Home » Military Personnel » USS Fitzgerald Combat Team Unaware of Approaching Merchant Ship Until Seconds Before Fatal Collision


USS Fitzgerald Combat Team Unaware of Approaching Merchant Ship Until Seconds Before Fatal Collision

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan on June 17, 2017. US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD – The sailors who were manning the combat nerve center of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) did not know they were on a collision course with a ship almost three times their size until about one minute before impact, according to new information revealed in the preliminary hearing for two junior officers accused of negligent homicide for their role in the collision that resulted in the death of seven sailors.

Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, and Lt. Irian Woodley, the surface warfare coordinator, were both on duty in the windowless combat information in the belly of the guided-missile destroyer on early on the morning of June 17 as the ship moved southwest from the coast of Japan less than a day out of port.

“[Based on the interviews] the general consensus was it was a quiet night in CIC with four to five tracks and nothing within 10,000 yards,” said Rear Adm. Brian Fort, the lead investigator into the admiralty investigation following the collision, said at Woodley and Combs Article 32 hearing on Wednesday.

Then, shortly after crossing into a busy shipping channel, the merchant ship ACX Crystal popped up on the CIC’s commercial ship automatic identification system dangerously close to Fitzgerald. The container ship was bearing down on the warship, bow pointed toward the middle of the warship. Woodley ordered the camera used to spot targets for the ship’s 5-inch gun toward the bearing of Crystal. Fire Controlman Second Class Ashton Cato, who manned the camera, saw the flared bow of the ship fill up his monitor just seconds before the fatal crash.

Prosecutors argued during the Wednesday hearing that the fact that Woodley and Combs did not know the ship was at risk from Crystal, did not see other nearby contacts and were not in contact with the bridge crew was evidence of criminal negligence and hazarding the ship.

During the course of the hearing, prosecutors called witnesses to outline that the role of sailors in the CIC was to assist the bridge watch in understanding the surface picture around the ship, to make the point that Woodley and Combs failed to live up to that standard.

In combat, the TAO fights the ship, coordinating attacks on air, subsurface and surface threats. But the role is different during a peaceful transit.

“The TAO has other areas of focus, but if they aren’t worried about the [air] or subsurface threat, they can truly focus on the surface picture,” retired Capt. Bud Weeks, an instructor at the service’s Surface Warfare Officer School, testified on Wednesday.

He said CIC and the team on the bridge needed to be in constant communication to develop a good understanding of what’s happening around the ship.

However, that communication was non-existent during the late night watch, Fitzgerald officer of the deck Lt. j.g. Sarah B. Coppock admitted on Tuesday when she pleaded guilty to a single count of dereliction of duty as part of a plea deal in a special court-martial.

While Coppock admitted she should have talked with CIC during the watch, she “had low confidence in certain [CIC] watch standers.”

“Coppock did comment that she had received poor information from [Woodley] before,” Fort said in testimony.

However, the ship’s executive officer, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, admitted to the Coast Guard during its safety investigation that he didn’t completely trust Coppock and that the inclusion of Woodley in the CIC was to provide backup for a bridge watch team he said wasn’t the strongest.

Woodley and Coppock had very different pictures of what was happening around the ship, and it would have taken communication to reconcile the differences. While the bridge had almost 200 contacts on its SPS-73 radar, the CIC’s SPS-67 radar had an only a handful due to an overall “poor radar picture,” Operations Specialist Second Class Matthew H. Stawecki said at the hearing.

“There was a lot of clutter,” he said.

Part of the reason the picture was muddy was the radar had been set to a long-range so-called “long pulse” mode that made contacts close to the ship difficult to see. The setting couldn’t be directly adjusted from CIC, and Fort’s investigation found there was no effort to contact the ship’s electronics technicians to adjust the radar picture.

“They accepted the fact they had clutter, and they didn’t do anything about it,” Fort said.
“It was the world in which they were living in, and it was the world that was accepted.”

But according to Fitzgerald’s former combat system officer, the circumstances of broken equipment and lapses in crew training were commonplace for a warship that was part of Forward Deployed Naval Force in Japan.

Lt. Cmdr. Ritarsha Furqan, who reported to Fitzgerald in 2014 and left the ship a few months before the collision, said deploying with missing crew, insufficient spares or systems that didn’t work, under the direction of U.S. Pacific Command or Pacific Fleet was the norm — even if what was broken or who was missing violated a deployment redline, she said.

“[Redline issues] were a much bigger deal with U.S.-based ships. They weren’t showstoppers in 7th Fleet,” she said.
“We would find the body, find the part or just make do. … Sometimes I thought it was unsafe.”

The pressure to deploy at a moment’s notice made it difficult for the crew to be proficient in all the tasks they needed to accomplish, and training time was cancelled with no notice for operational tasking, she testified.

For example, following a longer-than-anticipated repair period, the ship had planned for two weeks of independent steaming to get the crew used to being back at sea. Instead, they were ordered to participate in an exercise and spent four months underway, moving from task to task at the expense of training time. Along the way, the ship suffered casualties they couldn’t fix, including the loss of both their unclassified and classified NIPR and SIPR networks.

“I know I’ve stood in my boss’s office and told [previous Fitzgerald commander] Cmdr. Shu, ‘we’re not ready to execute.’ I was told ‘they know,’” Furqan said
“We were told to go. We had to go.”

During the hearing, the defense and prosecutors largely agreed on the facts of the collision but were split on where to place the blame.

Prosecutors said Combs and Woodley shared the blame with executive officer Babbitt and then-ship’s commander Cmdr. Bryce Benson – who faces his own Article 32 hearing on similar charges later this month.

Defense attorneys said to look higher.

“The Fitz was a wreck. A wreck of a ship,” Combs’ defense attorney, David P. Sheldon, said during his closing arguments of the hearing.
“The blame? It lies with the Navy for putting its head in the sand, with putting a ship to sea that wasn’t ready. But the Navy wants only to hold these officers accountable.”

The hearing official will now craft a recommendation on how to proceed and provide it to Adm. James Caldwell, director of Naval Reactors. Caldwell is the Consolidated Disposition Authority who was appointed to oversee accountability actions related to the Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collisions. Caldwell, who was not present for the hearings this week, will decide how to proceed with the case later this summer based on the recommendation.

  • DaSaint

    Some elements of this hearing are eerily reminiscent of the scene in A Few Good Men, where Jack Nicholson yells, ‘You can’t handle the truth! to Tom Cruise.

    Lives were lost due to negligence, poor training, and a lack of accountability – from the top all the way down. May these lessons be well learned so as not to be repeated.

    • David C

      “You can’t handle the truth!” It seems that is the case, but the CNO and CINCPAC should be in the dock along with the OOD. Who knew what, and when did they now it, and why didn’t you know it? In AOCS I marched 4 hours one Saturday, the report chit read: “Word, failure to get the.” The C of C knew about the poor training & maintenance in 7th Fleet, yet they continued with the ops tempo. So far these 2 heavies go scott free. I guess we can’t handle the truth.

