August 21, 2017

"This is the second time in the past two months where a US guided-missile destroyer has been involved in a collision in the region."

"In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven navy sailors were killed, and two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident."

And, in the past 24 hours, "Five US Navy sailors are injured and another 10 missing after guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker early on Monday morning (Aug 21) off the coast of Singapore."

How are accidents like this possible? 

IN THE COMMENTS: MayBee said:
I'm worried someone is messing with our navigation systems.
etbass said:
Starting to look like the US Navy is pretty vulnerable to fairly primitive battle tactics that have been around a couple millennia.
Which seems more likely to you:
 
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ALSO IN THE COMMENTS: FleetUSA said:
I served in the Navy and spent many hours doing underway deck watches as an officer. I would like to know exactly what the deck watches were doing during the 30 minutes prior to the collisions. Were the watchers distracted? Internet surfing? Chatting up enlisted sea(wo)men?

Published comments after the first one gave us no information other than the heroics after the collision.
Much as we should feel concern for the personnel who are injured, missing, or killed, we should resist being manipulated by demands to pay attention only to that and not to the serious questions about why this has happened twice now.

152 comments:

Big Mike said...

I sure as Hell hope the top brass is asking that very question. For sure Mattis and Trump are!

Ron Snyder said...

That is why they are called accidents. Wait until the Navy has finished the investigation of the Fitz, and now the McCain, instead of playing the speculative game. What would you want people to do if a member of your family were serving on either one of those two ships?

Big Mike said...

(Of course a vessel named after John McCain might have decided to steer its own course and ignore what anyone else offers as input,)

MayBee said...

I'm worried someone is messing with our navigation systems.

etbass said...

Starting to look like the US Navy is pretty vulnerable to fairly primitive battle tactics that have been around a couple millennia.

John Lynch said...

Something is wrong with our bloody ships.

John Lynch said...

The Navy calls them "incidents," not "accidents." Because there aren't any.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Affirmative action makes accidents like these more common. Politically correct people putting their misguided, or evil, feeelings ahead of any, any at all, concern for the safety and security of the country. When the mission is to make tranny Muslims feel good about themselves, and normal folks feel like shunned outcasts due to healthy, probity-friendly discrimination, the resulting "accidents" are closer to planned disasters than organic calamities.

After Obama nudged the least docile, least feminine personnel out of various branches the question is Why aren't there more needless, reckless deaths certifying Obama's legacy of shit?

etbass said...

Might be a good idea if the Navy had someone on bridge duty around the clock, especially if the ship is underway.

Big Mike said...

@etbass, might be an even better idea to have people on the bridge with a basic grasp of seamanship. Add these two incidents to the guided missile cruiser shooting down an Iranian airliner because they interpreted the radar readings thinking it was descending in attack mode when in fact it was still climbing out from takeoff, and the Navyhas a lot to answer for in the training of its junior officers

AllenS said...

People sleeping, when they should be doing their jobs keeping an eye open for other ships. Also, I agree with what Guildofcannonballs said.

Kevin said...

How are accidents like this possible?

Possible? There is a great amount of training and coordination in both the military and civilian shipping industry because of how possible things like this are - particularly when nearing port or transiting straits. Were they very unlikely, we would not invest nearly so much time and resources trying to prevent them.

To make sure the risks are taken seriously, the Captain is relieved and his career is ended when a US Navy ship has an incident. Full stop. So too are the people navigating the ship at the time. The first job of the Captain at all times is to avoid the very real possibility of running the ship into something.

Just like cars on the road, it takes two to have an accident. Miscommunication, poor assumptions about what the other driver will do, and inattention to what others are doing can leave you no time to avoid the crash. Adding in the differences between military and civilian communication systems, as well as the currents and tides, it's a constant effort to keep the ship in a safe space.

Henry said...

This reminds me of the classic How to Avoid Huge Ships. I've linked directly to the user comments for your enjoyment.

Kevin said...

(Of course a vessel named after John McCain might have decided to steer its own course and ignore what anyone else offers as input,)

It's named after his father and grandfather, both Admirals.

McCain the Senator underachieved in his Navy career, some but certainly not all of which was due to medical issues from his captivity.

gspencer said...

Maybe this was a tactic taught at Annapolis during the Obama years.

Kevin said...

Might be a good idea if the Navy had someone on bridge duty around the clock, especially if the ship is underway.

There are multiple people on the bridge of a Navy ship at all times. Even more when transiting the Strait of Malacca.

Kevin said...

Just because you got into an accident on your way to work doesn't mean you were asleep at the wheel or don't know how to drive.

It doesn't even mean you did anything wrong.

GRW3 said...

Actually, this totals four incidents in the Pacific area among this class of ship. I'd start looking up the chain to see who is in charge of the destroyers. Could be they are selecting ego stroking, kiss asses instead of able seamen to command these ships. Regardless, if you had four ships have accidents under your command, you should probably be relieved.

Kevin said...

Affirmative action makes accidents like these more common.

I'd have to see the data on that. Ships have been running into ships since there have been ships.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I am troubled by the unthinking, in fact anti-thought, people claiming others should be silent about any situation until there is an investigation.

This is feminine bullshit. It is tough to determine how many ways this submissive, weak sentiment is wrong and harmful.

To start, who investigates the investigators and on what conceptual universe are they all knowing or all good? Why filter my thoughts through their template? Are these investigators just hoping to blame weed and junkie weed-head addicts for anything and everything so that the investigator's human and weapons trafficking operations aren't interrupted? When the system is run by leftist Mao-worshipping totalitarians trusting in it is what the founders hated about humanity's servile essence.

When can it be determined that the investigation is at a point one can discuss its findings, the point at which some selectively-leaked misleading red-herrings are introduced, unofficially-but-by-officials that are to be deemed authoritative? This is stupid jacked up to Russian piss-whore territory. If we wait until the investigation is over to speak freely, what happens when it is re-opened?

I should like to think people ought know the difference between speculation apart from the process and pre-judging a case if you are actually on a jury or part of the system wherein impartiality takes a much more profound meaning.



Bobber Fleck said...

We are unlikely to learn the details of any of the crashes any time soon.

