Home » News & Analysis » Former Fitzgerald, McCain COs Face Negligent Homicide, Dereliction of Duty Charges Over Fatal Collisions


Former Fitzgerald, McCain COs Face Negligent Homicide, Dereliction of Duty Charges Over Fatal Collisions

Former USS Fitzgerald commander Cmdr. Bryce Benson (left), Former USS John S. McCain commander Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez (right). USNI News Image

This post has been updated to correct the name of the former commander of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). The correct name is Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez. This post has also been updated with a statement from the service. 

The commanders of the two guided-missile destroyers that were involved in fatal collisions with merchant ships in 2017 will face military criminal charges that include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide, USNI News has learned.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, former commander of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), along with three Fitzgerald junior officers, face a mix charges that include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide related to the June 17 collision between the ship and ACX Crystal that resulted in the death of seven sailors, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy provided to USNI News.

Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, former commander of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), faces similar dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide charges for the Aug. 21 collision between the guided-missile destroyer and a chemical tanker off the coast of Singapore that resulted in the death of 10 sailors.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. US Navy Photo

The individuals will have the charges preferred via Article 32 preliminary hearings soon, the statement said.

“The announcement of an Article 32 hearing and referral to a court-martial is not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence,” the statement said.
“Additional administrative actions are being conducted for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers.”

A chief petty officer also faces a dereliction of duty charge that has already been preferred related to the McCain incident.

The charges are part of accountability actions recommended by an independent investigation tasked with reviewing further disciplinary actions by Navy leadership.

Director of Naval Reactors Adm. James F. Caldwell was appointed as the Consolidated Disposition Authority (CDA) for administrative and disciplinary actions related to the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran in late October.

Damage to the portside is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017. US Navy Photo

Other actions include removing Vice Adm. Tom Rowden from his position as the head of naval surface forces earlier than his planned Feb. 2 retirement date.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer are set to appear before the House Armed Services readiness and seapower and projection forces subcommittees on Thursday to testify on the two reviews conducted following the Western Pacific collisions. Richardson tasked U.S. Fleet Forces Command with leading a Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents, and Spencer directed a panel to lead a Strategic Readiness Review.

To date, the Navy has removed the commanding officers and executive officers of both McCain and Fitzgerald; Capt. Jeffery Bennett, commodore of the Japan-based Destroyer Squadron 15 to which both ships belonged; the Japan-based task force commander, Rear Adm. Charles Williams; and the commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift announced his earlier-than-expected retirement in late September.

The following is the complete statement from the service on the CDA recommendations.

On 30 October 2017, Admiral William Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, designated Admiral Frank Caldwell as the Consolidated Disposition Authority to review the accountability actions taken to date in relation to USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) collisions and to take additional administrative or disciplinary actions as appropriate.

After careful deliberation, today Admiral Frank Caldwell announced that Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) charges are being preferred against individual service members in relation to the collisions.

USS Fitzgerald: Courts-martial proceedings/Article 32 hearings are being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against Fitzgerald members. The members’ ranks include one Commander (the Commanding Officer), two Lieutenants, and one Lieutenant Junior Grade. The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide.

USS John S. McCain: Additionally, for John S. McCain, one court- martial proceeding/Article 32 hearing is being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against one Commander (the Commanding Officer). The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Also, one charge of dereliction of duty was preferred and is pending referral to a forum for a Chief Petty Officer.

The announcement of an Article 32 hearing and referral to a court-martial is not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

Additional administrative actions are being conducted for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers.

Information regarding further actions, if warranted, will be discussed at the appropriate time.

  • John

    Must be a lot more than a lack of funds taht contributed to these accidents.

    I contend poor leadership.

    • itbethetruth

      Spoken like a non Navy person. I tend to think technology could be the problem.. No watches on duty??

      • John Langdell

        Total lack of knowledge, familiarity and SOP for the electronic Helm and Lee Helm systems appear to be a large part of the cause.

        • Snake King

          John Langdell: Bingo! JOOD and the helmsman were TAD from Antietam to McCain after Antietam touched bottom and went into the yards. And here is why we must really come down hard on the McCain CO: Good sailors, borrowed from the Antietam, were routinely “qualified” by the McCain as they reported aboard. Even THEY thought that they were qualified. Helmsman did not make an honest mistake……he made a criminal mistake!

          • Kekistani Sailor

            I concur

            -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
            Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
            Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
            USS Worden (CG-18)

      • dltaylor51

        Put the steering wheel out on the front end of the ship maned 24hrs a day.

    • Stan Clancy

      It can be blamed on funding, indirectly. More intense real world training methods have been replaced by virtual cd rom programs.

      • MarlineSpikeMate

        From a tax payer perspective, we can not just simply blame it on “funding”. The Navy has GAINED about 70 billion dollars per year in funding since 2000, and yet has DECREASED the fleet size by 40+ ships in the same time frame…
        Everyone wants more money thrown at the problem, but the inefficiency and bureaucratic wasteland the USN has become is the root.

    • citizen

      undermanned ships -> exhausted watchstanders -> mishaps

      • Rudolph Von Galen

        Exactly, and a lack of proper training before setting out to sea.

      • Spike

        When I retired the Navy was all about “Doing More With Less”, which equates to piling on more collateral duties and qualifications on sailors. The job was too damn political then and it was getting even more so when I left. Like everything else in the military, it’s undermanned.
        They’ve been cutting personnel for years while adding on missions around the world. Either give the proper funding to support these missions or cut back the missions to what our current funding can afford.

        • Rollie Flex

          Yeah. And deep six the UCMJ

        • tprop

          ^^^^THIS^^^^

        • Old Navy Communication Officer

          Not to mention back about 2001 due to budgetary restraints, the Navy dumped the 16 week SWO school that all seagoing officers used to have to attend before reporting to first ship. If you expect kids to learn seamanship from DVD’s, this is what you get.
          OCS grad 1977, SWOS grad 1980

          • Snake King

            Now you are homing in on the involvement of “Big Navy” in this mess. Sending untrained junior officers to sea to “learn the ropes” simply won’t work in these days of highly complex warships. Do subs and aircraft train ’em before they steer?

            OCS 1960 and DESTECH 1964.

      • JCHPSU77

        Agreed!

        Totally unsat from the Skippers, OODs, JOOD, CIC Watch Officer, OS E7 on duty, down to the lookouts

        LT, 1110, US Navy, 77-85

        USS Barbour County (LST-1195)
        USS Tuscaloosa (LST 1187)

        • Rollie Flex

          LST’s still floating 1985 ?

          • JCHPSU77

            Yes………..and still rolling 30-40 degrees. Horrible rides at sea.

            Newport Class LSTs; Built for 40 million……….Quite a bit less than 1.5 billion for these “starships” that run into 800 ft cargo ships.

            BTW………Marquette and USNA CDRS pictures above.

            ME: Lowly Penn State NROTC

            (Still…….I never hit anything!)

          • Rollie Flex

            Small world !! I worked with LST’s mid 1950’s (Pics. to prove it). Was invited on board and couldn’t imagine a worst duty. Me. USNR, OCS Newport, Lafayette Col. Also here, never “hit” anything, even the piers at landing.

          • JCHPSU77

            BZ

            Thank you for your service.

            JCH

          • Rollie Flex

            “Ditto”…… your service also.

          • Snake King

            Good point Rollie. If you’d have learned your seamanship the way the JO’s now learn it (from a CD !!!), you’d have bumped many a pier!

    • Barney Biggs

      Starting with POTUS

  • yerbullshit

    Time for the Navy to re-learn the lessons of the past and get away from today’s PC culture. That starts by holding leaders accountable.

    • Feldwebel Schultz

      Back to basics. It is not only the Navy. What do you do when the batteries die and the computers fail?

      • amos666

        Call a snipe

      • Ronald G Miner Jr

        Pray..

      • Patrick Bryant

        I skipper a 26 foot sailboat single-handed in the Pacific. I know how to use a sextant, a chart, and a compass. And although I don’t fully depend on it, I keep a watch on my AIS (along with using my “Mark I Eyeballs”). Are you telling me the Navy can’t?

        • Feldwebel Schultz

          Why don’t you ask them. I’m a retired soldier. The point is electronics fail. So what do you do then? What is the fallback? It is a systemic problem in the age of electronics and computers. What happens when you lose your sextant?

          • Kihafidhina1776

            A captain is responsible for EVERYTHING that happens on his/her ship. It’s what sets the military apart from the scumbag politicians.

          • Feldwebel Schultz

            Correct. No argument. As any Commander is. IMHO, what occurred on those vessels were system failures. A Warship is a system. Everyone has a function that supports the system. From the Cook to the Captain. A failure of one component has an effect on the whole. Training, SOPs, cohesion, drills and honest AARs are the tools that prevent failures.

            I’ve seen the entire chain of command (from E-3 to O-6) get reprimanded/reduced/ relief for cause, due to negligent discharges, DUIs, military vehicle accidents, rolling a tracked vehicle, stupid preventable accidents, etc. .

          • Sanders

            Stars I believe

          • Feldwebel Schultz

            The fallback.

          • Curtis Conway

            We learn Mode-3 for a reason. The plotting sheet exist for a reason.

          • Duane

            The issues in the 2017 accidents had nothing to do with technology failing. It was 100% on failures by the COs and their watchstanders who negligently failed to do their jobs.

          • Kelly Lape

            You may be right. They deserve a fair hearing despite the fact that fairness to them won’t bring back the dead.

          • Duane

            Yes … that is why a courts martial is required for justice sake. Whether these officers are convicted or acquitted is the purview of the courts martial and the evidence and testimony presented to them. I do not prejudge the results, but that a trial is essential to set the record straight, for both the accused and the victims and their families and the United States Navy and the people of the USA, is unassailable as a matter of justice.

          • Kekistani Sailor

            ^^thats what the accident reports state unequivocally^^

            -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
            Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
            Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
            USS Worden (CG-18)

          • Barry Wind

            That’s when you use sun and planet calculations. Hopefully you still have a watch. Remember there is 360 degrees in a circle no matter what the size circle is and that’s a constant!

