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Posts posted by TJSoCal

  1. 32 minutes ago, estarzinger said:

    ^^ from that acticle: "And then they will make that investigation public. They will lay it out there for all to see and for all to learn from. Reporters won't have to submit Freedom of Information Act requests or rely on leakers to find out what investigators discover." 

    but to ask my question again . . . . did the Navy actually release either of the Porter investigations?  All I can find are statements that the Navy declined to release them?  The Bridge Tape and log were released exactly under a press FOIA. Perhaps my google foo is missing the investigation reports, but I dont even find summaries of them in any articles?



    Well, bear in mind that the CNN article is an opinion piece written by a retired RADM, so when he said the report would be released with a press conference he was only expressing his assumption.

    I'm not sure what the story is with the Porter investigation. I don't know if it's routine to release these investigations to the general public, nor to I know if it's really necessary. If appropriate disciplinary actions are taken by the Navy (I'm confident they will be)  and any lessons learned are promulgated to the fleet, how much value is there in satisfying the morbid curiosity of the public?

    Edited to add:  I did find a Navy Times article from 2014 saying that the shipping company was suing the U.S. Government over the Porter collision. Perhaps that explains the lack of public release, if that suit is still going on.

  2. 14 minutes ago, RKoch said:



    2 were supposed to have been done in 2016, and 4 per year after that. So, estimated 3 or 4 have been completed. 

    Yeah, that's the article I saw. But an overhaul period that included an alteration like that would typically be at least 9 months, probably more than a year. So there might be a system or two at sea, but I don't think Fitzgerald would have been one.

  3. 8 minutes ago, RKoch said:

    I did a little research on the Burkes. Some  models had an electric propullsion added during refits, allowing very efficient cruising albeit at a low speed, 13 knots or less. I could not determine if the Fitz was one of those. 

    That's interesting, and would probably also be hella quiet for antisubmarine warfare ops (although I'm sure they still have to run generators but not the main engines),

    The article I found was from 2015 and said that installations would start late in 2016, so I'm guessing none of them are at sea yet. Plus ships homeported overseas are usually the last to get new stuff like that.

  4. It's possible that Fitzgerald and Crystal were on parallel or near-parallel courses (NE) with Fitzgerald to port of Crystal, and a course change by one or the other or both (which might not show up on the track of Crystal at the scale shown) brought them into contact.

    As I recall (one of the Burke class vets might correct me) the Navy's normal speed on a transit is around 15kt as that's most economical. If they weren't transiting somewhere specific but just hanging out doing racetracks, probably slower.

  5. 18 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

    Right. I apologize for speculating even after attempting to show restraint. But to me, it approaches a tautology to say the OOD  did not have good situational awarenes: if he did have then.... why????

    FB- Doug

    It does seem likely that the OOD made an error. What the error was and how and why he made it is not known.

    It also seems likely that the CO will be relieved, even if he did everything any prudent captain would normally do--because he's in command and that's how the Navy does it (and should do it).

  6. 3 minutes ago, Whisper said:

    The fucking container ship steered a straight course and was most probably the stand on vessel.

    Leaving aside for the moment the fact that we don't know who was stand-on and who was give-way -- what do the COLREGS say about a stand-on vessel steering a straight course when risk of collision exists and it becomes apparent that the give-way vessel is not taking sufficient action to avoid collision?

  7. 1 minute ago, Steam Flyer said:

    Thanks Sr Chief-

    I was going to say earlier, the one thing we can say with confidence is that the OOD on the Fitzgerald had a serious lapse in situational awareness. How did that happen? I'd put my money on training shortfalls, but it's possible that it was faulty equipment too. I don't like all the speculation.

    Thanks for contributing good info, I was transferred to LantCiv before the Burkes entered service. I was Repair 5 boss for a while and thinking about this is likely to give me nightmares.

    FB- Doug


    Mmm, I still don't think anyone who wasn't onboard one of the vessels in question (or, by now, has interviewed them for the Navy investigation) can say anything "with confidence" other than that the ships collided. I respect Sr Chief's experience and qualifications, but he still has no more direct knowledge of what happened on Fitzgerald than I do. I'm opposed to conjecture and surmise, especially when it takes the form of "based on my guesses and sketchy, possibly fake news reports by people who have no idea what they're talking about, this is definitely the only possible way things could have been..."

    For all we know, the bridge and after steering had been taken over by ISIS terrorists who deliberately put the destroyer in front of a container ship, possibly being controlled by Boko Haram terrorists.  Unlikely, but no evidence to the contrary, is there?

    It's going to take a fair amount of time and effort for the Navy to piece together, as best they can, what actually happened and why. Stay tuned...

  8. 30 minutes ago, Boo-Yah said:

    The watches on both ships must have been preoccupied elsewhere.  That is the only explanation for neither one of the boats sounding the collision alarms and danger signals.  There are many on the US Navy vessel who know what the distraction was.  The container ship with much smaller watches may have only a couple who know what the distraction was.  It could be as simple as a telephone call to home.  The fact that no one is talking speaks volumes.  There is no plausible explanation outside of direct  dereliction of duty and negligent ship hazarding.  

    You need to send this off to the Navy, you could save them a lot of time and taxpayer dollars if they can forgo their investigation and just proceed to the punishment phase.