Why the sudden rash of incidents? What has changed?

Bay Area Guy said...

Seems like sophisticated incompetence - like the navigator is lost in all these complex procedures and technology, and then loses sight of a slow lumbering ship

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The top 2 officers of the USS Fitzgerald have been relieved of command.

I assume the same will happen with the USS McCain.

Both ships are part of Destroyer Squadron 15, based out of Yokosuka. I suspect the commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will be answering a lot of tough questions between now and the not too distant end of his Navy career

Tank said...

Apparently Senator McCain was actively piloting this vessel at the time of the accident. Just after he handed his beer to an Ensign and said, "Watch this," ...

I mean crashing is what McCain was famous for, wasn't it? That was the highlight of his life, being a POW. It sure isn't anything he's done since.

Crazy Jane said...

Did the Exxon Valdez captain come out of retirement?

Kevin said...

Add these two incidents to the guided missile cruiser shooting down an Iranian airliner because they interpreted the radar readings thinking it was descending in attack mode when in fact it was still climbing out from takeoff, and the Navyhas a lot to answer for in the training of its junior officers

The Vincennes shot down the Iranian airliner when Reagan was President. There have been many more collisions by US Navy ships since then.

We have about 300 deployable ships today. More in Reagan's time. That's a lot of steel floating in every part of the world at all times. It's a testament to the professionalism of our Navy that we don't have more incidents.

rhhardin said...

It's just grandstanding, like the senator.

Henry said...

Why the sudden rash of incidents? What has changed?

Randomness includes clusters.

Henry said...

Affirmative action makes accidents like these more common.

I'd have to see the data on that.


I'm betting that Guildofcannonballs is our latest contestant for larger-than-life character.

He's no cockroach.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Kevin said...

Miscommunication, poor assumptions about what the other driver will do, and inattention to what others are doing can leave you no time to avoid the crash.

I agree that there are a lot of factors, and that due to limited maneuverability and 9000 tons of momentum you can get into a situation where a crash in unavoidable well before it is obvious to the casual observer.

We don't yet know details of the USS McCain incident. But with the USS Fitzgerald, the crew had no warning. That requires a significant amount of inattention, on the part of multiple people.

Kevin said...

I am troubled by the unthinking, in fact anti-thought, people claiming others should be silent about any situation until there is an investigation.

Sure, why wait for the facts?

If you want to say it's terrible our ship ran into another ship, we can say that - together, in unison. Anything else is pure speculation or projection of past biases onto current events.

Larvell said...

"The first job of the Captain at all times is to avoid the very real possibility of running the ship into something."

I thought the first job was combating climate change, followed closely by diversity.

etbass said...

Doesn't seem like the same navy that won the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

traditionalguy said...

Only the guided missile interceptor ships are being picked off. The chances are the Chinese are practicing some new weapons. We cannot hit anything with a guided missile if we cannot pilot our ships in that area of the ocean.

sykes.1 said...

Your list of choices left out "incompetent crew." That would be my vote. Four top-of-the-line warships lost indefinitely for repairs, some serious.

One is reminded that 10 years ago a Chinese sub commander surfaced his boat next to the Kitty Hawk, in the middle of the battle group, having evaded the group's ASW units. We should tone down the rhetoric about having the greatest military ever.

FleetUSA said...

I served in the Navy and spent many hours doing underway deck watches as an officer. I would like to know exactly what the deck watches were doing during the 30 minutes prior to the collisions. Were the watchers distracted? Internet surfing? Chatting up enlisted sea(wo)men?

Published comments after the first one gave us no information other than the heroics after the collision.

AllenS said...

Sure, why wait for the facts?

Sometimes you get the facts, and other times you get the whitewash.

Darrell said...

Would the Navy tell us if everyone were attending mandatory trans sensitivity training seminars? Or getting their dresses ready for the big dance?

If this accident occurred after a 180 degree turn by the cargo vessel, I'd say there is autopilot hacking involved.

DHunter said...

The photos I've seen of the McStain look like the OOD committed the cardinal sin of "crossing the T", steering his ship at a 90 degree angle across the bow of the other vessel. And yes, I agree with Ignorance is Bliss, DESRON 15 has some 'splaining to do. They're the command that certifies the readiness of the ships under their command.

Most of all I am sad today at the further loss of sailor's lives due to negligence.

traditionalguy said...

Why insert knee jerk racism excuses into a question about electronic guidance systems? Am I on another planet?

It's the South China Sea, Jake.

Rumpletweezer said...

I'm concerned that the military has gotten sloppy.

David Baker said...

We're getting sucker-punched. And right in the gut.

If we're going to challenge their man-made islands, as we did with the Fitzgerald and McCain, we can't act all oops-accidental when they broadside our ships and kill our sailors.

Strike. Back.

Or hoist the white flag, and skedaddle.

Kevin said...

Sometimes you get the facts, and other times you get the whitewash.

True. But on the internet you always get immediate gratification for the people interested in neither.

Humperdink said...

I wonder what the good (cough) senator for Arizona is thinking these days.

320Busdriver said...

Autonomy is the answer.

Fritz said...

At night (the accident occurred at 5:30 AM local time) navigation lights are difficult to pick out of a noisy background. They should have a watch out on either side of the bridge at all times, but it's kind of a busy place busy place so I can see how the watch officers could miss a large black object with a few small lights.

But the radar? I don't know how they mess that up. Somebody should be monitoring it at all times for nearby traffic, especially in a place like that.

Bob Boyd said...

The possibility that China and Russia could mess with the systems that tell our sailors where they are and where other ships are, is not as far-fetched as you might think.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2143499-ships-fooled-in-gps-spoofing-attack-suggest-russian-cyberweapon/

https://rntfnd.org/2016/09/26/china-jamming-us-forces-gps/

traditionalguy said...

This USS McCain was named after a Churchillian Admiral McCain whose leadership personally saved the United States Marines on Guadalcanal from full abandonment by the US Navy. He was Halsey's second in command for most of the War, and he was grandfather to Crazy John McCain.

Kevin said...

I'm betting that Guildofcannonballs is our latest contestant for larger-than-life character.

Is there some sort of crown or scepter that comes with the title?

