More respect for US Navy officers and enlisted personnel needed


#81

No comments on that, we have the tracks of the commercial vessels but not of the two destroyers…

If you had joined the MM after graduating from the USMMA you would have had close to 20 years bridge experience and you could have been Master of a US seagoing merchant ship…


#82

Johnny Dollar, I haven’t earned my pension yet… no guarantees but hope to get to 20 years. I’ll never complain about my compensation because, as you point out, I am a member of the all volunteer force.

I’m not sure my compensation is the same as my Mariner counterparts as you are suggesting, certainly not in terms of dollars. If you add educational benefits and VA Healthcare over a lifetime, perhaps it’s close. But most folks don’t stay for 20, they can’t. Up or out.

I’ve gone to many recruiting nights and suggested to SSO midshipmen considering active duty that if they are motivated by money they should not join the service. I’ve moved ten times and completed six operational deployments. I’ve been a boarding officer boarding Iraqi ships smuggling oil, tracked down North Korean ships smuggling weapons. I’ve been cut off by Russian warship, Chinese warships, and just about every fisherman in westpac who intentionally ran CBDR across my bow to sever their evil spirits. I got to support a mission to shoot down a wayward satellite, and deliver tens of thousands of tons of aide in the wake of disasters. I get to shop at the commesaary tax free, have been thanked for my service, occasionally get a discount for movie tickets, and have been rammed by a shopping cart at a whole foods by a woman who called me a baby killer. I’ve also been spit at (not on), and had tomatoes thrown at my car by protesters picketing outside the base on my way to work. I have three children of my own who’ve never attended two years at the same school. I own a home (a mortgage). I owned two cars at one point (sold one have one in storage since I’m overseas). I have an associates degree, a batchelors degree, and a masters degree but no student debt. The way I see it I have been fairly compensated but not in terms of dollars. I do the job for service, and will continue to do so as long as I am able. And, as a senior officer now, I’m compensated better than most, but it’s all about time in service.

If given the opportunity to command again, I’ll take it. And not for the $400/month command pay - that helps offset the cost of hats and coins I have to give out. I’ll do it to have the opportunity to serve with the very best that America has to offer, young folks who work 18 hrs a day to meet the demands of the mission at hand. In the case of FTZ it was returning to nK Ballistic Missile Deffense mission, and for JSM it was a brief stop for resupply after South China Sea patrol helping to ensure access to the high seas for all nations.


#83

AK44,

That’s true, many of my classmates have sailed as Master and Chief Engineer… but it didn’t take them 20 years. It took some as few as five to get the top license, and some were able to get temp master jobs surprisingly quickly.

So yes, to your point… 18 years in the Navy, of which ten were sea duty got me to command a warship at sea.

But, my classmates who stayed at sea in the merchant marine got to captain much quicker, younger and with less sea time. I don’t question their dedication or professionalism. I know they passed the exam and drove the ship everyday.

And, I’d argue that you don’t need track data to find fault with the two merchant ships. The track data will help in apportioning blame and determining compensation. All four ships are at fault by vertue of the fact that there was a collision at all.

Two STCW qualified watch teams placed their vessel so close to another so as to make avoiding a collision impossible. They share the blame. The only question for the Admiralty courts will be an apportionment of that blame.


#84

Now that the trenches have been dig in nice & deep, and the grenade throwing / defense-of-established-positions has really gotten going here’s something else to think about.

I flat-out reject the idea that a CO, or Master, in this day and age (and for quite a distance back in time) can realistically and reasonably be expected to have the thorough, in-depth knowledge of all aspects of a given ship’s systems that are depended on for operations. For the Navy to claim so is delusional at best. Vessels of all kinds have long since become far too complex for this to be a realistic expectation. It’s a nice idea, and at one time may have been a reasonable standard, but it’s not truly achievable today, not even close. Military career rotation schedules seem to aggravate this condition, serving the institutional needs more than the long-term practical needs of personnel development and retention of expertise. Just because a practice, corporate or military, has been established and institutionalized doesn’t necessarily validate it’s value or effectiveness.

So we can kid ourselves, dangerously, about this if we want to. But it’s just pure hubris to believe it. Everything keeps getting more complex in a vicious negative feedback loop that requires ever-more training, ever-more qualifications, ever-more specialization in an ever-growing array of knowledge areas while the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, rendering what you learn or are trained to do increasingly obsolete faster than ever before and with no end in sight. Technological “improvements” now often fail to live up to their claimed benefits and sometimes confer no benefit at all, other than generating continuous corporate profits. Meanwhile, financial pressure works, on military & merchant vessels alike, to keep manning at a bare minimum to get by in the moment while the politicians and regulators just keep going along with it, no matter the consequences.

