As I see it there is a huge difference in the way the master of a merchant ship is trained and the commanding officer of a war ship like the McCain. You donot need a fleet wide study to discover what is fundamentally wrong with the present situation.
A ship’s master has reached that position through many years of slowly growing through the ranks, year in year out. They earned those ranks by hard study, always honing and expanding there navigational knowledge and skills, mostly at there own expense. As a master you are standing on the top of the pyramid, you can call yourself an experienced and seasoned mariner, you have almost seen it all.
Looking at the career path of the commanding officer of the McCain you can see the difference. What we call ‘desk tigers’ are constantly moved around from one shore position to the other, hands of many trades but no deep navigational training and skills. And then because they need some sea time for a next promotion they are parachuted on a ship with many hundreds of personnel.
The art of commanding a ship in a safe and professional way, based on many years of sea time, sound experience and knowledge, has then been degraded into just a job of managing a ship. Only managerial skills seems to be required in the world of the Navy. As a manager, I think, he is probably totally dependent on the lower ranks for taking navigational decisions. He can hardly show the required leadership in difficult or emergency situations as he lacks the experience. A ticket to disaster, so far is clear now…
What the Navy needs are officers who are fully dedicated to the navigational profession and have comparable training and skills with enough sea time as there counterparts in the merchant marine with maybe just every now and then a desk job to make it juicy, not the other way around.