  • The officers lackadaisically accepting the systems conditions (radar setting) they inherited from a previous watch is a psychological dynamic often repeated elsewhere. “It was like that when I got here,” is a common excuse. The same can be said for a an unprepared ship pressed forward; when the crew plainly sees shortcomings on a daily basis, they’re less alarmed by the next breakdown, and the next. More tolerating, less compensating. That’s a dynamic the high command is also responsible for.

    I would hope the new V-22 tiltroter COD aircraft can improve the delivery of spare parts over long ranges to remote vessels. A destroyer in the Arabian Sea should not have to wait for weeks until returning to Japan or Bahrain.

    Lastly, there has to be special compensating measures for navigating the Asian littorals. The population of East and SE Asia (nearly 4 billion) is now larger than all other continents combined. The shipping traffic has become extreme. It’s Grand Central.

    • dariusx

      Spot on… excellent and well-reasoned response.

    • Rocco

      Agreed.

    • PolicyWonk

      True enough.

      And you’re right about the Asian littorals: these are the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with hundreds of ships transiting daily – and it’s not a state secret.

      Yet the forward-deployed USS Fitzgerald was undermanned, undertrained, and exhausted, while in San Diego sailors are are being left behind on the pier when their ship leaves port because those ships have more crew than space to accommodate them.

      This is blatant negligence on many levels.

    • Eld

      And they know that. Any excursion into a heavily trafficked shipping lane or high density fishing vessel area needs to be briefed in the control room with all watchstanders. You need to have your tripwires explained and communicated so everyone is on the same page, and proper contact triage can happen. A simple “I had it, you got it” doesnt cut it in that situation.

      • Duane

        On my submarine, whenever we were operating in a high risk environment, we set the “maneuvering watch” until the threats were reduced. That included all port entries and departures, for as long as necessary, depending upon the approaches. All maneuvering watchbill assignments were the ship’s best watchstanders.

        On our arrival and departure in Hong Kong, which involved a very long (all night) surface transit in the estuary of the Pearl River, surrounded by hundreds of regular merchant marine vessels as well as coastal transport and fishing junks, we had to allow for a normal watch rotation, but nobody who was at all green was allowed to stand watch alone.

        The Pearl River estuary is considered the most densely packed waterway on the earth. And but for HK itself, it was all in “enemy territory”.

        I remember well getting off watch during the midwatch, and getting permission to go up on the bridge during our transit into Hong Kong … I was gobsmacked by what seemed to be hundreds, if not thousands, of sets of running lights and junk lanterns bobbing all around us as we smoothly navigated through and between the traffic. Of course a surfaced nuke submarine is all but impossible to see at night by other vessels but for our running lights.

        I was a newly qualified reactor operator and much impressed with my own board-certified capabilities at the time. But after my 30-minute session up on the bridge with the OOD and the bridge lookouts, I came away with a profound new respect for the “forward pukes” who could safely navigate the ship through that roiling traffic jam on the surface!

    • Capt DJ

      The V-22 won’t help if the part is locked up in Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania. I used to get in trouble for CASREPing my equipment, but when my technicians came to me with a problem the first question I asked them and the supply officer was “What does it take to get the part to fix this?.” If we didn’t have it onboard, and couldn’t get it from another ship, the usual answer was that the supply system would not release it without a CASREP (Casualty Report). Sometime a category 2 (Degradation of ships mission) or sometimes a category 3 (Major degradation of ships mission). These reports go all the way up the chain of command and are part of the readiness reports to the highest levels of the chain of command. My commodore would chastise me for honestly reporting my status and doing whatever it took to get parts to fix my gear. The technicians from the ships down the pier were jealous of the support my technicians received. I had the highest retention in 3rd fleet, and one of the top in the entire Pacific Fleet. Of course my commodore killed me on my fitness reports, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

      • Bill Ridings

        Share with us who your Commodore was….no need to suppress the truth here.

        • Capt DJ

          It does not matter- what matters is the culture that suppresses readiness reporting and does not support doing whatever it takes to fix your gear and support your technicians. I had primer in different parts of my ship all the time, for which the commodore continuously gave me the stink eye- because one of my major philosophies was “Don’t paint over rust.” He was part of a culture that encourages, practically demands that you “paint over rust.” This may get you promoted, but if you do this for long enough, and at a senior enough level with training, maintenance funding, reduced manning- then you set up the conditions that led to the Fitzgerald, you make it inevitable. The commodore went on to make 3 stars.

          • Frank Beardsley

            Your ‘commodore’ sounds like my 4th XO as a DH on a CG. I got sick of hearing about how they did things in DC.

  • Ken B. NPB

    As a former military member, equipment was constantly broke, out of order, no funds to replace or repair. I feel their frustration, but the lack of communications between the OIC and CIC or whatever, is outright dereliction of duty. My days now on my 35’ Contender, your head has got to be on a swivel / awareness 110% of all traffic and or channel markers and buoys or you will have problems, that is a given.

    • Rocco

      Kudos

    • Fred Gould

      Having stood numerous underway watches in CIC I am concerned about the lack of communication with the bridge. I was trained and expected to track all close contacts as to course, speed and closest point of approach. Retired CPO

  • Richard Johnson

    Sam,

    Thank you for your great reporting! Please stay on top of what is happening with the Fitzgerald and McCain legal proceedings.

    The Navy would like this mess to go away quickly.

    I am glad that you take the time to report and expose what is happening with these cases.

    • johnbull

      Yes, indeed. Let’s all hope the USN is more committed to solving the problems quickly than it is to seeing them go away quickly!

  • jon spencer

    A $2,000 Furuno with the display on the QMOW’s table could have done wonders. (As long as it was turned on and observed.)
    Instead of relying on a multimillion dollar radar that can count the legs on a fly at 200 miles but cannot see a 780 foot vessel a mile away.

    • USNVO

      You need to review exactly what a SPS-73 radar is.

      • Uncle Mike

        Furuno 2120 + Navy COTS acquisition = $421,000 unit cost. But I’m sure that figure includes training. Oh, wait…

        • USNVO

          Never used a SPS-73 or been on a DDG befor but the Navy Fact file says besides the Furuno radar it includes an ARPA console that includes auto-detection and auto-tracking as well as the ability to display AIS Data and SPS-67 as well as SPQ-9B data. Seems like a good bit of kit but is of no use if someone doesn’t actually look at it.

          Having said that, it is interesting that CIC had so many fewer contacts in their system than the SPS-73. You would think there would have to be some way to synchronize contacts between CIC and the Bridge and clearly that wasn’t happening or CIC was totally checked out and the Bridge was on there own. Maybe even both.

  • DisruptiveChanges

    All this high tech equipment (functioning or not) and all these fancy titles for personnel and areas of the ship they operate in, and nobody used their eyes through window glass.

  • tim

    Ever heard of “planning”? They knew that their ship was in sub-optimal condition. They knew they would be in high traffic territory. They knew that some of the sailors were under performing. They knew status of their systems, that radar was working and had different range settings. Ergo, all those that did “wrong” within their respective field of influence are “guilty”. Geez, even my private simple radar must be set at the right range – that is the most basic setting on a radar! There is NO excuse here and thise on the bridge have the duty to use their eyeballs too!