          • Feldwebel Schultz

            I used to teach land navigation and troops would show you they had a watch. A digital watch. That was my point about basics. My serving years were 75-2001. As electronics took over, the basic skills took a back seat to technology until they were relegated as antiquated. When my boys went over to Iraq the first time, I gave each of them a military lensatic compass, among other things.

          • Barry Wind

            Bravo!!

          • Owl

            Hey I use a digital watch too, that doesn’t affect my topo skills lol. Especially since I have no idea why a watch would affect my map reading. Pace counter, a compass and a good map, that’s all you need.

            What do you use an analog watch in topography for, now I’m curious.

          • Feldwebel Schultz

            If you carry a functioning analog wrist watch, then you can use it to find your north & south line. A little known trick, but very handy. Hold your watch flat and point the hour hand towards the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the twelve o’clock mark to get the north-south line

            More helpful hints.

            The sun’s journey from east to west gives us one of Nature’s most accurate navigational tools. Find a straight stick, push it into the ground, and mark the tip of the shadow to represent west. After about twenty minutes, mark the tip of the shadow again and connect the dots with a straight line to represent east to west. If you stand with the first mark to your left and the second to your right, you will be facing north. Under cloudy skies, look for moss, which always grows more prolifically on the north side of slopes and trees. Spiders, however, prefer a warmer spot, spinning their webs on the south side of trees.

            I learned a lot of this in Scouting in 68-71. This used to be taught in land Navigation in the days before the PLGR.

          • Owl

            Interesting. Personally I just wait till it’s not noon. If it’s am, the direction the sun’s in the east, if it’s pm, the sun’s in the west. Find north through that. Not too accurate but it’s only used when your compass goes to the great maproom in the sky.

        • sav

          The navy can’t.

        • BillyP

          Can’t? maybe … Won’t? certainly. If it doesn’t have a screen, and one that supports Candy Crush/Angry Birds, then they don’t want to know, apparently. How else to explain multiple lookouts that didn’t actually *look* – or is there some even more reprehensible explanation?

      • Guest

        Back to Basics is the tripe that the worst SURFOR ever (D C Curtis) used to ramble about. It did not work then and his poor leadership is a direct root cause of the problems that the Surface Navy is facing today.

        • Feldwebel Schultz

          Training starts with basics. You build on those basics, until you go to the next level. This process continues until proficiency is achieved at the system level.

          Along with that, is discipline, cohesion, leadership, etc.

          Your point is not about training it is about poor leadership.

          • Jerry Shelton

            It is hard to get back to basic seamanship, when seaman is a banned
            term. Since I am USN-Ret. I remember well my years sailing Knox class. I have some deck and ride time on many other classes. I survived the 600 ship navy vision of Reagan and Lehman. Trust me, poor leadership, and poor training, are like prostitution and pregnancy. Never far apart.

          • Rollie Flex

            And in your day and mine, as the Officer in Charge, you were subject to civil criminal charges if something went “wrong” under your command ? BULLSHIT sailor.

          • Kekistani Sailor

            Come on… something like 25 dead in toto. Should these CO’s NOT be charged w/homicide?

          • Anthony

            The CO of the Fitz should not be charged with homicide or negligence, his standing orders and more than likely his night orders said to call him when a contact has a cpa of 3 miles, the woman OOD neglected to call the CO. Her fault, make no mistake about it.

          • James B.

            If a properly qualified OOD is given adequate tools and guidance, then it’s the OOD’s fault.

            On the other hand, if the CO tasked that OOD for more than he or she was qualified for, and the CO knew it, then it’s the CO’s fault.

          • Anthony

            Then the OOD who was not qualified and knew it should have it made it known to the CO.

          • Owl

            If everyone ‘unqualified’ were not allowed to stand watch, soon you will have no one qualified to stand watch. Newbies have to start from somewhere.

          • Owl

            Not if they did everything right but with a wrong result. Smack them for not training their men properly but not for their reactions during the crisis. In fact, if I recall correctly, one of them was out of action when he was injured during the collision. So can you imagine you going to bed, then waking up in a hospital being charged with negligent homicide? He wasn’t in the decision loop at all.

            The McCain’s case, yes the captain was on deck, but the fault was thought then to be an engineering casualty, not operator failure by the helmsman, so the captain ended up focusing on trying to repair the ship rather than the position of the ship, which is sort of understandable since the loss of control was the biggest, most prominent problem, he ended up focusing on trying to solve it. You might be able to accuse him of tunnel vision but not negligence. He was diligent, just in the wrong direction, misled by the assumption that the loss of control was from engineering and focusing on the ‘biggest’ problem instead of the big picture.

            What you CAN blast them for is insufficient training for the men.

          • Kekistani Sailor

            Well, sounds like you have adjudicated both cases above in your comment. No need for the Courts Martial then. /s

            …On a more serious note: It’s not possible that ‘they did everything right but with a wrong result’. Too many were negligent per both official reports. They are both freely available online.

          • Owl

            I know, I read the chain of events, especially the McCain one, the captain was not negligent in the sense he did not do his duty, in fact, it might be said his excessive zeal might have caused the accident.

            1- he saw the helmsman struggling to juggle throttle and steering at the same time, so he ordered the helmsman to let the lee helm take throttle control. Is this negligent?

            2-when the helmsman accidentally transferred steering control and reported a steering casualty, the assumption was an engineering fault, so the captain ended up being focused on finding a (non-existent) engineering problem. Does that sound like negligence?

            3-While they were trying to find the fault, the ship drifted within 3 min into the path of the other ship, while still having no steering control.

            The biggest fault you can accuse him of is being too tunnel visioned, he was diligent, just that he focused on the wrong thing at the wrong time and being excessively zealous. If he was not so concerned with the helmsman’s difficulties the incident might not have happened.

            And just to point out, court martials are not just to punish everyone that goes near one, they are also supposed to exonerate the innocent, something people tend to forget in the heat of the moment.

          • Kekistani Sailor

            I don’t see the word ‘civil’ anywhere in the article. they are ‘Military courts martial charges’.

          • Jerry Shelton

            Actually yes you were subject to charges, if it went south on your watch.
            The Commanding Officer’s of ships have a duty to ensure that the ship and it’s crew are ready and capable of operating that ship 24/7/365 safely. They did not, in the military that is Dereliction of Duty. Google it.
            Now if you did serve then you also know the little gem known as Article 134. Yes I am sailor, Tried and true, U.S. Navy blue through and through. Yes it may be BS, but if you assume the title, then you get it all. The high, the low, the good and the bad.

          • Kekistani Sailor

            Well said sir.

          • Owl

            Which is kind of unfortunate when things go south. When they say the skipper is god on his ship, they ain’t joking, even the bad things are ‘his fault’.

          • Rollie Flex

            I served. Was XO on my ship. My point is the CO of a military unit in action cannot be subject to criminal charges resulting from loss of lives while engaged ! Was Gen Patton taken to Court ? And here I note the OOD was a woman !!!!!
            Well WTF do you expect to happen. This so called “NAVY” today is one fucked up organization.

          • Jerry Shelton

            The ships were not at a war footing. Yes I get it, ship at sea and all for a unit in action, but it is a bit liberal with the “unit in action”. As the XO how many times did you have the sailors under your charge follow orders that you did not agree with? How many did you send to mast for returning late from liberty? How many did you not send for improper watch standing? Ever find some gun decking in the 3M system?
            As a sailor you know as well as I, the sea does not care about gender, it never forgives, and will never give up her dead.
            Now; Sir as a former XO, how dare you, comment about the gender of the OOD being a factor when it is not. Sir, YOU are responsible for the NAVY of today. The JO’s that YOU trained, or those that were trained by them are the one that are running the Navy today. So if today’s Navy is as fucked as you say it is, how much of that happened on your watch?

          • Rollie Flex

            NONE. I ,along with the Captain, sent guilty seamen to what ever discipline designated (yes, even murder while on leave). We were no Captain Queeg
            deal. Won the “E” so many times , Comservlant Admiral made several visits
            to congratulate the Crew.

            It’s not that “gender” has any influence on the “sea”. It’s that women do not belong on Navy ships. How many would you assign to a damage control team ?
            Why are there terrible “morale” issues on these co-ed carriers ? Men and women are different (thank God). No bureaucratic political “order” can make
            them function “equal” to men. They don’t belong in command of any sea going
            Naval vessel. History has never seen this. The results will be historic in the most tragic sense. The Navy is “fucked” because of a huge gang of wacko liberal
            moronic “desk jockeys” practicing self delusional “social experiments” ..That is
            the Admirals and Captains hanging on for the pay check and retirement benefits. Sick as it gets. Take a tour of the Pentagon and tell me something else.

      • Duane

        The batteries didn’t fail, the computers did not fail, the technology did not fail. It was the Mark One Mod One Sailor who failed in all of the collisions and groundings. In not a single one of the accidents did the technology fail. It was COs and sailors who simply did not know how to operate their gear, or were simply negligent in performing their duties.

        • Feldwebel Schultz

          Frankly, I was amazed how these happened. What happened to lookouts with binoculars/night vision? My initial impression of these collisions(not accidents) was where were the watch standers?

          • Duane

            There were not sufficient watchstanders, and those that were on watch performed negligently, according to the accident reports. That is a failure of the individual watchstanders, but it is also a failure of their superiors, going all the way up the chain of command.

          • BillyP

            Not sufficient watchstanders?? I understand that the FITZGERALD had four lookouts (one stern, three bridge) and NONE of them saw that big box boat until they went looking for the cause of all that crashing noise! The three bridge lookouts were all clustered on the PORT wing, with most of the traffic on the Starboard side. What sort of Chinese fire drill was this?

          • Anthony

            The lookouts have little to do with it, they report what they see or hear to the OOD and he decides what action to take.

