FITZGERALD Officer of the Deck Pleads Guilty At Court-Martial


When I was in boot camp (1970) I think we did lookout, sound powered phone, semaphore, and knot tying all on the same day.

We also did firefighting and NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) and Damage Control all on the same day, even though it was already three years after the Forrestal fire. I understand that has changed drastically since.

They also showed us an M1 and an M1911, and we fired five shots each from a .22 bolt-action rifle (unscored) on an indoor range. Of course we were humping deactivated 1903 Springfield rifles everywhere we went just to give us something to hold in our hands.

The mantra in every case was “You’ll actually learn how on the boat.” It’s funny, they managed to keep us busy for twelve weeks but there wasn’t much substance to the training except for the being military and marching around and doing exercises and trying to stay awake standing guard on the barracks every night.


Yes, basic training, don’t recall the details. I recall taking a 40 foot boat and each of us had to steer, towing and being towed.

As far as shipboard, it was the BMOW, a E-3 leading seaman or E-4 BM that kept an eye on us in the wheel house. The only conversation with the officers was by protocol, similar on the merchant side to helm orders and response.


Must have been Coast Guard. We never got near a boat. :frowning:


Sometimes there is a simple solution it is called a training ship. We had one in my Navy full of NCO’s with years of experience and leather lungs who "chatted " to the trainees. The conversation was strictly one sided and the trainee came away well aware of their place in the world and their shortcomings.
The Union Steam Ship company in New Zealand sailed the 4 masted barque Pamir ( a sister ship to the Peking which many of you are familiar with ) between San Francisco and New Zealand from 1940 to 1948.
The Pamir was taken as a war prize and the company endeavoured to put as many cadets as they could to gain experience in a large sailing ship. The ship was handed back to Germany and was lost about 4 years later with a heavy loss of life.
I was also second mate of a tanker that was designated as a training vessel. The master was an extra master
With a second class steam ticket. The six engineer cadets and six deck cadets spent Sunday afternoon in a room on the same deck as the master where their correspondence work and knowledge were subjected to the masters critical scrutiny.
An extra master (ex.C) used to be the qualification to become a tutor in a Nautical College. It involved a years further study after gaining a Master foreign going certificate and now has been replaced by a university degree. Most extra masters also undertook the licensed compass adjuster course which was another 3 months at the end.
I also sailed with many of those who were trained by British shipping companies sailing on cadet ships carrying up to 60 cadets. Apart from the bosun all tasks were undertaken by cadets and the vessels were in normal trade.


That sounds to me like the way it ought to be done.

split this topic #43

4 posts were split to a new topic: Exams, Joining a New Ship


Evergreen used to do it that way, saw the Evertrust in Kaoshiung years ago.


That’s closer to what I had in mind, except it should be a commercial ship with training functions, not a training ship with a token amount of commerce.


Hapag Lloyd has this approach on their large German flag ships. Carry something on the order of 12+ cadets and a focus on training.


Maersk Cadet training program:

Island Offshore offer Cadet places on their ships under Norwegian and foreign flags:
They may also consider non-Norwegians, subject to requirements.

In Norway there is also a Training ship where the students actually live, train and study on board for the full school year (10 months) They offer the full packet of STCW’10 training (Operational and Administrative) during the 2 years on board:

The main difference from ordinary shore based schools is that the students do chores, stand watches, participate in day-to-day operation and maintenance, as well as regular drills like on any other vessels.

The courses are free but they are charged NOK 6500/mth. (USD 800) for bed and board, which may be covered in full or in part by grants and cheap loans through a Government system.


The Navy knows how to train officers and sailors. The system as a whole, for whatever reason, just failed to do it.


Old men have been saying this for hundreds if not thousand of years, but: “the kids these days.”

I do however think there is something to that old adage. It may not necessarily be something good or bad, but the typical trainees of today are “different” than they were yesterday. Some of them are very “different.” Maybe they need a “different” kind of training, or maybe they are getting training that is already too “different.”


From what I’ve read, the Navy is only having problems with the surface fleet, not on the sub or air side. Also the Surface Warfare Officer School was closed and was replaced by giving new officers a CD set to study.

If it was due to a change in the character of recruits it would be across the board.


I have always heard that aviation and submarines are very selective. Don’t they have higher education requirements and rigorous selection exams? I’ve heard that submarines have enhanced psychological screening as well.