    • DisruptiveChanges

      Definately, eyes inside or on deck. But wait: if someone’s eyes saw some collision threat would it have to be run up the chain of command before taking corrective action?

      • Rocco

        No their job is to report it!!

    • Stephen

      Agree. Not to mention checklist failure — bring to question fleet approach to prepare for any evolution. Short Pulse in a standard S&A or underway checklist item (MLOC/CSOSS), and Radar configure a setting check for watch turnover.

    • Rocco

      Agreed

    • tiger

      Planning? That barb should be aimed higher to thoose getting budgets together for ship maint.

      • Gregg Brewer

        Has the Navy been short of funds specific to training? Seems I remember hearing that funds were allocated to ops and not to training the last several years. In other words, the buck should stop in DC?

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      Wow, all the work ups, certifications and material inspections, you would think the ship would be in tip top shape! Just goes to show how broken the system is.

  • Stephen

    Sam …. A good piece. I read the released public investigations report carefully. I echo sediment of others that I hope those, and these discussions during hearings/trials, are being “chalk talked” repeatedly and used as “what if” scenario discussion In revolution briefs and daily ops brief on every ship. Core tenant of operational excellence, clearly lacking in these cases. Maybe in other places. I wonder around the world, how a warship CIC team can possibly perceive that it is acceptable to not have clear awareness and synco on the surface traffic out to the horizon? And not to be configuring, working and comunicating constantly to build and maintain that picture or awareness? Beyond just safety of crew and ship, how could a team possibly sort or detect hostile intent or threat without knowing that to begin with? And in the terrorist/third party threat environment that exists today, and has existed since the 90s? Under scrutiny, my sense is no one is doing the hard work every minute of maintains good SA and combat posture in the horizon bubble around the ships. I hope our ship and squadron leaders get the right message. Leaders should be uneasy about “picture” and quality of awareness to the horizon at every moment, and be relentless to improve on every watch. We have no excuses after the inflection point of the USS Cole. We were attacked. We should feel the urgency. “We” inside the ship lifelines own that, regardless of the condition our leadership puts us in …. Our actions and standards to perform should speak, not our condition.

  • Duane

    There is much that is understandable in the performance of the Fitz watchstanders here, knowing human tendencies, but still completely unacceptable in the conning of any vessel.

    Yet there are still pieces of the picture described in this summary that are not even understandable. If the bridge radar was successfully tracking near 200 targets, and surely the large surface vessel provided the largest and nearest return, then why didn’t the bridge team, as led by the OOD, not immediately take evasive action, sound the collision alarm, and at least give their sleeping shipmates a decent chance to prepare themselves and live to see another day?

    Even if the OOD and the CIC team negligently chose to not collaborate, and even if the CIC team were not doing their duty, where the heck was the bridge team?

    Inexplicable!

    • M Yates

      If the bridge repeater showed >200 surface contacts they had the range set wrong. And, I’m not familiar with that system, but I don’t believe CIC’s repeater can’t be set differently than simply mirroring the one on the bridge. If so, that is a monumental design failure and any reasoning behind it is wrong.

      • USNVO

        Different radars. Per the article, the bridge was using the SPS-73 while CIC was using the SPS-67. Not sure how the contacts are coordinated on a DDG, or if the 73 video can even be displayed in CIC, but the fact that the bridge had way more contacts than CIC should have raised all kinds of alarms in both places.

        • Rocco

          Agreed!! Even the watch Stander’s should of seen the collision coming!

          • tiger

            And Titanic should have seen the berg…..

          • Rocco

            Stupid comment!!

          • tiger

            Thats nice.

          • old guy

            This is 2018, not 1912. Idiotic statement.

          • tiger

            Still a historical example of bad watchkeeping and infomation interpretation. Nothing, idiotic other than the end result and loss of life.

          • Bishop Jackson Plant

            Not 1912 either

          • old guy

            When you are 90+ years old it’s hard to see he computer, let alone the keyboard.

          • Donald Carey

            If you knew your history, you would know the Titanic DID spot the berg. The fact is that she was trying to avoid it caused the long gash down her flank which doomed her.

        • David Sargent

          They should have had an ET down there getting rid of the clutter…how come when I was we could take a ship in and out of Sea and Anchor detail…we could navigate safely thru shipping channels…and the officer always took the fault, whether it was ” HIS ” fault or not….OH there are are women on ships now….biggest mistake The Navy ever made….they belong on shore duty…not in CIC!You would not see an officer in my time trying to plead down a charge.;.now there are Entitled officers in The Navy…I am so sorry for US!!!!!!!..

          • USNVO

            Well, not sure when you were in but one need only look at, say, the USS KINKAID collision in 1989 (30 years long enough back or would you like earlier incidents, I can name numerous others if you like from before then as well) to see that this type of accident is neither especially unique or a result of having women onboard.

            Yes, there should have been an ET available, there should have been positive backup for the Bridge team from CIC, there should have been a lookout, someone on the bridge should have used the Binos around their necks (especially now that they have decent Fujinons instead of WWII left overs), alarm bells should have been going off when you only have “a handful of contacts” in CIC in one of the world’s busyest shipping lanes, if the OOD was questionable the CIC watchstanders should have paid extra attention and if the XO had concerns he should have commented in the Night Orders, the TSS should have been marked on the navigation chart, the CO should have planned to visit the Bridge when they were approaching the TSS, there was too much reliance on AIS, people were tired, and the list goes on.

            These types of accident are usually the result of almost total failure across the board. But they are not unique to today and they are not because women are onboard.

          • tiger

            Ditto.

          • Truthiness111

            BS. Do the freaking math. How many ships have all male OOD/CIC , now what percentage of them have deadly accidents? Do the same with the very small number of female OOD/CIC. Quite a different outcome me thinks eh? Men and women were made differently by God. Women are better at some things, men at others. War is a mans job. PC kills, and it will always kill.

          • USNVO

            Well good to know your totally irrational position is supported by an equally poor understanding of statistical analysis. And yet, the KINKAID had a all male crew and yet somehow managed to blunder in front of a merchant ship in an very similar situation, I guess they were effected by the idea that sometime in the future they might have women crew members?

          • bob

            Agreed. Reading the statements from several of the officers, one has to wonder what was going on with that ship. Appalling is a good word. The presence of women has precisely zero to do with any of this.Served with more than a few, some of them were quite badass/ no nonsense professionals. The lowest common denominator is not gender-based; served with a couple of duds too, male and female..

            One question for the more recent mariners in this group; It’s been over 30 years since I stood watch on board a USCG Cutter underway; we had lookouts OTA. Does the modern Navy still put live eyeballs out on deck or are they focusing more on tech? It’s not a sarcastic question, but I am struck by the comment that the LTJG ordered the 5″ mount targeting camera to look on the bearing of the other ship.

          • USNVO

            I would assume because they had side lookouts shown in the watch diagram (although they were shown as not filled) they still have them but they were not filled. That is usually something you do when you are doing Independent Steaming in low traffic areas, like from Hawaii to San Diego, not around Tokyo. But then given everything else that was messed up on the ship, nothing would really surprise me at this point.

