Navy’s Report on Fitzgerald Collision Is Evidence Of Corruption

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 August 20, 2017|
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Two months after the USS Fitzgerald’s June 18 collision with a freighter in the Sea Of Japan, the Navy announced that the ship’s commanding officer, executive officer, and senior enlisted man were being relieved of their positions. It cited “loss of confidence” in them, and released a lengthy report on what happened aboard the ship after the collision. That report, however, contains no hint of accusation of improper or insufficient behavior on anyone’s part. It is silent about what actions on the part of the Fitz led to the collision in the first place, citing “continuing investigation.”

But the indisputable facts about the ship’s courses, speeds, and decisions prior to the collision were in the Navy’s hands the moment that it returned to Yokusuka, if not before. In sum the Navy, by punishing officers whose responsibility was merely formal and by avoiding discussion of who made what actual decisions, suggests to the attentive reader by what it says and by what it withholds, that it is hiding its own corporate responsibility.

Who is responsible for what, and why does the Navy obfuscate the question?

At the time of the collision, the captain was asleep in his cabin, as he had every right to be, having issued “night orders” to the officer of the deck (OOD). That is the name of a position which rotates among any Navy ship’s qualified officers. The person who holds it exercises command over routine matters most of the time. On the bridge of the Fitz, the OOD was in charge.

OODs on duty receive exact, timely, information from the ship’s sensors, including Combat Information Center (CIC) about the location, course, speed, and trajectory of all objects on, above, or below the surface. In 1969, when I was responsible for my ship’s CIC, such reports would take about ten seconds to churn out manually. Nowadays, they are graphed automatically, precisely, instantaneously. In short, the Fitz’s OOD had precise warning, perhaps 45 minutes before the collision happened, that he was on a collision course. Such warnings happen all the time. The OOD either removes the problem by changing course by one or two degrees on his own authority, or, if the captain’s standing orders say so, he notifies the captain who then makes the course adjustment. Surely, this OOD did none of the above.

Staying on course means that, eventually, the Fitz came to close quarters with the freighter. We do not know (though the Navy knows) whether, at that point, the OOD stayed on course and hit the freighter or hit the freighter as result of an incompetent maneuver. But we do know that he did not notify the captain because, at the time of impact, the captain was asleep in his cabin.

The Navy’s report contains a timeline, according to which the “General Quarters” alarm “was sounded” nearly fourteen minutes after the impact. The report uses the passive voice. But the OOD was the only person authorized to sound it. Fourteen seconds would have been almost too long to wait. But fourteen minutes?

The Navy’s report mentions the names of other officers—but not that of the OOD. Who is this officer, and why the Navy’s effort to divert attention from his identity? Is he an admiral’s son, whose misdeeds are being buried as was John McCain’s responsibility in 1967 for starting the fire that killed 137 men on the USS Forrestal by giving his airplane’s engine a flaming “wet” start? Perhaps the Fitz’s OOD is a member of a politically “protected class,” despite incompetence?

Unfortunately, the Navy is giving us one more example of how America’s ruling class deals with its failures: indict formal scapegoats, issue long reports that sidestep the key issues, and close the matter by promising to “continue  the investigation.” That is why serious persons assume that official reports are cover-ups.

The Navy’s report gives reason to suspect that the latter suggestion might explain it, by mentioning that the officer in charge of damage control was a woman, and that she managed the damage control parties from the bridge, using the 1MC public address system. This is doubly bizarre. Naval damage control, requiring as it does pulling and pushing and turning and lifting and dragging things and bodies that are heavy and broken, is so demanding of physical strength that, normally, it gets assigned to the strongest officers and men aboard. Since success in damage control depends so heavily on stopping troubles as close to the source as possible, speed of decisions and execution is essential. Like any other officer who has received damage control training I cannot imagine trying to manage a fast moving situation by having someone close to the problem interpret the problem for me and then relay my orders to the men doing the work. Who then judges how well the solution is working? What else to try and where?There is no substitute for responsible eyes and hands on the problem. And so, one vital hatch was closed enough to block anybody escaping through it, but not enough to stop the sea from continuing to rush in.

The Fitz’s damage control fiasco may be a small reflection of the OOD’s failure on the bridge. What was that officer doing before the collision that so diverted his/her judgment, and after the collision that it took him/her 14 minutes to sound General Quarters? Drugs? Sex? What kinds of people and policies are in at the controls in today’s Navy? Unfortunately, the Navy is giving us one more example of how America’s ruling class deals with its failures: indict formal scapegoats, issue long reports that sidestep the key issues, and close the matter by promising to “continue  the investigation.” That is why serious persons assume that official reports are cover-ups.

About the Author:

Angelo Codevilla
Angelo M. Codevilla is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace, Hoover Institution Press, 2014
  • Sam McGowan

    The bit about John McCain “wet starting” his airplane and causing the fire on the Forrestal caused me to lose interest in this article. I am a retired professional pilot and until recently, I had never heard the term “wet start.” I was an enlisted aircrew member in the Air Force and one of my jobs was to monitor the engines during start. Occasionally, a flame would shoot out the tailpipe because fuel had leaded in it and ignited when the engine started. However, I cannot imagine any pilot deliberately putting fuel into his exhaust as a joke because it can potentially destroy an airplane. Furthermore, I’ve read the accident report. John McCain WAS NOT IN FRONT of the airplane that accidentally fired the missile. His airplane was on the other side of the flight deck and the missile hit his wing man’s airplane. Now, I am no fan of John McCain but this story is a lie invented by his opponents when he was running for president. As for the Fitzgerald, the report doesn’t surprise me. I was sure when I heard what had happened that someone was negligent. As Angelo said, modern ships have all kinds of warning systems and even older ones have radar which will show anything that’s on the water. My guess is somebody was stoned. (Don’t be surprised if the OD was a woman.)

    • The problem with ‘somebody was stoned’ is that no one person in ‘whatever’ state could have caused this. It really takes several people being somehow completely out of the picture to allow such a collision to happen. I believe the Commander of the 7th Fleet relieved about a dozen people: That would be (roughly) everyone on watch above the main deck plus the captain — and that’s just about the number who would have to have completely failed to do their duties.

      Stuff that just makes you shake your head …

    • Gadsden

      I can’t stand John McCain and I’ve heard various stories regarding his military career that called into question his honor. I recently met a retired senior officer who knew McCain in the military and he said while he also cannot stand his politics, all the stories are bs. He said McCain has always been a Democrat, but just runs as a Republican, which explains why he is a worthless backstabber.

      • Anarchus

        I think the stories about McCain’s troubles in flight school are legit – but so long ago, “who cares”?

      • RM

        I dislike McCain, but as a fellow naval aviator, I can tell you the stories ARE BS.

      • G.Frazier

        I don’t have an opinion, one way or the other, when it comes to McCain. However, when you used those first three words, you get my blood boiling because I, for one, can stand neither of the Clintons, Al Gore nor the buffoon, Obama!

        • Gadsden

          Neither can I, but McCain is worse in many ways, because he lies to voters about who he is. He’s a liberal turncoat who pretends to be conservative when he’s up for re-election. Obama’s always been up front about his socialism.

          • RM

            Why Arizona kept sending him back to D.C. IS BEYOND ME. But, it seems once elected your good for life. We need term limits, badly.

    • Anarchus

      Agree completely. Angelo Codevilla should know better. He’s quite wrong on McCain on the “wet start” scam.

