says the Navy can defiate from the Rules of the Road (which of course is not only US law, but international law), just because they are a navy boat.

So USNA69, let's take this whole whole Rules of the Road thing....one step at a time. My area of concern regarding US Naval traffic is well outside of "entering and leaving port", and involves waters well outside of US Territorial seas. While the movement of a US naval vessel is not public knowledge, the NAME is. Ship movement can easily be monitored from a nice place outside fo a port. Rent a place and watch them go by. I don't think this is a revolutionary idea.

When I hear warship, we start thinking "expect the unexpected, and assume no adherance to US law when it comes to the movement of that ship."

In conclusion, if you don't want someone to use the name, don't print it on the hull, and classify it. If you think terrorists can't figure out who Aircraft Carrier 1 is, then you may want to reevaluate your understanding of modern threats.

Does this clear up anything?
I have a clear understanding of OpSec, that chip of my shoulder comes from having to "deal" with the Navy on a ship, and is a chip that can be found on many shoulders out there, whether it be Coast Guard or Marine Corps, or any other branch. I don't "hate" the Navy. I've had a few relatives serve. The chip comes from the "We do what we want, stay out of the way" mentality that readily makes itself apparent in the day to day operation interaction we can have. Go to military.com and see for yourself the discussion that was generated. That dicussion, with examples from old salts with more crust on their cuttermen's pins than would could hope to find on a pair of wings, USN or USCG.

You have yet to cite where Navy ships can do as they please. Where they can disrupt the flow of traffic in sea lanes to perform MOBs, while ships with the same authority, however different mentality, understand THEY are responsible for where their ship goes when they're right full or left full at 20 knots.
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Negative Ghost Rider, I proposed that Navy ships comply with US and International Laws. I also informed you that US Navy ships use their hull numbers...those are the numbers written in large white lines, followed by smaller letters back aft signifying their names. Is it a stretch to believe that an English publisher can put the two and two together and come up with a Jane's Fighting Ship Recognition Guide, which ships can use to identify another ship. So when I hear a ship's hull number I can pull out "Jane's" and see who it is I'm talking to. Is it a stretch to believe that US Coast Guard vessels aren't the only ships out there that have invested in these recognition guides, and yet somehow the US Navy still uses these UNCLAS hull numbers when making arrangments with other vessels. Do you really think that there is a terrorist out there screaming "AH! They keep saying Warship 50, what does it mean, what does it mean!?!" In the interest of OpSec, maybe we can scrub all the names and numbers off of the hulls and give them top secret bases somewhere so Old Granny can't walk out on the deck and notice that Aircraft Carrier XX isn't pulling out on any given day.
Let's see:

Red, Right, Return
Got It!

United States Navy-
Masters of the Deep Blue Sea
Got It!

Masters of the Shallow Muddy Puddles
Got It!

See LITS, even us dumb Navy swabs can figure out the tough stuff.
I have quite a few NJROTC students in my classes. One morning there was a lot of hushed giggling whispering going on. I repeatedly asked them what they were laughing at. Normally very open, they would not respond. Finally, they could no longer resist. "Mr. USNA69, is what the Master Chief says, really true?" "What's that?" "That puddle pirate is the name used for homosexuals in the Navy?" True story. Had to call an immediate break and go to the teacher's head.
Looks like there is still hope!

Of course that Red Right Returning in IALA-B, not A, and if you are in US waters...what happens if you're in the ICW?

To give it that truely Navy taste, let's make it a class in Mayport, FL or Norfolk, VA, ah, maybe Groton, CT. We can begin class at 0915 and then take a vote each day if we should skip the 15 minute break after being in class for an hour, and instead work until 1200. Then we can get out for the rest of the day. Now, let's make this class two weeks of instruction........wait a minute...this is starting to feel very familiar. Are you sure this isn't already a class at a Navy Learning Site?
"That puddle pirate is the name used for homosexuals in the Navy?" True story. Had to call an immediate break and go to the teacher's head.

You of course corrected them...I always thought they were called sailors.

They want you, they want you, they want you as a new recruit.
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