    Didn't anyone ever tell you that you should never, ever speak in absolutes?

  9. No matter what the technology, there's still going to be potential for human confusion and errors in judgment. And as long as you have that, ships will continue to periodically collide, run aground, etc.. And folks who weren't there will continue not to understand how such a thing could have happened when avoiding it "would be so easy."

    I don't know if the Navy will release the findings of the investigation publicly (no real reason why they should) but I'm guessing they'll find a number of routine, in retrospect obviously avoidable fuck-ups. Probably the folks who were there (COs and watch officers on both ships) already have a pretty good idea what they'd have done differently if they had the chance, and I'm sure they feel horrible about the 7 dead shipmates.

  10. 3 hours ago, RKoch said:

    Good info, Mizzmo.  Question for you inre the lookouts: are they equipped with hand earring compasses (as in binocs) or have a pelorus nearby, so as to confirm the relative bearing of a visual target with radar operator, or to warn the bridge that the relative bearing of a target isn't changing (collision course) as a reminder?

    Typically no pelorus or compass, but lookouts will report relative bearing and target angle (basically the relative bearing from the other guy to you) so a contact can be identified visually by the bridge watch and correlated with a radar track. Assessing bearing drift, CPA and risk of collision is the watch officers' job, and I imagine it's much simplified by automation these days.

    Back in my day it was grease pencil on a scopehead and paper & pencil maneuvering board plots. And we (mostly) managed not to hit anybody. Mostly...

  11. 6 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

    Former Navy myself here, tin can snipe.

    The Navy will certainly conduct a good investigation but they may not share what they see as dirty laundry with the public. I also do not want to speculate, but it can be taken as certain that the USS Fitzgerald watchstanders were not on top of things.Those huge containerships are not very maneuverable and when you hit reverse they get even less maneuverable. The Fitz should have been able to dodge within a fairly tight CPA and it looks like they were the give-way ship.

    My thinking is more about the DC party rousted at oh-dark-thirty and turning to knowing their shipmates are behind those doors.

    FB- Doug ...ex BT1(SW)...

    True, and USS Frank E. Evans should have been able to dodge out of the way of HMAS Melbourne back in the day too.  Plus ca change...

    And yeah, I also did a turn as DCA and definite BZ due to the damage control teams (which, on a Navy ship in an incident like this, is pretty much everybody on the crew). Sounds like staying afloat was not necessarily a given, they did a great job.

  12. I can add this, based on my experience (take it for what you pay for it...):

    • A ship like the Fitzgerald would probably have three lookouts posted (port, starboard and aft) stationed high up on the superstructure with 7x50 binoculars. They'd be junior folks, but would not be assigned the watch alone until they'd completed the appropriate formal qualification for a lookout which includes how to scan, how to interpret running lights, what to report and how to report it. Probably part of a bridge watch team on for four hours, but the lookouts would be rotated into other positions roughly every half hour or so.
    • Bridge watch (OOD, JOOD) would also typically be maintaining visual watch and keeping a radar plot, and CIC would be keeping their own radar plot. Probably also a visual signals team on watch and looking around as well.
    • It's not that unusual for the captain not to be on the bridge, even/especially at night. Might have been warranted given the traffic, but that was his call to make. The ship is homeported in Yokosuka, so probably operates frequently in those waters and the OODs are probably familiar enough that they don't need the CO's or XO's constant supervision.
    • CO's standing orders and night orders would normally take into consideration the expected amount of traffic and instruct the watchstanders and define when the captain should be called appropriately to the conditions. In open ocean transit it might be appropriate to say call if there's a CPA within 5,000 yards, but in shipping lanes there might be a dozen ships always with CPAs within 1,000 yards. As long as everyone stays in their lane it's not a problem. CO's orders need to be practical, and he needs to put a certain amount of trust in his team.
    • Except in wartime, Navy ships very seldom run without the required running lights. It's hard for me to imagine Fitzgerald would be running dark on routine ops in a busy shipping lane.
    • It's also hard for me to imagine that they'd be running any sort of maneuvering drills at that time of night in those conditions
    • Burke-class destroyers have features to reduce their radar cross section, but I don't think they're especially stealthy. Keep in mind that they were designed in the 1980s and they're built from steel and aluminum with lots of radar-reflecting stuff poking out of the superstructure. Newer ships like the Zumwalt are stealthier by nature, but they carry technology to increase their RCS which would almost certainly be in use in conditions like the Fitzgerald was sailing in.


  13. I'm retired Navy surface warfare, was a qualified Officer of the Deck (Underway) and CIC Watch Officer on three different ships, have stood many a night watch in crowded shipping lanes (this in the days before AIS even existed), and the one thing I know for sure is that nobody here (myself included) knows what happened on either ship or why they collided.

    The Navy will investigate and I'm confident they'll do their best to piece together what happened and determine responsibility. In my experience these things typically aren't witch hunts or coverups but honest attempts to determine what happened, assign accountability and attempt, where possible, to avoid similar incidents in the future.

    I do know that under the COLREGS both vessels were required to maintain proper lookouts and take action as necessary to avoid collision. So it would appear that somebody screwed up, but it will take some investigation to figure out who and how.

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