    • RM

      You’re right to lose interest. The old story about McCain is a lie. I’ve seen the video of what happened. A Zuni rocket “cooked off” and fired into the pack on the opposite side of the ship. The side McCain was on. So much for the “wet start”. I was a naval aviator for 20+ years before I heard about that “technique” in an article about McCain.

      • SupplyGuy

        I’ve seen the video as well. You’re right, McCain, even though he is an @$$hole, did not start the fire on the FORESTALL.

    • fb274

      Other reports indicated he accidentally tripped a firing pin when he jumped out of his plane after this incident and went below to the pilots lounge and watch what was happening on deck with all putting out the fires and carrying off the dead. The report I read was from one of the Sailors on board.

      • 1twothree4

        Gawd! There is no ‘Firing pin’!

  • Nightmare

    USS John McCain DDG-56 has just been reported to have collided with Alnix MC off Singapore.

  • MrInvestor

    As a former Surface Warfare Officer with service on Cruisers and Destroyers in both PacFlt and LantFlt, can tell you that much of this piece is bloviating nonsense. If the author would like to retain a shred of credibility he would do well to erase it. Another armchair admiral pontificates without relevant facts. The Navy will ultimately put the facts out. There is no “conspiracy”. It is a shame that those directly impacted by this tragedy are subjected to the rantings of the self-absorbed.

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    • mllyjul

      That’s odd, the author of this article lays out very specific issues with logical questions and rational points of concern. You, on the other hand, practice 3rd grade playground name calling and fail to express even one rebuttal to the authors well laid out points. It is almost as if you are a troll trying to taint a very good article that is probably filled with truth, but aren’t quite up to the challenge.

      • JFKY

        Well he lost me with blaming Juan McVain for the Forrestal fire….Plz read Sailors Until the End for an excellent description of that event….none of which involves McCain being “responsible” for anything.

      • MrInvestor

        Though I am busy this morning I will be glad to respond in more detail later today. In the meantime, perhaps you would like to do a little work to see if you can find his errors.

        • mllyjul

          I am guessing if you HAD more detail, you would have included it in your first comment. My guess is, you have nothing.

          • MrInvestor

            You guess wrong. I am a managing partner of an investment firm. I don’t comment on blogs for a living. That said, my comments are intended to point out the errors and wild assumptions in the post. No one has the answers because the facts are not yet publically available.

      • JFKY

        Yes, none of the complaints are based upon reality, such as the swipe at Senator McCain, and the rest tend towards “what we weren’t told”…one cannot really address the issue on the basis of what we were NOT told, to do so is to merely engage in 1) Speculation or 2) Conspiracy theory, take your pick.
        The only fact we have is “GQ” was not sounded for 14 minutes, which seems 1) a very long interval & 2) quite irrelevant as I am pretty sure the crew knew something very bad had just happened to the the USS Fitzgerald pretty much within seconds of the collision.

        • mllyjul

          The author of this article is not the first to call John McCain’s military service into serious question so as far as that goes it is probably a matter up for differing opinions. I don’t know as I was not there, however, judging from John McCain’s current lack of moral character, I would say that it is entirely possible that what the author said about McCain is true. Further, what he said about McCain maybe his opinion, but the other valid points he raised are not. As to your feeble points #1 and #2 it is not speculation, it is based on a review of the report that was released. Also, if the military runs on ANYTHING it is very specific procedures and protocols for every situation. Not sounding an alarm when protocol calls for it is dereliction of duty. Period. Got anything else?

          • JFKY

            Well you can question all you want, but the REALITY IS the Forrestal fire was caused an aviation ordnance short-cut and a voltage surge on start-up of an aircraft, resulting in a 12.7 cm Zuni rocket being, accidentally, fired across the flight deck.

            All the rest of your response is just silly…UNTIL you can show something, it’s ABSENCE means nothing….so the absence of names means NOTHING….and to say otherwise is merely to SPECULATE or to promulgate a CONSPIRACY.

            The DCO does NOT fight fires or move timbers, the DCO is to remain at DC Central to monitor the damage & damage control state of the ENTIRE VESSEL…..going to the site of A fire does nothing to accomplish that mission, when it may be flooding or loss of power elsewhere that is the real threat to the ship. So, the DCO does NOT leave DC Central unless s/he cannot effectively monitor ship’s status & repair from that position! SO, unless the DCO was ALSO the Watch Officer during the collision their sex and their name is irrelevant to the discussion.

  • This article may turn out to be meaningful but it’s sure in hell premature. Where the Navy is right now is that the investigation of the collision has been completed and a report has been issued detailing the time line and the actions of the various parties. The relevant senior commander has taken action that is justified based ONLY on such a report: Relieved (and transferred) a number of officers and enlisted personnel who — according to his reading of the report — no longer have his confidence. That’s NOT, legally speaking, punishment: It’s what your DMV will do if you go blind — take away your license.

    IF this is all that happens, I’ll agree with Codevilla. But there’s no reason to think it is. The next logical step would be courts-martial for those officers and perhaps other personnel whose performance represented not merely inadequate qualifications but potentially criminal malfeasance. Those courts will have to finish their work and their reports and recommendations for disciplinary action be approved by higher authority. At that point we’ll likely get a much more detailed picture of just how and why this “never should happen” collision came about.

    My guess: Some very strong actions will be taken. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a couple of officers do time in Leavenworth.

    Why don’t we have the whole report including the narrative up to the time of the collision? Same reason we don’t get police and witness descriptions and surveillance video of a crime when the suspect(s) are captured: Such material getting out in public would likely taint any possible jury. The military equivalent of the jury is the officers (and possibly enlisted personnel) who would serve on a court martial and the same issue — forming impressions other than based on the cases presented by the two sides — obtains.

    Procedures and terminology for courts-martial are quite different from a civilian court of law but the same sorts of issues and safeguards exist.

    I did the Combat Information Center Watch Officer and Officer of the Deck underway jobs for a couple of years back in the early 60’s. I have a vivid imagination but I haven’t been able to come up with a scenario in which a collision like this can occur without genuinely criminal inattention to duty. Let’s remain calm and see how the next phases develop.

    Yes, a whitewash is possible: The Navy has done it before — or at least tried. But we’re not there yet. The facts we have so far are consistent with a careful and professional handling of a truly nasty event.

  • “… the officer in charge of damage control was a woman, and that she managed the damage control parties from the bridge, using the 1MC public address system. This is doubly bizarre. Naval damage control, requiring as it does pulling and pushing
    and turning and lifting and dragging things and bodies that are heavy and broken, is so demanding of physical strength that, normally, it gets assigned to the strongest officers and men aboard. Since success in damage control depends so heavily on stopping troubles as close to the source as possible, speed of decisions and execution is essential. Like any other officer who has received damage control training I cannot
    imagine trying to manage a fast moving situation by having someone close to the problem interpret the problem for me and then relay my orders to the men doing the work. Who then judges how well the solution is working? What else to try and where?There is no substitute for responsible eyes and hands on the problem. And so, one vital hatch was closed enough to block anybody escaping through it, but not enough to stop the sea from continuing to rush in.

    “The Fitz’s damage control fiasco may be a small reflection of the OOD’s failure on the bridge.”

    Mostly true, based on a number of assumptions that may or may not be correct. Among the other issues: Where is Damage Control Central on this class of ship? It is well below the waterline and might either have been flooded, comm facilities damaged, or not safely accessible. In any of those cases the bridge (and use of the 1MC ship’s announcing system) might well have been a reasonable choice — there aren’t that many places aboard ship that would have easy access to the needed communication lines.