AllenS said...

Kevin said...
True. But on the internet you always get immediate gratification for the people interested in neither.

Sometimes known as opinion. Everyone has a right to one. Please don't talk about this incident anymore until you get the facts.

CStanley said...

The Navy calls them "incidents," not "accidents." Because there aren't any.

They should refer to it as a "matter".

Actually I find the whitewashing excusable in this case. If this is some kind of cyberattacks affecting navigation, I hope they quickly and quietly get to the bottom of it and we never learn of it.

Ralph L said...

The XO and CO are both CDR Sanchez from PR.

Gahrie said...

It's worse...two of our guided missile cruisers have been involved in accidents recently also, for a total of four incidents.

Gahrie said...

(Of course a vessel named after John McCain might have decided to steer its own course and ignore what anyone else offers as input,)

Great snark..but the ship is actually named after his father and grandfather who were both admirals.

320Busdriver said...

Why don't ships have TCAS?

David Baker said...

What are the odds of the Fitzgerald happening twice?

The same as the odds of a second plane hitting the WTC.

MayBee said...

We still don't know what happened to the Malaysian Air flight 370 do we? The authorities seem to at least be pretending to blame the pilot. But what if that was a navigation hack (too)?

Craig Howard said...

When the mission is to make tranny Muslims feel good about themselves, and normal folks feel like shunned outcasts due to healthy, probity-friendly discrimination, the resulting "accidents" are closer to planned disasters than organic calamities.

I think there's some truth in that. Obama fired hundreds of first-rate officers -- there had to be consequences. It's starting to look like the military during the Carter administration. Remember, those of you who can, the disastrous attempt to rescue the Iran hostages?

This will take a long time to fix.

MayBee said...

YEs, Gahrie is right. This is the 4th accident since February.

David said...

There was nothing wrong with the nav system on the Fitzgerald, other than the officers in charge. Now that this has happened twice, the top command (Admirals) in this fleet and perhaps beyond need a hard look. Once is an accident. More than once bespeaks significant flaws in training and in promotion decisions. The buck does not stop with the ship commanders.

Beyond the unnecessary death of sailors, the loss of two of these ships is a significant blow in an area where we need all the capability we can muster.

Loss of confidence in ability to command is the standard reason for sacking someone. My confidence in our top leaders in the Navy is not at a high level right now.

Kevin said...

Sometimes known as opinion. Everyone has a right to one. Please don't talk about this incident anymore until you get the facts.

We've discussed the facts as we know them. We're now moving on, as is the custom, to the strength, relevancy, and lunacy of people's opinions.

Yesterday we discussed whether something said in a van by a person not affiliated with Trump meant that Trump was a racist. You know, stuff like that.

jwl said...

Four accidents within past year involving US ships from same Japanese base of operations.

If China, or whoever, is messing with American radar systems, why hasn't the navy done something about it.

After the first or second incident, investigators would figure out what happening and fix problem, wouldn't they?

David said...

Sure, check out cyber sabotage. But a lousy command structure is by far the most likely explanation.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freder Frederson said...

Obama fired hundreds of first-rate officers -- there had to be consequences.

Can you provide a link for this (until you show otherwise I will call it) bullshit assertion.

Darrell said...

https://silentsoldier.us/2014/10/08/over-137-high-ranking-military-officers-fired-at-unpresidented-rate-military-purging/

https://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/list-of-military-elite-purged-and-fired-under-obama-compiled-by-general-paul-vallely-3-17-14/

Big Mike said...

@Gahrie, right but so what? The name has passed from warriors to a guy who blew an election and has been a dingbat ever since.

320Busdriver said...

Apparently adopting a Maritime Traffic and Collision Avoidance System(MTCAS), like Airborn TCAS, is already being looked at.

Fernandinande said...

Tasty, distracting sirens.

320Busdriver said...
Autonomy is the answer.


And the problem.
"Machine intelligence threatens overpriced aircraft carriers"

tcrosse said...

Hanlon's razor, sharpened.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Known Unknown said...

Did it get captured?

robother said...

Texting while conning?

David Baker said...

Say what you will, but the ramming was perfect, right in the lower midships. Like the McCain had been teed up like the Fitzgerald, another duck sitting right in the middle of the water listening to sweet, good-night lullabies.

And young men died.

Sorry, but you don't take this sh*t sitting down.

Henry said...

Two stories. One from 2011; one from 2013

Getting Fired By The Navy Isn't Hard To Do:

The news this morning that the US Navy is investigating the commanding officer of the USS Enterprise for a number of frat boy-esque videos he made a few years ago, that Mark wrote about earlier, brought to mind the number of COs that were relieved of command last year.

That number is 17, the highest number in 7 years and the second highest in a decade. The reasons for dismissal covered the gamut, from "cruelty and maltreatment" of crew, to soliciting a prostitute, to hitting a pier. Interestingly, 11 of the 17 were relieved for personal, rather than operational, misconduct. The Navy has the reputation of quickly firing skippers who crossed the line, the average is about 12 a year. The Army is perceived to be far more hesitant to relieve commanders.


And this: Opinion Piece:

So, what has changed is this: Every year, a number of commanding officers are relieved for “inappropriate relationships” with their crew members. Likewise a number are relieved for what are deemed to be insensitive actions or statements. More are fired for what their seniors perceive to be errors in adjudicating matters related to inter- or intra-sexual issues.

To say "Obama fired them" is of course pandering. It sounds more like Navy policy and Navy discipline are at odds:

In 1983 when a ship deployed, it maintained one ship-to-shore voice circuit. One. Today, our connectivity has risen to a point where we actually have invented elaborate procedures designed to clamp down our sailors’ massive and immediate ability to connect with the shore.Back then, if a captain behaved poorly while deployed, no one really knew. Now, with unlimited access resulting from unlimited communications, everybody can know. Accusations can be instant and anonymous. And, if those accusations involve a commanding officer, they are treated with utmost gravity. According to Commander, Naval Surface Forces, every hotline complaint against every CO is investigated.

Henry said...

Both articles also point out that a common operational offense was and always has been hitting a pier.

Roughcoat said...


Something is wrong with our bloody ships.

