CNO orders a fleetwide review of seamanship and training

| August 21, 2017 | 103 Comments

The Washington Post reports that the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson has ordered a fleetwide review of training in the Pacific after the collision last night of the USS JOHN MCCAIN with a commercial tanker;

On June 17, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided off the coast of Japan with a much heavier container ship, drowning seven sailors after a berthing compartment inside the ship flooded in less than a minute.

In addition, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel on May 9 off the Korean Peninsula and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground Jan. 31 in Tokyo Bay, near its home port of Yokosuka, Japan.

[…]

Richardson said the trend of accidents in the Pacific “demands more-forceful action” and ordered a one-day “operational pause” in Navy fleets across the world to make sure they are operating safely. More significantly, he ordered a separate investigation into how the Navy prepares its forces to operate in the Pacific.

“This will include, but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment,” Richardson said. “It also will include a review of how we train and certify our surface warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency.”

The Marine Corps recently lifted their operational pause in the use of their OV-22 Otter fleet when one slammed into the back of the USS GREEN BAY transport ship, causing three Marine deaths.

Category: Navy

Comments (103)

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  1. Kinda old ET1 says:

    1. Even Ray Charles could have seen this Standown coming.
    2. OV-22 “Otter”???? (Damn autocorrect)
    3. Hope the missing are found.

  2. Coffeypot says:

    This is what you get with the Obama Navy. Lost many good O’s and no money to train.

    • W2 says:

      Dumb comment. President Obama had nothing to do with poor seamanship on ANTIETAM, FITZGERALD or MCCAIN. You obviously don’t know anything about gas turbine propulsion and the controllable pitch propeller system. When you hit the gas, these ships move out. We’ll find out soon what caused this accident and it’ll probably have something to do with not hitting the gas and turning a bit. The concept of relative motion seems to be lost on sailors nowadays. President Obama didn’t cause that. Blame him for things he actually did, not for people’s stupidity or inaction.

        • W2 says:

          Nope, just saying blame the man for things he did. Can I go rob a bank and blame it on Obama because re didn’t provide me job training. The Obama administration blamed shit on President Busth constantly. That was BS too. Don’t make stupid excuses for stupidity and inaction.

          • Skippy says:

            But under Obama with the blessing of Rino Republicans training was slashed
            And there was a ongoing witch hunt for anybody who didn’t share there values

            • W2 says:

              Come on Skippy, this is such basic shit for the USN. I am no grunt, just a squid, but did the Army stop cleaning and servicing weapons during the previous administration? I ain’t here to defend President Obama. I am trying to make sure nobody gets to gloss over bad decision making for our most basic competencies. Accidents can and do happen, but not like this, with these highly maneuverable ships.

              • Skippy says:

                I will stay in my lane when it comes to training. I’m army not navy. Our field training went down the crapper and was replaced will
                Non-stop EO/SHARP training and we can throw in some why its fun to spoon a Drag queen. I have very little knowledge of the Navy other
                Then a few crazy CPO’s that were my boss in Iraq
                My feeling on what is going on is mixed because of some other incidents
                That have happened in the last few years concerning NAV issues brought to my attention recently. I pray for the families of the missing and hope the navy figures out what is going on soon..

                • LC says:

                  I think it’s a ‘maintenance’ vs. (basic) skill thing. Budget cuts affect the first, but people are still responsible for a basic level of the second – if you forget which way to aim your rifle, that’s on you. If your rifle doesn’t fire because your command has no money for parts or ammo, that’s something you can blame budget cuts for.

                  In the Navy, steering the ship so you don’t hit big things and take water is a basic skill. Only way to blame this on the Obama-era cuts is if it’s due to a lack of funds to properly maintain or staff the ship, in my opinion.

                  • Jonn Lilyea says:

                    Don’t forget OpTempo. There are far fewer boats than there were in 2008 and the threat hasn’t changed.