            I thought the use of the 5in gun camera to look at contacts is actually a pretty good use of “all available” sources. Obviously there was an FC on watch at the GFCS and the camera on the DDG is way better than the POS camera on the MK86 system. You might as well use it. Even if you have lookouts, CIC can’t directly observe the contact. At night, especially given the deck lighting on most merchants and the crazy lighting many fishing boats use, the probability getting a reliable target angle or identification from a lookout approaches zero. Using the camera can really assist in that, especially if the Bridge is not talking to you.

            The most interesting thing to me was that CIC and the Bridge were obviously not talking to each other. That is not something new, it was probably SOP. That is pretty scary. When collisions occur, especially when it is a surprise to both ships, it is usually because of a total breakdown of pretty much all watchstanders on both ships and that seems to be the situation here.

          • bob

            Very valid points. I was considering the time to orient the camera as to live Mark1 eyeballs giving a shout down the pipe. But as you point out, no lookouts.

            I found the bridge graphic after I posted. I have no idea why they wouldn’t post lookouts, that just seems incredible to me. And why nobody was talking to anyone else is especially in a seaway that busy is just beyond words. That a tanker was able to approach and run over an American warship is just inconceivable for me. The merchie not having a competent watch is not unheard of (the Ambrose Light Tower was routinely hit by merchies coining in, until it was taken out by a significant collision. The Ambrose Buoy still gets run down.) But, I always felt the Navy was more on the ball than this. Not a very good optic. Hopefully, the senior leadership gets the wake-up call and sorts this out sooner rather than later. Our sailors deserve better.

          • tiger

            Gender does not make a radar work better. Nor has it prevented past wrecks.

          • Truthiness111

            Women having cat fights kills.

          • old guy

            Abject nonsense. I had a FEMALE Captain on my 80+kt. SES in 1975. Operated in crowded Gulf, fired first vertical launched SM2 and never got a scratch on her. Difference is indifference

          • ADM64

            Just curious how a ship had a woman CO in 1975.

    • tiger

      Same question could be asked of the tanker crew. What is there crews lookout or radar picture.

    • MDK187

      So much so, in fact, that the “incompetence” explanation becomes impossible to believe. Something else happened here, but all we get is a piss-poor junior-grade cover story. Even a schoolbrat is a better liar.

  • sfbrown69

    Wow! Look how these SWOS throw each other under the bus when it hits the fan. Don’t fix the problem. Fix the blame.

    • proudrino

      SWOs have a long history of eating their own. It is something they learned from Naval Aviators.

  • Leroy

    ” … according to Fitzgerald’s former combat system officer, the circumstances of broken equipment and lapses in crew training were commonplace for a warship that was part of Forward Deployed Naval Force in Japan.”

    How much of the blame will be assigned to Congress and the effects Sequestration had on operations, training and maintenance? Well, none.

    • proudrino

      Sequestration has nothing to do with the 7th Fleet being unfit for duty. Despite the claims of a disgraced flag officer in the aftermath of these incidents, nobody in the Navy stepped forward and said that the fleet was incapable of doing the mission.

      • Leroy

        Not quite. Senior Officers like Richardson and others (from all the services) testified to the lack of readiness and spare parts cause by Sequestration on numerous occasions. Congress ignored their pleas. Perhaps that’s why ships sailed without fully-functioning gear. No I’m not saying it’s all of Congress’s fault, but they are culpable to some extent.

    • PolicyWonk

      Sequestration had nothing to do with it: this is about negligence. San Diego based DDG’s are leaving as many as 30 sailors on the pier when they leave port because they lack the berthing space to accommodate them, while forward deployed ships are undermanned, undertrained, and exhausted.

      Someone’s priorities are totally screwed up: the forward deployed ships should be the priority for crewing and training (which should be blatantly obvious).

      • Leroy

        Sorry, but Sequestration’s consequences, which included lack of money for parts, lack of funds to sail/fly/etc., rippled through not only the Navy, but the entire military.

        Why is it these ships sailed without working systems? Lack of parts. Why the lack of parts? Sequestration. Same goes for training JO’s and junior enlisted. I could go on but I won’t. I stand by my comment.

        • PolicyWonk

          You’re leaving out the obvious problem: the USN, knowing full well that sequestration was in the future, gambled on it not happening, and decided to forego maintenance and training in an effort to sustain fleet numbers (artificially), demonstrating a lack of willingness to learn from past mistakes/experience.

          Other nations prefer to deactivate parts of their fleet in lean times, in favor of keeping existing forces highly trained, well maintained, and effective. The choices made by the USN accomplished none of these.

          The reality is that sequestration was only one part of the problem: poor decision making on the part of the USN (and other service branches) was the rest of the blame lies.

          The necessity of sequestration might’ve been avoidable IF the previous administration and its supporters in the HoR’s had been responsible stewards of the USA’s military/foreign affairs, let alone our fiscal/economic foundation.

          Unfortunately, they demonstrated themselves to be incapable of either.

          • Leroy

            “The reality is that sequestration was only one part of the problem …”.

            Then we are in agreement. Read my comment to commenter “proudrino”.

        • Eld

          The best training is being at sea. No simulator or CBT is going to prepare you.

          • Leroy

            You are right, but lacking money for fuel means you can’t sail, fly, drive tanks, etc. Look at the defense budget under O&M.

      • TheBus G

        30 sailors?
        You know this how?

        • PolicyWonk

          I read it in a defense news feed (and it might’ve even been published here as well).

  • thebard3

    Both the McCain and Fitzgerald collisions have been attributed in part to a lack of training time, and has been downplayed by many. I appreciate the significance. As I remember we did almost nothing other than train or stand watch when underway. In port times were spent for maintenance, training, and watchstanding. Because of this emphasis, there was never an occurrence where the crew didn’t know what to do or how to react to an unexpected situation. Punishment of the ship’s leadership and bridge teams is expected, but overall policy and disregard of procedures by fleet commanders is at least equally to blame. I don’t expect to see criminal proceedings against any of them, though.

    • Eld

      The problem is the new generation of sailors is lazy. They would rather do the bare minimum for quals and then go sit in berthing and play xbox.

      • thebard3

        That’s what the old timers used to say 35 years ago about us.

    • D. Jones

      Maybe it’s training time spent on the wrong stuff.

  • proudrino

    “Then, shortly after crossing into a busy shipping channel, the merchant ship ACX Crystal popped up on the CIC’s commercial ship automatic identification system dangerously close to Fitzgerald.”

    We really ought to look into adopting the stealth technology that caused the Fitzgerald collision.Where were the lookouts? The watchstanders on the bridge? The watchstanders in CIC monitoring sensors other than the AIS? Or was everybody charged with keeping the Fitzgerald safe as asleep on duty as the CO?

    Just more confirmation that the entire crew and, by extension, the 7th Fleet was unfit for duty. The conditions that caused all the mishaps in the 7th Fleet go far beyond a LTJG, a couple LTs, and the CO of the Fitzgerald.

    • waveshaper1

      “The watchstanders in CIC monitoring sensors other than the AIS?”

