CNO defends hiding scathing internal report on Fitzgerald collision from public

| February 19, 2019

cnoChief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson participated in a town hall discussion about the challenges and successes of the past year during the AFCEA West Conference in San Diego on Friday. (

Before going further, please read the ProPublica report kindly forwarded to us by B-Bob on the Fort Jackson post. It’s everything I thought was wrong with the 7th Fleet after the two collisions involving USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain, and much more. It’s in-depth and names names.

By: Geoff Ziezulewicz
SAN DIEGO – The Navy’s top officer Friday defended the decision to keep from the public eye a damning internal report on the 2017 warship Fitzgerald collision that killed seven sailors.

Speaking to reporters after his appearance at the U.S. Naval Institute’s West 2019 conference here, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said much of the report overlapped with what the service publicly released.

But much of the probe overseen by Rear Adm. Brian Fort portrayed a far grimmer picture of what the crew of the guided-missile destroyer faced. It also prompted hard questions about the actions taken by the Fitz’s squadron and Navy officials back in the United States.

First revealed by Navy Times, the Fort report chronicled details that Richardson, other Navy leaders and their public reports never mentioned, such as specifics about the destroyer’s brutal operational tempo, officers who didn’t trust each other, radars that didn’t work and sailors who didn’t know how to operate them.

The investigators also portrayed the warship’s chiefs mess as ineffective and their sailors plagued by low morale in the months leading up to the June 17, 2017, collision.

Reporting by ProPublica this month offered further insight into the Fitzgerald tragedy, renewing debate about the decisions made in the highest ranks of the Navy, including those by Richardson both before and after the collision.

Richardson stood by his decision to keep details from the public, insisting that the Fort report’s status as a dual-purpose investigation meant it was “locked up in other litigation.”

The details always get out; one would think the CNO would know that. The Chain of Command straight up to Mabus was informed of the deteriorating conditions on board the destroyers and cruisers through lack of proper maintenance, training and personnel.

Read the ProPublica report and get as pissed off as I was. There needs to be accountability here, and consequences.

Read the rest of the article here: Navy Times

Category: Military issues, Navy

Comments (39)

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  1. They never learn that the cover-ups don’t work in the long run.

    Or … he stalling in order to retire ‘in good order’ first.

  2. Buckeye Jim says:

    BS. This is UNSAT. People died because of incompetence. Nothing classified, just embarrassing.

    • Poetrooper says:

      “People died because of incompetence.”

      Wrong, Jim, people died because of politics. The Obama administration wanted good optics on defense for the folks even while they were undermining it with their social justice experiments and misguided priorities such as this report outlines. Read that ProPublica article and it comes through loud and clear who was calling all the wrong shots–that thoroughly political weasel, Ray Mabus–and we all know who he reported to.

      The Dems wanted to build ships because that got them good media coverage on defense, providing much better optics than such boring topics as training and maintenance. With them it was all about appearances rather than strategic needs. The actual deaths may have occurred during Trump’s first year but you can take it to the bank that the ultimate blame is on Ray Mabus and his boss, Barack Obama–with plenty of shame to be shared by those cowardly admirals who sold out their sailors to serve such clearly political ends.

      Politicians can be expected to be dishonorable but we should hope for better from our senior military leadership. Unfortunately, the Obama administration politicized DoD the same way they did State, DoJ, the FBI, ATF and Intelligence.

      We will be living with the negative consequences for years to come.

      • Martinjmpr says:

        The Dems wanted to build ships because that got them good media coverage on defense, providing much better optics than such boring topics as training and maintenance.

        Isn’t it even simpler than that?

        New ships = millions of $$ in sweet, sweet taxpayer cash and lots of high paying jobs for congressmen’s home district.

        Maintenance and training? Not so much.

        • 5th/77th FA says:

          Son.of.a.Bitch. Nailed it Poe and MJ, along with everyone else. I read the entire article, twice, just to make sure of what I was reading and comprehending.

          There is no statute of limitations on murder, is there? We talked about this when the news first broke of these two “accidents” and again when the initial reports started coming out. Higher (Read Mabus and Oblowme) murdered those sailors just as sure as if they put a bullet into the base of their skulls. And they aren’t the only two that are guilty as sin. Plenty of guilt to go around. F’ing politicians in uniform. They are looters and pillagers. They are the worst enemies that our service members have.