                    • W2 says:

                      7th Fleet actually has more ships now than 5 years ago and continues to grow. Maintenance dollars are higher too. The OPTEMPO has always been around 180 – 190 days away from home port for the surface combatants. The 7th Fleet crews are U/W more than any CONUS based ship. The also have the largest allotment of fuel and training days U/W. The mission in recent history has always been deterrence and operations with local allies with some ASW mixed in. We’ll see what happened when the JAGMAN gets released but my bet is on poor seamanship and loss of the tactical picture / situational awareness.

                  • timactual says:

                    True. Navigation and such things are not limited to formal training times. On the job training takes place every time a ship leaves the pier. Part of the Captain’s duties are to train the crew while at sea, including the bridge crew and his officers.

          • IDC SARC says:

            serious Warrant is serious 🙂

          • OldManchu says:

            Of course you can commit crime because of not being provided a job. Obama said so.

      • Club Manager says:

        How about lack of empowerment for quick decision making by duty personnel combined with someone afraid to wake the CO at zero dark early.

        • W2 says:

          Yup, sing it brother. Let’s not gloss over stupidity and poor decision making. I can only assume the USA and USMC train Privates to fire weapons to some degree of basic ability, regardless of who is president. This is Navy 101 and everybody who stands a watch, topside or below decks, should be trained to a basic degree of competence. The ANT grounding is a textbook case of incompetence coupled with stupidity and inaction. Every CO, OOD and anchor watchstander knows how to take bearings and plot positions within the swing and drag circles and to drive towards the anchor if you start to move. Simple stuff, regardless of who the commander in chief is. I know everybody here hates President Obama but he has nothing to do with the poor seamanship of naval vessels. Maybe poor material and combat readiness, but basic seamanship, no.

          • 11B-mailclerk says:

            The president is Commander in Chief. If he permits training to lapse, or a culture to grow that is dysfunctional, how is it -not- his responsibility?

            It is the very definition of the job to which we elect Presidents.

            And now a new one has inherited the existing culture. If he fails to fix problems, he too will be held to blame.

            You -cannot- say the former president of the United States is -not- responsible for the culture he permitted to exist. That responsibility is the very definition of the job. The Captain of a ship is responsible for the culture on his ship, right? So is the President.

            Perhaps less emphasis on SJW feelgoods, and more on basic seamanship and navigation. Less on toe-ing the party line, more on martial virtues. Less holding the line, and more kicking ass, Victory, and going home.

            By the fruits does one know the tree. And from what I see, our armed forces are spending way too much time on social studies, versus mil-skills, and just plain old -winning-.

            • timactual says:

              A little realism, please. How can you plausibly expect the CINC to be responsible for training in subjects they literally know nothing about? Subordinates are also reasonably expected to perform their jobs without minutely detailed specific instructions from the boss.

              And really, that old schtick where Generals and Admirals blame their failures on the politicians is about worn out.

          • desert says:

            Not sure what the big deal is here, besides dead sailors..McCain has been an assident waiting to happen for decades! err….oh you mean the ship!

        • charles w says:

          The CO should have already been on the bridge. This is the I-5 for shipping. Super tankers, wooden junks and every type of craft ply this straight. This is not the place to be complacent.

          • W2 says:

            If he was on the bridge, he screwed the pooch. If he was there he should have relieved the OOD immediately, taken the deck, and maneuvered. This is I-95, and the beltway in D.C. and then the Jersey turnpike, I-95 through NYC and then across the George Washington bridge. It’s a scary and very busy transit, but one that professsional mariners make daily, without incident.

            • timactual says:

              Regarding the USS McCain et al. (there have been four accidents in the Pacific involving US Navy ships this year), I expect better from well paid and expensively trained, experienced professionals with more than sufficient manpower and the latest technology.