      The AIS on the Fitz was also broken/inop/had problems; This isn’t covered in this article but you can find more details here “Hearing: Errors by Junior Officers Contributed to Fitzgerald Collision” dated 10 May 2018, located on the Military.Com news site. Excerpt; The radar and the Automatic Information System they were working with were in a “degraded” state, so many of the ships around the Fitzgerald did not appear.

      • proudrino

        If so, that makes the actions of the bridge watchstanders all the more egregious. It all comes down to the fact that large merchant vessels in a busy transit zone do not “pop up” dangerously close.

        I keep reading these reports and cannot fathom exactly what the crew of the Fitzgerald or McCain were doing. Their lack of professionalism in everyday peacetime steaming is embarrassing and taints the entire Navy.

    • Duane

      bs on your “by extension, the entire 7th fleet” commentary!!

      Not a single one of the 4 investigations concluded that the entire 7th fleet was guilty of the poor performance of the 2 collision ships.

      The investigations concluded that the systemic problems were Navy wide, and not peculiar to the 7th fleet. Forward foreign deployed ships have special challenges, but of course, only part of the 7th Fleet is deployed to Japan, and the 5th Fleet also has foreign deployed ships.

      You continue lying and just making up stuff to bang your little anti-7th Fleet drum.

      • proudrino

        Duane, you re very much mistaken. I’m not anti-7th Fleet. I am pro-sailor. And the 7th Fleet failed its sailors from the Commander on down the chain-of-command. The investigations have proven that the systemic problems in the Navy were worse in the 7th Fleet. Yet nobody dared stand up and say anything (other than vague comments about readiness in light of sequestration, lack of personnel, etc.) In this article, we have a comment from a former Fitzgerald sailor who said that the ship was unsafe and yet, she didn’t say anything at the time. If anecdotes like this don’t make the entire 7th Fleet culpable in the mishaps, I don’t know what does.

  • On Dre

    The 5 inch gun camera is for the 5 inch gun. Its not a navigation tool.

    • Eld

      EXACTLY! you have multiple sensors showing a close aboard contact and you decide to use a gun camera to make sure? Jesus Fucking Christ. They should have immediately sounded the collision alarm and taken appropriate evasive manuvers.

      • Capt DJ

        Or they could have asked the lookout- on the 1JV

      • MDK187

        Only the most obvious course of action wasn’t followed.

  • proudrino

    “[Redline issues] were a much bigger deal with U.S.-based ships. They weren’t showstoppers in 7th Fleet,” she said.

    “We would find the body, find the part or just make do. … Sometimes I thought it was unsafe.”

    But I bet she didn’t say anything, even if such concerns were going to be overruled by those higher in the chain-of-command on the Fitzgerald.

  • OSCM(SW)(RET)

    I must agree. This has little to do with ‘handling the truth’ and much more to do with a quiet, lazy mid-watch (yep, spent many, many of those on seven different ships) with little proactive efforts to clear up RADAR clutter, keep the lookouts awake, or communicate with the bridge, Also, I’ve always thought having a TAO in condition three or four steaming as wrong because their focus is to fight the ship. A CICWO is more than enough and, frankly, more appropriate. The same with having a “Surface Warfare Coordinator”. Their focus is inherently different than watch RADAR navigation, surface detection, and basic seamanship.

  • Ed L

    What a mess. Stupidity reigns

  • proudrino

    “The blame? It lies with the Navy for putting its head in the sand, with
    putting a ship to sea that wasn’t ready. But the Navy wants only to
    hold these officers accountable.”

    The Navy wants to hold these officers accountable BECAUSE THEY ARE! I realize a slimy defense lawyer has to go out there and blame shift on behalf of his client- a LT whose unprofessional behavior and dereliction of duty killed seven of her shipmates. While the Navy is indeed addressing the systemic problems highlighted by the 7th Fleet incidents, that doesn’t give LT Combs or any of the others a pass on their actions. And I’m pretty sure SWOS or TAO school didn’t train her to refrain from contacting the bridge or to rely on AIS to keep contacts from “popping up” in traffic separation schemes.

    • yobroman

      Pointing the finger at particular people is what the Navy wants to do, but it completely misses the mark. Urgently deploying when readiness isn’t there shows lack of oversight on multiple levels.

      Unfortunately, people won’t discuss the dependency and tacit approval from those up on top, who could easily provide more time and funds to make the mission successful. They will court-martial those involved, and these will make headlines. However, they will go on with business as usual without fundamental changes to ensure such bad behavior is rectified.

      The USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain incidents almost reinforce a systemic issue with the 7th fleet. You can cite lack of proper training and equipment falls on those on the ship, but what about those who oversee the duties allowed this to occur without fixing it?

      At the end of the day, even if you insist on blaming particular people involved, then please also place as much accountability on the people who put them in charge in the first place.

      • Duane

        You haven’t been paying attention. Long before any watchstanders went to a courts martial, the US Navy conducted three independent investigations, one focused on each individual accident, plus one looking at Navy wide systemic issues. Then SecNav conducted his own broad investigation involving experts from both within and outside the Navy. Numerous admirals and four stripers were fired. A total of 96 systemic issue recommendations were adopted to fix the systemic problems, of which over 80% have already been fully implemented. The rest are being evaluated.

        These courts martials are coming at the tail end of the reaction process.

        This has been the exact opposite if trying to pin it on low ranking scapegoats to save the Navy brass.

        In any event, the guilty parties, no matter how low or high their rank, must be prosecuted and punished accordingly.

        • yobroman

          Ridiculous statement to question who has been paying attention. I’m literally deducing from statements made by ADMIRAL JOHN RICHARDSON, Chief of Naval Operations, during the Department of Defense own briefing, which is on the DOD website. He stated the flaws come from the top, which in turn caused the operators of both ships to “rationalize” what the standards are, and whether or not to enforce them, based on lack of fundamental support. I tried posting the link six times, but this site refuses (puts it in “Pending” status).

      • Truthiness111

        Liberalism put those women who refused to talk to each other while on watch “in charge”. PC / Liberalism kills.

  • S.J. Jolly

    A full courts martial of the OOD would have been too embarrassing of higher ranks?

  • Sam Culper III

    All those Millions in fancy radar while putting 3-4 enlisted sailors outside at all times as look outs while traveling in heavy traffic areas probably would have prevented this and been cheaper. Nothing quite like those Mark 1 eyeballs.

    • proudrino

      You’re making the assumption that the crews of the Fitzgerald and McCain would have paid attention to the lookouts’ reports about looming merchant ships “popping up” dangerously close to the ships. Nothing in the official reports indicate with certainty that the officers on the bridge and combat would have acted on visual reports. And frankly, I have my doubts that they would have.

      • D. Jones

        Get all the Flags out of their offices and assign them to lookout duty. They’ll do something useful and the OOD’s will have to listen to them.

        We have enough to put a couple on every active ship.

        • proudrino

          I like your thinking but do you really want to inflict flag officers on the working Navy?

    • tiger

      Sometimes it is the simple things that lead to bigger ones.

  • D. Jones

    Re-read this excerpt:

    “While Coppock admitted she should have talked with CIC during the watch, she “had low confidence in certain [CIC] watch standers.”

    “Coppock did comment that she had received poor information from [Woodley] before,” Fort said in testimony.