Remember, Beatty, in his next sentence, added: "And something [is] wrong with our system.”

For Beatty, both were true. For the recent USN accidents, probably it is the system that is at fault.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Could be an coincidence, could be some sort of electronic warfare, could be the result of years of being over-extended, which typically results in less training and lower quality maintenance, could be a combination of the above. Actually the 4th time in a year for the 7th Fleet of this type of navigation-related issue

Ignorance is Bliss said...

David Baker said...

...like the Fitzgerald, another duck sitting right in the middle of the water...

I don't know enough details about the USS McCain. But in the case of the USS Fitzgerald, based on the way they collided the other ship had the right of way, and the USS Fitzgerald was significantly smaller and more maneuverable. Even if the other ship had intentionally tried to hit the USS Fitzgerald, it took gross negligence on the part of the Fitzgerald to allow that to happen.

Oso Negro said...

@Etienne - I would be very surprised to learn that the U.S. Navy is employing 12 hour watches. We can presume there are multiple failures in this incident. Certainly the watch on the bridge would have seen something, as would the radar in the combat information center. It will be interesting to know what happened as it will with the Fitzgerald.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Boyd said...

Excerpt from supplemental preliminary inquiry into the collision involving the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) and the ACX CRYSTAL from 17 JUN of this year:

Evacuating Berthing 2

21. Of the 42 Sailors assigned to Berthing 2, at the time of collision, five were on watch and two were not aboard. Of the 35 remaining Sailors in Berthing 2, 28 escaped the flooding. Seven Sailors perished.

22. Some of the Sailors who survived the flooding in Berthing 2 described a loud noise at the time of impact. Other Berthing 2 Sailors felt an unusual movement of the ship or were thrown from their racks. Still other Berthing 2 Sailors did not realize what had happened and remained in their racks. Some of them remained asleep. Some Sailors reported hearing alarms after the collision, while others remember hearing nothing at all.

23. Seconds after impact, Sailors in Berthing 2 started yelling “Water on deck!” and “Get out!” One Sailor saw another knocked out of his rack by water. Others began waking up shipmates who had slept through the initial impact. At least one Sailor had to be pulled from his rack and into the water before he woke up. Senior Sailors checked for others that might still be in their
racks.

24. The occupants of Berthing 2 described a rapidly flooding space, estimating later that the space was nearly flooded within a span of 30 to 60 seconds. By the time the third Sailor to leave arrived at the ladder, the water was already waist deep. Debris, including mattresses, furniture, an exercise bicycle, and wall lockers, floated into the aisles between racks in Berthing 2, impeding Sailors’ ability to get down from their racks and their ability to exit the space. The ship’s 5 to 7 degree list to starboard increased the difficulty for Sailors crossing the space fromthe starboard side to the port side. Many of the Sailors recall that the battle lanterns were illuminated. Battle lanterns turn on when power to an electrical circuit is out or when turned on manually. The yellow boxes hanging from the ceiling in Figure 14 are battle lanterns.

25. Sailors recall that after the initial shock, occupants lined up in a relatively calm and orderly manner to climb the port side ladder and exit through the port side watertight scuttle. Figure 14 provides an example of the route Sailors would have taken from their racks to the port side watertight scuttle on a ship of the same class as FITZGERALD. They moved along the blue floor and
turned left at the end to access the ladder. Figure 14 provides an example and sense of scale. Even though the Sailors were up to their necks in water by that point, they moved forward slowly and assisted each other. One Sailor reported that FC1 Rehm pushed him out from under a falling locker. Two of the Sailors who already escaped from the main part of Berthing 2 stayed at the bottom of
the ladder well (see Figure 8) in order to help their shipmates out of the berthing area.

26. The door to the Berthing 2 head (bathrooms and showers) was open and the flooding water dragged at least one person into this area. Exiting from the head during this flood of water was difficult and required climbing over debris.

If you want to keep reading its Here:
http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2017/08/fullbore-friday_18.html

William said...

It's all about the culture and the lack of accountability. It pervades EVERYTHING connected to the government. Forget the captain of the ship and the watchstanders. Demote and EMBARRASS the damn senior leadership and all of the people who get paid—and get paid damn well—to train these idiots.

Also demote anyone who issues a press release full of non-transparent gobbledegook.

The people in the chain of command are way too comfortable. Why? Because we wreck a ship?? NO biggie. The taxpayers will pay to fix it. No skin in the game.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Navy and all of the U.S. armed forces. But they have lost their way with political correctness, processes, and bureaucratic nonsense. And the senior leadership have allowed it to happen by not pushing back and taking a stand. That's why I indict them.

Gutless wonders, every one of them. I want to see three admirals busted; I want to see the training people busted; I want to see people publicly embarrassed.

Think about it: in the old days such poor performance would be punished with flogging. Today, they get an early retirement.

Disgusting ...

BillyTalley said...

I served in the Navy 40 years ago as an operational specialist. That was a long time ago but I'm sure the systems we used are generally the same: The bridge managed information coming in from lookouts, CIC radar, navigation satellites... all this went into constructing a reliable picture of what is in your environment. What could cause such a malfunction of the system when several collision mishaps have recently occurred? Leadership.

Bruce Hayden said...

(Of course a vessel named after John McCain might have decided to steer its own course and ignore what anyone else offers as input,)

It's named after his father and grandfather, both Admirals.

McCain the Senator underachieved in his Navy career, some but certainly not all of which was due to medical issues from his captivity.


At one point, I figured that, but JSM III was apparently, as a captain, offered flag rank, but had married rich and got the political bug as a Congressional liaison, so ran for office instead. No way of knowing though whether he would have made full admiral (O10) like his father and grandfather had. There seems to be a somewhat wild streak in the family, which may have helped get III shot down, and Sr relieved of command for cutting his task force too close to a typhoon. The latter makes this somewhat interesting - the ship (partially) named after a guy who was relieved of command for losing sailers to his seamanship has lost sailers due to seamanship, and had its top officers relieved of command as a result. Maybe not a name I would have given a ship.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that JSM Sr was a factor in winning the war in the Pacific, and earned his position in the front row at the Japanese surrender, even after having been relieved of command. He was hard charging, which is why he led the carrier charge across the Pacific. I doubt that his immediate superiors wanted to relieve him, but likely had little choice - he lost men and damaged ships under him due to his decision to cut too close to the typhoon. So, he was a hero, but the Navy still had to relieve hi of command.

etbass said...