              My experience of salt water navigation is limited to being a passenger on various dinner cruises and such. I enjoyed standing just outside the bridge(?) watching the guy (singular) steer the ship through Boston and Baltimore harbors at night through all the islands and traffic. He had a little radar screen and a radio, but that was it And this goes on every night at literally thousands of ports around the world, with very few problems.

      • Prior Service says:

        Blame it on Obama administration, writ large? Definitely. The operational and training readiness of the armed forces has sunk alarmingly in the last years. The Obama years. Having served for 28 years now, with time as a combined arms battalion commander and battalion OC under Obama, i can tell you with certainty that the army has lost much of our ability to fight. Sure there were other factors (i.e. A war or two), but heavy forces have been out for a while now, but with no money to train or maintain. Obama certainly was not leading the charge to fix it. The other services are in the same fix.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      I was wondering about that. I’m on the outside looking in, of course, but with the news talking about budget cuts and increased focus on hurt-feelings prevention, it seemed obvious that something important was likely to get neglected. Looks like that chicken has come home to roost, and, as usual, the guys in harm’s way–who didn’t make those skewed priorities–pay the price.

    • Commissar says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget#/media/File:U.S._Defense_Spending_Trends_2001-2014.png

      We are not spending less on defense than were were under Bush.

      The cuts were merely to the peak spending we had during the overlap between the surge in Afghanistan and the withdrawal from Iraq.

  3. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Eight years of President Trump’s predecessor seems to have gotten rid of a lot of good Officers and Senior NCO’s that knew what to do. Were there too many cutbacks in training as well?

  4. Roger in Republic. says:

    Many decades ago my Uncle, a Navy Chief, explained the mission of the US Navy. He said that the primary mission of the navy was to keep the ocean OUT of its ships. Looks like that mission statement needs to be re enforced for this generation of sailors.

  5. Ret_25X says:

    I’m going to take a contrarian viewpoint here. I suspect that GPS spoofing may be part of the issue here. It is entirely possible that automated nav systems no longer know where they are.

    Mark One eyeball corrections may occur too late for correction in the dark…

    This applies to all ships in an affected area so both ships are “blinded” when they are running automated systems.

    • Fjardeson says:

      Scary, but definitely plausible. My Audi loses track of where it is if I leave it in an underground garage too long.

      The same devices that let you cheat at Pokemon Go, can jam or mislead GPS. GPS is like EMail; was not designed to resist intentional malice or abuse.

    • W2 says:

      Let’s click off the watchstanders topside – OOD, JOOD, BMOW, three lookouts, surface plotter, CIC watch supervisor, CICWO. The three with a responsibility to call the CO if the ship is standing in to danger are the OOD, JOOD and CICWO. There is a lot of fail here for people that should be tracking surface ships electronically and with plain ol’ USN Mk1 mod 0 binoculars.

      • Patrick408 says:

        Agree 100%
        The last two Navy ship collisions occurred with MASSIVE CARGO ships, somewhat easy to see even at night. Cant imagine how many links in that chain were broken.
        RIP to the missing sailors and thoughts and prayers to their families…

      • 11B-Mailclerk says:

        Was such a watch actually set? Was it instructed/empowered to act without fear of retribution for avoiding a misjudged threat? Were they trained watch standers? Were they reasonably well rested, or worn-out half-zombies? Was the eyeball-watch considered authoritative, or were the gadgets?

        At a prior job, a co-worker was a former navigator on subs. He was told “You can call the Captain for -anything-, even to check the correct time. No question is stupid or punishable.”

        Is this normal in the Navy?

        • W2 says:

          11B, my brother. Absolutely calling the CO any time day or not is totally acceptable. One CO I stood watches under had 77 reasons to call him. He never bitched at anybody once for calling but he would fire you and take your driver’s license if you didn’t call. At times, when the CO was tired, I had to send the messenger of the watch or BMOW down to his cabin to wake him up. My CO’s always got up, responded to the report, and either agreed with the COA or modified it and usually went promptly back to their rack.

