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iDuckman

The US Navy has a problem

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I am a Life Member of the US Naval Institute, which publishes Proceedings of the [USNI]. This is a brief excerpt of a summary of the findings of the recent fatal collisions involving USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain.  (The text of the reports has not and probably never will be released publicly.)   Both ships were forward deployed as part of Carrier Task Force 70.

► "On board the Fitzgerald , the bridge watch members failed to understand the evolving situation; did not operate equipment properly, although it is unclear whether that equipment was broken or simply not understood; failed to adhere to navigational rules; were unsupported by watches charged to back them up; and failed to alert the commanding officer (CO) at any point prior to disaster.

►  "In the case of the John S. McCain , no one on the bridge seemed to have a grasp of standard, non-casualty, ship control console (SCC) operation.

" .. everyone from the COs to the destroyer squadron commander to the strike force commander to the fleet commander to Commander, Pacific Fleet, to the head of surface warfare already has been fired or forced figuratively to drink hemlock. .. some of these persons [may] be court-martialed and will receive punishments that will signal to the public that the Navy approaches/views these accidents with utmost seriousness." [emphasis mine]

Yet the situation does not seem to have been created by the personnel but by policy.  What happens when our sailors - that can't seem to handle relatively simple navigational systems - are tasked to employ far more complex warfare system?  When USS Nitze in Oct. 2016 was tasked to defend and then retaliate against Yemeni anti-ship batteries, she couldn't even get her radars to work. 

This does not make one sleep easier.

 

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IMHO it is due to less time training for war or operations and too much time devoted to sensitivity training and the like.... A decade of disgusting, repulsive policy changes has driven the warfighters out of the military.

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They should probably turn off "collision avoidance" in settings. 

Edited by SoftAndCute
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Human error in navigating vessels properly will always be a problem. It is more shocking to see it in Naval Vessels. Poor navigation can happen anywhere, any time.

 I was a navigating officer aboard a ferry. One thing a subordinate might not do is contact the Captain early enough when in doubt about a developing situation. Usually, the Captain has a 'standing order' about that. Another point, new navigators often stick their face in a radar screen too much. It is an aid only. 'Looking out the windows' is the cardinal rule here.

&, yes, OP, sometimes 'policy' overrides common sense navigational seamanship & a lack of proper training. The good thing is these ship collisions are rather uncommon.

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11 minutes ago, Taylor3006 said:

IMHO it is due to less time training for war or operations and too much time devoted to sensitivity training and the like.... A decade of disgusting, repulsive policy changes has driven the warfighters out of the military.

to be fair we haven't fought a real war since vietnam operation desert storm was a 15-0 victory and the war in panama was ridiculously easy to win and the navy doesn't really do much when you are fighting terrorist.

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18 minutes ago, Taylor3006 said:

IMHO it is due to less time training for war or operations and too much time devoted to sensitivity training and the like.... A decade of disgusting, repulsive policy changes has driven the warfighters out of the military.

100% incorrect. It is due to reduced funding, leading to reduced manpower and reduced training.

 

I would suggest, respectfully, that you also reconsider the words you used.

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I remember when they closed Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport in 2003, and decided to send all new accession surface officers directly to their ships right after commissioning, i.e. you're a college senior in May, and boom June and July, 1-2 months later you're on board your ship and you're in charge of driving the ship and working with your new division of 15-20 sailors. They gave each command 23 CD-ROMs that consisted of the new CBT to replace the 6 months of training before ensigns headed out to the fleet to issue out to our new ensigns and we were now the OJT portion of the training.   

 

So instead of standardized training, now it depended on each ship to train - and of course there is no standardization, each ship does things differently.  Some ships are good, some ships probably weren't as good.  But no ship really has extra time to hold "basic training"  The ship is always training to get its crews to maintain certifications, so now we were being asked to conduct the training the officers would have received before reporting to their first ships - on the job...

 

Seamanship training is always hard - there's always transiting in and out of port - so it was easy to get new ensigns driving time going in and out of port, but other evolutions, like mooring to a buoy and anchoring are more rare, and so it's hard to get all the officers an anchoring, or other evolution.   