    • plkatk

      Not just the “leaders”, but every member of the chain of command down to the lowest ranked seaman in the crew. Everyone must know his job and perform at the highest level — no excuses, no PC, no affirmative action, no quotas, no sexual identity politics. This is a war fighting force. Leave all this other crap to the snowflakes in Berkeley.

      • Smokey

        Spot on.

      • Old Salt

        Amen

      • BillyP

        And all, as in ALL, the way to the top, meaning the C-in-C at the relevant time. This shameful lack of competence and discipline didn’t just ‘happen’ – there was a top-down direction that behaving in this way was acceptable, even desirable.
        So, whoever directed this programme, these programmes should at least be named and shamed, even if he is beyond disciplinary/legal sanctions -or is he

      • yerbullshit

        Amen!

    • BillyP

      Spot on!

    • Anthony

      It was a woman who was OOD when the Fitz collided. There isn’t any place for a woman on a ship.

      • wilkinak

        How much bridge time do you have to base that opinion on?
        A guy had the Deck on the RADFORD when they hit, another guy had the conn. The male CO of the McCain couldn’t figure out the helm console. By your logic there’s no place for men on a ship.

        • Anthony

          I have more bridge watchstanding time than you’ll ever have, former MSTS/MSC deck officer, retired MM&P (Masters, Mates & Pilots) Chief Mate. 28 years as a licensed officer, 5 years unlicensed and 4 years USN enlisted, 1958 t0 1962. Plank owner USS Providence CLG-6.

        • Anthony

          Google: Horrible Holly Graf. That’s a woman CO for ya.

      • Jerry Shelton

        It is a chain of events that lead up to major accidents. Break the chain anywhere and the accident is prevented. But that is ALL Tuesday morning quarter backing. The point is the chain of events do not really care about a gender.

        • Anthony

          The game is played on Sunday. It’s Monday morning quarterbacking.

          • Jerry Shelton

            see there, the NFL has people so No Fans Left that everyone keeps forgetting that game on Monday’s.
            Plus too this long after the incident it’s Tuesday already.

  • Deme Marquette

    With the best technology the navy has your telling me they could not detect another boat
    approaching them… alarms??? Really??? Drain that dam Swamp!!!! My kid has a friend
    out there who has been in both those locations, we check on him constantly. This is bulls##t!!!
    Semper Fi Mother Fu##er’s

    • Kekistani Sailor

      This is the biggest disgrace the Navy could suffer – 1st year nav training for the officers/enlisted on the bridge/ striker lookouts and CIC team. I can tell all of you officers in this thread that as CIC watch supervisor (E-5 – OS2) on Adams class destroyers that if my tracking and ‘course to avoid’ recommendations were ignored by the bridge I would be out there raising cain in a flash – (I had to several times during my 7 year enlistment). As a Navy vet I am embarrassed.

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

      • Duane

        Yes, proper command performance requires conscientous devotion to duty and safety, from seamen apprentice to Admiral of the fleet. I come from the nuke sub world, decades ago. It was pounded into us from day one of assignment to sub school and/or sub duty that every single sailor is reponsible for the safety of every other single sailor on the boat. We did not stand on rank – indeed, at sea we all – from CO to the mess cooks – wore the same blue poopie suit, and in an emergency, though being a small command we all knew each other, we did not care who was who, but all had to lend a hand and know the boat’s systems like the backs of our hands, and pitch in to save each other and to save the ship. That is the culture that has not been part of surface warfare, likely hasn’t since the days of sail when every seaman was just a seaman, not a radar operator or a gunners mate.

        • Kekistani Sailor

          interesting comment – thanks for sharing!

          -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
          Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
          Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
          USS Worden (CG-18)

      • Snake King

        And it was CIC Watch Supes like you that taught this hotshot young Ensign to value the luxury of being advised by the old salts in CIC with radars, plotting sheets, maneuvering boards , brains, and tact.
        “Bridge, Combat: Skunk Alfa CPA is 200 yards. Recommend……etc. etc.”

        • Kekistani Sailor

          Thanks – we definitely tried to train them the best we could. Some would engage and some only showed a passing interest in CIC operations. We always maintained a sharp surface plot when I was on duty and never failed to make our recommendations known to the OOD.

          -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
          Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
          Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
          USS Worden (CG-18)

        • Kekistani Sailor

          Yep – “Bridge Combat, recommend change course to 340 to avoid skunk alpha by 6,000 yards, CPA Bearing 340 at 05:42. ahhh the memories…

  • Albert8184

    Betcha these two guys never dreamed things would wind up this way for them. Or all the guys who died asleep in their bunks either.

    • Owl

      One of them WAS asleep in his bunk, IIRC he injured when the container ship hit.

  • Duane

    Hard decisions to prosecute, but court martials are required with the unnecessary loss of life and loss of use of both of these vessels.

  • conservativeguy

    I have feared something like this for a long time. The fear is that because of dependence on technology, sailors are not taught the basics. For example, I was in artillery. Because of the capabilities of GPS technology, I’m afraid they don’t teach lieutenants how to lay a battery, read a map and adjust fire at Ft. Sill. Thus, if the GPS fails, they will be helpless.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      This is precisely correct

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

      • Kekistani Sailor

        There were additional safety’s that were ef’fffed up as well: Entire bridge watch didn’t know basic (Rules of the Road) light recognition/Port,Stbd, and aft lookouts either didn’t report nav lights or were disregarded/CIC watch team derelict in tracking contact CPA’s or were disregarded. Bad Bad Bad. And sailors died as a result.

        -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
        Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
        Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
        USS Worden (CG-18)

        • Rollie Flex

          How would you know this ? Were you on the fucking bridge ? Did Officers
          during your tour ever receive criminal civil charges for any fuck-ups on their parts ?

          • Kekistani Sailor

            Thank You for your questions.

            1). Both investigative reports are complete and online so you can read them like I did and become better informed. So yes, having read them & with my professional background as a former CIC watch stander and later a professional civilian captain of passenger ships (295 pax. 5/crew) – I am well informed – as you could be if you read them yourself.
            2) As the aforementioned reports outline vividly, there was great dereliction and neglect on multiple levels which resulted in heinous injury and deaths not to mention great taxpayer expense – so the criminal charges for the CO’s are appropriate and warranted.

            It is up to the Courts martial to litigate and dispense the appropriate justice now.

            -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
            Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
            Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
            USS Worden (CG-18)

        • publius_maximus_III

          Red-port-wine. Red-right-return. Even a land lubber like me knows those.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      I’d like to mention to the SWO & non-SWO officers in this thread that as CIC watch supervisor (E-5 – OS2) on Adams class destroyers that if my tracking and ‘course to avoid’ recommendations were ignored by the bridge I would be out there raising cain in a flash – (I had to several times during my 7 year enlistment).

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

      • JCHPSU77

        Agreed!

        Totally unsat from the Skippers down to the lookouts

        LT, 1110, US Navy, 77-85

        USS Barbour County (LST-1195)
        USS Tuscaloosa (LST 1187)

    • The_REAL_grumpy_Dave

      Geezus, a butterbar with a map, scary……

      • Rick Green

        Well…they give them guns an ammo, so…

      • MarlineSpikeMate

        That’s exactly the problem. Our butterbars have less knowledge that most midshipman do in first rate Navies around the world. Compare them to United States merchant cadets who can put a Ltjg to shame… Sad..

    • arcsinice

      Today it’s all push button, AI. Digital “smarts” in an analog world. Sitting on a Barca Lounger and carrying out task. So easy a caveman can do it………………….

      • Rroller

        By the sound of the charges, doesn’t it sound as though a barca lounger might be @ issue. Has to be a watch problem, no?
        Probably will disappoint many here, when it has nothing to do with personal issues of a racial or sexual nature.

        • Ryan Turner

          Bhhaaaahhaaaha! What will we do for political entertainment on this one? Theres always the news.

    • Bhess

      The navy brought back sextant training last year. Also there are modern devices that can use imaging of the stars to get a pretty accurate position if GPS fails. The SR-71 used such a device for years.

    • robertthomason

      Check

    • Duane

      There was no instance of over dependence on technology in the 2017 accidents. It was 100% on negligent performance by COs, their seniors and their watchstanders. Negligently trained, negligently performed on watch. Not a single piece of gear was found to have failed, leaving poor sailors with only their eyeballs. It was sailors and even CO’s not even bothering to learn how to operate their damned steering gear, for god’s sake! It was sailors charged with failing to maintain a plot of contacts despite the fact that was their primary duty. It was OOD’s failing to maintain situational awareness. It was everything BUT the fancy electronics that was at fault.

      There is an extremely strong strain of Luddism in these comment pages, where old timers and never-timers demand that the Navy go back to the days when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron. Sounds poetic, but completely idiotic in the 21st century.

      • Kekistani Sailor

        BZ well said

      • BillyP

        No technical failures? Probably true, but what about the human supposedly in charge of the kit and capable of using it?
        And the multiplicity of lookouts that didn’t? Lookout that is? There was little chance of technical failure there, but if you don’t look …

      • Snake King

        Check your facts (though I do not disagree with your fundamentals). Technology was at the center of the McCain collision as the helmsman mistakenly shifted steering control to after steering rather than to the lee helmsman, as ordered…….helmsman was NOT qualified to operate the helm/lee helm console. He was qualified to operate the Antietam console so the McCain lazily “qualified” him as helm/lee helm on a totally different vital piece of ship control technology. Sad.

  • ScottAg83

    Please! More diversity training and trans personnel are clearly needed. Bring in more gay sailors! If enough fairies are aboard, the ship will be so light it could float above danger and avoid all this mess.

    • Deme Marquette

      lol….

    • Deploracles Infidelicus

      But Barry the Fairy is gone so God willing we can right the ship!

    • Rollie Flex

      Absolutely , absolutely , the VERY BEST rational expectations from the crap employed today.

    • 03222013

      Because gay people had anything at all to do with this. Ridiculous… go find another soap box.

      • Anthony

        A woman on the fitz had a lot to do with though. She was the cause of the collision.