          I can guarantee you the watch I described above, as a minimum, was set. The questions to yet to be answered are: was the ship at sea detail? If so, there would be even more watch standers. They had to be close to setting sea detail because they were close to Singapore and there is a ton of vessel traffic exiting the strait of Malacca and going in to Singapore.

          • W2 says:

            And as I posted in the other JSM thread, there is an OS in CIC that is plotting relative motion of surface contacts using a MOBOARD, a piece of paper his father and grandfather used to track and report on surface contacts. Lots of gadgets with some old fashioned pencils, ruler and paper.

            • Silentium Est Aureum says:

              True, but even in the calmest of seas nothing replaces the Mk1, Mod0 eyeball.

              • W2 says:

                Two of the three lookouts use the Mk1 mod 0 eyeball and bino’s. One on the port bridge wing and the after lookout should have been screaming into their, wait for it, sound powered phones telling the BMOW and CIC what they were seeing. Can you imagine the after lookout crapping his pants right before they got creamed? Their watch station is on the flight deck. The tanker hit them at about 240 relative.

                • 11B-mailclerk says:

                  So how does the crash happen if all you say is done as you say?

                  Even if some hostile force screws up the navigation systems, the system you describe overrules it and steers away, right?

                  Something broke the system, and we are losing ships to that fault. We -must- fix this, and fast.

          • W2 says:

            Call the CO anytime day or night is totally acceptable. God, I wish I could spell and then learn to proof read.

      • Ret_25X says:

        Based on what was done in the Black Sea recently, even when the humans did see the other ships and make the right decisions, the shipboard systems were compromised.

        It is going to take more than people with mark one eyeballs, it is going to take a return to analog control systems. Not just for ships. Anything that is run, controlled, augmented, or performed through automated systems is highly vulnerable.

        Obviously, this could all be plain old human error, but I would bet a beer that there is more to this than meets the “eye”. But the odds are adding up to something. Two USN vessels in less than 2 months, several ships in the Black Sea, aircraft over SWA, all in collisions, near misses, or just plain getting lost…

        I am also convinced that no one in the DoD is going to admit if compromised control systems are part of the problem considering the literal billions of dollars spent on them and the desire not to advertise vulnerabilities (and rightly so) to potential enemies.

        My real fear is that retraining in manual nav and such is not enough if core systems are involved that cannot be easily bypassed in that sub-minute of time necessary…

        Cyberspace operations are not what most people think they are…

        • 11B-mailclerk says:

          I have a -strong- suspicion that there are three contributing factors:

          1) A culture where technology overrules men and experience.

          2) A culture where training has been redirected away from essentials to non-essentials.

          3) A command culture that does -not- tolerate criticism and correction of 1 and 2.

          I deal with systems for a living, and the fault of -major- screwups here almost always lies in the culture of how they are used, not the hardware and software itself. (Assumptions of readiness, failure to plan for problems, incorrect training, intolerance of criticism, just plain Ego, etc.)

          My environment is different, but uses the exact same Mk1 Human. I think I see a glitch, so I speak up. Rage at -me- if folks must, but -fix- the darn thing.

          Before more good folks drown to no purpose.

          -We- owe them that.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      I’m sure the Red Chinese are looking at this with an eye towards assymetrical warfare. You know, stack the deck before the shooting starts by making some of our ships in congested waters have “accidents” that put them in the drydock. I’m just wondering if they aren’t implementing it already.

    • timactual says:

      In the cases of McCain and Fitzgerald it doesn’t matter if they knew where they were. What they should have known is that there were large ships bearing down on them. That is not a GPS function.