"Maybe not a name I would have given a ship."

Wonder if a Senator named McCain had any influence on the naming of the vessel?

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Night:
12:00 am - 5:52 am

Astronomical Twilight:
5:52 am - 6:17 am

Nautical Twilight:
6:17 am - 6:42 am

Civil Twilight:
6:42 am - 7:03 am

Daylight:
7:03 am - 7:12 pm

data for singapore - what do they mean?

Narayanan Subramanian said...

McCain was already senator when this ship was named/commissioned - what is his involvement in selection of the name?

Paddy O said...

I'm curious if this has happened more regularly but we have much better communication now. Thirty years ago, who would know if a ship hit a ship in the Pacific? A few radio operators? They could keep it quiet.

Maybe Guided Missile Destroyers are trying to get more publicity. They're the Kardashians of naval warfare. Getting full of themselves because the USS Nathan James gets its own show on TNT and so the rest are trying to stay in the news. Show up in exotic port, go to all the hip navy parties, get caught up in occasional scandals. I hear one guided missile destroyer is considering identifying as a carrier.

Khesanh 0802 said...

I have to agree with Guild of Cannonballs. When Obama left office the Marine Corps Air component was at 50% capability. This was caused by a shortage of parts and pilots; therefore a shortage of training time. Over the last few weeks we have seen two Marine Corps aircraft crash with the loss of all aboard.

In the last couple of months we have seen the Navy lose two ships through collision. The first and most obvious problem is the skippers of these ships. Certainly none of the crews were trained or supervised adequately. I suspect that the problem goes right up the chain of command. Those in charge - at all levels - clearly are not ensuring that the sailors are trained properly, that their equipment is working properly, or that they are being supervised properly. Under Obama the Service Secretaries were more concerned with social policy than with ensuring that the forces they were responsible for were fully capable of doing what they were supposed to be doing. As usual the enlisted men and women end up paying the highest price for these failures in command.

mockturtle said...

Just plain incompetence, like that we see in other areas today.

320Busdriver said...

Geometric center of the Sun.... @ 6/12/18 degrees below the horizon.

robother said...

Remember From Here to Eternity's description of the sorry state of US Armed Forces pre-WWII. The US Navy hasn't been much engaged in the active combat of our War on Terror, so may be suffering from the same decline, accelerated by the toxic effects identity politics quotas.

Ray said...

Great blog on Navy has a thread:
http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2017/08/and-now-mccain.html?m=1

tim in vermont said...

McCain the Senator underachieved in his Navy career,

You means like graduating third from the bottom of his class at Annapolis? But now he is a brilliant man because he voted to keep Obamacare. That's how it works.

Kevin said...

You means like graduating third from the bottom of his class at Annapolis?

Yes. With two Admirals in your family, you're on track for Admiral too if you work hard and take your profession seriously.

From his own accounts, McCain was not the hardest worker, nor was he fully enthused about dedicating his life to the sacrifices required for a stellar naval career.

He will tell you himself how his father and grandfather were much better men than he. If you want to know more, hit the Althouse portal and pick up a copy of "Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir".

Jack Richardson said...

Auric Goldfinger, "Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.
Fleming, Ian, Goldfinger (1959)

Mark Jones said...

This makes me think of the exchange from THE AVENGERS after the Helicarrier is attacked.

Dir. Fury: "Put us over the water!"
Bridge Officer: "Sir, navigation is down...."
Fury: "Is the sun coming up?!"
Officer: "...Yes, sir... "
Fury: "Then put it on the left!"

Sounds like we need more Fury and less of the other guy on our Navy ships.

AJ Lynch said...

I was talking politics etc with one of my sisters a few weeks ago and she said "things would be much better if everyone would just do their jobs".

Comanche Voter said...

Bruce Hayden--be fair to Slew McCain. Yes he got relieved after the fleet cut too close to a typhoon (the second time in about months over 44-45). But the decision on the fleet's direction was Halsey's not McCain's. Somebody had to take it on the chin for Halsey's recklessness. And McCain was as good a designated victim as anyone else. He got a transfer to a shore command as "punishment". He attended the Japanese surrender ceremony, then went home to Coronado. Dropped dead of a heart attack a few days after he got home. I'd like to think that he would be ashamed of his grandson's antics.

Now as for those who think that these last two incidents were caused by electronic systems malfunctions---the last line of defense against collisions is the good old Mark 1 Eyeball--and lots of them are supposed to be on the bridge at any one time while under way.

Comanche Voter said...

Oops--that should be about seven months over 44-45. In the first typhoon several destroyers or destroyer escorts capsized and sunk. In the second typhoon the bow of the brand new Baltimore class cruiser, USS Pittsburgh broke off the rest of the ship. I had a friend who served on the Pittsburgh. The joke was that the bow--which remained afloat, suddenly became the USS McKeesport--close to Pittsburgh.

mockturtle said...

Remember From Here to Eternity's description of the sorry state of US Armed Forces pre-WWII.

Pre-WWI was even worse. Much worse.

Roughcoat said...

Remember From Here to Eternity's description of the sorry state of US Armed Forces pre-WWII.

It wasn't really so sorry. The navy, especially, was fighting back, effectively, very soon after Pearl Harbor. The navy scored three major victories within 7 months of the attack on Pearl Harbor: Doolittle Raid, Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway. In August we went on the offensive, invading Guadalcanal and landing ground forces in New Guinea. In mid-November of 1942 (Nov 12-15) we fought and won the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, a strategic victory that turned the tide irrevocably in America's favor and one of the most consequential battles in history. These events all took place less than a year after the outbreak of war. That's rather remarkable, and suggests that our armed forces were not in the woeful state that has become the received wisdom for numerous historians of the conflict.

As for pre-World War I: well, yes, because we weren't a militarized society. Which was actually a good thing.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

What would you want people to do if a member of your family were serving on either one of those two ships?

Demand accountability?

