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Everything posted by TJSoCal

  1. When I was a JO in the late 80s, I remember VADM Joe Metcalf (then DCNO for Surface Warfare) doing a lot to try to instill more of a sense of professionalism and esprit in the SWO community. I think it's good that at least it's no longer a "dumping ground" for folks that flunk out of other warfare specialties. But it does sound like they fell down on basic SWO training in the 2000s and are reaping the results now. I agree with Crash, it's embarrassing and horrifying. And makes me wonder if they'd be interested in having me back as a navigation & seamanship instructor... Recently I fo
  2. Let's also recall that in both the McCain and Fitzgerald incidents, merchant captains who had a responsibility to avoid collision (regardless of who was stand-on or give way) also failed in their duties. Granted, McCain got a little squirrely due to their ship control fuck-ups, but Fitzgerald was on a steady course & speed for almost half an hour before collision - plenty of time for the other fellow, if he was alert and competent, to assess that risk of collision existed and even if he was stand-on he could/should/must maneuver to avoid. The actions, training and level of fault of th
  3. They're not plucking these guys off the street (or directly out of a career in the Puzzle Palace) and shoving them into an 18 month CO tour. Not sure how it is today but at least back in my active service time a first command tour for an O-5 on a frigate or destroyer came after about 10-14 years of service, 6-10 of which would have been at sea (1 or 2 division officer tours, probably two department head tours and an XO tour, and presumably reasonably successful in each of them). I had some ship COs that I thought were not the greatest leaders or managers, but none that I thought were poor
  4. I still remember two quotes, from a QM and an EW who worked for me (this was circa 1985 or so): QM said that Subic Bay was the only experience in the Navy that met his expectations. EW suggested that every American boy, when he hits puberty, should be given $50 and sent to Subic for a weekend...
  5. Re the Shiloh article, typically Aegis cruisers are at least a second command tour. Wonder what the environment was like on his first CO tour?
  6. This is the thread for conspiracy theories surrounding the Fitzgerald collision. Imaginary scenarios and unsupported but absolutely certain conclusions about the McCain collision should be posted here
  7. The report says that Fitzgerald was on a course of 230T at midnight. My guess is that's directly out of the midnight deck log entry (Quartermaster of the Watch starts each day's log entry with a summary of the condition of the ship at midnight). By 0130 they may have been on a different course consistent with ACX being on a northeasterly heading and striking Fitzgerald at point 2 with the geometry shown in the Navy report diagram. All changes of course and speed after midnight would also be recorded in the deck log. Being as this report is focused on the DC aspects I suspect the geometry
  8. Based on his bio the author is certainly knowledgeable and experienced and his surmises seem at least credible (except, to me, the part about putting a "night steaming box" in the middle of shipping lanes), but unless he's seen information that hasn't been released he's completely pulling this stuff out of his ass. Found this official statement from the Navy Chief of Information, released on 7/21 (the same day that CNN released it's report citing "two unnamed Navy officials" as sources): “We are in the early stages of the investigation process to develop a comprehensive picture of wh
  9. It needs to be clear enough that someone has actually looked at the courses, speeds and relative positions of the two vessels over time to determine what happened. Unless you know those things, it's not "clear" at all. That said, if the two vessels collided and neither was "restricted in ability to maneuver" or "not under command", then under COLREGS both bear some fault for the collision. Which one is more at fault than the other is still an open question, and I'll be interested to see more detail if/when it comes out.
  10. On the one hand it seems like that would increase the XOs accountability, since he knows he's going to inherent any problems rather than toddle off to his shore duty or command tour. But on the other hand it seems like the transition in roles would be difficult. In my experience the best combination is when the XO is the ship's asshole and the CO is a good guy. It would be hard, I think, to make that switch.
  11. One thing that I think has come out in a number of marine and aircraft disasters is a tendency for subordinates who may see the situation more clearly to defer to a senior who doesn't. Sounds like there was an element of this in the Porter collision - subordinates had to weigh what they thought was a bad idea against "well, he's the Captain..." In the hypothetical that you pose, I think if I were the JOOD or CIC Watch Officer and I was pretty sure the OOD wasn't functioning despite forceful suggestions from myself and others, I'd make a quick, discreet call to XO or Nav and suggest they'd
  12. Of course we don't know the facts yet but given that they were in a TSS it seems to me entirely plausible that they were on nearly parallel courses at different speeds, so one could have been overtaking the other. I have to imagine that's one aspect that the investigation board has already sorted, I'm sure the first thing they looked at was tracks of both ships.