          You expect congress critters to be self serving egotistical pieces of shit. By the same token, you expect, (least ways I did) Officers to remember their oath and to follow one of the top tenants of command. Take care of your people.

          May need to take another lisinopril and have a cold beer or six. BP done spiked again. Grrrrrr

  3. The Other Whitey says:

    I’ve never been in the Navy, but I know that in any organization, the kind of toxic, mismanaged state of affairs described aboard USS Fitzgerald doesn’t just happen overnight. This kind of thing is the product of years of bad decisions and policies that start at the top, often coupled with incompetent individuals being promoted/advanced based on politics and/or personal favoritism. The roots go at least to the Obama years, possibly further.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Read the report- I’m not giving spoilers, but the chain of command breakdown is spelled out quite thoroughly.

      • Slow Joe says:

        But, that’s too much reading.

        Is there a TL,DR version?

        • Ex-PH2 says:

          Nope. Joe, you have to read the entire thing.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Here ya go:

          The Chain of Command straight up to Mabus was informed of the deteriorating conditions on board the destroyers and cruisers through lack of proper maintenance, training and personnel.

          And then a lot of completely avoidable real bad shit happened, and 17 Sailors lost their lives.


        • SFC D says:

          Higher up ignored reports from admiral that bad shit would happen due to lack of training and manpower.

          Bad shit happened. Twice. Sailors died.

          Higher up sacrificed admiral. Higher up blamed ship’s crews.

          Everyone lost.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    I read that ProPublica article last week. It is appalling, and it pulls no punches. This falls directly into the laps of that asshole who was under Mabus (may his name be spoken with bile and spittle) and Mabus himself.

    It was rot all the way through the 7th Fleet and guess who got away with it? Yeah. Mabus.

    Mabus didn’t want any bad stuff crossing his desk. Everything had to be all sparkly and wonderful so that he could report to his Boss, The One, that everything was just wonderful.

    New ships were more important than badly-needed repairs and training. Both the McCain and the Fitzgerald were being driven right into the ground.

    So who will pay the piper on this? I’m sure it won’t be Mabus, even though he should.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      Mabus should be keel-hauled from a large vessel (at least an LHD) that’s overdue for a drydock, with a nice barnacly hull.

      • Mason says:

        I’m just jaded and cynical enough to predict that the next Democrat administration will name a ship after him instead.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          They should name a ship after him! Any ship that’s about to have the living shit shot out of it for a SINKEX should be renamed USS Ray Mabus for the event.

    • Eo says:

      Let’s not forget the Cowpens and Shiloh debacles.

  5. Club Manager, USA ret. says:

    “A dead fish rots from the head”. Guess all but the leadership saw this coming. Maybe they should have been reading this blog because over the years there have been numerous posts by retired or former sailors – of all grades, pointing out lots of what was in the report. There MUST be accountability and consequences, including stars retiring at grades other than what they currently serve in.

  6. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    Unless and until Admirals get Dismissed for going along with shit like this, or better yet, incarcerated, this is not going to stop.

    “Flush everyone over O-6 and start over” no longer seems excessive.

  7. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Mabus and Ash Carter should burn in HELL for their lack of leadership… the same with those political Admirals and CPO’s that did nothing to stop the cycle.

  8. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I have no doubt that he was hiding that to cover his own ass, a special place in Hell awaits the arrival of him and the others responsible.

  9. Atkron says:

    When your Navy becomes more concerned with political correctness, social justice, and Climate Change instead of attaining peak manpower, training, and usable equipment this is the sad fucking ending you get.

    -The Chief’s Mess, in my opinion has become a shell of what it once was. These Chiefs (for the most part) are being promoted into Khaki for all the wrong reasons.
    -Have two warfare pins…Check!
    -Have Community Volunteer hours…Check!
    -Have a Bachelor Degree…Check!
    -Have sound tech expertise in your Rate…meh
    -Have more than 10 years in the Navy….meh
    -Have the nuts to stand up for your crew…meh
    -Have the nuts to train JOs…meh

    The Navy, though still best in the world, is not a fucking corporation. It is supposed to be a well oiled fighting machine with the ability to travel the world in order to keep the sea lanes open…and kill our nation’s enemies.