    • Owl

      “We want you, we want you, we want you as a new recruit”

      lol.

      Still love the Village People after all these years.

  • chipster

    when cloaking goes wrong

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      cloaking?

      • Guest

        He is making a “joke”.

    • Maura Sheehan

      Interesting theory but more likely tyranny, US is being invaded from within. Navy has it hands in all kinds of criminal activity right now violating human/civil/constitutional rights of thousands of innocent American civilians and it’s own members.

      • Kekistani Sailor

        please explain this statement: ” Navy has it hands in all kinds of criminal activity right now violating human/civil/constitutional rights of thousands of innocent American civilians and it’s own members.”

        -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
        Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
        Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
        USS Worden (CG-18)

  • Steve Dodson

    The reboot button didn’t work well. Re-boot. Get it? …NVM

  • Chasseur1814

    The Navy needs to clean house all the way up to and including the CNO and SECNAV. Now, that would send a signal about accountability.

    • ScottAg83

      The SECNAV was replaced. It is said that the former one (Ray Mabus) was the reason the Navy went to sh!t.

      • Deploracles Infidelicus

        barack-the ANTI-Midas touch.
        It was amusing to watch ( I did ) as the idiot flitted about the globe, waving his/her little wand and sprinkling his fairy dust ( is that what she calls cocaine? ) and expecting the rest of the World, not just America, to marvel that it could read a teleprompter and not speak with an ‘accent’, as the previous Vice-POTUS once uttered that he had witnessed the spectacle, personally…
        But hey, what do I know?

        • 03222013

          Not much, apparently.

  • John Howard

    When your fired there should be …NO PENSION MONEY OR BENEFITS…

  • ChrisLongski

    Nobody watching the radar scopes ? No CAS enabled ?

  • ScottAg83

    The Navy needs to quickly implement BALSAC (Basic And Latest Strategies Against Collision) into the training regimen.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    So, have all the investigations cleared the OTHER ships (the ones that ran into our Navy ships) involved in these collisions? Did they do everything right? Dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel charges seem fair to me, but negligent HOMICIDE? I think that’s a reach.

    • Owl

      For the McCain, yes, the other ship was in the equivalent of a freeway, it was the McCain that lost control and drifted into the traffic zone.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Thanks for the update Owl..

        • Owl

          YW, bad situation all around.

  • Daaghowt

    The Captain goes down with the ship!

  • Car Car Jinx

    during the 90’s, (after tailhook) my unit spent at least 5 hours per month training on sexual harassment prevention, on top of the normal 70 hour work week.
    needless to say, work and job training fell behind.
    the social experimentation of the last 8 years has pushed real training to the back burner, leaving many younger sailors unable to learn their jobs.
    couple that with a high attrition/turnover rate, and you have a qualification crisis in the force that cannot be solved without extending enlistments or raising high year tenure for knowledgeable sailors.
    of course, no one in washington is going to take the blame for bad policy, so they had to find sacrificial lambs in uniform.

    • Duane

      Tailhook was 27 years ago, so that’s three Republican administrations ago. It was bad, and needed correction then, and it is not “PC” to demand that members of the military not abuse those in inferior positions of rank and power. It is common human decency and professionalism that ban that kind of behavior.

      • Car Car Jinx

        no one is saying that such behavior should be tolerated — but the primary mission of the military is to maintain readiness to carry out operations in time of war. when you impose a social agenda on top of that mission, or use the military for social experimentation outside of the normal mission requirements, then those other considerations WILL eat up time and resources that should be dedicated to training and readiness.

        • 03222013

          There’s no social experiment, our entire culture demands decent behavior. No reason the military should get a pass. It’s not that hard to act civilized.

      • Ken Adams

        It is common human decency to ban that behavior. It is not common human decency to punish everyone for the actions of a few. Training on the subject for 5 hours a month, where the training is based on the false premise that all men (and only men) are abusers, is punitive. Train everyone once, then zealously prosecute the real offenders.

        • Duane

          Training isn’t punishment. Only those who commit the indecent acts that clearly interfere with unit cohesion and performance who are charged and punished as required by the UCMJ.

          There is no such thing as “one time training”. Anybody who has had to manage or command a group of folks knows that ancient training is forgotten training. Training requires periodic refreshment and updating.

  • ata777

    Good.

  • PRONESE

    Turns out that the red beads used in TQL training were good after all.
    Who knew…

  • Russ

    The Navy would be better served to reduce the charges. The defense will surely seek many, many documents during discovery which could quite possibly implicate the entire chain of command. Although much of the command chain has now been relieved, their culpability could possibly be established and this could spread all the way to CNO/SecNav/etc.

    • Please tell us more . . .

      • Russ

        The defense will be allowed access to any documents (which the Judge will rule upon depending upon classification etc) which might conceivably convince a jury of their client’s innocence. So for example, the defendant received comms to steam out of port even though he deemed his vessel unready, that is some pretty compelling evidence. If he can even show that he was simply trying to follow “command intent” to fulfill missions when his vessel was deficient then that is compelling. Furthermore, if a good defense attorney could show a pattern of this sort of behavior by higher authority, well…where will it lead?????

        • Guest

          That would be a good thing. I would enjoy seeing all of the dirty laundry.

        • So your arm-chair speculation leads you to believe that the navy should just pass on the CM even with $500M+ in damage and 17 dead due to incompetence?

          • Russ

            Sorry Cap’n! I was unawares yer sailin’ the briney deep wi’out an arm chair! Woe be to all to voice an opinion which yon Brad be not likin’. Try reading. Then thinking. If all else fails, just shut up. So I’ll slow down just to be kind. If the Navy really wants to pursue a negligent homicide case against these Captains then they had better be prepared for some unwelcome results. Does that make it simpler? I don’t think that I can dumb it down any further.

    • Chauncey Hall

      That is precisely what should happen, Russ. Gut the structure these PC fools have created and re-build the Navy.

    • 21st Century Hippie Man

      Maybe some daylight up the entire chain is in order. I hope the defense subpoenas Mabus.

  • ConservativeBeaner

    Dereliction of Duty. Although Navy Ship Captains can and should delegate responsibilities, the Ultimate responsibility is theirs…

    • realitycheck111

      I believe the word everyone is missing is Accountability. You can delegate responsibility but not accountability!

  • citizen

    They may as well throw the DoN top brass at the Pentagon in the brig too for undermanning these ships for so long.

  • Boom Stick

    I saw this coming back in 2000. When you take and turn watch standing, maintenance PQS and turn it into a signature chase you eventually get piss poor results. When you punish sailors for not chasing signatures and getting qualified for things like repair locker leader as an E-5 or for gods sake supply officer as an E-6 you cheapen the whole god damn process. Then you start reducing manning till most ships are at most 75% manned and what the fuck do you think is going to happen…. it is one of the main reasons I decided to GTFO before something happened.

    • Hersbird

      Exactly, punching cards to get uniform bling or eval bullets when you should be mastering your own job. My 7 years onboard CVN-70 I could have never mastered just my department’s responsibilities yet they want me to learn 20 other departments jobs? Proud of the fact I never wasted a minute on that surface warfare badge as long as there was real work to be done and systems to be learned to help fill holes in watches I could actually be proficient at.

    • wilkinak

      Not to mention the prevalence of video games & xboxes. Too many sailors spending hours in front of the boob tube instead or qualifying or sleeping. My new to the ship MMCS was enraged when he found I’d locked the fan room/lounge. “The guys need a place to relax.” Took him about 30 days to see why the padlock was there. It wasn’t because I was a stupid JO.

  • howie roak

    Incompetence is not criminal — unless you are a Naval captain. The bucks stops at his door even if he is sleeping when it happens…

    Sorry but that is the way it works! he has absolute authority and with that comes absolute responsibility.

    • Barney Biggs

      Got news for you it goes a lot higher than that. They had to ensure the Captain was trained and was in turn training his people and holding them accountable. We are only as strong as our weakest link. One of the problems today is lack of accountability. We have to be loved and pleasant. PC gone nuts.

  • Feldwebel Schultz

    The reliance on technology, instead of the Mark I eyeball and common sense is the root cause of many military/naval problems. The second being overconfidence and arrogance of position. This is a systemic problem.

    addendum: complacency kills.

    • Rick Green

      Reliance is okay…dependence is the true problem.

  • Jay

    Frequently a sign of gross negligence. Keeping a fighting force in top shape and committed is hard during times of extended peace. The military, not just the Navy, needs to remember its purpose and live the operational environment, even during peace time.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      I agree in principle – but this is NOT that. This is a failure of BASIC, BASIC skills and likely the entire ship’s command structure in the pertinent areas. Rules of the Road and ship awareness are BASIC functions – like driving on the right side of the road is a basic skill in an automobile.

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

  • Southernfriedyankee

    This isn’t the first time this has happened. Post WWII we had some destroyers steaming through and around that southern chain of dozens of islands, you know where the Chinese have built all those airstrips out of ocean; a few ran aground. Problem ? generally lax watchstanding, Captain or XO not paying attention. Lack of situational awareness, no one had taken an accurate fix on the stars in the previous 12 hours, that sort of thing. (Interestingly submariners had ALWAYS been forced to do that !) For all the thing about gyro compasses today and gps’s, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for taking a astronomic fix in the heavens to know exactly where you are ! Start or RESTART teaching the basics !

  • dltaylor51

    The Navy needs to ratchet up discipline for dereliction of duty,Bring back the yard irons and lash if need be.

    • wilkinak

      Ending the CO’s catch & release program is a start

  • Wayne The Seine

    Bout time.

  • Mark Todd

    Good for the Navy charging these incompetents. as a former naval officer and ship driver of nuclear power cruiser how these collisions happened is beyond my comprehension. it really boggles my mind. the safeguards in place and the almost fanatic obsession with avoiding any ship even coming close keeps our ships out of harms way. absolutely no excuse for a collision or to run a ship aground. anytime it happens the CO’s are immediately relieved of their command as they should be.

