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USS John S. McCain - Collision in Singapore

Discussion in 'YachtForums Yacht Club' started by olderboater, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    As just one example, somebody should make this information available to the cruise ships departing and returning to Port Canaveral then.
  2. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Somewhere I remember reading a column where a US nav officer spent some time on a Brit navy ship. The part I remember most from this reading. FOLLOW THE RULES. NO VHF COMM NESSARRY.
  3. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    On the other hand; I've had US navy ships call me on the radio out of Mayport, constant bearing, decreasing range makes them nervious at night from 5 miles away.
  4. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    This kind of keeps me thinking about this collision ; WISKY TANGO FOXTROT???
  5. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    What was the protocol before AIS ?
  6. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Exactly... everyday I wonder how the world survived without AIS, bow thrusters and GPS!
  7. RT46

    RT46 Senior Member

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    Agree!

    I was telling someone the other day about having a loranC and thinking that was cutting edge. I recall interpolating TDs every few minuets not that long ago.
    I never had an RDF, but as a kid, I knew how use my transistor radio on the long island sound when the fog rolled. That supplemented my compass and chart and increased situational awareness and boosted confidence in my position.

    I am really shocked how many recreational boaters, including those owner/operators of 30-60' vessels who can not read a chart or use a compass to navigate.
  8. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    You'll be able to interpolate time differences once again as the house has finally passed a Homeland security bill in June for funding infrastructure of E-loran as a backup to our GPS and also as a timing and UTC service. Its well over do as its been on the table since the Bush and Obama admins. GPS is a weak signal and easily jammed where as a 200,000 watt Pulse system not so much. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes to get this system up and running.
  9. RT46

    RT46 Senior Member

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    same equipment? I still have loran on my boat
  10. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    I brought us a bit off topic but the answer to your question is no. It will use a different frequency than "C" and will have differential so best to call it E-Loran 3.0 version... Google is your friend on this one but you'll have to drill down .
  11. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Back to topic;
    COLREGS And after AIS.
  12. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    When in doubt, COLREGS prevail....
  13. Seasmaster

    Seasmaster Senior Member

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    My .02 from both the perspective as ex-Navy (1970's) Radarman/Operation Specialist and as a current US Merchant Marine Master. My current position has me occasionally operating with the USN, so I speak with some recency

    1) USN Surface Warfare Officers are very good warriors - it's just they suck as ship drivers.
    I'm reminded of an incident in the Indian Ocean when a Submarine Tender, at a range of 20+ miles, traveling on a reciprocal course at 12-14 knots, called me at 0100 wondering what my intentions were. Since our speed was 10-12 knots, My reply was, "I'm gonna have another cup of coffee, and see where we stand at 5 miles." Another, more mature voice called me almost immediately and said they wanted a CPA (closest point of approach) of 5 miles. I suggested they call back at 10 miles to see where we would stand. Since the ships were already lined up for a port-to-port passage, I had no real concern.

    At 10 miles, with a CPA greater than 2 miles, the USN vessel called me up and again asked for my intention. My reply, again, was "to have another cup of coffee and monitor YOUR track". Again, the more mature voice called back to inform me that they wanted a 5NM CPA. My curt reply, was to let them know I was maintaining course and speed, in accordance with the rules of the road, and if they wanted a 5nm CPA, they should put their rudder over to starboard to open; and reminded them there was a whole INDIAN OCEAN for them to maneuver.


    2) Perhaps I missed a report on McCain's course, but if they were traveling SW approaching the TSS by Horsburg light, they probably were in a cluster of merchant vessels heading in the same direction, at approximately the same speed.

    With several merchant vessels packed so closely together, it is possible the McCain's surface search and navigation radars were rendered "blind" by the massive radar returns from the merchant ship's strong radar-crossection. One must understand, that a merchant ship, with layer upon layer of containers, presents a virtual "mirror" - overwhelming the radar receiver with radar energy. That radar energy, when displayed on the radar scope, is not a "blip"; it is a 360 degree ring. And one must also appreciate that the merchant ship's radars are also "blind" from the same phenomena. And with the McCain's stealth design, there would be no way for it's radar return to be seen on the other merchant ships' radar.

    3) As previously noted, the NAVY prohibits the use of AIS (previous posts, however, mention it is now allowed). This is good.

    4) USN vessels travel at night with only their navigation lights on. That means other ship traffic in the area can see a maximum of 4 lights (2 mastheads and 2 sidelights), or a little as one single 75w stern light. In the Singapore Straits, at night, a deck officer's vision is "over stimulated" with shore lights, "finger-of-God" brilliant LED lights of shrimp boaters and trawlers, and the merchant ship's traveling with their deck lights on to "be seen" and to mitigate pirate activity. It's just unlikely that a mate-on-watch of a merchant ship would see the stern light until it's almost too late. And even then, the merchant ships are not very maneuverable, either in speed or course in the traffic separation scheme, when there is only a cable separating them in distance on their beams. (Imagine I-95 from West Palm to Fort Lauderdale, only with 30,000 ton ships, not cars-all going in the same direction at about the same speed.)

    It is possible the stern lookout, and the bridge-wing lookouts were all to comfortable with the proximity of the other merchant vessels. And we all know that judging distance to a light at night is very difficult. Furthermore, after the contact was reported to the bridge, the lookout believes he has "done his job", and with his limited experience, may not notice the subtle closing.