    The Damage Control Officer MIGHT be at the scene of the damage but because his responsibility is ship-wide and the necessary info would normally funnel to DC Central (or alternate if DC Central’s not usable) the odds are that’s the best place for him. At the scene work would be supervised by a senior (usually Chief) petty officer.

    Like the discussion of the collision itself, this is seriously premature.

    • SykesFive

      My understanding is that the DCA is generally supposed to stay at central because the DCA has to keep the big picture in min. If the DCA is literally out fighting fires, pumping, etc. then the danger arises that some action that seemed reasonable on the scene will result in disaster, or that some step will be missed in the excitement.

  • Dan Schwartz
  • XBradTC

    What was released was a “Line of Duty” investigation. That is, were the sailors killed or injured in the line of duty, or, did they cause their own injuries.

    The JAGMAN and other investigations continue.

    While the command triumvirate has been relieved, that is simply an administrative action, and all hands are *still* liable to further punitive actions under the UCMJ.

    And because they are still liable, it is far too soon to release information regarding the incident.

    • TheGipper

      They knew exactly what happened the day it happened.

      • “Knowing” what happened and being able to spell out and prove details before a series of courts-martial — I could easily see several of them in this situation — are two different things. And releasing to the public what the Navy ‘knows’ before the courts-martial are conducted would taint the pool of officers and others who might serve on those courts.

        Furthermore ships are huge machines with thousands of working parts. It is the Navy’s practice to wring every possible shred of information about the machine’s performance from one of these events. You can test each part separately, you can (and do) do practice drills to try to exercise whole systems, but a real collision, combat action (etc.) is a much better test and you cannot do it just to see what happens.

        There are typically hundreds of detail findings and recommendations about how the ship, its equipment, and the operators of that equipment performed in such an event and they will (are guaranteed to) change procurement, training, and administrative practices.

        For example: Portable pumps were used to help control the flooding. Was the storage of those pumps convenient? Were the necessary accessories in the right places? Enough hose in good condition in the right places? Did the crew know how to operate the pumps? Was operation under nighttime/poor conditions okay? Did they start promptly and continue operating as long as needed? These questions will be asked for literally every detail of every step in both avoidance of the collision (which DIDN’T happen) and dealing with the consequences and for every part and individual involved.

        You cannot look around a warship and not see HUNDREDS of visible details that are as they are today because someone bled for the lack in the past. Those bright orange hoses pouring water over the side? When I did damage control they were regular dirty tan canvas fire hoses and in poor light and an emergency you could easily fail to see and thus trip over one.

        Those double-insulated hand power tools you buy at Wal-Mart? The CASE is plastic AND the wiring inside is well insulated. The U.S. Navy pioneered that because the metal case tools of my youth had to have a ground wire on the case so that if the wiring inside touched the case the operator didn’t get electrocuted. (Steel ships, wet decks … electrocution is a major concern.) So … what if the ground wire breaks? But — double insulated tools don’t need (or have) a ground wire.

        After WW II we did similar analyses of the loss of the Japanese ships working from their records in order to extract from those losses lessons that might be applicable to our ships.

        “Knowing what happened” on the first day isn’t a drop in the bucket.

        • NoBS NoSpam

          Your points are all valid, under civilian rule of law.
          You do realize they can execute Military spy’s, right?

          • RM

            You appear not to understand that all military members have legal rights. The due process of military justice is quite rigorous. I see you got your knowledge about the the military from “JAG”.

        • Excellent post. I learned a lot from it.

  • LT Rusty

    This is pure stupidity.

    Yes, there are plenty of questions to ask about what happened and why, but you’re diving down the wrong fucking rabbit hole here.

    Tell me: do you know the difference between the CO’s inport cabin and at-sea cabin on a DDG? What are they used for? Where are they located? Which one was FTZ’s commanding officer sleeping in, and why?

    Figure out the answers to those questions and you might get somewhere. Quit wasting your time trying to blame women at sea for this.

    • TheGipper

      Like it makes any difference where the CO was sleeping. He wasn’t woken up do it doesn’t matter. The public has a right to know EXACTLY why a state-of-the-art ship of war can’t just drive around the ocean without running into a gigantic freighter. How can a ship like this fight in a war? Now we have another one.

      • LT Rusty

        Wow. It’s almost like you have no experience with this subject matter.

        Attitudes and standards are set from the top. The CO’s behavior sets the acceptable standards for the officers and enlisted under his or her command.

        There are a whole host of reasons why this stuff is cropping up with ever more frequency now than it did 20 years ago. Here’s one of the big ones, though: the Navy has cut back the training that new officers get when they go to the fleet, both in quantity and in quality, in order to save money. We’re now at the point where the first year groups to see this reduced training are in senior positions.

        Here’s another big one: also in order to save money, the Navy is trying to cut back the numbers of crew onboard a ship. Payroll and benefits are just about the most expensive thing that the Navy has to deal with, so reductions there can be tremendous long-term savings. But… when you reduce the number of people onboard, but you don’t reduce the amount of work that has to be done, all you’ve done is increase the fatigue load on the remaining crew. Reference point: USS FITZGERALD has a crew of ~278. I served on a DDG just a few hull numbers away from FITZGERALD, nearly 20 years ago now, and our crew at the time? Right about 360. That’s not quite a 25% reduction in crew, but without any change in the responsibilities of operating the ship.

        When you have cuts in manpower, and the manpower is being trained to a lower standard, and then you have the command team willing to accept a lower standard even than that …

        There’s the start of why we can’t just drive around the ocean without running into things.

        • deplorable_radtraveller

          How many sailors does it take to look at a monitor of close surface contacts and how much training does it take to look at computer generated lines that scream ” HEY, You are going to intersect with the course of the bigfkin freighter if you don’t do something?”

          • LT Rusty

            A surprising amount, actually.

            One of the big problems is that we rely far too much on all the golly-gee-whiz technology to get us out of situations and spend less time and money on developing the skills to work without depending on it.

            Same thing that caused VINCENNES to shoot down the Iranian airliner. Old-fashioned non-AEGIS ships had the correct plot… but VINCENNES’ crew believed their system without question and they had the picture all wrong.

            AEGIS–and other technology–is great, but it’s NO substitute for having well trained sailors on watch who spend time looking with their eyes instead of with their TV screens.

          • deplorable_radtraveller

            erm.. so you are telling me that a crew on a modern navy ship should ignore that little projected collision… because… don’t trust technology?

          • LT Rusty

            No, I’m telling you that the people on the bridge have fucking eyes and should be using them in an intelligent manner. There are lookouts posted in several places around the ship, and those lookouts all have communication with the bridge. What your eyes tell you doesn’t always agree with what the instruments tell you. A smart ship driver will take what the radars say (and will look at more than one: there’s data from 4 separate radars available on the bridge, at least!), and will take what the lookouts say, and will take what his or her own eyes say, and will figure out what to believe or not.

            Another issue is that computers only do exactly what they’re programmed to do. Unless you fully and completely understand what’s going on with the system, how it works, etc., then you are missing some big pieces of the puzzle. If you don’t understand WHY the system is giving you some piece of information, you may not be able to read between the lines and know what piece of information it’s NOT giving you, and how to change the settings to get it.