    • Centaurus

      That’s a truly headuptheassism

    • TinCanSailor

      One of the COs was asleep in his rack and had to be rescued by the crew. How another ship got within 2000 yards without someone calling the old man is beyond me. The CO gets sacked in that case because he signed off the quals of the idiots standing OOD & JOOD – and when they screwed the pooch, the CO gets one of the ever-popular ‘loss of confidence’ relief letters – and both COs got what they deserved. But how that CO warrants a negligent homicide charge escapes me. The bridge watchstanders, on the other hand, should have the book thrown at them.

      • JCHPSU77

        Well stated.

        Totally unsat from the Skippers, OODs, JOOD, CIC Watch Officer, OS E7 on duty, down to the lookouts

        LT, 1110, US Navy, 77-85

        USS Barbour County (LST-1195)
        USS Tuscaloosa (LST 1187)

      • Kekistani Sailor

        The accident reports are out and available for all to read. I ask the folks on this thread: Sailors died because of the gross negligence/dereliction of duty. Do these fact NOT warrant homicide charges??

        -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
        Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
        Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
        USS Worden (CG-18)

        • Duane

          In the old days of rocks and shoals, the COs would have been immediately courtmartialed, without a lengthy investigation, and literally drummed out of the navy, if not imprisoned. Before rocks and shoals, in the traditions of the British Royal Navy, which was the legacy of our own United States Navy, a commander of a vessel lost, whether in a storm, or on a reef, or in a battle – would automatically be court martialed and, if found guilty, immediately hung from the yardarm, in full view of the entire fleet at anchor.

      • Snake King

        If I allow my 14 year old son to drive my car on the freeway……should I not be charged with negligent homicide if he T-Bones your car and kills your wife?

        • TinCanSailor

          If you were asleep in your bed when your 14 year old son took the family Truckster out and killed my wife, the answer would be no. If you tossed him the keys, then yes. See how that works? I was specifically referring to the CO that was asleep when the accident occurred. If he was called by the OOD and he went back to sleep, then I’d say they have a case. If he wasn’t called, then his crime was signing off on the quals of an incompetent OOD, not homicide.

          • Owl

            Not to mention you won’t know someone wasn’t qualified until shit happens. Fact it, how do you tell if someone is ‘qualified’? Got eyes, check, sees red and green, check, can tell on paper if the ship is coming or going, check. Congratulations, you’re now a lookout.

            Some things just need experience and unfortunately the only way to get that experience is to put newbies on the sharp end.

          • Owl

            Not to mention you won’t know someone wasn’t qualified until..things.. happen.
            Face it, how do you tell if someone is ‘qualified’? Got eyes, check, sees red and green, check, can tell on paper if the ship is coming or going, check. Congratulations, you’re now a lookout.

            Some things just need experience and unfortunately the only way to get that experience is to put newbies on the sharp end.

  • corax

    Best photos of the boats I’d seen. Pretty apparent that the McCain was T-boned. As a former squid that transited the Straights of Malacca on a DDG numerous times, I believe the level of malfeasance required for that collision to occur is completely off the scale.

    • Centaurus

      Are we discussin’ a car wreck here ? I think someone is off their meds .

    • Owl

      They loss control when the helmsman accidentally transferred helm control to another station. The ship drifted into a traffic lane within 3 min while they were drifting. The rest is history.

      • corax

        After steering was not manned? The OOD must have been completely unqualified.

        • Owl

          It was, the problem was the helm transferred control without knowing it, so when he lost control, it was reported as an engineering casualty not an operator error so they spent too much time looking for the problem in the wrong place.

          • corax

            Then something else occurred. I’ve stood many a helm and after steering watch and when control went aft a claxon automatically sounded. The aft helmsman would know they had control and would be on the sound powered phones with the bridge. There are no excuses for this. None.

          • Owl

            It’s worse than you think.

            https://news.usni.org/2017/

            Page 16, controls were transferred 4 times between the 3 stations in 2 min,
            nobody knew who had control. Then they found that when throttle control
            was transferred, only one screw’s control was in Lee Helm control, the
            other was still at Helm.

            Basically a 3 ring circus going on.

            Irony of it all, the crewmembers involved were from the Antietam, which ran aground in Jan 2017.

  • filtercar

    I was in the sea service. Coast Guard. 378 about the size of the destroyers. I slept on the port side right where the collision happened. We trust the captain and the officers with our lives.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Curious about your perception of USN versus USCG maritime skills. Did your guys know how to drive ships better, and if so, why?

      • filtercar

        Only one way to drive a ship no matter if USN (I happen to love these guys. Trained with them) or USCG. Pretty sure neither of these qualify as the correct way. My only problem was I am only 5′ 6″ and you have to be 6′ to be able to walk to shore when your USCG ship sinks. I had friends die on a buoy tender in Tampa Bay when a tanker ran over it. Two guys on midnight watch getting high. This is a no sh***er. One way to drive a ship. By the book.

        • publius_maximus_III

          I had read about the USS Blackthorn once before after a tip by another USNI News poster. The collision itself was not all that bad, but as the two vessels parted, the anchor of the larger tanker remained embedded in the buoy tender and as the chain snapped tight, it literally pulled the smaller vessel over in an instant. The capsizing caused 23 fatalities, almost half the crew. The sea is frought with hidden dangers, especially during such seemingly routine acts as entering and leaving port.

          As with an airline flight, the beginning and end of a sea voyage are some of the more critical moments for both. In both air and sea, the vessels come into closer proximity with other vessels than during the rest of the journey, and they also come closest to something very unyielding, known as land.

  • FWGuy

    I hope these two ships & crews were not victims of some type of new Electronic Warfare spoofing assault on the ships radar system by the Chinese Navy or Air Force. You would be surprised in the advancements by the US in the EW arena.
    I would hate to see honorable and competent officers loose their careers and even their freedom over a clandestine ChI-Ops EW attack.

    • publius_maximus_III

      It was reviewed thoroughly during the investigation and dismissed.

      Check out the term “meaconing” on Wiki or another favorite on-line reference. It is not a new principle, although at one time even use of the term was considered very hush-hush. My understanding about the GPS used by our military for Nav or targeting is that it’s coded, so not as prone to spoofing as that used aboard a commercial craft. Search for an article about multiple incidents of electronic interference with the controls of a luxury yacht by a drone over the Hudson River last year. Sorry, cannot provide a hypertext link in a USNI News article comments section.

  • Bruce Diaz

    Need to more accurate. Reading paragraph 1 and 2, the number of unfortunate, lost lives, is, in Paragraph 1 notes 17 dead, while Paragraph 2, notes 7.
    Just saying.

    • Bruce Lytle

      Read it again….
      2 different ships, 17 TOTAL, 7 on one, 10 on the other.

  • seyboldr

    Having sat on a few SWO qualification oral boards as a dept head I can say that this is an attention grabber. It might end the “gimmy” pins I’ve seen handed out by CO’s so their own fitrep would look good for training JO’s that shouldn’t have been qualified.

  • Bill Howe

    Yes, I am an Engineer, but I know enough of the common rules of the road and ship manuvering that when someone tells me there is a ship at a steady bearing and decreasing range I am going to act. Is it still in standing bridge night orders “if in doubt call the Captain immediately”? The OS-2 made a great point. If the OOD ignored his warning then someone, anyone, should have called the captain. I have never herd of any captain ever chewing out anyone for calling him or her when in doubt.

  • amos666

    This crap has been going on in the navy for a long time.I got out in 1963 as a MM2. We had an incident on a fletcher class can where we had an ICFA (E2) standing messenger watch in the fwd.engine room. He was not qualified as a MM. When it came time to call the next watch he went topside to go aft to call them. We were in a bad storm and he was washed over the side. We watched him for 45 minutes until he finally went under. The only reason he was standing watch in the engine room was that the ship was undermanned,standing four on and four off. The captain was replaced shortly after and went on to have a full career. Nice huh?

    • Guest

      Why did this guy go topside during bad weather? Sounds like it was his own fault for going overboard. Where does it say that the messenger must be a MM? Why is any of this the Captain’s fault?

      • amos666

        Didn’t read the whole post eh! He went topside to call the next watch. Can’t talk to the crews quarters from the engineroom on a fletcher can. The captain is always responsible for the ship and the safety of the crew.

  • KingOfAllAnimals

    Loss of life, loss of taxpayer dollars, loss of readiness, and worse is that this is a sign of greater problems within our own military. Obama and Congress have done far too much damage to not have signs of politics meddling in areas they should have left to the professionals.

    Also this is what you get when things are run without deep personal accountability from the top down. the fact that previous to this incident a Chinese submarine launched a ballistic missile in a ‘test’ from our coastal waters and was not sunk on sight the moment it launched anything near our coastline bothers me a lot. I could care less if they shot at their own test range in their own waters. Had that missile been targeted at Russia we would have been blamed and launched on but the Russians.

    The Navy has been screwing up a lot lately and not in minor or trivial manners. And to think the emergency alert system told Hawaiians Kim Jogn Un launched some love for us. Imagine if that had been for real. The Navy is supposed to be part of our Anti-Ballistic missile shield. How ready for a real fight is our Navy? It is like more and more our officers on these ships are not paying attention any more. I know the Navy has standards and they are high but I think things were a bit better before President Obama than after.

    So with that thought…
    3…
    2…
    1…

    Ready, aim, GO??? Are we ready to down some Ballistic Missiles or is Hawaii a write off? Who has change for 25,000,000 people?

  • Rafe Hollister

    Two WestPacs from 1976-1979…tons of surface traffic around Singapore, Yokuska, Mombassa…never so much as a chip of paint off the old girl.

    Training…training…. training. Jesus Christ, these are our young people on watch! Fix this NOW! Not next f####ing month…NOW!

    An Old Snipe
    MM1 (Nuclear)
    USS Bainbridge (CGN-25)
    Forward Engine Room LPO

    • JCHPSU77

      Thank you for your service.