    5) USN ships have far too many people on the bridge, and it is conducive to losing situational awareness. The radarmen in Combat Information Center are relaying bearing/range/course/speed/CPA of EVERY CONTACT without prioritizing which one is the "most dangerous" one.

    6) I'm pretty sure the astute members are aware of the level of confusion on a naval ship's bridge. But if you want a refresher, go to:
    https://pilotonline.com/news/milita...cle_c7472be8-efcb-5763-93bb-aab66d820175.html

    Now, after hearing that, WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT.

    7) The mantra of the merchant marine still remains: Haze grey; stay away!!

    8) Because the Navy deck officers are not well versed in commercial shipping, and "common seaman practices", they just "don't know" what to do, and when to do it. A solution to this is to require all USN ship drivers to get a 3rd mates' license, and become STCW qualified.
  14. CaptPKilbride

    CaptPKilbride Senior Member

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    Seasmaster ...
    Thanks for a great post, and I love the tale of the conversation with the submarine tender .... I currently run the 0000 - 1200 watch on an OSV in the Gulf of Mexico, and "have another cup of coffee" is definitely in my tool kit!
  15. wdrzal

    wdrzal Senior Member

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    What was going on in CIC ? having a keg party !!! They would have shipboard and satellite infrared images at that range also. Plus in that part of the world there is
    always areal recon planes in the air. Then add a Global Hawk or two.
  16. wdrzal

    wdrzal Senior Member

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    Glad you made that post !!! I try to read all legislation from Congress but missed that......Thanks

    Walt
  17. Seasmaster

    Seasmaster Senior Member

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    With all due respect, unless you have stood a watch in an Arleigh Burke's CIC, and/or have a working knowledge of capabilities of the shipboard sensors, you most likely speak from a position of ignorance.

    I don't claim to have DDG infrared sensor knowledge, but I can assure you that Maritime Patrol aircraft are not "air traffic controllers". Their mission is completely different. Ditto for Global Hawks. As for satellite infrared images? I'm not convinced that all military surveillance satellites have achieved the capability demonstrated in the "Jason Bourne" franchise. If they had, OBL would have been killed much earlier - and Little Rocket Man would already be embalmed with his father.

    As I mentioned in my original post, with the plethora of ships in the vicinity and their very close proximity, the McCain's radar may have been blind to contacts only 1 cable away. Laser ranging devices, if available, would have been a great tool. However, all the technology is useless unless the operators know when, and how, to use it. One must fully understand, these two vessels were in sight of one another-all it would have taken to avoid collision is to "look out the window".

    The primary failure in this collision was human error on the part of McCain's conning officer. Although the admiralty lawyers will assign some blame to the merchant ship (albeit a very small percentage because all collisions result because the stand-on vessel did not take action to avoid collision- see International Rule 17b, ". . .shall take such action as will best avoid collision.") the root cause is the failure of the conning officer to see RISK-OF-COLLISION and avoid the other ship.

    What could he have done to avoid collision with ships on both sides only 200-300 yards away? USN ship's are highly maneuverable with propulsion. The conning officer could have reduced pitch or reversed pitch on the propellers. The key though, is to be looking out the window and have situational awareness.

    For the readers who are following this thread - It is "FAKE NEWS" that the wheelhouse of merchant ships are un-manned when the vessel is underway. In my 23 years as a merchant marine deck officer, I have yet to witness ANY merchant ship that is underway with an unmanned bridge. I have come across ships that appear to have incompetent mates - the ones from a third-world country that may have gotten their license in a Cracker-Jack box, but never an unmanned wheelhouse.

    Lastly, I must admonish the readers who write posts about ships, without any first-hand knowledge of what takes place at sea. If you haven't been there, it would be wise to not put your foot in your mouth.
  18. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Failure to look out the window.
    Ships in sight of each other.

    Exactly what I tried to comment on before.
  19. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Question:
    Was the Maccain flowing with the traffic schem or crossing at a poor angle?
  20. Seasmaster

    Seasmaster Senior Member

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    Amazingly enough, THAT information has not been released by the Navy!! I don't believe McCain was crossing the TSS. Perhaps joining at a poor angle on a SW'ly course, but not crossing. McCain was on it's way to S'pore for a port visit. If they came from the West, they'd already passed S'Pore.

    However, given the pictures of the damage; A) the hole appears to angle deeper into the hull moving from aft to fwd; B) that the paint-scrape marks seem to indicate the bow of the container ship moving faster than the McCain; C) the minimal damage to the hull (compared to the utter destruction of USS Fitzgeralds hull) would all seem to indicate a relatively low relative speed, and a collision angle inconsistent with a crossing situation.

    At one time, the possibility of a steering casualty was floated. And although the official reason hasn't been published, from the appearances of the pictures, I could foresee a converging course as the McCain drifted to port as the steering casualty manifested itself, and McCain's crew attempted to regain control.

    But if that's the case, where are the reports of urgent VHF calls, whistle blasts, and not-under-command lights. And I find the failure to sound the collision alarm prior to both collisions unacceptable. However, after listening to the USS Porter audio. . .they had no idea.