 

Equipment for collision avoidance used to consist of a SPA-25G repeater with white grease pencil and wooden tongue depressor and maneuvering boards.  Learning curve was steep, but once you got it, you'd supplement your visual scan, and your radar plot on the scopehead and paper plots.. Newer ships started receiving ARPA, which would automate all the calcuations need to compute other ship's courses and speeds, stuff we used to do directly on the scopeheads.

 

So 14-15 years later, we have a whole generation of officers whose training is all OJT and subject to whatever experience they picked up at their previous commands.

 

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2 minutes ago, TheKrimzonDemon said:

100% incorrect. It is due to reduced funding, leading to reduced manpower and reduced training.

 

I would suggest, respectfully, that you also reconsider the words you used.

Absolutely correct. Training always falls to op tempo and lack of funding. We may not be at war but the US Navy is still forward deployed and showing the flag in front of potential enemies. This higher op tempo keeps ships at sea longer with the expectation that training is successfully done "on the job". Advanced systems cannot be learned in this way and especially while on a watch.

 

Sure, anyone can say this was all human error, but the reality is - policies or not - the training isn't getting adequately done. The Navy will correct this deficiency. Each one of our services has encountered similar situations and each one has brought their focus back to fixing the problem. This is a speed bump that, unfortunately, cost lives which makes it a tragedy.

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9 minutes ago, TheKrimzonDemon said:

100% incorrect. It is due to reduced funding, leading to reduced manpower and reduced training.

 

I would suggest, respectfully, that you also reconsider the words you used.

Phhhbtt. As a Navy vet I disagree. I have talked with lots of my friends who are still on active duty and the stories they tell me are revolting about what is going on. 

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2 minutes ago, Taylor3006 said:

Phhhbtt. As a Navy vet I disagree. I have talked with lots of my friends who are still on active duty and the stories they tell me are revolting about what is going on. 

You aren't the only Navy vet here, friend, and many of us are disabled vets, to boot.

 

The reason I suggested you alter your word usage is that you're in danger of going over the line and violating the forum rules. That I also disagree with you is irrelevant in the point I was making.

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3 minutes ago, Taylor3006 said:

Phhhbtt. As a Navy vet I disagree. I have talked with lots of my friends who are still on active duty and the stories they tell me are revolting about what is going on. 

Give me a break you are talking a few hours per year, maybe 10 max, given over to that kind of training all lumped in with other recurring non combat related training such as counter intel briefs and OPSEC training.  Certainly not enough time spent to cause this loss of basic proficiency 

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13 minutes ago, TheKrimzonDemon said:

You aren't the only Navy vet here, friend, and many of us are disabled vets, to boot.

 

The reason I suggested you alter your word usage is that you're in danger of going over the line and violating the forum rules. That I also disagree with you is irrelevant in the point I was making.

My word choices are not vulgar and do not violate any terms of service I know of. It is one thing to "get close to the line" and quite another to go over it. Kind of like doing 55 mph in a 55 mph zone.  I am close to violating the law, but am not..  Anyways I disagree that anything I said was bad, just what my friends have advised me about the current state of my beloved Navy. 

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We have the same number of ships at sea at any given time as we did when our navy was twice the size. This has led to a criminal lack of training and maintenance. 

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I agree with @Taylor3006 to some extent.  The SecNavs under the previous CiC seemed more concerned with social experiments than readiness (as did, strangely, a command chief or two).  The sequester hurt a lot.  But I don't think those are the core issues.   @wtfovr got as close as anyone: it seems to be that division officers don't get enough experience to know what the division needs to be able to do to do it's job, and that includes XOs and COs. 

I apologize for not linking the article directly.  Here it is.

https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2017-11/collision-reports-reveal-bigger-issue

Edited by iDuckman
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3 hours ago, aethervox said:

The good thing is these ship collisions are rather uncommon

Would that it were so.