      JCH
      LT, USN, 1110, 77-85

      • Rafe Hollister

        My duty comes from my family history. My Dad retired with 23 years as an SH1. He was with MacArthur in the Philippines and spent 6 months in Japan with the General during the occupation.

        Five uncles served in the Air Force and Army. Two were in intelligence.

        I was born Navy.

        Thanks, LT.

        USS Bainbridge
        “Thirty Knots and No Smoke”

        • Kekistani Sailor

          “My Dad retired with 23 years as an SH1. He was with MacArthur in the Philippines and spent 6 months in Japan with the General during the occupation.” <—– Thats awesome! I bet he had some great stories – especially about Japan.

          -fmr OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC '84-'91

          Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
          Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
          USS Worden (CG-18)

    • Kekistani Sailor

      ^^^This^^^

      -OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC

      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

  • Guest

    Why did this guy go topside during bad weather? Sounds like it was his own fault for going overboard. Where does it say that the messenger needs to be a MM? Why is any of this the Captain’s fault?

    • amos666

      First off he went topside to go aft where the crews quarters are. Second he was an intercommunicationsman fireman apprentice not really qualifid to be taking readings off one of the main engines and lastly the captain of the ship is responsible for the ship and the safety of it’s crew.

      • Bruce Lytle

        An FA is an FA. If he hadn’t been to A school he was a wannabe IC.
        Cross training was a good thing when I was in the canoe club (70-78).
        At my last command I was an MM1 in the electrical department. Most EM’s thought I was an EM too, surprised em @ inspections to see my screw instead their ball of string.

  • Colton Lee

    There but for the grace of God, go I.

  • Not Chicken Little

    More “tough guys” like him might have saved some sailors’ lives – and officers’ careers.

  • canaddar

    People that screwed up do need to be held accountable. However, we also have to be careful that in our desire for ‘justice’, we don’t start another period of zero tolerance like we had in the 90s. In the 90s, our military was gutted because any mistake was career ending. We ended up with a lot of leaders who were 100% risk adverse. You can’t have a good military when the commanders are all scared to make a hard call.

  • Craig

    Amen . rank may have its privaleges but also has responsibility attached

  • RichardAubrey

    Let’s have a change in personnel actions. If a sailor shows up at a ship as a new crewman, is he entitled to ask if the command group knows how to steer a boat? Genuine Navy certification. If the answer is “no” he may refuse assignment without negative consequences.

    • John Locke

      Yeah, doesn’t/isn’t going to work that way.

      • RichardAubrey

        Can hope.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      the Nav doesn’t have boats – you mean the coasties :+)

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

  • picomanning

    In the Military one can see the Peter Principle demonstrated in real and potentially demoralizing reality.

    • Jason

      Global warming did it….

  • Jason

    If they cannot sail a ship … how will they ever find the enemy?

    • OleSquidd

      Don’t worry, when things get this bad they will find you.

  • USAGC

    An SA with half a brain is better than an OD working on punching a ticket any day.

  • TNTeaPartier

    I want to see the pictures, names and bio’s of the 3 JO’s who were also charged. Full disclosure on the charges.

    • D. Jones

      Pretty clear they’re making a pretty big smokescreen to protect the people whose actions directly caused the deaths of many.

      • Anthony

        That’s because one of them was a woman.

        • publius_maximus_III

          I seem to recall a female skipper of another DDG who gave the command to turn her ship too soon. She determined that a just-landed chopper had been secured to the deck and was in a hurry to catch up with other ships in her group, so gave the command to come about. But the chopper’s blades had not had enough time to spin down, so as the ship came about, swells began to break over the low freeboard next to the hangar deck. The spray hit the blades and caused enough vibration for the chopper to break its moorings and lunge overboard, with both the veteran crewmen still aboard the helicopter lost. If she didn’t have criminal neglience charges filed against her, no way these two commissioned officers should be facing them. If anything, her negligence was the DIRECT cause of those two deaths.

  • Rogue Cheddar

    This is wrong on many levels, negligence, dereliction of duty, maybe yes, maybe no, but definitely not homicide. Hold men at all levels accountable, but do not ruin good careers because political correctness has corrupted the very foundation of our military. Get back to proper training and discipline and stop bending rules and standards to accommodate the twisted minds of the social enginqueers.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      I don’t disagree with the batty pc stuff running amok in our Navy -but you’re also saying a thousand years of wise Naval tradition should be ignored in these cases by NOT holding the CO’s ultimately responsible for their own ships mishaps??

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

      • Rogue Cheddar

        No, I said hold them accountable, but to what degree? If those on watch were properly trained but they neglected their duties and still fell asleep on the job, should a commander lose everything because of a shirker?

        • Kekistani Sailor

          please see all of the replies in these comments regarding the CO’s ultimate responsibility – which are accurate

        • Kekistani Sailor

          1). This was a systemic failure of many people both enlisted and commissioned as detailed in the accident reports. Not one single ‘shirker’.
          2). One wonders if you are at all familiar with the nature of proper USN ship navigation you so freely comment about.

          -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
          Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
          Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
          USS Worden (CG-18)

          • Rogue Cheddar

            I’ve made no direct comments about ship navigation, but will defer to your obvious expertise.

      • Rogue Cheddar

        Well one wise tradition may be to bring back the true meaning of ‘Before the mast’ where some judicious use of the cat o’ nine tails could bring clarity of mind to those in need.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      1). “Maybe Yes, maybe no” is precisely why the the Courts Martial proceedings are being convened.
      2). Further, the level of incompetence/dereliction of duty resulting in death, personal injury and the necessary great expenditure of taxpayer monies to repair; all of which are clearly outlined in the factual accident reports belies your claim about ‘ruining good careers’ sir -whatever the outcome of said Courts Martial.
      3). Surely sir you ‘doth protest to much’. Based on your comments one might wonder if you might be related to, or have a pecuniary interest in one of the defendants in these cases.

      fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

      • Rogue Cheddar

        No, I do not, merely cautioning on any politically motivated need for scapegoats is all. If the evidence warrants loss of commission, so be it.

  • Buzzeroo

    I’m about the furthest thing from a sailor man possible. That said–long ago and far away I owned and operated a new 18Ft Grady White boat with an 85 HP Evinrude motor for 3 successive summers. My family and I fished, picniced, water skied and simply cruised about without a scratch on us or the boat. Never once was the wheel and throttle unattended while under weigh nor was there ever any lack of vigilant watch keeping either….hence never a collision or even a near miss.
    If , in the limit, the simple basic commonsensical practices that a dope like me unfailingly practiced were duplicated on our two war ships there never would have been an accident and good people wouldn’t have died. As such, I am in full agreement that there is definitely criminality attached to the dereliction of duty practiced aboard our smashed ships and, sadly, heads must—and will-roll.
    I’ll always wonder just what the hell was going on on the bridges of the stricken vessels immediately prior to the collisions.

    • John Locke

      LOL
      Comparing your experiences with a 18ft 1 ton Grady on a lake to a 500ft 9000 ton warship in merchant traffic is charming but irrelevant.

      • Buzzeroo

        Mr. Locke: If staying at the controls and remaining vigilant and observant while a vessel ANY DAMNED VESSEL is moving is irrelevant than I’ll buy that bridge in Brooklyn that you are must be interested in.

      • Kekistani Sailor

        Actually his observations of ‘vigilant watch keeping’ are precisely relevant. Indeed ‘attending the throttle at all times’ implies competence and personal responsibility so sadly lacking on these warships. The principles he speaks to above are timeless and apply to vessels of all sizes.

        -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
        Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
        Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
        USS Worden (CG-18)

  • Rogue Cheddar

    My son is a ‘nuke’ in the Navy, in many instances they are undermanned, undertrained, and overworked a lot of the time. I’m not surprised mistakes are made that cause dark results.

  • Bill Fortune

    It’s the same kind of problems at most government agencies among Civil Service employees. More so now than when I started working for the DoD in the late 1960’s. The U.S. taxpayer is getting screwed big time.

  • rgray 317

    Map and compass. The good ol days. Screw the GPS.

    • Bruce Lytle

      Don’t forget the EYEs!

  • Fitzgerald: Complement:

    33 commissioned officers

    38 chief petty officers

    210 enlisted personnel

    Sterett CG-31 Complement:
    418 officers and men

    Sterett was slightly smaller. Boilers versus gas turbines. A few other differences but not earth-shaking (sea-shaking?).

    I have mumbled for years that the reduction in ship complements will have negative ramifications. One is fewer folks to handle battle damage. Then there are fewer folks to perform maintenance, cleaning and the many other duties required. Is fatigue of watch standers a factor. Less time for training when performing day-today duties leave no time for training?

    It is easier for the navy to blame an individual than admit to a systemic problem. Remember the Iowa turret fiasco when the “system” tried to blame a sailor not there to defend himself. The Navy personnel from the tip-top down may be the real problem.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      Wow – thats eye-opening.

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

    • John Locke

      Actually STERRET was 40ft longer but narrower at the beam.
      Regardless, the differences between STERRET and FITZ’ in HM&E are night and day, not to mention combat systems.
      Your basic comparison is fallacious at best and does not provide a common ground to compare crew sizes.
      Facts matter.

      • Kekistani Sailor

        -to a certain extent you may be right – but sleep deprivation is sleep deprivation, then and now. More crewman matter.

        -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
        Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
        Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
        USS Worden (CG-18)

  • Hairy Potter

    We don’t have to fight another war to lose, just leave us to our own competence. By the way, has anyone heard of Japanese or Chinese Naval Dysfunction. Disgraceful ! Put me down as a Korean War Navy Vet.

  • fuma

    Well,I have been reading some interesting comments and opinions but having been a lowly Quartermaster, I cannot imagine how these two incidents occurred. The whole damn bridge must have been asleep.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      As a lowly OS I concur – what kind of goat-rodeo must our Navy’s ships be these days?

      -OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC

      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

  • Bhess

    I am kinda surprised that the navy charged them. I think it’s a good thing overall. Of course this needs to be coupled with better training especially for those on the bridge.

