Indeed, sir. Another person supporting my point. Of course, since you didn’t write “the United States Navy is an incompetent organization, composed of incompetent people, and it doesn’t do anything to keep America safe and free”, this post won’t get much support on gCaptain.
I was talking about fellow military veterans. No one who served in the military of any nation should be joining in the anti-Navy, anti-military theme I have seen so often on this site. They should know why. To any veteran who chooses to do that, I still thank them for their service, and I would still help them if I were in a position to do so, but I am greatly disappointed that they would choose to dishonor their service – and those with whom they served – in that way.
btw I agree with you about the Merchant Marine and the Naval Exchange.
Speaking of respect, let’s talk about the USS Fitzgerald, which people who don’t know what they’re talking about want to say is some kind of disgrace. Whoever was on watch as OOD that night obviously made mistakes, and possibly others on duty that night made mistakes as well. But that’s not a reflection on the crew overall or the US Navy overall. Here’s some of what that ship did which their critics on this site did NOT do:
- first of all, what was her mission in the area? To be insulted by career civilians? No, it wasn’t.
Her mission was Ballistic Missile Defense. If North Korea were to fire a ballistic missile at Americans, this was one of the ships that was in the area for the purpose of trying to shoot that missile down.
A Destroyer is a COMBATANT WARSHIP. A submarine is a combatant vessel. The Navy is a branch of the military. We engage bad guys.
This was a ship that was directly involved in keeping you safe. Keeping your family safe at night. Those reading this post owe their freedom, in some small part, to this crew.
For some reason, many on this web site seem to think the Navy does nothing but move ships around in the ocean for no reason. That is not correct. We are transiting across the seas to keep Americans safe.
she helped Japan recover from a major earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Merchant ships do that as well…but that’s all the more reason to respect that crew. Like I said, the Navy and the Merchant Marine have many things in common. That should encourage more respect from the Merchant Marine, not less.
this ship was involved in enforcing UN sanctions in the middle east…which obviously means their sailors were boarding foreign vessels, making close quarter contact with potential enemies. I wonder how many people on here who disrespect the United States Armed Forces would be willing to board a potentially hostile vessel, knowing the risk that they might be shot, in order to defend this country and keep the families of other people safe? The families of people they don’t know. The freedom of Americans.
All this stuff is just the non-classified operations that anyone can research on the web.
Despite being a submariner, I didn’t have need to know for any clandestine operations this particular ship might have done – and if I did, I obviously wouldn’t talk about it – but I can think of a few things. They probably deployed SEAL teams at some point. They were probably involved in counter-terrorist operations from time to time.
But yeah, a horrible accident happened, and we lost people in our Navy family…but some career civilians think it is more important for them to tell the Navy how to do their job.
Not that someone who never served should ever presume to tell us how to do our jobs. Constructive, respectful criticism, sure. But the key word there is respect. Not for any individual personally, but for us collectively, what we do, what our organization does.
As soon as the navy riders stop doing stupid shit like asking for the WIFI password or calling the bridge while were exiting a port to tell me that the shower is to hot. I will continue to make fun of them. If you want to get into real maritime stuff how about we do an unrep beam to the seas on a course that will also take us through the IRTC. I do realize that not everyone in the military is this way the senior chief on my SECDET was great he would ask question on the bridge equipment and really learned everything he could. For the record I’m not saying MSC is amazing by any means we have our fair share of mistakes. Neutrino MSC vessels launch seal teams as well check out the Lewis B Puller or the JHSVs the ex Craigside is contractor crewed but that is pretty much their sole mission
That’s different, I’m addressing people who are being serious and disrespectful.
Well, MSC is part of the Navy (the Department of the Navy), so of course they do logistical support for the Navy. I’m actually in the process of submitting a package to MSC these days. It’s cool if they don’t take me on the first try, I have a job already.
There is a difference between contempt for a lack of skill in an area of operations, and disrespect for the choice to serve.
I have family in friend in active and reserve duty, and I respect them immensely for the decisicion they made to serve. It’s one I strongly considered and ended up not making.
However even they don’t get a pass for piss poor seamanship. Especially when it results in a loss of life, and especially when it jeopardizes national security.
At the end of the day collision avoidance isn’t rocket science. Environmental conditions and traffic volume can make it nerve racking at times, but it isn’t a mystical art. It very often, in fact entirely too often, comes down to human error.
Due to that human error we lost seven sailors, one who all by all accounts would be deserving of a Medal of Honor had this been in combat, and a very important piece of equipment in a part of the world were a madman is playing with ICBM’s.