    However, the ship’s executive officer, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, admitted to the Coast Guard during its safety investigation that he didn’t completely trust Coppock and that the inclusion of Woodley in the CIC was to provide backup for a bridge watch team he said wasn’t the strongest.”

    ~and~

    “Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, and Lt. Irian Woodley, the surface warfare coordinator, were both on duty in the windowless combat information in the belly of the guided-missile destroyer on early on the morning of June 17…”

    So Coppock didn’t trust CIC watchstanders, while Babbitt didn’t trust Coppock and adjusted the CIC to compensate for a presumably incompetent bridge team, adding Woodley to shore up Combs apparent inexperience.

    Sounds like people are being put in positions of responsibility for reasons other than competence.

    No doubt Combs and Woodley will also get slaps on the wrist.

    How many other ships have people in positions above their capabilities? It’s easy to blame equipment, bosses or “the Navy” in general, but the people on the job at the time of the incident failed and failed again. Sailors died because of incompetent people running the ship at the time of the accident. Yes, the CO & XO deserve blame for this. So what’s the alternative? Park them and face discrimination charges? It’s in the back of every officers or managers head these days. Will wait to see if the McCain incident has any similarities.

    • D. Jones

      ETA: Any claims of “broken equipment” should be met with “where were the watch people” and assignment of jail time. Just inexcusable.

    • thebard3

      Sounds like a government agency.

    • tiger

      Team effort. Team fail….

    • gokart-mozart

      “No doubt Combs and Woodley will also get slaps on the wrist”

      Not as good as flogging round the fleet…

    • tim

      I wholeheartedly agree – bas enough to have an underfunded service, but in combination with a ppp of the crew, it stands to reason we need to drain the swamp just about everywhere!

  • Curtis Conway

    If Lookouts and the Signal Bridge are not to be manned, then electronic versions must be provided to those who query these individuals manning those stations for ‘eyes on’ information. This is basic. This is fundamental. The FACT that this has been missed in all of these analyses shows just how far My Navy has migrated from fundamental, basic, common sense seamanship requirements and capabilities, that has proven the wisdom of their presence since antiquity. Only the HIGHLY EDUCATED could make such changes, maintaining an attitude that ‘THEY KNOW BEST’, and we can cut manning just by relieving the stations from watch. IF those stations has been replaced with photonic tools like SIMONE (Ship Infrared Monitoring Observation and Navigation Equipment), then perhaps you could pull off that little trick. Even armored equipment is providing greater visual observation equipment to operators to keep them under armor, instead of exposed outside the shell of the vehicle.

    The US Navy needs 50+ multi-warfare guided missile frigates that have a combat system with a strong PASSIVE combat system capability. If manning is not to be maintained at levels that facilitate the lookout stations, and the Signal Bridge, then additional equipment must be provided to provide that observation intelligence and input. I am beginning to wonder if there are ANY Hunters left in the Ivy League.

    • D. Jones

      I’m sure there are RAND studies about rightsizing crew and electronic doodads that will supplant eyes & ears, but the simple fact is competent people need to pay attention to those electronic doodads instead of BS’ing, iPoding and hitting on each other.

      A giant container ship just “pops up” on a monitor? At imminent collision range? Not buyin it. People were preoccupied with whatever.

      Looks like cameras running 24×7 in critical areas are needed. Sad it has to come to that. To make it fair, do the same for flag offices & congress.

      • Curtis Conway

        The other navies of the world who have reduced manning replaced their lookouts with systems like Ship Infrared Monitoring Obser-
        vation and Navigation Equipment (Diehl Defense). There are multiple vendors with similar systems, but the Germans have been using it successfully for years. No substatute for eyes on target, human or multi-spectral. If every lookout could have a STAR TREK Geordi La Forge Visor, it would help, but I don’t think we are quite there yet.

      • Curtis Conway

        An analysis by ANY organization that replaces the Mk1 Mod 0 Eyeball with a radar track on a screen . . . is suspect to the extreme. Only an Academic convinced of their own infallibility could come to such a conclusion. Prov 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

        Those who eliminated the Signalman Rating, and do not post Lookouts are not wise.

      • MDK187

        The official storyline is obviously BS.

  • EddyCurrent

    Knock off the office boy wanna-be sailor bullshit! An OOD that can’t DRIVE THE DAMN SHIP? C’MON! This falls squarely on the ship’s Captain. The CO is the one who qualified the OOD and clearly the capability wasn’t there.

    • Bill Ridings

      And he had plenty of time to evaluate her as a bridge watchstander, having been the XO previously. I’m sure part of the XO/CO cases are going to be showing the FITREPs of LTjg Coppock and their (I’m supposing) praise of her ability.

      • Truthiness111

        Try writing a bad fitrep on a women, see how long you have your job.

  • Rocco

    You can really put the entire blame on her!! If she was all that was available then the senior qualified OOD should of had the Bridge especially crossing a dangerous area! No I’m not sticking up for her as she probably feel awful! & Will live with this the rest of her life. It was stated that she wasn’t trusted so why put her there!

    • gokart-mozart

      “she probably feel awful! & Will live with this the rest of her life”

      Well, isn’t that too bad.

      • Rocco

        GFYS

    • ADM64

      Not the entire blame perhaps, but she admitted to disobeying orders and procedures that she did understand. Knowing the limits of your own knowledge is important, and thus having the good sense to act accordingly is an important part of being a good officer. That she didn’t speaks volumes. As to her feeling “awful and living with this the rest of her life,” I find that an indefensible statement: she failed at her professional duty by willfully disobeying standing orders and men died as a result. They probably felt awful as they died and clearly won’t have a “rest of their lives” to look forward to. But, hey, she’s a woman, and we can’t have real accountability for them in the modern fleet.

  • Refguy

    Does anyone know what Fitz’s mission was? What was so critical that it justified getting underway, at night, with a ship and crew neither of which was mission ready?

  • David Sargent

    As a former OS3..in the real Navy…..we had surface scopes SPS 25…..they should never have had their pulse set for long….coming into a shipping channel and they get clutter….call an ET tell your CICWO….but get it taken care of ASAP…..you do not go into a busy shipping channel with clutter where you can’t see anything around you…we used to go into Hong Kong Harbor and would be on Skunk ZV when we finally anchored..the Jr Officers are the one’s at fault…they are the one’s in charge, they should have been in contact with the bridge..and they also should be in contact with their watch section….I was also an ASAC and did 2 Wes-Pacs and a REFTRA after the yards…we got commendations for that…I was on The USS Hoel DDG 13…part of DESRON 7 the 1st Squadron in The Persian Gulf….40 years ago this year!

    • OSCM(SW)(RET)

      Dave, I think you meant to say SPA-25 which is the repeater (scope).

  • Just Bill

    It is obscene that the US Navy is ruining careers instead of just telling the truth on this collision and the course of the ship before the collision. This ship was on a mission that dark night. I cannot believe this tragic collision and now the tragedy continues with sacrificial lambs.

    • MDK187

      You got that right – all this babble about the magically stupid crew is bunk. Piss-poor even for cover story.