Roughcoat said...

Also bears mentioning that U.S. forces landed in North Africa in early November 1942, less than a year after the start of war with Germany. Just 6 months after the landings Axis forces in North Africa capitulated. The Axis lost nearly a half million men in the campaign, more than at Stalingrad in the same year (1943). We had been gearing up swiftly for war in the year preceding the attack on Pearl Harbor and the German declaration of war, but even so the ability to conduct an enormous cross-ocean army-scale operation so soon after our entry into the war was really astonishing and, again, suggest that we the armed forces were not in such a woeful state.

hombre said...

When I was a merchant seaman we had live watchers on deck and/or in the wheelhouse 24/7 in addition to radar. I believe maritime law still requires this.

It is difficult to understand how collisions have now happened twice in recent months.

buwaya said...

"It wasn't really so sorry."

It was pretty sorry from our POV on the other side of the Pacific.
The US, including the USN, was at least six months behind on the business of being prepared for modern war.

Big Mike said...

the last line of defense against collisions is the good old Mark 1 Eyeball

Hear! Hear! I sometimes think that modern life is too simplified by automation. I think of the young lady I read about who couldn't get into her car because the battery had gone dead in her key -- forgetting that she could stick the metal part of the car key into the lock on the side of the door. I think of cashiers who can't make change if the register loses power. I think of people who are totally lost when they can't find a WiFi hotspot. People who drive right off a closed bridge because their in-car navigation didn't tell them to stop.

Hard to believe a destroyer, of all classes of military vessels, can't maneuver adequately.

Levi Starks said...

As someone who served aboard a guided missle destroyer I'm as stunned by this as I was by the previous collision. I maintained the surface search radar, and it was always considered one of the most mission essential pieces of electronics we had. It was a key to navigation whenever we were within 100 miles of land. In over 3 years I never recall any close calls with other ships except those in our own convoy.
The Operations Specialists who worked in the combat information center kept constant recordings on the range and bearing of both fixed land masses, and ships. There are always lookouts on the bridge, an officer of the deck. And usually a variety of random people just wandering around topside. I've been through the Malacca straits many times, anyone who's served on a navy ship home ported on the west coast has. It's just impossible for me to see how this could happen. Of course I was serving in Ronald Reagans Navy.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I frequently get accused of being in the dark and being at sea. In a metaphorical sense.

I have spent some of time at sea and in the dark in the Navy. I do not see how this could have happened. I don't buy a tanker purposely running into it. A tanker is a huge lumbering thing very difficult to maneuver. A 7,000 ton tin can is not quite a Ferrari but is highly maneuverable. Probably 2-3 times the speed, too.

Hacking the navigation system is possible but let's say that it was hacked. Or, more likely, just malfunctioning. The DDG may not have been where it thought it was. OK, certainly a problem that needs to be fixed.

Neither of those explain the collision. Even if the radar was out, there is no way an alert lookout would not have seen the tanker. No matter how dark it was. The only excuse would have been if there was a fog, smoke or something else obscuring the view. An alert, trained, lookout might not have know what they were seeing but would have been able to see something, if just a large area of darkness where the tanker was.

I blame training and watch discipline until I know otherwise.

As a general comment, I think the navy relies too much on electronics. I understand that most officers cannot use a sextant. Back in my day, every officer could, no matter what their job. (In theory, anyway)

Re 12 hour shifts as someone mentioned. First, the Navy does not work in shifts, they are watches. Watches are normally 4 hours long. This did happen on the 4-8 watch which makes for a long day (4-8AM on watch, 8-4 normal workday, 16-20 on watch.) Still they would have gotten some sleep time before going on watch.

I think normal procedure is lookouts only spend 2 hours on lookout, rotating to other duties the rest of the watch. That is 50 years old so perhaps not.

Don't know what the normal watch rotation on the McCain is but probably not more than 3 section (4 on/8off)

John Henry

John said...

I suspect that this is all coincidence. You know, like Flight 007, the airliner/spy plane the Russians shot down in the 80s. But the ship registry is interesting. From Wikipedia:

Name: Alnic MC
Owner: Energetic Tank Inc.
Operator: Stealth Maritime Corporation S.A.
Port of registry: Liberia Monrovia
Renamed: Navig8 Stealth SV

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnic_MC

Why "Stealth"? Or am I just paranoid?

John Henry

etbass said...

"...the ability to conduct an enormous cross-ocean army-scale operation so soon after our entry into the war was really astonishing."

Indeed! I am astonished at how quickly the entire American industry turned to and became the "arsenal of democracy." The output of war material was mind boggling. I just really wonder whether we are capable today of doing anything of that scale again. I confess to little confidence in our people anymore for that achievement.

John said...

Etienne,

"Shift change", as you called it, more properly reliving of the watch, most likely happened at 3:45AM so the accident did not happen at shift change.

Watch relief takes place over a 15 minute period. In theory this is to give the relieving watch 15 minutes to communicate everything that is going on. On the bridge this would include course, speed, weather, captain's orders, local traffic, any equipment malfunctions and anything else that might be pertinent. The watch is not relieved until the relieving watch formally says "I relieve you." And it is drilled into you that you never say those magic words until you fully understand and accept responsibility for everything within the purview of that watch station.

John Henry

etbass said...

And Rosie the riveter was perhaps the progenitor of the great movement of women in the workforce?

John said...

For a century or more the working uniform for enlisted aboard ship was generally dungarees. These were cotton bellbottom bluejeans and a chambray shirt. They would give some protection from fire, being cotton they would be used to help keep you afloat in absence of a life jacket, being bellbottom, you could get them off, in the water, over your shoes. Shoes being very helpful if you have to walk across a reef to get to shore.

They also were comfortable, easy to maintain and looked pretty cool.

10 years ago the Navy, in their ultimate wisdom, decided that sailors needed camoflage aboard ship and changed to non-bellbottom, synthetic (so they melt into your skin in a fire) uniforms. Most sailors don't seem to like them too much.

Since they are a blue camoflage pattern, they are also much harder to see in the water.

I wonder if any of the missing sailors died because of the fucking camos. It is hard enough to see a person in the water. It is stupidity verging on criminal for the brass to make it harder.