            If all you’re looking at is the cool video game symbology, and not seeing the raw data that the radar is giving you, or if you’re prioritizing the wrong radar for your automated track inputs, or if you’re not merging the right outside data … so many many many many different variables to control, and so much of it comes back to training.

            I’d say that there’s training issues, overwork / crew fatigue issues, and then also equipment fatigue issues, due to maintenance budgets and (again) training. I’ve been on the bridge before when we pulled into port without a single functioning radar or navigation system.

          • Of course none of the automation had arrived when I was in the fleet — early 60’s. I’ve wondered since then if the automation might actually be increasing some risks. Tracking of a contact, for example, was done with a grease pencil on a lighted surface in CIC and also with a grease pencil on a radar repeater on the bridge. It was pretty hard not to understand what was happening.

            My guess about how the Fitz-Crystal collision happened is that both Fitz teams watched Crystal until they determined that the closest point of approach (CPA) was safe, then they forgot about her and she made a course change (to a collision course) under autopilot control. Nobody was awake on the Crystal’s bridge — a common event on merchants.

            We always tracked ‘safe’ contacts until they passed CPA and went out of range. But with a computer … maybe there’s an alarm that tells you the CPA is dangerous and that alarm was shut off or failed?

            There’s so many layers of redundancy — lookouts should be told about radar contacts for example — that this had to be pretty much a total collapse of watchstanding duty and discipline.

            And now the McCain collision … “something is wrong with our bloody ships,” all right.

          • LT Rusty

            Maneuvering boards save lives. Simple as that.

          • Yep.

            A pleasure reading your comments and those of the handful of others here who have obviously ‘been there and done that.’

          • LT Rusty

            Y’oughtta check out CDR Salamander’s page. There’s a lot of very good, very knowledgeable, discussion about this sort of thing happening over there. Today’s topic, USS MCCAIN, has probably a collective 5,000 years worth of surface warfare experience in the comments section.

            http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2017/08/and-now-mccain.html

          • THANKS for the link!

          • deplorable_radtraveller

            Ok, so explain to me why a surface radar tracking system that shows your ship is on a collision course would not, at the very least, cause the OOD to have someone point some binoculars, or night vision device, at the indicated threat and then take a bit of evasive action?
            It is a WARSHIP, are you seriously going to sit there and say they couldn’t have avoided that collision because they were not trained in how to avoid collisions or that they were too tired to do so?
            Seriously, who needs more than 2 minutes of training to understand that? And if the navy doesn’t let whoever is in charge of a ship at any particular time take such action, then that seems to be a navy issue, not a training issue.
            No. Common sense says that this is not a training or money issue, but a culture issue. Whether a culture issue imposed by the navy or by the captain and xo of the ship is the question. Any single person on that watch who had knowledge of the situation could have stepped up and either convinced the OOD to make a course change or gone up the change to call the xo or capt to correct the OOD’s lack of action. That no one did, or at least did in time to avoid collision, is unsettling.

          • LT Rusty

            Well, yes. This is, in fact, a problem.

            Not sure which consoles FTZ had installed in CIC, but all the ones that I ever used with AEGIS would certainly show position leaders for contacts, show the CPA, etc. But, again, this gets back to a training issue: if you don’t have your console set to show all this stuff, then you won’t have it turned on by default.

            On the bridge, there should be an SPA-25G radar repeater, but it operates entirely manually. Unless there’s someone marking tracks and calculating the CPAs and courses, then they wouldn’t have that information. Even in my day, a lot of people simply ignored the SPA, because the AEGIS stuff would just give them data automatically, and they relied purely on CIC to tell them anything that they couldn’t see for themselves.

            As for why they couldn’t see the ship coming for themselves… I have no solid data on this, only speculation, but I’d guess that nobody was checking up on the aft lookout, and the OOD / conning officer weren’t spending a lot of time on the bridge wings paying attention.

            And, yeah, every single person on the bridge or in CIC is at fault here.

  • James Washington

    This article may turn out to be meaningful but it’s sure in hell premature. Where the Navy is right now is that the investigation of the collision has been completed and a report has been issued detailing the time line and the actions of the various parties. The relevant senior commander has taken action that is justified based ONLY on such a report: Relieved (and transferred) a number of officers and enlisted personnel who — according to his reading of the report — no longer have his confidence. That’s NOT, legally speaking, punishment: It’s what your DMV will do if you go blind — take away your license.IF this is all that happens, I’ll agree with Codevilla. But there’s no reason to think it is. The next logical step would be courts-martial for those officers and perhaps other personnel whose performance represented not merely inadequate qualifications but potentially criminal malfeasance. Those courts will have to finish their work and their reports and recommendations for disciplinary action be approved by higher authority. At that point we’ll likely get a much more detailed picture of just how and why this “never should happen” collision came about.My guess: Some very strong actions will be taken. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a couple of officers do time in Leavenworth.Why don’t we have the whole report including the narrative up to the time of the collision? Same reason we don’t get police and witness descriptions and surveillance video of a crime when the suspect(s) are captured: Such material getting out in public would likely taint any possible jury. The military equivalent of the jury is the officers (and possibly enlisted personnel) who would serve on a court martial and the same issue — forming impressions other than based on the cases presented by the two sides — obtains.Procedures and terminology for courts-martial are quite different from a civilian court of law but the same sorts of issues and safeguards exist.I did the Combat Information Center Watch Officer and Officer of the Deck underway jobs for a couple of years back in the early 60’s. I have a vivid imagination but I haven’t been able to come up with a scenario in which a collision like this can occur without genuinely criminal inattention to duty. Let’s remain calm and see how the next phases develop.Yes, a whitewash is possible: The Navy has done it before — or at least tried. But we’re not there yet. The facts we have so far are consistent with a careful and professional handling of a truly nasty event.

  • Uncle Max

    http://www.c7f.navy.mil/Media/News/Display/Article/1282155/seventh-fleet-announces-uss-fitzgerald-accountability-determinations/platform/hootsuite/

    Looks to me as if the entire watch-team has been sacked. There may be training issues here…. leadership?… dysfunctional crew? Well… not all of them. A good number of that crew saved that ship. But obviously, there ARE issues and they “may” be tied to a Navy that wishes all are equal when in the din, all are not. Who knows. A avoidable collision. At least the Navy is owning up to that. So, I’m willing to believe they might try to get to what the issue is/was.

    In light of the collision of DDG56, maybe a systemic issue is at play. Maybe a emphasis on things other than seamanship and crewing a warship for the last 40 years is an issue. I hope those injured and killed will not be in vein. May the Navy learn from these events and make corrective action(s). We’ll see.

  • RJ

    1967, as Command Phone Talker on the USS Intrepid, with Captain John W. Fair and Navigator Cdr. Thummel, I watched as we pulled out of Norfolk, Capt. Fair got pissed at Cdr. Thummel and began ranting at him face to face on the outer bridge. I was standing just behind the Captain’s chair on the port side of the bridge, those two were mid bridge. Looking out at the ship’s direction I realized we were headed into shallow water and would go aground. I called for a “stand by for emergency let go” via the sound powered system then walked over to the Captain and informed him of what I saw. He turned forward, realized what was happening and ordered rapid changes, including “emergency let go” plus reversing engines. We avoided going aground!

    You can have all the latest gear, yet still fall back on human eyes as a last resort for a fail safe system. Salty sailors know this…citizens may not.