Jan. 31: The USS Antietam runs aground

May 9: The USS Lake Champlain collides with South Korean fishing boat

June 17: The USS Fitzgerald collides with a Philippine container ship

Aug. 21: The USS John S. McCain collides with a merchant ship

Nov. 18: The USS Benfold collides with a Japanese tug

 

You starting to see a pattern here, bubala?

Edited by iDuckman
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3 hours ago, Taylor3006 said:

My word choices are not vulgar and do not violate any terms of service I know of. It is one thing to "get close to the line" and quite another to go over it. Kind of like doing 55 mph in a 55 mph zone.  I am close to violating the law, but am not..  Anyways I disagree that anything I said was bad, just what my friends have advised me about the current state of my beloved Navy. 

 

It's not yours, it's ours, including Americans who help pay for it. 

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SWOs can't pilot their ships and hulls are operating with minimal crew with almost no ability to sleep properly. We should be happy we made it this long before it started happening.

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On 11/18/2017 at 8:00 PM, iDuckman said:

  What happens when our sailors - that can't seem to handle relatively simple navigational systems - are tasked to employ far more complex warfare system?  When USS Nitze in Oct. 2016 was tasked to defend and then retaliate against Yemeni anti-ship batteries, she couldn't even get her radars to work. 

This does not make one sleep easier.

 

You do realize that the folks who drive the ship and the folks who operate the combat systems equipment are two separate departments, with different areas of expertise, skill, and training? Ditto for the qualifications for an OOD versus a TAO. 

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On 11/18/2017 at 8:23 PM, Taylor3006 said:

IMHO it is due to less time training for war or operations and too much time devoted to sensitivity training and the like.... A decade of disgusting, repulsive policy changes has driven the warfighters out of the military.

How long have you been out? You seem to have a rather specific agenda with your posts here. 

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Turn immediately to ad hominem, eh?

These aren't my opinions only.  What I have posted here is largely a paraphrase of an article by Capt. Kevin Eyer (ret).  "Captain Eyer served in seven cruisers, commanding three Aegis cruisers: the USS Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), Shiloh (CG-67), and  Chancellorsville (CG-62)."  (see link above)

Does he have an agenda?  Yeah, I rather expect so. 

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My cousin was on a sub and he told me his ship has hit more fishing vessels than any other, always happens when they surface and is pretty common

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On ‎11‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 7:26 PM, RipNuN2 said:

We have the same number of ships at sea at any given time as we did when our navy was twice the size. This has led to a criminal lack of training and maintenance. 

The Navy is relying more and more on yard time and contractors to do serious maintenance.  Ship's crew are often times not just unfamiliar with how to fix gear, they're incapable of it because they lack training on how to do it, the tools to do it, and the parts aren't on board.  That saves a lot of cash on parts in the supply system, the cost of tooling, particularly test equipment that's often ungodly expensive, and lowered expectations of the crew themselves.

Training is the same way.  The budget is limited.  School slots are limited.  The higher ups see it as nothing but an expense that can be eliminated to provide money for something more important to their agenda.  School time is often handed out as a reward of sorts for doing something like reenlisting rather than as a needed and necessary thing to get the crew up to speed.

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On 11/18/2017 at 7:43 PM, TheKrimzonDemon said:

100% incorrect. It is due to reduced funding, leading to reduced manpower and reduced training.

 

I would suggest, respectfully, that you also reconsider the words you used.

What experience do you have?

 

2011-2015 war fighting was a tertiary goal.

first was maintaining chiefs egos, second was pointless and extra duties, qualifications, and extracurricular responsibilities, then came war fighting.

 

engineers don’t have to take part in security drills, but all topsiders have to do DC drills, don’t drink and drive training is prioritized over shooting and weapons.

 

as a mk38 tech I didn’t get to shoot a moving target until just before deployment, and then only twice, my other gunners only got to once.

 

Funding has a bit to do with it, but when telling people not to fry a turkey is mandatory training that takes priority over maintenance or actual military training that’s an issue 

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It's almost like the military got turned into a social program then as an actual fighting force. And people are surprised that training suffered because of it.

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