John Henry

Roughcoat said...

The US, including the USN, was at least six months behind on the business of being prepared for modern war.

You're confusing unpreparedness with the consequences of surprise. Surprise generated an inertial momentum that took several months to slow and then stop. As Admiral Nagano observed: "If I am told to fight regardless of consequences, I shall run wild considerably for six months or a year. But I have utterly no confidence in the second and third years." Actually he "ran wild" for a mere four months. The conquest of the NEI in March 1942 was the high-water mark. Doolittle Raid, Coral Sea, and Midway were strategic turning points. After the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal it was obvious to clear thinkers that Japan would lose the war if America wanted to win it decisively. It did. The truth is, it was Japan, including especially the Kaigun, that was woefully unprepared to fight a long war in the vastness of the Pacific. Admiral Nagano's should be interpreted as an admission of that unpreparedness.

brylun said...

Destroyer Squadron 15 had a change in command in September 2016.

John said...

Blogger Kevin said...

Yes. With two Admirals in your family, you're on track for Admiral too if you work hard and take your profession seriously.

Without those 2 admirals, one a genuine WWII hero as someone else pointed out and the other, still serving with a stellar career, would McCain have even gotten into Annapolis? Would he have even graduated? I suspect that someone with McCain's record but less illustrous ancestors would have been asked to leave.

As for his career? Yeah, underachiever is a kind way to put it.

I do think he made up for a lot of that by his courage and honorable behavior as a POW.

Still a shitty officer and senator.

John Henry

John said...

Blogger John said...

For a century or more the working uniform for enlisted aboard ship was generally dungarees.


To clarify:

Not all enlisted men wore dungarees. Chiefs wore khakis.

John Henry

John said...

Remember St Jack of Hyannis?

He famously got T-Boned by a Jap destroyer. His boat was, apparently, dead in the water when it happened.

There was some talk about whether to court-martial him for negligence. His father being Joseph Kennedy, he wound up getting elected president because of it.

I doubt this skipper should be so lucky.

The Hell of it is St Jack would have been in DC, not the South Pacific if he had been able to keep his peter in his pants.

John Henry

Ralph L said...

McCain's father was still a Captain when he was at USNA, and his grandfather was dead, so there wasn't that much pull involved at that stage.

David Baker said...

If we knew how the Chinese did it, they wouldn't have done it. So now we're standing down the entire navy so we can figure out how they did it. Which means we'll - you and me - will never find out how they did it. Because if we did find out, the DoD would have to do something about it.

David said...

The Commander Salamander blog that Ray links above has a very interesting comment thread. The comments seem to come from current and former active duty Naval personnel. They are focused predominantly on multiple weaknesses in the training in today's Navy, which includes mainly not enough time on ship at sea. It makes a lot of sense. Those problems start at the top, with the Commander in Chief, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Congress, which controls appropriations.

holdfast said...

@John - I read recently that the sextant and celestial navigation are once again part of the syllabus at the Naval Academy - in recognition of things like EMP, ASAT misslies etc.

For those saying that these accidents are concentrated in the Ticos and Burkes - I say, what else do we have in our surface fleet? OK, a few useless Litoral Combat Shits, I guess and a couple of white elephant Zumwalts. So we keep building more Burkes because there's nothing else useful to build, while the Ticos get older and more cracked. The Burkes are good ships, but they are over-sized and over-priced as sub-hunters, and they don't have the command and control capability of a Tico. We need new cruisers and frigates, and don't even have anything on the drawing board. At least the Virginia subs work well and even come in under budget, but what are we, the Kriegsmarine?

tcrosse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tcrosse said...

The CNO has ordered a worldwide "Operational Pause" until they get to the bottom of this:
Operational Pause

David Baker said...

There is one theory that may explain everything; the oil tanker was doing 70 knots.

Big Mike said...

@David Baker, well I guess they had plenty of fuel on board.

David said...

Captain Jeffrey A. Bennett II is from Michigan, and a 1992 graduate of the United States Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Naval Architecture. He also earned a Master of Science in Applied Physics Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

His sea assignments include command of USS STOCKDALE (DDG 106) and MCM Crew CONSTANT, where he had command of USS GLADIATOR (MCM 11), USS DEXTROUS (MCM 13), and USS AVENGER (MCM 1). Captain Bennett also served in USS ANTIETAM (CG 54) and USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG 58).

Ashore, Captain Bennett served as Senate Director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, Military Assistant at the Defense Business Board, and as a defense fellow for Senator Jeff Sessions. He also served on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff, Surface Warfare Directorate (N86), and at Naval Personnel Command (PERS 41).


Capt. Bennett is the C.O. of the destroyer squadron containing both Fitzgerald and McCain. He took command on September 26, 2016. He has now lost two of the 11 ships in his command in 11 months. Note the ratio of shore assignments to seagoing assignments. This is the way that the Navy rotates officers these days. Capt. Bennett had been serving in a political department at DOD before he went back to sea, as liaison with the United States Senate.

It's pretty likely that Capt. Bennett will lose his command shortly. He may not be to blame for what happened to these ships, but he was responsible for them.

The blame may well lay in Navy training and officer rotation doctrine and procedures. This goes a lot higher up, to the most senior officers, and also civilian leadership at DOD, in the Congress and in the White House.

David said...

Oil tanker at 70 knots? Is that even possible?

AllenS said...

No

Paul said...

"Oil tanker at 70 knots? Is that even possible?"

Wish it was!

I suspect the US Navy is using Google cars for their software. That would explain a lot. That and political correctness.

John said...


Blogger David said...

They are focused predominantly on multiple weaknesses in the training in today's Navy, which includes mainly not enough time on ship at sea.

Back in the 60s and 70s most ships were expected to spend 20 days a month at sea, not counting port calls. I joined the Great Sitkin AE-17 in December when it came back from a 7 month WestPac cruise to Vietnam, Philippines and points west. In April we left on a 7 month Med cruise. In between we made 4-5 1 week deployments out in the Atlantic for training.

We came back and went into a shipyard for 4 months. Then a couple of 1-2 week shakedown cruises to nowhere, 5 weeks to Gitmo, a month after we got back another 4 weeks to Gitmo. Then a week or two a month just farting around in the Atlantic, training. The following Spring they made another Med cruise.