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    • RM

      The grounding of the Port Royal shows how easy it is to let your guard down and focus on the wrong things. As a naval aviator I was taught aviate, navigate, communicate in that order. Failure to follow those very simple rules has led to the deaths of many aircrew. The same thing applies in the surface force, just leave the aviate out and you have navigate and communicate. When you fail at such basics people can, and do, die. For two ships arch teams to fail so abysmally at their basic task of navigation is truly mystifying. I flew off of frigates, destroyers and cruisers and the watch teams on the ships I served on never even came close to such calamitous incidents. Using the MK I Mod 0 eyeball goes a long way in avoiding collisions at sea, or in the air. Technology can make your job easier, but it can NEVER replace the need to keep your eyes pealed and on the lookout for danger .

      • Gerald Smith

        As an instructor in Bridge Team Management and other classes I emphasized over and over the importance of remembering that you are driving the boat and to not let other considerations distract you from that. My favorite examples were Air France 447 and Eastern 401. Both examples of forgetting to fly the plane.

        • What Gerald said too. We don’t know yet what they were doing on that bridge and in CIC but they sure in heck weren’t driving the boat.

      • What RM said, folks. This is more likely a failure of Bridge and Combat Information Center discipline and watchstanding procedure than it is a skills problem.

  • JFKY

    Codevilla might actually want to read about the US Navy before pontificating…as a hint No Higher Honor, or Sailors Until the End……

  • bruceapilot

    And now the John S. McCain has been struck in the same manner, in almost the same place as the Fitz, by a freighter. 10 sailors are missing and presumed dead. This is no coinicidence.

    • JFKY

      Except NO they were NOT struck in the same place, either in terms of port or position….but thank you for playing.

  • Dan Schwartz

    One of my peeps messaged me the following on Facebook:

    “Hi. Didn’t want to post on wall. My husband served on USS Kalamazoo. He says boats these days are way more advanced. Run by computer mostly. Only way to make a boat vulnerable would be a computer hack that renders boat a sitting duck and then enables another boat to ram it. It is an attack but navy is keeping it hush hush.”

    • JFKY

      Or for the bridge crew to be inattentive or the look outs dazzled by shore lights or by the bridge crew assuming that the tanker will obey the rules of the road…..or a host of other humxn factors.

  • General Tsu

    Shame on you, Codevilla. “…John McCain’s responsibility in 1967 for starting the fire that killed 137 men on the USS Forrestal by giving his airplane’s engine a flaming “wet” start.”
    “Wet-starting” is deliberately dumping fuel into the afterburner before starting in order to shoot a large flame from the tail of the aircraft. McCain was in an A-4, and A-4’s were not equipped with afterburners. Plus, his engine’s exhaust was facing the ocean. I searched the internet for an hour to find the source of this ridiculous charge and could find no remotely reputable source for it. There are dozens upon dozens of sources stating that an unstable missile self-discharged into another aircraft, starting the fire.
    For you to drop this sentence into this piece–without sourcing it especially–is irresponsible and horrific. I can’t believe the editors at this otherwise excellent site allowed it….

  • ADM64

    There are a few things here that are over the top including the comment about McCain starting the Forrestal fire. They don’t help the author’s credibility, which his unfortunate because he raises some points that need discussion and some of those broader points have some merit.

    Virtually all Navy women cannot perform certain standard damage control or casualty evacuation tasks, for the same reason that most women can’t serve as civilian firefighters – at least not in the major cities. Standards have been changed to accommodate them. The Navy is currently modifying valves and other elements on its subs because the “fully qualified” women assigned to them lack the strength to actually turn them. The Navy has provided ample evidence over the last 30 years of being unwilling to face, let alone admit, the problems associated with a coed force.

    As to protected classes, well, the Navy let Captain Holly Graff have a second kick at command after massive problems, including scraping bottom while leaving port, with her first DDG command. Even after total screw-ups on her CG command, she was relieved but not court-martialed. This was hardly the only such instance.

    In the case of Fitzgerald, though, I think it is much simpler and much more embarrassing than any of that: the Navy does not teach proper navigation any more. Ship handling has deteriorated to the point that civilian pilots are required to bring ships into port and actually dock them. I think the bridge crew simply didn’t have a clue and this is the result. The service is simply not remotely as professional as it once was.

    • Of course civilian pilots have been the practice forever in difficult ports; I recall one in Australia where we picked up a civilian quite some distance from the dock. Charts change constantly, sandbars move, buoys sometimes drag anchor, visual landmarks can disappear, there are sometimes seasonal issues with tides … local people who ‘do’ that port every day are the experts.

      Our ship found an uncharted mountain out in the middle of nowheresville in the Pacific. All you could see was a bit of out of place chop over the top of it, but plenty to cause a really, really bad day. We picked it up on sonar.

      The Fitzgerald collision does not appear to have been a navigation (or piloting) problem. More of a basic watchstanding failure (collapse might be a better word) on the part of up to a dozen or so people. They didn’t know that Crystal was on a collision course.

      I note that the Naval Academy has started teaching celestial navigation again.

      • ADM64

        I agree with you that it was not a navigation or piloting problem; I should have said “basic seamanship/shiphandling” or as you’ve noted, watchstanding failure. I reserve judgement until all the facts are in.

        You are correct that the Naval Academy has started teaching celestial navigation again. However, it is only a three hour introduction. As one who has been sailing small boats for nearly 30 years, I learned navigation the old-fashioned way and still use it. Those skills are perishable, need to be practiced, and will be hard to recover under fire, so to speak, if the GPS system goes down.

        • Three HOURS? GeeZzuss …

          SO maybe they can use the Air Almanac if they read the directions? Is the Air Almanac still published?

          We had I think a whole semester on celestial navigation. With the luck of an absolutely first rate quartermaster my first fix aboard ship was so small it would barely hold a pencil point. I never did it again …

          GPS WILL go away in any major war in the future. Too many things depend on it and cleaning out or at least jamming those satellites will be a priority for any major power.

          • LT Rusty

            Cel Nav got canx’d from NROTC as well, just before I started college in the mid-90’s.

      • Drive-by-Comment

        Many ports require local pilots (some of this is union rules), but it stands to reason that a ships company should have decent ship handling skills. That is what seems to be missing.

    • Curtis Conway

      I sincerely hope this is not the case, and at the same time fear that it is. I can remember Capt. Ross R. Hatch, and RADM Raymond Walsh both working diligently at the development of, and fidelity to the OOD & JOOD Ship-Handling qualifications on both USS Belknap (CG-26) and USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) respectively, for UNREP/CONREP, and bringing the ship into foreign ports. I can remember after dropping off the pilot at the mouth of the river in the approaches to Charleston Harbor RADM Roland G. Guibault successfully twisting the ship, and fighting the wind for three stabs at turning around. Magnificent ship-handling in a tremendous cross wind with all that sail area on Tico. More than once we came into port without the assistance of tugs (almost unheard of today), and the JOs came up to speed rapidly. Their SWO pins were EARNED not issued, just like our ESWS pins were. You had to know your ship, its systems, and (being Lookout Supervisor) understand the importance of the capabilities and limitations of both. We have lost so much. I fear for our Navy!

  • Jonathan Conroy

    Anyone who has been in the Fleet (as I have) knows the Navy’s overriding priority when investigating a mishap is to find a person to blame it on, the lower ranking the better. That’s why this process looks as it does at this point.