  • notaluvvie

    Agree. These snowflakes have been told all their lives they are the best ever and therefore it’s inculcated in their thinking they don’t need advice or respect for authority, ie calling the CO and having him supervise her.

  • Brian Dias

    Looking at the manner and conditions under which these naval ships operate, merchant vessels would be well advised to give them a wide berth. Inconceivable that just because you are the 7th fleet, you take too many things for granted.

    The rot stems from the top, systemic failure of command and control, I would not give you a sail boat to handle, as you are not only putting yourselves at risk but everyone else as well.

    This should be widely propagated in MAIB fora.

    It’s like giving a trailer truck to a Ferrari driver.

    I would assign the least blame to the actual OOD and the chaps below? doubling up as lookout on radar, after knowing that you have to call an electrician to switch range?. Why is it so complicated in the first place.

    I hope this is a good lesson for all concerned, especially knowing that your vessels are more vulnerable in a colission, there cannot be any substitute for a good look out on bridge.

  • Kevin Owens

    I did two tours in Japan in my career, the last in 1992-1995. I stood Surface Coordinator in the same location of both incidents and others which were just as hairy. All I’ll say is I completely agree with the conditions the ship was dealing with in terms of lack of training and senior leaders putting their heads in the sand. Should juniors be disciplined? Sure but this has been a long-term leadership problem for decades and stemmed from people not wanting to “shake up” a bad culture… thus poor leadership

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    God forbid we were at war.. Good Lord, in todays net centric world, this is inexcusable….

  • waveshaper1

    Lots of additional info from this preliminary hearing was just released tonight. Here’s a few tidbits;
    – AIS inop (maybe they forgot to plug it in or turn that silly on/off switch to the on position)/Excerpt; The AIS, which identifies the name and location of every ship on the system, would frequently go down because of a loose cable, and neither Woodley nor Combs complained.

    – CIC tracking/excerpt; Surface watch wasn’t tracking any contact within 10,000 yards. Woodley failed to track 13 ships that came close enough to be considered “contact” – that is, requiring tracking on the CIC systems — but the watch standers were not aware that any ships had come within 10,000 yards of the Fitzgerald. One ship had come within 650 feet.
    — Crystal tracking data/Excerpt; Data pulled from the Crystal and presented at the hearing showed that the Crystal was tracking 25 to 30 ships in its orbit in the lead-up to the crash.

    – The CIC Radar/Excerpt; The SPS 67 radar in the CIC was set to the wrong pulse, which added what is known as clutter, or fuzziness, to the picture. He said that through his interviews with dozens of sailors on the Fitzgerald that night, the CIC had learned to live with it.

    “Quite frankly, they accepted the clutter on the radar and did absolutely nothing about it,” he said in testimony by telephone.

    Defense witnesses testified that the pulse setting was controlled in a separate room by engineers, and that those in the CIC would not have known it was on the wrong setting.
    – Lots more, etc, etc.

    • MDK187

      In short, we’re supposed to believe that the crew did everything upside-down and inside-out relative to regular order (or even just plain common sense).

    • ew_3

      Having worked in CIC as an EW who helped out the radar gang when we had no real threats and were in high traffic areas (English Channel for example) there were techniques to reduce clutter without changing pulse widths. It’s called turning down the intensity of the PPI scope so only higher energy returns showed up. Have to wonder if in the digital world that this could not be done? Analog hardware has certain advantages. Also note this radar has no MTI capability.
      Can’t imagine working in CIC on one radar and the bridge using another radar. Talk about a guaranteed way of causing confusion. We used to report radar data to the bridge and they would confirm them with their repeater. But they also had Mk 1 eyeballs at work to confirm radar data. God help us if they had a visual sighting and we had no radar track.
      But there was a night while transiting the English channel when we were tracking a target moving at 50+ knots. We called it up and the bridge countered with what are you guys smoking down there. Turns out is was the hydrofoil taxi service from England to france. 😉

      • Frank Beardsley

        One foggy, drizzly evening during the late 1980’s I conned a Nimitz class CVN through the English Channel at 30 kts, launching and recovering the whole way through. The OOD and I were joined at the hip and neither of us ever looked at a radar; the radar watch called bearings to potential contacts of interest and we picked them up visually for bearing drift. The hydrofoils crossing were never a problem – well lit and fast movers.

        • ew_3

          Just guessing your bridge was probably 100+ feet above the water, our bridge (DE-1038) was maybe 30 feet above the water. Our little SPS-5 surface search was no match for what a CVN had. The bridge did not see it is all I can say. But then again, it was 1973 and times change.
          Sadly it was on this North Atlantic cruise I lost respect for most naval officers.
          We were off Murmansk and our IFF was down, and the captain did not want to bother the Commodore of ASW Group 4 (USS Intrepid) with this tidbit. Eventually someone figured out that we were calling A-4s as unknowns. And boy the Commodore was PO’d.
          But our CO went on to get 4 stars.

  • Pardon my ignorance but what happened to the standard mk-01 eyeballs. Were there any lookouts? Port and Starboard was the norm when I was in the USN. If all the equipment was OOC as stated maybe a couple of young seamen could have averted the collision. What are bridge wings for if not for lookouts. Why use a camera in a gun mount and not ask the bridge to take a look? Where were the senior petty officers and CPO’s? Probably down in their respective messes watching videos or playing video games. Did I read the story right that there were two LT.s on watch in CIC? Of course the Teflon CNO is not to blame…authority vs. responsible, what a crock, a shame, a cluster, and for all this lives were lost needlessly. A gross lack of leadership from the CPO mess to the CO’s cabin and all inbetween. Puke to the lee side shipmates. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Retired.

    • Rick Dawson

      Dead on Ken! The lack of adulthood, commonly found in the officer corps, should have been obvious to the senior enlisted. Protecting your troops is paramount. Look like NOBODY had the watch!

  • jerryrigged

    do they no longer have underway watches supported by deck div?

  • Christian Strong

    Is it common to have a Lt JG as OOD on an AB Destroyer? How much time did she have in?

  • vince

    Was there a lookout? Did that person see anything? The deck watch officer admitted guilt and plea bargained. That was a correct decision on her part. The Combat Information Center advises does not direct. Even with but one minute to react there should have been reaction. As the ship was bearing down on my starboard side I would have said, “Right full rudder, Engines stopped”. Just saying – – –

    • MDK187

      Exactly, the most obvious and simplest of solutions. The lack of ANY reaction at all is what makes me think these collisions were somehow intentional.

      • D. Jones

        Or just zero sense of spatial awareness and urgency.

        • MDK187

          Right, two ship’s crews full of dummies with 2D-Vertigo and agoraphobia. That’s why they never look out the window, lest they get a seizure.

  • vincedc

    There is another issue that needs to be considered. The technology on these ships is just getting too complicated. We are putting a billion dollar floating computer in the hands of a bunch twenty year olds, who rotate out of billets just about the time that they are qualified to use all the gadgets on the bridge. Before the balloon goes up, we need to make sure we can fight a war without the equipment lost in a first strike. If a freighter can sneak up on a destroyer, imagine what an Exocet can do.

  • killerbee0925

    In the US Navy where I was a LTJG OOD (1979-1980), if the XO “didn’t completely trust” you, you did NOT qualify for OOD. Period.