That was considered pretty normal. A major, 6 month, cruise every year or so and a lot of shorter training stuff in between.

As a Machinist Mate, one of the seagoing rates, my normal rotation was 12 years aboard ship and 2 years ashore.

I don't know what it is now but it is a Hell of a lot less.

So yeah, nowhere near the sea time.

Back in the 80s and 90s a number of my students were Naval Aviators. They were always grousing about how they didn't get enough time flying. The only reason they were in the Navy was, as one commander told me "Where else can I fly an A-4 every day and get paid for doing it?" take away the flying and they get out.

John Henry

glenn said...

All I've got to say is none of these guys are JFK and somebody is going to be held responsible. I hope.

buwaya said...

"There is one theory that may explain everything; the oil tanker was doing 70 knots."

If the tanker had hit the destroyer at even 20 knots the McCain would have been cut in half or capsized.

The Alnic MC is 30,000 gross tons, 50,000 DWT and can do all of 12 knots

http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:712515/mmsi:636017930/imo:9396725/vessel:ALNIC_MC

buwaya said...

"You're confusing unpreparedness with the consequences of surprise."

I don't think so. The USAAF was poorly prepared in the Philippines on December 8 - It was way behind in creating dispersal fields and even a minimal early warning observer system, in spite of decent roads, a telephone system and full access to all of Northern Luzon. And then there were the radar systems that were installed and functional but not integrated into a proper command system. And then there was every sort of minor shortage in aircraft equipment, the non-arrival of the 50 dive bombers meant for the 27th Bomb Group (who were present, without aircraft), of the 100+ P40's en-route to arm another fighter group, etc.

There were no Hugh Dowdings in Manila.

And lets not mention the very late decision to mobilize the Filipinos, who were no more than half-organized and almost entirely untrained the day the Japs landed.

The US decided very late to start preparing for war, at which point they were trying to ship forces out east at panic-speed. Too late.

The USN submarine service, the principal branch tasked with defensive operations there, with 1/3 of all US submarines attached, was even worse if anything. "Silent Victory", Clay Blair, has most of the story, full of unaggressive commanders, untrained crews, squadron leadership obsessed with training in formation parade maneuvers, and of course the torpedoes no leader had bothered to test. And then there was the failure to disperse the facilities in Subic Naval Base, a nice compact bombing target full of everything the Navy needed. All the above were the result of a lack of professionalism and preparation pre-war. This was, mostly, remedied quite quickly. But the result in the first months was disastrous.

Big Mike said...

@buwaya, he was joking.

Big Mike said...

It's pretty likely that Capt. Bennett will lose his command shortly. He may not be to blame for what happened to these ships, but he was responsible for them.

It's surprising to civilians how much of a role luck can play in a military career. Back when I was a Vietnam era grunt one of the COs of our garrison company was in his position barely four days when a surprise IG inspection turned up the fact that the lifer supply sergeant he inherited had the books totally screwed up. I heard it was a career-ender for him, though he'd barely been there long enough to know where the mess hall was.

mesquito said...

My Dad was a navy vet and a harbor pilot. He always came home dismayed after piloting a USN vessel. The bridge would be crammed with personnel, all superfluous except the helmsman and one or two others. No one seemed to have any notion of ship handling in confined waters. Ship handling is not a career path in the navy.

He had nothing but praise for the Mexican navy's seamanship.

Feste said...

Ditch the wall. Puff SPAWAR.

tcrosse said...

For my sins, I did a couple of tours on sub tenders. These were pretty much welded to the pier, but every so often we would put out to sea for a few days, God only knows why. While we were at sea, the pilot house would look like a cocktail party at the Officers' Club, with junior officers there to get their ticket punched. As for getting in and out of port (the Firth of Clyde), I observed a great variation in seamanship among skippers. The sub tender was a large and unwieldy vessel, to say the least, and not built for fancy maneuvering.

Gretchen said...

When the mission of the military has become social experimentation and stopping climate change basic discipline will break down. Maybe they should have a few more trainings to learn how to avoid crashing rather than which pronouns to use and how to be transinclusive.

Michael K said...

"Sr relieved of command for cutting his task force too close to a typhoon."

That was Halsey's mistake and it cost ships and lives. McCain was the scapegoat because Halsey was considered untouchable.

Halsey was saved from another fiasco by Taffy 3. Can anyone imagine if the Japanese force had gotten into the landing zone ?

McCan Sr died shortly after he was sent home, a victim of Halsey's vanity.

0_0 said...

Evolutions like this are frequently done with tired crew and task overload- the USS Port Royal grounding was largely a result of that. Nobody wants to hear that people are tired or have too much going on, so nobody complains. This was true when I was in, was true a few years ago, and is certainly still true.

Bruce Hayden- It's spelled "SAILOR". Jeez.

Roughcoat- the Navy was just coming into the results of the Two-Ocean Navy act, part of the buildup begun barely in time for us when the future Axis powers really set out on their paths of conquest.

John Henry- YOur 2:14 post is correct, except Aquaflage is being phased out.

Michael K said...

As Admiral Nagano observed: "If I am told to fight regardless of consequences, I shall run wild considerably for six months or a year.

That was Yamamoto who had served in Washington and spoke good English.

Nagumo commanded the attack and also the Midway carriers. He died on Saipan.

JamesB.BKK said...

One may often safely short an institution that has placed "social justice" or similar modified (devalued) value ahead of its core mission.

Ralph L said...

For a comparison, my father was an active duty officer from 1950-80. He had sea duty for 15 of his first 20 years, with two short schools, 2 years at PG school (where I was conceived), 1 at War College and 2 at the Office of Naval Research, where he was program manager of early ALVIN. His last ship, a west coast LSD, was at sea for 12 of 14 months in 68-69 and then decommissioned (rather suddenly IIRC) when the Navy cut its number of ships in about half.

Curiously, the carrier Midway, where he had his first cruise as a midshipman, was the last one to be decommissioned.

JamesB.BKK said...

Shorter guild @ 7:35 AM: res ipsa loquitur

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