    • With respect, Jonathan, that’s only uncommonly the case. I have first hand knowledge of one case and have read reports on a number of others. The Iowa turret fire was the one exception that I know of and while it’s about as bad (corrupt) as you could imagine, it’s not the general pattern.

      • Jonathan Conroy

        Could be. I was in when the Iowa went down and observed a few at my own commands. I stand by my post with the caveat the evidence is strictly anecdotal.

  • DeltaMortarman

    Both recent accidents seem to have been caused by the bulbous lower bow of modern ships, designed to flatten wake and decrease the drag of the water. Thus the civilian vessels ran into the navy ships, with their bows puncturing hulls and causing major damage to crew compartments.

    Is it possible that the Navy suffers from what Hospitals came to recognize as poor results resulting from the hours that Interns were forced to work? Have those standing night watches had enough sleep?

    • “Both recent accidents seem to have been caused by the bulbous lower bow
      of modern ships, designed to flatten wake and decrease the drag of the
      water.”

      The bulbous bow (as you say a drag-reducing measure) changes the character of a collision, no doubt about it. But the CAUSE of the collision was two ships trying to be in the same place at the same time.

      It’s hard to say if the damage would have been less or more severe had the bow been the inclined ‘V’ that was common 50 years ago. There might have been less underwater damage in proportion to that above the waterline but in those days ships were occasionally cut in half in collisions and that’s much worse since at least one half usually sinks within just a few minutes.

      The watch hours on ships of the USN probably aren’t much worse than when I did it: Under peacetime steaming conditions, eight hour work days, four on Saturday, and (superimposed) a watch four hours on and eight off. There’s plenty of time for sleep but not a whole lot for recreation.

      This collision was a ‘never should happen’ event. It cannot be explained by one or a few men being sleepy.

  • GEM545

    Reminds me of the accident on that battleship where the charge went off before the breech on one of the 15″ guns had fully closed. The Navy tried to blame a gunner’s mate for purposely “causing” the explosion. Turned out the charges were left over from the war and had become very unstable.

    • Uncle Max

      I just was thinking of that. USS Missouri. I lost a LOT of respect for the Navy when they did that. A very shameful ruination of a young man who couldn’t defend himself because he was dead.

    • That’s the Iowa turret fire, April 19, 1989. The Wiki is quite good.

      The guns are 16″. You’re right about the attempt to cover up the true cause of the explosion. I don’t recall a finding that the powder was unstable but rather the (previously unknown) fact that crushing the powder bag hard enough would set it afire. The gun was over rammed, that is, the rammer pushed the charge too deeply into the breech for the space behind the shell.

      I’d have GUESSED that overramming could cause that: As I recall — this is REALLY a long time ago — the base of at least the breech bag has a small black powder charge that’s necessary to ignite the main charge. (Grains of the main charge are something like half inch diameter and an inch and a half long.) Black powder is truly nasty stuff — sparks, friction, and other things can set it off. Once one charge starts burning you’ll have the whole turret on fire within seconds.

      Ramming depth varies on large guns because different numbers of charges (great big bags of powder) varies with the range.

      If you want to see an example of gross mismanagement of an investigation, attempted cover-up, and nearly any bad organizational behavior you can imagine, read that Wiki. The problem was that the Admirals of the time hated the battleships that Reagan had put back in service and shorted them on money for repair/refurbishment. Then the money that had been allocated for main battery upgrades and refurb was diverted to the propulsion plant.

  • RM

    Whew… what a pant load. This guy apparently has a VERY large ax to grind with the Navy. As for the McCain story, good gracious man, do you just repeat every internet rumor you hear? Or have you, as I have, actually SEEN the video of a Zuni rocket that cooked off and went “towards” McCain’s aircraft on the other side of the deck? I suppose “daddy” had the film doctored to show that rocket cooking off? Get a grip pal.

    • Travvy

      Exactly.

  • Warrior1

    Hey angelo, the report released was not of the investigation of what went wrong. That document is still pending the completion of the investigation. It is way too early to cry coverup or corruption. You doing so makes you look particularly uninformed.

  • itsy_bitsy

    Maybe we need a few court martials with serious penalties involved, like a firing squad if found guilty.

  • Jose’

    What’s this nonsense about John McCain starting the fire on the USS Forrestal? A Zuni fired from an F-4 on the deck due to an electrical malfunction. It hurts me deeply to defend McCain, but this is fake news.

    • mllyjul

      Is that you John McCain?

      • Jose’

        No. I dislike McCain. I also dislike Obama, but he didn’t start the fire either.

  • DMH

    why don’t you just you don’t know what happened but you’re going to make stuff up anyway?

  • William Westchester

    Having done the same duties as Mr Codavilla while a member of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club and at the same time, my first question was: what was the watch doing? That is still my question. Nookie of some sort – M-M, M-F, F-F – are all possibilities these days. Anyone with finds, kin on Fitz should dig out truth.
    And now another PACFLT collision at sea?

    WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, OVER.

  • DejaniArlinda

    Having done the same duties as Mr Codavilla while a member of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club and at the same time, my first question was: what was the watch doing? That is still my question. Nookie of some sort – M-M, M-F, F-F – are all possibilities these days. Anyone with finds, kin on Fitz should dig out truth.And now another PACFLT collision at sea?WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, OVER.

  • TexasDude

    You realize the fire on the Forrestal was recorded? McCain’s plane was across from where the rocket fired from. Moreover, his nose was pointing towards the area of the deck where the rocket fired form. Thus, no way he was at fault, period. I do not like a lot of what McCain has done over the years, but this just not true.
    By the way, the video of the Forrestal was a training video for thousands of sailors that went to shipboard firefighting school.

    • Travvy

      THE TRAITOR’S fellow POWs DISAGREE.

      • RM

        His time as a POW has nothing to do with this conversation. Try to focus.

    • I think that video is on YouTube.

      • bikerken

        If you would like to see it, search for “Trail by Fire”. The first time I saw that Navy training film was back in 1976 in Great Lakes boot camp and several times since. Those who are saying it was not McCains fault are correct. I would prefer to blame him for what he has done wrong in office which is true.

  • Deplorable_Pam

    I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest Obama’s sacking of over 400 high ranking military officials (3star and above Generals) is having the desired effect? Desired to him of course. Removing men with that much knowledge and experience was meant to cause issues just like this. Then changing the pay rates to be more “in line” with the private sector was done to ensure there was no incentive for military members to stay in long enough to become an experienced and knowledgeable leader. I’m not military, so I’m guessing.

    • Travvy

      1,400.

    • It’s conceivable that you’re right.

    • bikerken

      You’re right on the money!

    • Nuther G. Mule

      Obama sacked or pushed out anyone who ever showed the slightest inclination to push back on him. Its the first thing you do to avoid being put down by loyal Americans as you implement “hope and change” – cut the head off the military.

      Intro to Fidel Castro 101.

  • Travvy

    Obviously, this pointy head never served.

    The C.O. is responsible for whatever occurs on his watch.

    If our elected officials were held to the same account?

    What a wonderful world this would be.

    • “The C.O. is responsible for whatever occurs on his watch ship.”

  • kalendjay

    As a 100% noncom I have to ask: When is the Court Martial? What would be the intended purpose? And why doesn’t this author even mention the word once? That could certainly settle the issue of John McCain, drugs on board, female crewmember with undeveloped biceps, yodda yodda.

    I’ve heard more than once that our top navy brass are pro-Chinese pacifists whose highest call of duty is to promote the Law Of The Sea Treaty — and quite a few of them should be sacked before they really do confront China.