  13. I was NROTC. First assignment after commissioning was to a 6 month Surface Warfare Officer Basic course at Coronado, CA before I reported to my first ship. I felt the combination of the midshipman cruises I took while in college, Naval Science courses and SWOS left me pretty well prepared to stand JOOD watches. Once on the ship I benefited greatly from standing watch with some really outstanding OODs. I learned celestial navigation but even in those days before GPS we didn't practice it an awful lot at sea. I did some when I was Navigator but probably could have gotten away with never tou
  14. Well, my sea duty experience was in the days before AIS, and our surface search radars didn't track anything automatically, We got a rough course, speed & CPA with grease pencil ticks on a scopehead, and if we needed a more refined solution we could do that within a few minutes on a paper maneuvering board plot. On a ship with a gyrocompass and a pelorus it's pretty easy to assess bearing drift visually, and also fairly easy to see a change in a contact's aspect angle based on the configuration of the nav lights. And I believe most Navy ships still monitor VHF channel 16 on the bridge. So
  15. Minor factor. It's still perfectly possible to track a radar contact, determine course, speed & CPA and correlate with a visual contact without AIS.
  16. Evans, I did a little googling and I think the 1/50th RCS number you cite refers to the DDG-1000 (Zumwalt) class, not the DDG-51 Burke class. Burkes have some RCS reduction technology (I think some from superstructure form and some from radar-absorbent coatings) but probably not that much of a reduction from the Spruance or Ticonderoga classes. My guess is that a Burke would still appear on radar as a decent-sized vessel. Zumwalt is pretty much designed around Stealth technology. I believe I also read that the Zumwalts will also carry radar return enhancing equipment that would probably b
  17. While you're waiting, an excellent work on the same subject matter is Tragedy at Honda by VADM Charles Lockwood, about nine Navy DDs (seven lost) that piled up on the rocks just north of Pt. Arguello in 1923 (see wiki link I posted earlier). Interesting story very well-told, gives you an idea what it takes to really piece together the facts in an incident like this. One of the contributing factors was use/non-use of newfangled RDF navigation technology.
  18. Our oldest active surface combatant ships and attack submarines were commissioned in the 1980s. Whose ships should we have been sinking since then?
  19. True about SubSafe but that's a very different problem set. The Navy rigidly and enthusiastically controls and standardizes every aspect of the nuc power program. Similarly an organization using 6 sigma typically has substantial control over inputs and processes. Not so much in a shipping lane at 0 dark thirty when there are a dozen other ships around and none of them are under your control, so the potential for a combination of errors resulting in an incident is much greater.
  20. I don't necessarily disagree with points #1 and #2. #3 is conjecture that I agree we should leave to the Navy. But I'm sure all of these are threads that will be pulled in the course of the investigation. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that even if all of the deficiencies on Fitzgerald and Crystal are identified and effective corrective/preventative measures are taken, at some point two ships will find new and innovative ways to collide with each other.
  21. I think my point is more that reasonably well-trained, motivated, intelligent, well-rested people (including teams of people) sometimes (I might even say frequently) make mistakes. Most of the time they're lucky and the mistakes don't have an impact, but sometimes (I might even say rarely) they're unlucky and something bad happens. I think that's part of the human condition and I don't know that there's a way to "system" your way around it. If you believe that it's a systemic failure then every Navy ship out there is just a bit of good luck away from being Fitzgerald/Porter. I don't belie
  22. Right - stuff like this never happened in the Old Navy... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Point_disaster Again I know very little about what actually happened, but my prediction is that the root cause of the Fitzgerald/Crystal collision will be a tragic combination of human error (easily understood in hindsight, not so easily avoided in real time) and bad luck, with perhaps a small measure of incompetence and no bad intent. Check back when the investigations are completed, see if I'm not right.
  23. Yeah, that's about what I remember too. And the main hatches to a space would typically also have a scuttle in them which can be opened from either side when the hatch is dogged down. So it's not like the crew sealed anyone into the compartment and wouldn't let them out.
  24. I don't see how that would fix the issue. What would is people in general acknowledging that the don't have the training, experience and firsthand knowledge of the event to offer a reasonable opinion of what should have been done. That, too, will likely be included in the conclusions of the Navy's investigation.
  25. "Somebody wasn't paying attention." Yeah, wouldn't that be the "enduring epitaph" for pretty much every accident ever? Six or nine months from now (probably roughly the time when results of the Navy's investigation might be available, if there's no pending legal action and the Navy decides to release anything) the press will have moved on and for the general public and anyone other than those directly involved this incident will probably be long forgotten. I'm betting NYT won't cover it, and the only place you'll see anything public is in Navy Times and/or Naval Institute Proceedings.
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