      Even a lubber like me knows that if you see both a red and a green navigation light at the same time you may have a problem. And I learned this at absolutely no cost to the taxpayer.

      http://www.bosunsmate.org/seamanship/lights.php

  6. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    Like I mentioned on my earlier comment, I read in the August issue of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings that the Navy has been depending on the electronic navigation systems for which I do not know how long. Been out since 1969(3yrs reserve commitment) I also mentioned that the Coast guard ship Eagle are teaching celestial/chart navigation and basic seamanship as well as the U.S. Naval Acadamy back to teaching celestial navigation utilizing the sextant. One of the reasons for this are electronic jamming and electronic manipulation of the electronic navigational systems.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      That or just one EMP and all electronics go bye-bye!

    • just some feller says:

      …Coast guard ship Eagle are teaching celestial/chart navigation and basic seamanship ….

      Great! One of my coworkers was a Kapitän-
      leutnant after 12 years in the Bundesmarine.

      He said his first tour (kadet? or after?) was a four-months cruise on the three-masted training ship “Gorch Foch” where they had to use sextant, climb the rigging without security (but clipped in to furl sails), and spend time in the crow’s nest during high seas (that just freaks me out).

      He said nothing can replace the education of *real* sailing before “driving” a modern ship … you just attain a better understanding from that experience.

      JSF

      • The Other Whitey says:

        Crow’s nest? Holy shit. I’ve occasionally climbed a 110ft aerial ladder, and feeling the tip of that damn thing swaying 18 inches every time you take a step will instantly put you on speaking terms with God. A masthead on a calm day would be scary. Mild chop? Not thanks. Rough seas? I will freely admit that I am nowhere near man enough to even attempt that.

  7. Graybeard says:

    When the fertilizer hits the ventilator, the best tool to have is a well-trained, disciplined brain.

    Next best is usually a rigid blade knife.

  8. Commissar says:

    The early indication is that the USS John McCain entered the Straight of Singapore position on the wrong side, the side designated for vessels going the opposite direction.

    When the two ships were on a collision course, apparently due to the mistake of the USS John McCain the rules of crash avoidance apparently required the Alnic MC to adjust course because the McCain was on its starboard side.

    However, since the McCain was wrong in being there in the first place the Alnic MC may have hesitated to adjust course because it expected the USS John McCain to correct its mistake of entering the straight on the wrong side.

    However, the crew of the USS John McCain, even if they realized the mistake they made entering the straight on the wrong side, may have relied on collision avoidance rules that a vessel is supposed to give way to a ship on its starboard side and waited for the Alnic MC to change course.

    Both ships thus may have hesitated to adjust course until it was too late.

    • Commissar says:

      Of course we could just blame Obama.

    • Silentium Est Aureum says:

      So you’re now a fucking expert on COREGS?

      Please, explain how you know how open seas navigation works versus maneuvering in restricted waters.

      And please be prepared to explain the requirements between open water navigation and restricted waters.

      Fucktard. And no Google-Fu for you. You know so fucking much, enlighten those of us who make a living on the open ocean how it’s supposed to work with less than 12 hours of research.

      Provided you even have the balls to answer, shitdick.

      • Silentium Est Aureum says:

        Sorry, COLREGS. Don’t want dipshit to get his panties wet because I forgot a letter.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        Remember, it’s the infallible Lars Taylor. Your specialized training, legitimate expertise, and years of professional experience in a particular subject about which he knows fuck-all are irrelevant if you don’t agree with him.

      • Commissar says:

        WTF did I write that got your panties so wrapped up?

        The location of the incident and the direction of the ships indicate the USS John McCain was in the wrong position in the shipping lane. This is based on reporting coming out of Singapore officials and the location the NAVY provided for the incident and the direction of the USS John McCain leading up to the incident.

        The damage and direction of the ships indicates that the USS John McCain was on the wrong side of the shipping lane and the impact location means the USS John McCain was on the starboard side.

        I used the qualifier “apparently” several times in my post indicating to someone with reading comprehension that I was not speaking based on my expertise but on information I looked up or information from the reporting.

        Beyond that information I merely speculated on how they could have crashed given the location of the incident, and the location of the damage on both ships.

        If there is something I said that is specifically wrong than point it out.