    What do you think of this?

  • fb274

    The container ship passed close by and many are stating electronics were disabled; then the cargo carrier went on to turn around, pick up speed and ram the Fitzgerald. There are You Tube videos capturing the satellite path when collision occurred.

    • That misunderstands what happened. The Crystal collided with Fitz much earlier than Crystal’s report of the collision indicates. Look at her track: That first major turn was the collision. Then her autopilot brought her back on course and she continued for a time until she disengaged the autopilot, turned around and went back to see what happened. THEN she reported the collision.

      It is IMPOSSIBLE for a merchant ship to deliberately ram a destroyer in open ocean. That’s like an 18-wheeler ramming a Corvette in the middle of a desert.

  • Pete

    Stupid story. It will all be detailed in the final official report but not until everything is reviewed and all the data laid out.

    • JamesDrouin

      And you base that one what, literally, what???

      The US Navy has never, ever, ever, NOT covered up a major failure, never.

      • Sorry, James. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

        They’ve tried a few times — the Iowa turret fire of ’89 (I think?) but they didn’t succeed and in most cases they did make public a complete and spare nobody report.

        • JamesDrouin

          You need to learn not just to read, but “think” about what you read. Try it one more time and see if you can get it.

          “The US Navy has never, ever, ever, NOT covered up a major failure, never.”

  • Haga Akane ✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

    Okay, lots of interesting criticisms of this article here. I was in the Army and don’t know a whole bunch about how ships are supposed to be run. That said, the hiding of the identity of the OOD and high praise for the female damage control officer who may have not been exactly following doctrine strikes a cord with me as I saw the Army ignore and even hide the gross incompetence of female Soldiers. I also saw the Army blow matters all out of proportion when one did something kinda-sorta well.

    As to you folks who have faith in the final word from the Navy on this, I’m already gearing up to have none!

    • bikerken

      When I was in the Navy, I was having a conversation with an officer in CIC about the Navy and why it seems to be so old fashioned and corrupt sometimes. He told me that the Navy was the oldest of the US forces and when it was started, they still had keel-hauling and flogging at the mast. Then he told me about the “reverse Yak theory”. Yaks are water buffaloes with those huge horns. When a heard of yaks is threatened out it in wild, the females and calves get into the center of the heard and the old bulls circle them with their horns pointing out and the lions will run around and around and not want to mess with those old bull horns at all and eventually just go away. In the Navy, when something goes wrong the old bulls turn on the young and defenseless and toss a few of them out to the lions to get them off their back. Not saying that’s the case here, you just made me think of it.

      • Haga Akane ✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

        Hehe, saw that in the Army too from time to time…

        • bikerken

          I’m sure. But I sure thought the way he explained it was very amusing.

    • Well, we’ll see. I can tell you this, though: Enough of us have stood those watches that if the Navy spins out BS we’re going to know it.

      The most plausible reasons span the range from lazy bridge and CIC watch officers to criminal neglect of duty. I simply cannot come up with anything better.

      I don’t think it’s a good sign that the Navy wants to bring in ‘experts’ from industry to tell it what’s wrong. Not a good sign at all. Any competent junior officer ought to be able to read the bridge log book, ask a couple of questions and finger the basic problem. Details might take a few days.

      • JamesDrouin

        “The most plausible reasons span the range from lazy bridge and CIC watch officers to criminal neglect of duty.”

        And senior shore officers who weren’t ensuring the Captain was, in fact, doing his job.

        • All the way up to the CNO perhaps. Quote from the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson (an Obama appointee) re the collisions:

          “We want to go outside the Navy as well, to other services and even outside the military to make sure we are being as broad as possible. So I would envision bringing in some industry experts, those sorts of things that can help us work through this,” he said.

          Asked what industry could specifically provide to such a review, Richardson noted there may be different ways to use naval capabilities. “We’re always operating systems, right? And those systems are provided by our industrial partners,” Richardson said. “So, we want to make sure we’re looking as compressively as possible in terms of optimizing or improving the way we use those systems.”

          That quote is a pretty good pointer to where our problem lies. Here’s another: Various sources give the composition of both the US Naval Academy student body and the various NROTC programs as 22-25% female. And although we have just over
          half as many ships as when I served, the USNA has about 10% higher total enrollment.

          • DJohn1

            Elite overproduction.

            Never a good sign.

          • SykesFive

            I think this means asking the shipyard and relevant contractors to review what they provided to the Navy, how the Navy used it, etc. That just sounds like common sense. Also, if we have a recurring problem with Navy vessels colliding with merchant vessels, common sense also counsels talking to the maritime industry about how they handle ships and train crews.

          • LT Rusty

            SykesFive- enough of us lived through the 1990’s and the Navy’s attempt to run the “Surface Warfare Enterprise” like it was one of the Detroit automakers–complete with TQL program–that there’s a very justifiable skepticism about this initiative.

  • G.Frazier

    Over the years, I’ve noticed how doctors will tell me I have a virus and realized it actually means they don’t have a real clue as to what the problem is. More recently, I’ve begun to see how they’ll declare how someone died from “natural causes” and, again, note that it means they don’t have a clue what the person actually died from.

    When I think of the fact that XO and the Senior Enlistee were blamed for this, it strikes me as being akin to the same thing! It’s nothing like when the commander of the Exxon Valdez was drunk on the job, is it?
    This is simply a case of having to place blame somewhere and not having any other scapegoat, out there!

  • malikknows

    This is a very silly article. Corruption? The author has no idea how the military keeps discipline. Not always fair to an individual, the goal is a force that acts as one and takes collective responsibility for its actions — and failures.

    • Anne Miller

      The author was a Naval officer and has very detailed knowledge of how military discipline works.

      • malikknows

        Well this former Naval officer thinks this article is bizarre.

  • 1twothree4

    As an ex- Navy man who hgas stood brifge watches, this is wrong.
    ” In sum the Navy, by punishing officers whose responsibility was merely formal”

    These men are responsible for ensuring that only properly trained people are running the ship. Period!

    • Whelk

      I recall my Captain’s standing orders beginning with “I am inescapably responsible for this ship and all its personnel”

  • ek ErilaR

    This is the fourth such accident in less than a year involving the 7th Fleet. Two collisions with cargo ships at night in crowded shipping lanes, one collision with a fishing boat and the USS Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay.

    It is hard to believe simple incompetence is to blame.

    • Actually I think simple incompetence is the most likely reason. A destroyer can no more be deliberately rammed by a larger merchant when there’s maneuvering room than a Corvette can be run down by an 18-wheeler in the middle of a desert.

      There are so many ways for a modern warship to know what’s around it that no one or two equipment failures would put her in danger.

      My guess: A lazy and distracted bridge/Combat Information Center watch was letting the computer keep track of the situation and the computer screwed up.

      There’s no excuse for using just one tool to avoid other ships in the middle of the night when in a shipping lane.

  • GEM545

    What amazes me is: The fitz collusion apperently rendered the sh

    • JamesDrouin

      That’s what happened to the USS Indianapolis … no one, not one single individual in the entire Pacific, noticed that a heavy cruiser didn’t show up when it was supposed to. Further, three, THREE shore stations received it’s distress calls, and no one responded.

      Had it not been for a PBY patrol aircraft spotting and then investigating an oil slick, which led to the discovery of the few surviving crew, the fate of the USS Indianapolis might be one of the great maritime mysteries in history.