And the cure offered is always the same: More training! More education! More new technology! That alone will solve nothing, as there are distinct human limits to contend with that no amount of additional training will fix. One of those limits is the limit on how much knowledge can be absorbed and retained for future use by a given individual human. Another is the limits on how fast we can (or should) try to adapt to new technology. We all have limits which need to be acknowledged and understood. So the tail is wagging the dog here, technology-wise, and it shouldn’t be. Failing to address that issue means anything else is just a band-aid slapped over a gaping hole in the side of a destroyer. And yes, the merchant fleets of the world have more than enough shortcomings to answer for as well.

Which brings up another good question. Is it possible now that we have maxed out the benefits of increasingly complex technologies (considered in the aggregate) and reached or passed “peak safety”? Are we now riding down the backside of that curve?


#85

That explains it.


#86

That is likely, but it will still be a disappointment.

Maybe slightly different training, but they’re still both pilots. Fighter pilots aren’t also aircraft mechanics and weapons systems officers like an SWO is expected to be.

Not you’re no where near as competent a navigator as a master. You shouldn’t be the person the OOD calls when they’re in doubt and the OODs probably shouldn’t be OODs. There could be full time navigators and engineers and command track officers could spend time apprenticing on those departments to learn them before moving up.


#87

Hmmm. I just finished, oh hell I can’t remember how many rotations I’ve made as Master at this point. The same class of ship mind you of which I’ve sailed on as Third Mate, Second Mate, Chief Mate, and then Master. During those years I’ve also picked up a few things about the engineering as well. You’re painting with a pretty broad brush and I will kindly ask you to “derilicte my balls el’ capitan.”

Pot, please say hello to kettle.


#88

You are genius that used your full name as your username on this forum. Simple google search…but it’s obviously that’s exactly what you wanted.

Don’t try to play that card. Once an officer in the military achieves O-4, he/she can stay in for 20 (notwithstanding dishonorable discharge, etc). You know this fact. You just try to claim you can be fired at any minute. Sorry, only us suckers in the private sector fear such fate as mass layoffs. Oh, and lets not forget promotion O2, and O3 are automatic and 80% or more achieve O4.

What is the point of this pontification? Cool, you did lots of stuff around the world. So do many other folks on this forum. I’m sure many engineers can describe the most crazy horrible nasty SHIT they’ve had to excavate from the sewage systems as they suffered through 150knot winds and 80 foot seas.

Current military pay (officer and enlisted) is higher than the average comparable pay for similarly skilled civilians. I will compliment the fact that you did at least include many of the other non-monetary benefits. Things like private beaches civilians can’t go to. Private camp grounds. Ability to rent boats in beautiful tropical islands. Free flights (if space is available). Free healthcare for one’s family. Oh, and the large tax-free allowances or free housing. And of course, the multi-million dollar pension. Nobody ever does it for the money…never…


#89

He will be able to collect that pension will working as a government contractor, or anything else. Score!!


#90

Wow… I made no personal attacks on anyone in this forum. I thought this was a professional discussion, an attempt to better understand why two organizations do things differently.

Cheap shots.

One could have made the same points without sinking. I don’t understand the anger unless access to military campgrounds is a thing to get upset about.

I won’t, and didn’t, argue that the Maritime community isn’t professionally competent, even more so at navigation than their navy counterparts. And, I didn’t mean it as an insult when I stated that what is demanded of a SWO is more complex than a Mate or Engineer. I think that is one argument that surfaces from time to time - the Royal Navy and some of the Comonwealth navies divide career paths more along the lines of the merchant marine. But I’ve also heard gripes about how the captain fought the ship, or didn’t understand engineering.

A bigger issue that this forum hits on but I’m not sure fully understands is the reasoning Sea-Shore rotation. Sure, you could stay at sea forever and master your shipdriving, or flying, or infantry skills, but who then commands the force? Who serves as advisor to state department? Who manages manpower or budgets?

The American military has always had a fundamental belief that we take care of our own. No one gets hired in to middle or senior management. These “desk” jobs are filled by folks coming from, and returning to the Fleet.

Can we have a discussion at the professional level without resorting to insults.

I’m reading these forums because it is my hope there are lessons to be learned from the Mariner community.