        If not then don’t be an asshole. My speculation was based on no less information than most of those speculating on this thread and more than most.

        My theory on what may have happened is a lot more reasonable than “it’s Obamas fault” or “it was intentional”.

        I do not get to be in debates on this forum anymore because I am being moderated.

        So if all you are going to do is get you panties in a wad and rage at me demanding I provide you answers I am just going to blow you off. You don’t demand answers from others on this thread that said shit that was far more speculative and far more baseless than my post.

        • 11B-Mailclerk says:

          Your post, to me, sounds like a lecture. I can understand how long-service Navy folks might find that a bit…. inapropriate.

          I might have formatted it a bit differently:

          “I read in (source) (details). That suggests to me that (XY and Z). Fair assessment? Would that also imply (whatever)?”

          That sounds to me like a discussion topic, and a request for feedback, not a lecture from an outsider and non-SME. Now, if you genuinely believe you are a peer at things Nautical, well, that also might explain their response.

          Just a suggestion to consider.

        • Silentium Est Aureum says:

          Why don’t you read the comment of OSC (SW) below.

          You know, the guy who does the shit FOR A CAREER.

          So tell me, how was traffic inbound for you last time you went to Singapore? I enjoyed the hospitality and the facilities at Sembawang myself, although it was a bit of a ride to downtown Singapore, and Tiger Beer at S$35 a jug is a bit pricey.

          You may go now.

      • timactual says:

        Some of us do not make a living on the open ocean. I, for one, appreciate people supplying information and links.

        For example, it would have been helpful to us ignorant folk if you had explained what COREG is. I googled it, and I finally inferred it means ‘Coast Guard Regulation’ rather than the other result, which is shipped in a discrete package worldwide at low rates.

    • OldManchu says:

      apparently
      since
      may have
      may have
      may have

      You have it all figured out eh?

      • Commissar says:

        I used those qualifiers to make it clear that I am speculating.

        So, “no”, I do not have it all figured out. That is why I used those qualifiers.

        The fact that people are bitching is really on you all. Nothing I said deserves all the uptight bullshit.

      • Graybeard says:

        OM,
        I have to side with Commissar on this one. He made it very clear to an unbiased reader that he was speculating. He used the standard English verbiage to signal that he was speculating, not pontificating.

        He was offering an explanation of the events which would provide reasonable cause for the outcome.

        Given that Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret.) is quoted by Fox News as saying “Those sailors did not have the basic seamanship skills, but by God, they got their sensitivity, race relations and sexual harassment training,” Lars’ explanation hold water very well.

    • OSC(SW) Retired says:

      None of that is even close to true. The AIS data for Alnic MC is public. Alnic’s track takes it into the southwest bound traffic separation scheme heading into the straits where it immediately collides with USS John S. McCain. McCain was also inbound to the straits and was in the correct side of the separation scheme. Had McCain been on the “wrong side” they would have been south of Alnic MC making it pretty much impossible for Alnic to hit her on her port side (which she did) unless McCain had her bow pointing south and engines in reverse taking her north back into the southwest bound traffic lane.

      What really happened, and this was announced by 7th Fleet, was that McCain entered the traffic separation scheme and suffered a steering gear casualty. While they were attempting to recover steerage Alnic MC collided with them. The AIS data for the time period shows that Alnic MC enters the traffic separation scheme and is unable to maneuver to starboard or port as she is being overtaken by a Chinese tanker Guang Zhuo Wan on her starboard side and a container ship Hyundai Global on her port. It looks like Alnic MC might have been able to avoid to port had Hyundai Global slowed to 11 knots like every other ship in the area had, but instead drove into the separation zone (area between traffic lanes) at about 18 knots making a port maneuver to avoid by ALnic MC impossible.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        “McCain entered the traffic separation scheme and suffered a steering gear casualty” – does this mean broken or nonfunctioning equipment, as in unable to steer? Or does it mean not enough room to get out of Alnic’s way?