  • JCHPSU77

    Totally unsat from the Skippers, OODs, JOOD, CIC Watch Officer, OS E7 on duty, down to the lookouts

    LT, 1110, US Navy, 77-85

    USS Barbour County (LST-1195)
    USS Tuscaloosa (LST 1187)

    • Kekistani Sailor

      Yes – agreed.

      OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

  • RINOpoacher

    These destroyers colliding with a merchant ship is like an F-16 getting hit by a blimp.
    I would not know where to start……

  • J

    What about the bridge watchstanders? If you want to find the truly guilty, it should start there. Command climate can be part of the equation, and the COs should be held ultimately responsible, but the true cause that resulted in death was negligence on the entire ship’s watch team, and the OOD should be in the crosshairs for any potential prison time.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      I agree

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

    • JCHPSU77

      Well stated.

      BZ

    • Duane

      The junior watchstanders not being courtsmartialed are being handled through NJP – captains mast, essentially. Punishments will range from loss of rank to forced retirement to less than honorable discharge. The Navy will never publish the names of junior offenders – they virtually never do so unless the offender is charged and/or convicted of a major criminal offense such as murder, rape, desertion, etc.

  • Brian J McNally

    A bizarre “phenomenon” occurs while at sea between CIC and the Bridge. No “team work”. i.e. I wanted CIC to track our LAMPS helo and they just would NOT do it, saying “we never do that”. I brought this incident all the way up the chain, and no one was concerned. We didn’t even monitor “Guard”. The two teams, CIC vs “the Bridge”, develop a rivalry, not a mutual team support and respect dimension that’s suppose to be in place. A lot needs to change.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      Thats shocking! Did that happen recently?

    • John Locke

      I imagine the ASTAC was tracking the LAMPS

      • Brian J McNally

        Hi John, Good point, but our H-2 wasn’t always on an ASW hop. In any case, it was more a lesson in how the OS’s got so complacent in their watch-standing jobs, that they grew arrogant at any disruption in their napping. This was a long time ago as well, 1985-1987. I’m not sure the ASTAC was as advanced on a Knox class frigate as to what you would think. To be honest, I don’t think we had it back then. Please advise.

        • Kekistani Sailor

          Holy “f” thats hard to believe. Not the OS’es on my 3 ships (same time period: DDG-22, DDG-16 & CG-18 all out of Pearl). Where was the CIC sup or CICWO etc?

          -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
          Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
          Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
          USS Worden (CG-18)

          • Brian J McNally

            They were just as bad. Complete incompetents. The OSC was on the “road” program, and the cic divo was a hen pecked pencil head and neck bean counter. There was only one good cicwo and divo – he was by coincidence a former aviator, I’m proud to say.

          • Kekistani Sailor

            Cool, cool. thanks for sharing

            -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
            Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
            Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
            USS Worden (CG-18)

          • Brian J McNally

            Hi KS, The other unsat thing that would occur was whatever OS was on the surface scope would give the maneuvering recommendations up to the Bridge for contacts within a certain cpa. I protested that the watch supervisor and or the watch officer was/were suppose to only be giving those recommendations. I gladly threw a monkey wrench into their BS operation of CIC and their division. Fireworks ensued!

  • Skip Kirkwood

    So – whenever the submarine I served on was on the surface, navigating anywhere near other surface traffic, the CO was at the helm, on the bridge, or in control. Ditto for the XO. If I recall correctly, both of these COs were in the rack, asleep, at the time of the collision. Have the rules changed, or did I just have really neurotic COs and XOs (5 different men)?

    • Hersbird

      Well in their defense a SURFACE ship is on the surface 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so that seems like a tough assignment for 1 guy.

      • Kekistani Sailor

        There is no defense for these CO’s. They are Ultimately responsible. Period. There has been a standing order to wake up the CO when ever a surface contact is closer than ~10k yards on all Navy ships since time immemorial. Being a CO IS a tough job. It has to be earned, comes with a lot of glory and respect, but it also comes with tremendous responsibility!

        -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
        Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
        Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
        USS Worden (CG-18)

        • JCHPSU77

          Well stated.

        • wilkinak

          They are ultimately responsible, but expecting them to oversee bridge operations 24/7 is unreasonable.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      ^^^^THIS^^^^

    • Owl

      For the McCain’s case, the captain could have benefited from being a bit less ‘neurotic’ lol.
      The whole accident happened because he stuck his oar in and ordered a change in helm control. Then the helmsman screwed up the control transfer and next thing you know, you’re drifting into traffic.

  • JCHPSU77

    He is absolutely correct.

    LT, USN, 1110, 77-85

  • JCHPSU77

    Eye balls………and Mo board on the radar.

    Not either or…………BOTH!

    Call the skipper IAW Captain’s Standing Orders and Night Orders.

    No excuses.

    None.

    JCH
    LT, USN, 1110, 77-85

    • Kekistani Sailor

      Absolutely! Mo’ boards are key and eyeballs on Nav Lights & Target angles are even more important! Sheez!

      -fmr. OS2 CIC sup./ASAC/AIC
      Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22)
      Joseph Strauss (DDG-16)
      USS Worden (CG-18)

      • JCHPSU77

        Well stated.

        BZ

  • James Bowen

    I’m sorry, but this smacks of scapegoating to me. The problems that led to these two fatal collisions run far deeper than the two commanding officers and a few others. Perhaps relief of command was indeed in order, but charging them with negligent homicide is a little extreme.

    • Owl

      Court martials are not just for the guilty, they are for the innocent as well. Something some people sometimes forget.

  • proudrino

    Reminds me of the Honda Point disaster of 1923:

    The Navy court ruled that the disaster was the fault of the fleet commander and the flagship’s navigators. They assigned blame to the captain of each ship, following the tradition that a captain’s first responsibility is to his own ship, even when in formation. Eleven officers involved would be brought before general courts-martial on the charges of negligence and culpable inefficiency to perform one’s duty. This was the largest single group of officers ever court-martialed in the U.S. Navy’s history. The court martial ruled that the events of the Honda Point Disaster were “directly attributable to bad errors and faulty navigation” by Captain Watson. Watson was stripped of his seniority, and three other officers were admonished. Those officers who were court-martialed were all acquitted. Captain Watson, who had been defended by Admiral Thomas Tingey Craven was commended by his peers and the government for assuming full responsibility for the disaster at Honda Point. He could have tried to blame a variety of factors for the disaster, but instead, he set a great example for those others by allowing the responsibility to be placed entirely on his shoulders.

    The only difference being that none of the senior “leaders” actually stood up and took the blame that is rightfully theirs. Instead, one after another had to be fired or suddenly find value in retiring. I’m not dismissive of the accountability that should be levied on the crews of the McCain and Fitzgerald BUT years of lax and unprofessional actions by individuals much more senior was more than a minor contributing factor.

  • RobM1981

    Command is an adult-activity. It has always been as such, and will always be as such. No matter how soft society gets, the business of war will never be soft.

    Tragedies are always sad. Young warriors lost their lives, young commanders have lost their command and will likely lose their freedom. There is no upside other than Learning.

    This is a lesson to the whole USN, from the top down. On warships, mistakes can be fatal. In command, responsibility is absolute – with no excuses.

    Like I said, this is sad… but it is correct. It’s unlikely that these commanders have legitimate excuses, but they will have their day in court.

  • kye154

    It is still baffling why the navy hasn’t installed and integrated an “Avoidance-collision” systems, like what is found in military and commercial aircraft. Afterall, with all the sensors most navy ships have, like their navigational radar, or even their Aegis Combat system, etc., you would think, it could be integrated into those systems and would have at least alerted the crew to imminent danger, or helped the bridge crew to take evasive action, to help cut down on human error. So, if the Navy is going to court marshal the CO’s of these ships, then they should also court marshal the naval officers in the acquisition office, along with the CNO, for allowing these ships to operate without proper navigational equipment. They certainly wouldn’t send a ship to war without its weapons systems, so why do they neglect having Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS), or a Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS) installed when these ships goes to sea? Right now, the navy is too focused on finding scapegoats and not paying attention to the shortcomings of their ships.

  • William Westchester

    Why do I continue to suspect boffin on the bridge? Given the determined effort of 0bamunists to totally make over American society, the military was certainly within their sights. Boy-on-boy, girl-on-girl, as well as boy-on-girl matchups on a midwatch-darkened bridge seem not impossible at all.

    When officers are certified by a CO as watchstanders, gives standing night orders to the watch, it’s up to the OOD to maintain a proper watch.

    The idea that there was too much u/w time and not enough effort given to proper training is pure BRAVO SIERRA. OJT and common sense kept the escort ships doing their job in WW2. If a number of collisions at sea between DEs/DDs and MERSHIPS occurred on account of inattentive watchstanders, I’m not privy to the fact.

    • John Locke

      Your post illuminates the common misperception that Navy ships colliding with other ships is a new thing.
      Here, I’ll help you be privy. Just Google… Naval Accidents 1945 – 1988 Neptune Papers

  • Barry Wind

    If that was their family members killed and their ship to repair they would be absolutely sick… I don’t have sufficient speech to describe how I would feel!!

  • guest

    It is worth noting that the Fitzgerald statement doesn’t say which officers are being charged with which of the listed crimes. Are we sure the CO is getting the homicide charge, and not just the OOD?

  • b2

    This is serious business with these charges and not just some strategic firings and early retirements…
    Through these charges and courts martials the system will lay bare the effects of years of failed leadership for all to see. Another circus maximus along with the Fat Leonard proceedings…
    Crime and punishment are one thing but how can the US Navy get back on track..? Its not just the SWO business or the surface navy failing….IMO it will take real leadership and the reinstitution of tradition. No new process or reorganization will set things right. Only a return to basics and naval tradition just like the first Reagan administration did in the early 80’s will bring the US Navy back to the standards the nation should expect and that most of us that served during that era can attest to..

    • John Locke

      Actually there were more collisions after Reagan took office.