      And no one but Captain McVay was punished.

  • CumExApostolatus

    Remember the U.S.S. LIBERTY.

    • GEM545

      Yeah. Another great US Navy mess up. The commander of the sixth fleet told the Israelis there were NO US assets in the area where the Liberty was operating. None. So they Israeli’s attacked the Liberty. Turns out it was a US spy ship operating in a war zone.

      • CumExApostolatus

        Nice try but that’s NOT AT ALL the way the survivors see it, nor the way the researchers and Navy JAG personnel who looked into it see it either; starting with Admiral Thomas Moorer. Of course, Adm. Isaac Kidd threatened ALL of the survivors a few days after the attack (including Captain William McGonagle) with “court martial or worse” if they ever breathed a word to anyone including their family members, or to one another, or to (especially) the media. If people want to know how the USS LIBERTY ties into the Israeli A-bomb program, they should watch “Israel’s Bomb: A Radioactive Taboo”.

  • SRVES339

    The captain new something he was not supposed to know… the corruption goes very, very deep

  • JamesDrouin

    “Navy’s Report on Fitzgerald Collision Is Evidence Of Corruption”

    The US Navy has covered up every major clusterflvck since before WWII … and by “covered up” I mean specifically protected everyone above Captain’s grade in a shore-based assignment.

    And, unfortunately, that’s unlikely to change.

  • I always like to read accident reports because I want to know what caused them and learn from the experience. So it seems utterly ridiculous that such a report would not be released. Don’t we need to know what happened to prevent a future recurrence?

    Interesting that the part of the report reflecting well on the crew is released, while the bad part is not …

    Do we need a completely independent NTSB report?

    • The report covering the pre-collision period cannot be released until any courts-martial and/or non-judicial punishment have finished, been reviewed and approved. Otherwise where would you get an untainted court?

      Such reports are exhaustive and may include things that won’t be admissible at a court-martial, on top of that the Navy Regs and applicable law aren’t applied to report production: It’s an effort to find ALL the facts bearing on the accident.

      We’ll learn the rest in a few more months.

      The crew seems to have done pretty well with the damage control.

  • SupplyGuy

    It sure sounds like they’re trying to hide something. I think that it probably is an affirmative action Sailor being protected. I’m glad I’m retiring as this Sailor’s Navy isn’t even recognizable anymore.

  • Isadore P Daeleigh

    Let’s not fault the recent report as a “cover-up” of the cause of the collision. This report was intended only to discuss events following the collision. We will have to wait for a separate report which will detail events leading up to the collision.

  • Drive-by-Comment

    ” Naval damage control, requiring as it does pulling and pushing and turning and lifting and dragging things and bodies that are heavy and broken, is so demanding of physical strength that, normally, it gets assigned to the strongest officers and men aboard.”

    yep

  • TheChancellor

    That fourteen minute delay…must have been somebody on the bridge that questioned the lack of sounding General Quarters. Every jacktar on board knew there was a collision. WTH was going on on the bridge?

  • R.L.

    I was in the Corps for 22 years starting in 1965. I watched during the Carter years as budgets were cut and readiness deteriorated. Equipment was broken and there was nothing we could do about it as we had no funds to repair the stuff. Eventually morale fell as we realized we could not do our job. Many fine men and women left the Marines because they saw no point in serving any more. As a result we were left with lesser qualified people doing the job. (Often carelessly or incompletely).

    I have watched the last eight years as budgets were cut for our military and hundreds of Generals and Admirals retired rather than serve under the politically correct (and militarily degrading) rules established during the Obama years.

    I can only wonder it these mishaps could have been avoided if we had a Commander in Chief who was not invested in destroying our military from 2008-2016

  • ewm2

    This article is a joke. The three leaders were relieved because the Navy believes and enforces that responsibility can be delegated but not accountability. The facts, while important to understand what happened and how to prevent a recurrence, are not important in this decision. It was the leadership’s responsibility to prevent this from happening through training and operational process. They failed at that and were relieved for cause justifiably. I suggest you read Hobson’s Choice.

  • Servo1969

    There is a reason a name is not being given. My guess? The OOD is a member of some minority group, ie. race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. OR is related to some major brass at the Pentagon.

    • gda

      The two officers relieved were Puerto Rican and the senior enlisted man was black. Perhaps the OOD ( “That is the name of a position which rotates among any Navy ship’s qualified officers”) was the executive officer that night, who would in any event have been in charge if the Captain was asleep.

      Could that be the reason, and not “corruption” and “obfuscation”?

      • nero88888

        Trump is a RAPIST, LIAR, BIGOT, AND SEXUAL PREDATOR WHO IS UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION.

        MUELLER IS COMING YOU LOW INFO STUPID PIECE OF CHIT. YOU LOSE. HAHAHAHA

    • It’s too early for events prior to and leading up to the collision to be discussed publicly. There will be disciplinary actions as a result of these terrible events and finding an untainted court for a court-martial might be impossible if the earlier part of the report gets out now.

  • Rabel

    “This report is confined to an account of the facts and circumstances post-collision and neither discusses the circumstances that led to the collision nor provides opinions or recommendations, as these are outside the scope of direction in enclosure (1), and are likely addressed in other investigative reports.”

    Has Angelo actually read the report?

  • Patrick Yoas

    The mention of McCain starting the fire on the Forrestal is wrong. I suggest that you watch the video “Forrestal, Situation Critical”, or something like that. McCains A4 aircraft was next to another A4 aircraft that was hit by a Zuni rocket which was fired from the other side of the deck. The A4’s wing tank that was hit burst in flames.

  • acummins

    It is clear that many of those commenting here have not read the Navy’s report and therefore their comments are uniformed. Moreover, the author of this article incorrectly states important items from the report. The author states, for example, that the DCA managed damage control from the bridge, while the report clearly states that the DCA managed the Damage Control response from the Central Control Station and not from the bridge. Others suggest that a women cannot be a DCA because she lacks the strength to carry out the tasks. The DCA is an officer in charge of damage control and does not run around the ship lifting bodies and equipment. The author characterizes the damage control efforts as a disaster, but any fair reading of the Navy report shows that just the opposite was the case. The flooding was serious enough that it could have sunk the ship, but it did not through the heroic efforts of the crew. Other commentators introduce attacks against John McCain and former President Obama apparently believing politics is a valid response to a tragedy. That is just shameful. I served in the US Navy for 8 years as both an enlisted man and an officer, 6 of those years at sea during the Vietnam War in the Tonkin Gulf as a OOD underway and entering ports on destroyers and on an LST. One thing that can be said is that one common sense rule of thumb on the bridge is that constant bearing decreasing range = collision and every ship at sea is charged to avoid collision. The loss of life of sailors at sea is a tragic event and should not be used as fodder for those with an axe to grind or to make political points.

  • edwardstillwell

    Wonder why “General Quarters” was sounded, and not the “Collision” alarm? I’m thinking Fitzgerald was hit by the freighter, not the other way around as stated in the article. In My experience, it was most always more important to “fix the blame” before fixing the problem.

  • mikefromwichita

    The ship’s commanding officer and executive officer of course deserved being relieved at an absolute minimum. Its harder to see why the senior enlisted man was sacked or why the OOD was not. From what has been noted here that OOD has earned brig time and a dishonorable discharge if not a gallows and a rope. Investigation of the Obama Navy and purging is required before the fleet fails us in War.