We as mariners are in general being less critical of the sailors themselves, but the system they are brought up in.
Finally, lest you forget, in a time of war many merchant mariners have checked a little box on their license applications and renewals that voluntarily put our names and credentials into the system for voluntary call up.
In WWII the merchant marine had a higher casualty rate than the marine corp. Yet our members were looked down upon, called draft dodgers, and regardless of how many times these men had a ship torpedoed out from under them, never received veterans benefits.
They sailed up the coast with out convoys or escort and should be be drawn into another world spanning conflict I have no doubt we’ll do it again.
So no, we won’t give the navy a pass on this one. Just like we won’t give the mate on the Crystal a pass. Or the Watch officers on the two ships that collided in the English Channel. Or the Capt and Mate of the high speed ferry that hit a jetty in cape cod. We will be critical of the organizational issues, and operational choices that led to those incidents. Rules at sea are written in blood, if you wash it away, if you fail to heed and learn from it, it will only happen again.
Why is this post in the wrong forum section?
There is nothing wrong with criticizing a generally well respected organization when it is merited. This is natural, and should happen. This is especially merited when arrogance is shown despite evidence proving there to be problems, and maybe serious problems when it comes to seamanship, navigation, and bridge watch-standing. Based on some observations, I would even extend that to engineering. Even so, every organization has problems, even military, but not every organization hides those problems to save face.
I for one have a tremendous respect for both the Navy and Merchant Marines, yet will not blindly defend shortcomings, especially from the SWO community, the officers who lead those enlisted, the same officers that ran that bridge and CIC on the Fitzgerald at the expense of those enlisted sailors. You see respect start to diminish when you defend some things that are very hard to support.
I’ve already made my point that, in my opinion, the US Navy does not sufficiently train their officers in the skills of seamanship, navigation and the conning of a ship. But that in no way means I believe the US Navy to be deficient in all areas.
Quite the contrary. In the areas of fire fighting and damage control the training and preparation we received in the Navy was far superior. Granted, a ship of war is far more likely to receive damage and will have the size of crew needed to survive catastrophic damage (as the USS Fitzgerald did), but the fire fighting training I received for BST and “Advanced” fire fighting for my mate’s licence were laughable.
Had the Japanese merchant received the same level of damage as the Fitzgerald had it would have sunk. There simply weren’t enough men and equipment aboard to handle that much damage.
And the conclusion of the several posts on lack of navigational training by multi-tasking Naval personnel may be; “You can make something so multi-purpose that it becomes multi-useless”.
This normally applies to vessels an equipment, but I presume it can be transferred to personnel in this case??
I wouldn’t go that far.
I think we might all agree that conning a ship is as much an art as it is a science. One must develop a feel for maneuvering a ship alongside a pier. Likewise, it takes years of experience on the bridge to know when to ignore what the electronics are telling you (or not telling you), step out on the bridge wing, and use your Mark I Mod II eyeballs and figure out what the heck is going on and how get your ship out of harms way.
My point is that the way our Navy grooms their officers completely ignores this. Yes, there are some officers who turn out to be masterful ship drivers in spite of insufficient training. But the system doesn’t seem to allow for those who don’t.
I also want to point out that I am only talking about deck officer training, not enlisted training. Navy quartermasters and boatswain’s mates go through rigorous and thorough training focused on navigational and seamanship skills. They are the ones who physically steer the ship and control her engines. They are the ones who determine and plot the ship’s position on a chart. But although they may have years more experience driving the ship they do not have the conn.
Dear Conflicted and Confused,
You must ask yourself why you “… hated the Navy as a job. I hated it PASSIONATELY as a job.” Was it because you didn’t like your “shipmates” or they didn’t like you?
Most of us here love our jobs at sea or in the industry (despite some of the most amazing complaints ever made or heard) but most of us have also done our jobs on ships that we could barely wait to reach the first port where we could sign off. Your issue seems to be the opposite, you seem to worship (not a particularly healthy trait) your old employer but hated your job. What was it you really hated about your job?
No one here has claimed to “disrespect” ( a way overused and now politically correct term) anyone because they chose to join the Navy. There is a great deal of disrespect for the actions, policies, and culture that continues to cause the type of debacle illustrated by the Fitz and Porter. You will find little respect for the likes of Holly Graf and her ilk who grace the lists of leaders fired for incompetence and misconduct.