    • Truthiness111

      As a former nuke submariner I understand completely, however in the new PC military, if a Captain fails to qualify a woman he has to fear for his job. PC Kills.

      • killerbee0925

        So you know for a fact that sailors died because the CO designated an OOD knowing that OOD was unqualified solely because the OOD was a woman, and the CO feared for his/her career? And you know this how?

        • D. Jones

          The notion that women can’t drive is antiquated. Look at Danica Patrick…

  • dantheman

    Two LT’s in combat and a JG on the bridge as OOD? The time 2 stop this fucking bullshit is now

    • dantheman

      And the CO (incapacitated) in his InPort cabin. Unfucking believable

      • MDK187

        How many of them cvnts, by the way?

  • dantheman

    they were aware of the radar problem so why weren’t the CO and his top guns on the bridge in the heaviest lanes on the planet?

    • MDK187

      Among many other questions.

  • ew_3

    OK, I expect to be laughed at for this, but bring back the draft.
    The absence of the draft has had several very bad unintended consequences.
    I’m old enough to have been drafted and have watched the changes since.

    From a social viewpoint kids don’t grow up like they used to. Many have little or no focus.
    When I got out in 74 and there was a difference between between women I dated who went through high school before and after the draft. A certain intensity was not there in those that hadn’t experienced their fiends being potentially drafted.

    From a military viewpoint the USN has lost out to many truly talented people. Better to do 4 years in the USN where you learn a skill then 2 years shoveling stuff in Louisiana.

    We’ve had to accept people into the USN we would never have in the past just to meet quotas.
    We’ve softened boot camp to make sure they can pass.

    Bring back the draft and the USN will be swamped with high quality applicants.

    And yes, I know generalizations are generally wrong.
    Just a few observations from someone old enough to remember when things were different.

    USN 1970-74

    BTW – while a non-sequitur we now live in a society where educators call the police in when a 6 years old makes a jun out of legos. Would not have happened when I was a 6 year old. My WWII vet uncle would have slapped them silly.

    • MDK187

      Not that there ain’t truth in what you’re sayin’, but society is so thoroughly fvked up today that I doubt even the draft would work as it did back then. You’d get a buncha mommas-boys and transies and faegs and all that schit, with lawmakers bending over backwards to protect the whimps from the drill instructors while in training, and then from the NCOs when deployed.

      • ew_3

        Totally understand what you’re saying. So we need to start small and gradual.

        Perhaps just a 2 to 3 month “boot” camp to get them away from mommy and their teachers and meet real men.

        Make it part of registering for selective service.

        And make it a prerequisite for getting any federal school loans !!!

        • MDK187

          That’s a good idea, but your first problem is right there : “meet real men”. That would have to be phrased “meet real men and women” for legislation. At which point half of Congress, driven by their LGBTQ leashholders, would collectively erupt : “WHAT IS THAT GROSS GENDER-BIAS?! HOW DARE YA INSINUATE IT’S !!JUST!! >>MEN<>WOMEN<< ????!!!!" And from that low start it would all roll downhill – that's the sort of world we live in now. At least until a sufficient barrage of nukes fundamentally changes the social landscape. Or something equally devastating.

  • Paul Stanley

    Stop with the chain of command issues and hogwash, although that may be true. First look to the individual officers.

    Here’s two of my scenarios.

    I was OOD on a DD – mid-watch. Looked down at the gyro and we were off course. I immediately issued the command: “Helmsman. mind your helm”.

    A few minutes later, we were off course again, and once again I shouted: Helmsman, mind your helm”. This time in addition to AYE, AYE, I received the feedback “Sir, the chaplain was talking to me.”

    My next command: “Padre – clear the bridge”.

    A short while later, I looked at my contact status board and there were no timely updates. I hit the 1MC: “CIC, where are my skunk updates?”

    Reply: “The chaplain is talking to us.”

    Hit the 1MC again and sounded “Padre to the bridge”. I then banned him from the bridge and CIC when I had the deck.

    = = = =

    On another occasion, we were steaming and I clearly heard a boiler safety let go – 1,200 PSI. Very unusual.

    I hit the IMC and shouted: Main Control why did a safety let go and is all OK? The reply was, “Sir all is OK”. When I pressed for a real reply, I received the “All is OK” again.

    Next, I called the Chief Engineer (who was my senior) and told him as OOD I was not happy with the replies from Main Control and that I needed answers. Yes, I received my answer.

    = = = =

    What’s the point of these vignettes? The OOD is responsible. The OOD must ensure that all work as a team. If the team is faltering, the OOD needs to take action – without waiting.

    Ya need to set a “Professional tone:”.
    = = =

  • old guy

    1. Where was the CANS?
    2. NO humans on deck? 3. No one on bridge
    3. Therefore, cashier EVERY officer from CINCPAC to watch and deck officers and .
    Great shame for our Navy/

  • old guy

    “POPPED UP”? Shades of the “Philadelphia” story.

    • MDK187

      Grade-A bullschit, if I ever heard one. Along with the “unadjustable” radar-mode.

  • MDK187

    Lots of convoluted craep to make believe the unbelievable.

  • old guy

    HEY, Let’s get the STEALTH technology used for the “Crystal” and apply it to all Navy ships.What a boon. Just think, a 5 knot ship sneaking up, unseen, on a 30 knot ship. What a capability.,

  • dantheman

    “However, the ship’s executive officer, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, admitted to
    the Coast Guard during its safety investigation that he didn’t
    completely trust Coppock and that the inclusion of Woodley in the CIC
    was to provide backup for a bridge watch team he said wasn’t the
    strongest.” —- So then why wasn’t Woodley a LT, the OOD, over Coppock a JG?

  • Jeff McCullough

    When did responsiblity transfer from the Bridge to CIC? In my day the Bridge was absolutely responsbile for everything going on keeping eyes on everything. No wonder this happened.

  • John Bailey

    John Bailey

    With past experience at sea (Combat Watch Officer, JOOD and OOD aboard a Fletcher-class tin can in the late 1960s) I am SHOCKED – SHOCKED – SHOCKED to learn that there were no outside lookouts posted at time of Ftizgerald collision. If memory serves, aboard my tin can, lookouts were posted 24/7, on the Bridge wings (port and starboard) and astern, not to mention the duty signalman/signalmen. I flew drone helicopters back in the day. Is our future Navy going to consist of UNMANNED ships as well, trusting entirely in high-tech traffic sensing systems? Boy, oh Boy!

  • Marc Apter

    Where exactly do the Port and Starboard lookouts, as well as the after-lookout specifically stand while on watch on DDG-51 Class Ships?

  • Robert Warner

    Radar range settings…. CIC couldn’t adjust them….

  • joe

    Are we to believe that the watch stander in CIC was unable to select different ranges on his radar scope. That sounds highly unlikely. Why would you need an electronics tech to go to another compartment to change the range that the scope was displaying. If true, that would constitute a major design flaw. I doubt that the ship would have ever passed Quals. Sounds like someone was trying bs the court of inquiry.

  • Bob Randall

    sometimes modern technology is your undoing