    CPO’s are an integral part of that machine, or are supposed to be. When the focus of our enlisted is directed at checking promotion boxes instead of learning their trade and becoming subject matter experts, there is a fucking problem. Your college education is not your primary duty, it isn’t even a collateral duty…it is something to be pursued outside duty hours.

    Chiefs, in my opinion, should look the part…grizzled coffee swilling assholes that take no shit from above or below.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      The CPO Mess was headed downhill when I retired… saw too many PO1’s getting promoted that couldn’t lead, but could kiss ass with the best of them. Too many MCPO’s with advanced degrees that were wanting to remake the Mess into a “Wardroom lite” and get all politically correct, instead of rolling up their sleeves and leading from the front. Saw too many that wouldn’t tell the “O” community that their reasoning was all fucked up, but would kiss ass and fuck over the Bluejackets at the drop of a hat.

      I’ve been away too long to tell anyone who is a good leader and who needs to go away – maybe it needs to be torn all the way down to the keel and rebuilt.

      It breaks my heart to see this shit… see the lack of accountability and common sense that could have saved 17 lives instead of throwing them away like garbage.

  10. Sparks says:

    reading the linked article it becomes clear why these collisions happened. I know we talked about the politically correct females on the one ship who were miffed with one another and didn’t play well together and the list goes on.

    The bottom line is Obama, Ash Carter, and Ray Mabus. When Senior Officers and staff bring quality data to the table and someone farts in their faces and says, “I don’t believe it”, that tells me they call nothing for the readiness and safety of the fleet and their sailors. It tells me they care only for the ass sniffing of the next level up. They are more concerned with Muslim love, making ships run on Eco Fuel with astronomically higher prices, gender norming and putting folks into jobs they are ill-suited for at best and outright unqualified for at worst.

    These sailors died needlessly because the CINC on down did not care one wit about them. They cared for dozens of other unrelated issues that had nothing to do with fleet readiness, efficiency, safety or anything of importance to a naval vessel at sea.

    The shame of this, Like Benghazi and so many other tragedies rests on those the highest up and in the most effective positions to have done what was needed to remedy these situations.

    I know this reads rather wordy and disjointed but I do not write well when I am angry. Angry at folks who do not care for our country or its service personnel. They are the worst sorts of useless, careless idiots because they get people killed. And they not at all that they did.

    • Sparks says:

      Like the puzzle you have to sort through, please forgive my poor writing above. I think you can figure it out.

  11. Comm Center Rat says:

    I’m wondering how much the Fat Leonard\Glenn Defense Marine scandal took eyes off fleet safety as senior leaders scrambled to deny, delay, and deflect blame while trying to save careers over the last several years.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      And how much of that neglected maintenance work got pencilwhipped because somebody way up the chain was getting a blowjob in Bangkok on Fat Leonard’s dime?

  12. STSC(SW/SS) says:

    Oh ship me over, send me to sea
    I’ll ship for six if you would guarantee
    Send me on WESTPAC at least once a year
    Keep me from the ones I really love so dear

    Oh ship over send me again
    If you believe these words
    Then you’re full of shit
    The Navy sucks a dick

  13. DOUG out says:

    So far the only people bearing consequences in the fleet are the sailors: Killed, injured or at risk. Bagging a Skipper, cashing out a CMC or XO WILL NOT FIX THIS SHIT.

    • SE says:

      I think it’s fair to say that to a lesser extent the officers involved have been wronged. Everyone on that ship was set up to fail. I’m amazed they stayed functional for as long as they did.

  14. GDContractor says:

    Besides the obvious, tragic, cost in lives; there would seem to be a huge incalculable cost in freely handing over an intelligence windfall to our adversaries as contained in the Propublica article and the sources from which it came. That’s just one more significant reason to ensure maintenance and training are prioritized.

  15. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    BTW – ADM John Richardson should be relieved as CNO ASAP for trying to hide the report.

    Political cocksucker is part of the fucking problem with Navy leadership. Make him a fucking example.

    I’d be willing to be recalled to AD to tell that to him to his face.

    • Devtun says:

      His term expires this summer, and I’m sure CNO empty suit will strongly recommend one of his 4 star cover up buddies to succeed him. It’ll be a sub or surface guy. Aviators have been locked out of the CNO post since 2000.