      • Feldwebel Schultz

        Sure. With the Soviets playing bumper cars and chicken. The US posture changed with a leader in the White House. America has forgotten how to lead from the front with a pair.

        Until recently.

        • John Locke

          Uh no. Though trading paint between the U.S. and Soviets did occur……… infrequently…….. and I understand how it could infer increased antagonism of a “strong leader” ………and plays well among the Trump crowd……… but most collisions during that time were between U.S. ships, submarines and piers.
          Facts matter

  • Kelly Lape

    Did you see a different picture of the CO’s? They didn’t look like affirmative action promotions to me.

    • wilkinak

      Sanchez?

  • Kelly Lape

    Patton was forced to apologize for slapping a shell shocked infantryman during the war. I guess PC goes back awhile. I won’t say your wrong on tailhook, however as a member of the naval aviation community during the event the type of behavior that tailhook came to symbolize was rampant in our community and certainly was conduct unbecoming an officer. You might argue that not everyone engaged in despicable behavior but I would counter that it was rampant enough that everyone knew it was going on and didn’t exercise their responsibility in stopping or reporting it (i.e. a failure of their sworn duty).

    Examples are set top down. For a two star to demean a woman with “sweetheart” isn’t something I would choose to defend.

    O/T – if you can find a copy of “Flying Fleet” a 1929 silent film about naval aviation it shows the USS Langley (my god how small she was) it is from the biplane/seaplane era and is a joy to watch. I was particularly struck by the refueling revolution aboard the Langley. I watched it a couple days ago on demand from TCM.

  • leroy

    I forewarned about this right after the collisions. About the probability that criminal charges could be filed. Given the circumstances of the seemingly extreme negligence, it just made sense.

    With Navy leadership comes responsibility. Extreme responsibility. Those are big shoes. If you can’t fill ’em, and most people can’t, get out and get into a different line of work. Say a teacher or a dentist. Welder or electrician.

  • kye154

    You know, its a bit ironic that the Navy’s investigation concluded by saying: “No single person bears full responsibility for this incident”. It also goes on to say: “The crew was unprepared for the situation in which they found themselves through a lack of preparation, ineffective command and control, and deficiencies in training and preparations for navigation,” and yet, the Navy is singling out and charging the C.O.s of both the Fitzgerald and McCain with dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide? What the report actually implied was, it really appears we have very undisciplined and incompetent lot of people in the Navy, (which isn’t surprising, considering that America’s overall educational system and values have become progressively worse over the past 50 years), and the Navy’s top brass are among the members of that same generation, who allow such a culture to exist, and then defecate on their subordinates in an attempt to cover their own heinies for their lack of responsibilities leading up to these incidents . If they are going to prosecute the CO’s, then the CNO bears full responsibility too, and needs to be court martialed under the same charges. After all, the Navy has been cited for years about the problems with sleep deprivations and undue stress of its sailors, and the poorer quality of education and hands on experience provided to them. This is nothing new, yet, the navy’s top brass seemed unconcerned and did little about it. And why did they allow what happened on the USS Shiloh to occur, where sailors emphatically complained about their command, and the Navy allowed the situation to continue after three surveys full of negative comments? The Navy’s top brass didn’t care! Really need to get rid of the entire brass chain, and start over, if you want a functioning navy.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Heck, hang the recruiters on the yardarm… (sarc)

    • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

      just echo’d you setiment with my posting 🙂 The SecNav really need to clean house, starting at the top, and saving the top admirals isn’t going to change anything.

  • BillyP

    And who denied the star? Would he be in a pale building in DC? If so why is he not being named?

  • desertsaltydog

    A lack of Focus. I know the skipper is responsible for his ship and crew, but one thing stands out to me above all the rest. Watch standers. They have ears and eyes and other tools. These ‘accidents’ would’ve never happened if the live body watch crews were doing their job. Everybody has a phone these days and they cause distractions as we all know. Any personal electronic device should not be allowed in the possession of a watch stander during his shift. Using modern technology these days is valuable for a lot of things, but eyes and ears on a Navy ship with lots of lives on board are essential to staying safe and avoid a tragedy. I’m sure the inquiries will reveal all, and it’s possible a few NCO’s will be held accountable.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Sadly, had both skippers been replaced prior to the collisions, I doubt it would have prevented them. Nevertheless, the buck stops with the CO (aboard a ship anyway). Those two careers in the USN are over.

    IMHO, they will never make the negligent homicide charges stick.

    • Kekistani Sailor

      one wonders…

    • Snake King

      I agree. Did they overcharge the CO’s for a purpose?

  • publius_maximus_III

    Chester Nimitz was almost a thing of history (and not USN history) for running a ship aground. Fortunately, those above him saw much promise in a young Naval officer, much to the later chagrin of the IJN during WW-II.

  • ROBERT BM3

    Going after the Captain’s let’s get SECNAV AND CNO they have subordinates sign off on training.Time for them to go,besides their big on plagiarism of ideas by former Navy DAVPERMS.

  • Patrick Bryant

    > or is there some even more reprehensible explanation?

    Maybe. No one makes much money selling charts and sextants to the Navy. And no one makes a cent teaching basic seamanship skills.

  • Terry Miller

    These commanding officers are being used as scapegoats for the very culture that allowed the sloppiness of ship handling to be permitted. Don’t charge these men unless you also charge those who said they were fit to command.

    • wilkinak

      To some extent, however, they and their crew members were grossly negligent to let these events occur.

      If you were a bus driver and crashed the bus, killing several passengers you’d likely be charged with involuntary manslaughter if the crash was the result of avoidable human error.

      The JOs who crashed the bus are facing charges, as are the COs that qualified them. The unfortunate reality is that most of the men actually responsible for creating the larger mess retired 5+ years ago. Building a real legal case in that situation is difficult to say the least.

      • Kekistani Sailor

        Hear Hear

  • Murray

    Old Royal Navy saying, “The floggings will stop when morale improves.”

  • Alan404

    Electronics, when they work as advertised, are truly wonderful. They sometimes fail, and when they do, age old virtues such as looking out the window come back the hard way, to haunt man.

  • Jeffrey Cochran

    7 Sailors on #Fitzgerald, #10McCain how and what is the United States Navy doing, going to do to prevent further unnecessary loss of life ?
    #Consequences for those who failed their shipmates, themselves disciplinary actions may they fit appropriately, that being said whatever punishments will not bring those lost back to life or correct an obvious breakdown in leadership, individual commitment to duty.
    My concern is honoring those lost, discover what happened take positive actions to prevent such in the future.
    The hard lessons learned need to be integrated into basic training, in fleet training as well.
    Before the truth was known as to what happened people were feeling, thinking, and saying this hurts differently it did for me, others I spoke with….Sailors active duty and Veterans quietly we agreed.
    It’s kinda like ya knew in your heart and gut the fault lay onboard the ship within the watch team on watch speaking of #Fitzgerald, the #McCain incident had yet to happen.
    Losing shipmates due to an accident, equipment failure, wartime operations ya know these are part of the job they do and will happen.
    Bottom line when you’re on watch you hold your shipmates lives in your hands the safety of your home as well i.e. the ship.
    #Honor #respect #justice #7Fitzgerald #10McCain lost fix whatever is broken go forward do not let it happen again.
    #Forgivenessisnotforgetting
    #Forgiveness
    #Neverforget
    #Honorthefallen
    #Honor
    #Integrity
    #Respect
    #Responsibility
    Something is going right out in the #Fleet proof in that the damage control teams on both Fitzgerald and McCain saved their surviving shipmates, their ships, themselves.
    My prayer is that in the #Traditions of the United States Navy hard painful lessons learned as a result of these events corrections be made quick fast and in hurry to prevent further avoidable loss of life.
    Tighten up, turn to, get squared away United States Navy.

  • old guy

    My program developed the High Speed Collision Avoidance and Navigation (HYCANS) in 1971, with Sperry. It would set off an 80 db annunciator if your ship’s ellipse and another’s (or land) intersected. My understanding is that both ships were equipped with the latest version, Optimally, if the system is manned the warning is picked up before the alarm. It is only silent if turned off. Does anyone know what the situation was in each case?

  • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

    The real culprit here is that the real Navy has been replaced with the p.c. Navy. Everyone is deathly afraid to say “anything” least they be accused of racism, sexism, triggering, etc etc, even to the detrement of not speaking up when they know they are in peril. The culture needs to be wiped clean, and if that requires firing every O-6 and above then so be it. We need real Navy warriors not p.c. company men

    • D. Jones

      Yep.

      The fact that there were two separate fatal events indicates a systemic problem, not just a bad CO.

      That being said, it is entirely possible that 8 yrs. of Mabus filled the ranks of commanding officers with something less than the best.

      Until we get to see the report of what those on watch were doing instead of running the ship safely, it’s all speculation.

  • itbethetruth

    Em2 and pilot rescue here. We always had look outs on watch.. Ammo ship…

  • Kelly Lape

    Really? An officer can see misconduct and do nothing?

  • Kelly Lape

    Tailhook was an environment of abuse.

  • TNTeaPartier

    So far, I have not seen pictures, rank and names of the junior officers standing the OOD/JOOD bridge watch during these 2 incidents. What are they hiding? Full disclosure!

  • George Hollingsworth

    No one ever asks the simple question: Were the ships staffed with competent, experienced officers and NCOs on all watches? If not, why not?

    • Kekistani Sailor

      Reread some of the comments above… And you’ll find some of us did exactly that. Further, there are even more comments that addressed directly why this is happening. <— Nothing worse than someone jumping In a thread before reading the previous comments.

  • filtercar

    I was a Cryptotech in the Coast Guard 40 years ago. Purely technical. Worked in warm spaces in the winter and cool spaces in the tropics and summer. (my equipment had to be air conditioned. Only air conditioned space on the ship at that time.) Yet, I stood bridge wing watch in all kinds of seas and weather for hours at a time. I felt like a real sailor and was proud. We had a full Captain as skipper and liked him. Hated the XO as it should be. Respected both.