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USS John S. McCain - Collision in Singapore

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

  1. leeky

    leeky Member

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    I was in the USN, also, and, if I'm not mistaken, around the same period as you were -- the '70's -- and have experience using a grease pencil to mark a display. ;) I didn't serve on targets, though -- I served in submarines as a Submarine Sonar Tech. :p After the Navy, I was an analyst for about 24 years supporting the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

    I never said that there weren't problems in the Navy; basically it's been underfunded and over-worked for too long leading to manpower shortages, maintenance lapses (including upgrades), and training deficits. However, Vice Admiral Aucoin, the Seventh Fleet Commander, noticed that US-based fleets were better taken care of than his fleet was.

    The "old salts" have zero Navy experience, don't know what is going on in any of the Navy's fleets except the Seventh, and yet felt a need to say that all fleets should be "grounded" (their word in quotes). I don't know enough about the inner workings of the today's Navy, including your link to the over 6-year-old USS Porter collision, to make the kind of call the "old salts" did.

    So, do you think all ships of the US Navy fleets should be moored until further notice?
  2. Seasmaster

    Seasmaster Member

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    Y'know, as a former "bubble-head", you know that "boats" can become "targets" too - given a good chopper pilot. LOL

    With the background in NAVSEA & NAVAIR, your resume brings much more credibility to your points.

    I don't agree with the "salts". And while many will point to lack of funding and the poor material condition as the cause of these accidents, I go with human error as the root cause. The OOD violated the CO's standing & night orders by not calling him when she could not maintain the CPA (closest point of approach) as specified by the CO. Her mental state, level of confidence in herself and her CIC team really isn't a factor. Had she called the CO, (most likely) he'd come to the bridge and assess the situation.

    You know about the MELBOURNE-EVANS collision. It happened because the OOD & JOOD didn't follow the CO's night orders when the formation course changed. Had they called. . . .

    Additionally, the CIC team didn't have "the bubble" either as to what was going on. In that AOR, there are so many ships, it's like stepping stones across the creek.

    Solutions to the problem is more than just money. It's training, experience, and rest. Yes, rest. In the civilian shipping industry, it is a requirement (known as STCW) to have 10hrs of rest in a 24hr period, and may be divided into no more than two periods; one must be at least 6 hours in length, and no more than 14 hours between rest periods. Now I'm not suggesting the USN adopt a "hard STCW" standard, but the commands need to recognize that sleep deprivation is dangerous.

    I don't know what you did on the boats, but in the tin-can Navy, we stood 6 x 6 watches while raiding North Vietnam. Now, we were sleep deprived after about two weeks of nightly GQ for high intensity gun raids at night, followed by fueling UNREPS every other day, AMMO UNREPS every other day (usually on the day after fuel), and groceries every week. And that's when the ship was tasked to plane-guard the carriers and the crew could go to condition three watches (4 on, 8 off).

    I mentioned training. The Navy must train their ship drivers to operate within COLREGS. For example, I can't tell you how many times I came across a grey-hull making a turn to port in a crossing situation, or meeting situation. A seasoned third mate in the merchant marine has more bridge experience than the XO of most navy ships. In my opinion, the USN should adopt the two paths of licensed merchant officers - DECK or ENGINEERING. But, that topic is fiercely debated within the service. [It works for the Brits and other NATO ships, though.]

    It is apparent the bridge watch and the CIC team were incompetent with radar. That is UNSAT. But as to the material condition of the radar sets, I'm reminded of the words or Don Rumsfeld: "You don't wait to go to war with equipment you don't have, you go to war with what you have." Wishing to have "wiz-bang" equipment (to "steam" the ship, not war fighting) is not a reason to go. BUT, a merchant ship with an inoperative radar is a "NO-SAIL" item.

    There are too many people on the bridge. On a merchant ship there are two, and in heavy traffic areas, maybe 4 (two licensed and 2 unlicensed. In the latter, one guy helping with the radar while the watch officer is CONN. On a DDG, with 14 (maybe) in the wheelhouse? Too many voices competing for attention. Listen to the PORTER audio again. Wow!! What a "goat f'k"!

    Steaming wise, my solution is to have the SWO's interface with merchant deck officers for sea-watch experience. Make it part of the training path. Or, solicit training opportunities from merchant marine deckies. [For the right price, I'm available. LOL]
  3. Seasmaster

    Seasmaster Member

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  4. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Bless those souls that came to awareness to save the ship. It is sad that while they rested, the con let them down and caused this surprise event. The loss of other souls will haunt them forever. The faith of the officers above will always be in question or concern thru their remaining lives..

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