        I just want to be clear on this.

        • MAC(SW) (RET) says:

          A loose analogy would be this: You are in your car and merging onto the highway into heavy traffic and all of a sudden you lose the ability to steer your car. None of your inputs to the steering wheel are translated to like or expected movement of the wheels leaving you unable to predictably control the direction of your car.

          So, under normal circumstances, the helmsman on the bridge steers the ship via a surprisingly small “ships wheel”. On an FFG-7 frigate, the ships wheel was approximately 4″ in diameter and looked like a miniature version of an old sailing ship wheel.

          You turn the wheel and it provides “input” to the steering gear/rudder(s)which are moved using a system of gears and hydraulics.

          Loss of steering is the generic term and is also the statement that is made over (supposed to be)the ships announcing system AKA:1MC

          “Engineering casualty, engineering casualty, loss of steering!”

          When that happens, a designated sailor(s) will man-up Aft Steering which is a location on the ship that allows the helmsman to make direct, mechanical inputs to the steering system via a set of small handwheels also called “Trick Wheels”

          If inputs from Aft Steering don’t work……….

          • 11B-Mailclerk says:

            Thanks for that. Very helpful to understand the events.

            Is that manual steering station normally manned under restricted maneuvering situations like a busy/crowded area?

            Would anything short of a jammed rudder prevent steering by alternate means? Are there usually two? Is there a useful way to steer without the rudder? (Differential power to the screws?)

            I would assume such things get a significant amount of practice, much as I occasionally practice engine braking, and skid recovery in icy parking lots in winter.

            “Can’t steer” makes sense, versus “spystuff jamming” or “highly improbably chain of multiple screwups”.

            • OSC(SW) Retired says:

              Aft steering would be manned during restricted maneuvering. We did not always set restricted maneuvering right at the beginning of long inbound transits. The CO standing orders had a rule of thumb as to when he wanted it set (range to land / shoal water). So it is possible that McCain had not yet or were in the process of setting their navigation detail / restricted maneuvering doctrine.

              Normally steaming to save fuel they often have the plant configure in trail shaft, meaning one shaft is left to free wheel while the gas turbine is pushing the other shaft. You can’t really steer the ship except for a small amount of stern walk in the direction of the screws rotation. If they had set restricted maneuvering the plant would be configured with power to both shafts and they would have the ability to turn with the screws, but it isn’t exactly as responsive as using the rudders.

              The amount of practice really depends on the comfort level of the CO. I rode DDGs where the CO would let his bridge team and/or pilot use the engines and rudder to maneuver pierside and have the tugs stand off, and others who had the tugs do all the work.

              The GPS “hacking” is technically possible and is actually called meaconing. Back during the cold war we suspected the Russians were capable of meaconing our OMEGA and LORAN signals and that is why we switched to SATNAV/GPS.

              It is easy to jump to the conclusion that watchstander error was at fault because that has been the final conclusion in almost all U.S. Navy collisions in the Strait of Malacca.

      • Graybeard says:

        I believe that the info concerning the loss of the steering gear came out after Lars’ original post. I would not hold him accountable for lacking that information.

        But this is also why I prefer to wait some days (or weeks) to see what other information is forthcoming.

        Now perhaps some of you swabbies can educate us land-lubbers on the potential causes of a steering gear failure. Especially with a view toward the possibility of an electronic attack on the equipment.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      You guys are all forgetting one little thing: ol’ Commissar there can’t take criticism, period. He’d pick a fight over what kind of doorknob to use, not because he knows anything about doorknobs, but because he’s a butthead and a doorknob, all in one package.

  9. Thunderstixx says:

    What I know about piloting a ship can be written in a very small book.
    I do know that it is a high stress position no matter where you might be in the world and the guys that do this every day are some of the best sailors on Earth.
    That said, I just pray for the ten missing young men, wis them Godspeed and pray for their families.
    The only thing harder than being a warrior, is loving one…

  10. Silentium Est Aureum says:

    W2, I’ll put on my FR suit if you like but here’s my .02, and anyone can chip in.