#91

Does “gCaptain Crew” mean the member of this forum is employed by the publication or is it some sort of rank denoting how frequently someone contributes?

I never considered using an alias. Why would that be nesessary on a professional forum? What would anyone have to hide? Is this the sort of place you have to pretend to be someone else?


#92

People use forum handles and nick names because of the lunatics we work for shore side. It’s a lot easier to be frank in your discussion of a practice or conditions at a company when you know your port captain can’t prove it’s you.


#93

How disappointing. Makes it hard to be honest when you can hide behind an alias. Or atleast makes it easier to not have to worry about what people think of you.


#94

As a former SWO myself, I can say this is very delusional thinking on so many levels.

You of all people should realize that there is real systemic problems within the Navy that needs bluntness and truthful discussion. The SWO managers maybe are expected to manage some complex jobs, with the enlisted doing the heavy lifting. The LOK for SWOs is NOT there, that I promise you. A SWO today knows the VERY BASICS at some systems from all departments on the ship, and thats it. What do they know? How do a spot check, ZIDLs, ADMIN, dogmatic motions, policies and procedures, and thats it. The XO and CO can be so detached from reality that its embarrassing. LDOs and warrants are different however.


#95

O wow, did you get 6 months of engineering training and some line items signed off on your PQS as first tour for EOOW? Congratulations, you are Chief Engineer ready for a DH tour. You are not fooling anyone here, as there are many prior SWOs and Enlisted on these forms. I can’t even respond fast enough to these bloated outrageous statements.

And if you did some research you would realize that the accident rate in the Navy with engineering casualties, collision, allisions, and personal accidents is far higher than the US Merchant Fleet, with the majority of fault going to the Navy every time. Compare MSC to the Navy for example. Almost as many vessels, operated at a reduction in cost with no reduction in operation tempo from when Navy operated, with a bonus of less accidents and engineering casualties than before AND with hulls that are much older than when the Navy had them! Three commissioned warships have their deck and engine departments operated by merchant mariners, with talk of expanding on that.


#96

Fingers crossed, I’m close to tenure so I’ll be untouchable.


#97

That’s just my point, 18 years in the Navy, and despite “all the training” never ever in control of driving the ship. Have said it before just listen to the bridge audio of the Porter, if you’re not familiar with it, google it. “Despite all the training”, utter confusion and way too many persons in the wheelhouse or bridge or whatever the Navy calls it.

In one of your posts you mentioned commercial ships have accidents too, that’s true, however,
according to Popular Mechanics in August 2017 there were 430 active US Navy ships, in a 2 months span 2 were involved in severe collisions with billions of damage. In 2014 Equasis listed the worldwide merchant fleet over 100GT to be more than 85.000, do you honestly believe that 400 plus did get into serious collisions in a 2 months period?

With all your 18 years in the Navy you got to admit that the Navy needs dedicated experienced Navigators.


#98

So with all the wisdom in this group, the proposals are to make the Navigator more professional, make SWOs less generalists, and increase sea time.

I see this forum in public advocating for either dividing up the community along the lines of department like the merchant marine or the Navy’s LDOs, or adding a licensed officer to the crew.

What’s the risk in driving the pendulum too far in the other direction? An officer an inch wide but a mile deep? How do you make senior commanders, folks capable of commanding at the group, fleet, or joint level? How would you manage the business of the navy - the man, train, equip?

I’d ask as a professional courtesy that if your response is going to include a personal attack or a statement about my own abilities as a mariner, SWO, or shipdriver, that you include you name and qualification.

I appreciate the handful emails and PMs with advice and comment but wonder why there appears to be such a tone on this forum.


#99

I was banned for 3 days for posting a pro-navy opinion. Despite being a 25-year MM. So yeah. Plenty of bias in this website.


#100

What is the expense of 17 lives and repairs to how many ships broken by incompetence and arrogance?

As a former airline pilot I can tell you that we were trained to conform to the “rules of the road” and conduct each flight with the safety of all those aboard as the top priority. We did not operate with the idea that a certain percentage of human and machinery loss was part of the job.

If you are in a firefight then you can play the way you trained, have at it but in the meantime you are sharing the seas and skies with peaceful civilians going about their business and who deserve not to be put at risk by a bunch of incompetent yahoos who think their “special” place in the world absolves them of responsibility.

Collisions in the merchant fleet don’t make collisions in the Navy any more acceptable. You claim to be better but all I see is hollow claims and the beating of chests full of participation trophies.