Perhaps you might consider that the “disrespect” you sense here is a loathing of the culture of an institution that appears to be far more interested in defending itself and its leaders from criticism or unfavorable publicity. When someone chimes in with a defensive barrage of mostly irrelevant and self promoting posts in defense of the indefensible you shouldn’t expect a warm reception or be surprised for receiving what you describe as hostility…
Perhaps a bit more respect should be shown to the families of those seven sailors who were killed because they trusted those who claimed to deliver more than they were fit to carry. It is not disrespectful to demand cooperation in the investigation of their loss.
I believe that if there is any “disrespect” involved in this shabby affair, it is on the shoulders of the Navy in refusing to answer valid questions about the activities of that ship in the last minutes of those sailor’s lives. Hiding that information behind the curtain of “national security” shows the greatest disrespect for those seven sailors, their families, and the nation that finances those who are being protected.
As others have mentioned, respect must be earned. The Fitz incident has moved the balance sheet of respect far into the red.
Real respect can be earned, but never demanded. Pull, as opposed to push.
What some people think is respect is actually fear.
Agree that some people take more naturally to the skills required to handle ships and boats than others, even with the same basic training and the same amount of experience. Some never learn that skill.
It is a fact that some people do things wrong for years and call it “experience”.
I would also like to add that in the civilian reality there are also problem with actual training in maneuvering ships, or “boat handling” as it is known in the OSV context.
Even Masters on many large vessel seldom if ever actually take their ships alongside a wharf, or is conning the ship “hands on” when inside port limits. That job is delegated to Pilots, either compulsory by Port Authorities, or by request of Owners, Insurers or the Masters themselves. At most they get to conn their ship to an open anchorage, or to the Pilot Boarding Ground.
Even on smaller ships and on OSVs there used to be a tendency among Masters not to allow their Mates to handle the vessel when berthing, or during approaching rigs/platforms etc. This last is getting better with the introduction of DP2, where the OSVs don’t moor up at all when handling cargo offshore.
In my case I took over as Master of a small vessel, where we didn’t normally use Pilots, on a day’s notice. I had to become an “instant expert” in ship handling. Luckily I had done some of it on twin screw MTBs and OSVs, but it is not the same as handling a single screw ship in confined spaces.
Maybe so, but the USN permitted it. Sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission.
If the Navy, a seaborne armed force in the business of operating ships, thinks so little about the importance of ship navigation that the position of Navigator is a collateral duty that can be assigned to anyone of the CO’s choosing then something is seriously wrong.
On my 378’ the “Morale Officer” was a collateral duty, too. It was their job to make sure that the soda machine was kept supplied & stocked with Jolt Cola and the ship’s store had enough junk food for the patrol.
Speaking only for myself, I think the Navigator must be a standalone position of high importance. Any naval vessel (a weapons-delivery platform, same as aircraft) that gets taken out of action due to navigational blunders (grounding, collision, allision) is not in the fight or acting in a deterrent role. Which is to say, useless. Or worse. Resources then have to be diverted to rescue, assist, extricate, etc.
You won’t get any argument from me on those points, captjacksparrow.
I will say that 45 years ago, when I go to my first ship as an Ensign, I was told that the “Morale Officer” was always the CO, and it was one role he (no she back then) could not delegate.
The name “Morale Officer” was more “tongue in cheek” than an actual description of duties. At least in my day. It was a safe, collateral duty for the youngest JO.
You are both correct.
It was a safe place to park the newest Ensign.
And, ultimately, the CO is responsible for the crew’s overall morale, just as they are responsible for everything else too.
And it’s no different in the MM, at all levels.
You can have a reasonably happy ship (or tug & barge, or supply boat, or whatever) or not. The Master will set the tone. Crew turnover, or the lack thereof, usually tells the tale.
Agreed. After the “grounding” incident the CO was ordered by the commodore of the squadron to assign a navigator with no other responsibilities. Lucky for me, I got that assignment. One of the best jobs I’ve ever had and the best job I ever had in the Navy.
The CO of that ship was also ordered not to come into port without the assistance of a pilot.
I’ve never understood why that CO was never relieved of his command.
Pretty much for all the reasons others on this thread have been arguing in the affirmative for the Navy.
Any “commander” who is incapable of standing tall before the man has no right to be in command. Unfortunately we have all had experiences with weak leaders who are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions. It just seems that the Navy excels at this kind of circling the wagons around their own. Not saying it doesn’t happen in the private sector, but it would be an almost certain automatic termination for any Master involved in a grounding or allission in the merchant fleet. At the very least they would be relieved of command while the investigation took place.