    There was a time when a Chief or LPO wasn’t afraid to kick a little ass, figuratively or literally. But we were more concerned with “feels” starting about 20 years ago, more concerned with documentation than actually correcting the problem.

    I can’t speak for the wardroom, but do you honestly think it was that much different?

    Paper Navy means steel and men (and women) on the bottom.

    • W2 says:

      I think in situations like ANTIETAN, FITZGERALD or JOHN S MCCAIN, even a social justice warrior sparkle pony snowflake (but not Lars) would have maneuvered the ship to avoid collision. Situational awareness can be lost when someone gets overwhelmed. There is a maritime tracker web page and you can look maritime traffic by region. Use your google foo SEA and take a look at the amount of traffic in the Strait of Malacca and the Johor Strait. It’s crazy and if you have a weak bridge team, which should never happen in the area around Singapore, the OOD / JOOD / CICWO could easily lose the tactical picture. That’s when somebody should have said on the 1MC in a big loud voice – “Captain, bridge”. Wherever he was he would run at the speed of light and be on that bridge in an nano second. I just can’t believe he was on the bridge when this happened. A DDG CO is a senior surface warfare officer with almost two decades of experience driving ships.

      As for Lars’ comment about them entering the traffic separation scheme on the wrong side all I can say is it happens. Entering Yokosuka requires you to make a mondo hairy ass turn across the scheme in front of vessels leaving Tokyo wan to sea. There is no median or guard rails separating traffic, you just pick your moment, throw the rudder over and gas it. I am really amazed that he is an expert now in maritime law as well as COLREGS and the maneuver of naval vessels. Damn that guy is so friggin’ smart it hurts.

  11. What is an “Operational Pause” for a naval fleet?

    Do all ships drop anchor wherever they are at, even if it’s in the middle of the ocean, or does every ship immediately head for the nearest port to tie up?

    Even if a foreign power has been able to sabotage a ship’s computer systems, don’t they still require personnel to physically stand watch with binoculars and/or the naked eye?

    How will this affect the current (?) combined United States/South Korean war games?

  12. Kevin says:

    Also it’s apparently not uncommon for watchstanders to have been up for 20+ hours before their watch starts, with very little sleep over the last 48 hours. Particularly the crew on night watches. Then when they get off and should be sleeping all sorts of silly BS keeps them mostly awake during the day before their next watch.

    • MAC(SW) (RET) says:

      Up for 20+ hours? No, that’s not common.

      Watch rotations underway vary between departments, divisions and watchstations.

      Some are 2-hour (Dog Watches), a lot are 4 -hour, some are 6-hour (“6 on, 6 off”) and sometimes they are 12-hour watches (“Port & Starboard”). It all depends on what the mission is.

      Plus, training plans dictate that you have to throw in flight deck crash & smash drills, deck landing qualifications(DLQ’s) (day & night), CBR training, General Quarters training which can last all day depending on crappy the crew does and how slow they are at setting material condition Zebra!!

      Also, the ship ain’t gonna clean or paint itself! We don’t have contract janitorial services or Earl Schieb/Maaco onboard!! Plus all of the Preventative Maintenance on you own equipment and damage control equipment in your spaces.

      All of that plus the random actual casualty that pulls you out of your rack 20 minutes after you hit it at 2200! You end up getting back to sleep around 0100 and have to be up at 0300 to get ready for the 0400-0800 watch!!!

      How did we handle it? We just did.

  13. jonp says:

    I agree with one of the above comments on the diminution of skills in leadership caused by the previous administrations efforts to advance people in rank according to SJW demands and not competence. If you are the right gender, sex, sexual orientation you went up in rank regardless of merit which caused the most skilled men and women to give up and leave. The result is what we see happening now.

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