I certainly hope that the “Joe Average” recruits are not being assigned to nuclear submarines.


Yes, good point, but from reading I get the impression that the surface fleet was sort of neglected red-headed stepchild. Also there was in fact a huge cutback in training, increase in tempo. Something was bound to break.

In any case the Navy is, from what I’ve seen, really good at training.

Is there a better pub around than the Navy’s towing manual?


RE: USNI News article of 10 May
OMFG!!! I just cannot believe it!! As a radarman in the CIC of FRAM destroyers during Vietnam in 1971 & 1972 running gun strikes against North Vietnam, and chasing Aircraft Carriers all around YANKEE STATION, and guarding the gunless cruisers (RED CROWN) an PIRAZ, and having just retired after 23 years in the US merchant fleet as a deck officer, including Master and mostly in the Pacific, I am besides myself with disgust and anger.

The article mentions two radars, the SPS-73 (apparently located on the bridge, and not sharing display in CIC, and the SPS-67 (is this only a CIC radar?). When I read that the SPS-73 had over 200 contacts on it, my first thought was, “turn the fucking range scale down. Deal with the ‘most dangerous contact’, not the entire radar picture”.

When the article mentioned the SPS-67 was on the “long pulse” and couldn’t be adjusted from CIC. “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”!! What the hell is going on with a weapon system that one cannot adjust the radar from CIC-both pulse width and tuning?

Those old FRAM destroyers had the classic (and analog) SPS-10 surface search radar, and we could change the pulse width as needed for conditions. Range was infinitely variable on the PPI scope (SPA-25 as I recall). To have a radar incapable of being adjusted by the operator is just preposterous. As a radarman, we were EXPECTED to be able to tune the radar for optimum detection - calling on the electronic technician to “fix what we broke”. LOL

The article also tells how the XO “. . .didn’t completely trust Coppock and that the inclusion of Woodley in the CIC was to provide backup for a bridge watch team he said wasn’t the strongest.”

Coppock on the other hand said she didn’t trust Woodley, "While Coppock admitted she should have talked with CIC during the watch, she “had low confidence in certain [CIC] watch standers.
Coppock did comment that she had received poor information from [Woodley] before.”

JesusFuckingChrist. Talk about an error chain. OOD not paying attention; Radar saturated; Operation Specialists (Radarman with new fancy title) unable to adjust/tune radar; CIC & Bridge team fractured and not communicating; Lookouts not looking out!
What a “McHales Navy” moment.

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with the observation, “In any case the Navy is, from what I’ve seen, really good at training”.


Naval Aviators have always had more demand than seats, lending to some inherent selectivity. Naval Flight Officers on the other hand have had to be drafted at times. Both have to pass an Aviator Selection Test Battery (ASTB) before proceeding to flight school. And their physical is moderately tougher. Submariners build in selectivity with their requirement to attend nuclear power school, weeding out those of marginal academic skills. There’s a psych check as well, but I’ve not heard of it weeding out too many. Because accession programs (Naval Academy, ROTC, OCS) are geared towards line officers, this makes Surface Warfare the community with the least restrictions. And after their initial obligations are up, many officers with no knack for or love for SWO will apply to lateral transfer into the community they’d really rather be in, or just resign.

The net effect of this is there are far too many officers going to sea that would just as soon not be there, placing stress on the training system and bailing at their first opportunity. If SWO didn’t have to be the community that balanced the Navy’s officer rolls (or less charitably, be the dumping ground) and instead only took people that actually wanted to serve at sea, I think you’d have better trained officers more satisfied with their jobs.

All that said, I don’t know that these officers are any better or worse than those cadets at maritime academies that have no great interest in sailing on their licenses.


I often hear it said that many KP grads are only there for a free education after they couldn’t get into a military academy, and that many have no interest in sailing. Some have a reputation for being jerks. That said, the KP grads I know, whether they are sailing or not, are damn good, and good guys too.

I hear that state academy grads initially want to sail, but that many get disgusted by the lack of good opportunities. They are driven out due to lack of work, or being forced to take crappy jobs. Many also didn’t understand the social ramifications of sailing until they tried it. Working for long periods confined to a ship with people they do not really want to associare with, while the wife and kids on shore are going wild, and spending money faster than a sailor can make it.

I don’t know much about the Navy, but its been my observation that many ex-navy “sailors” that I have seen on the commercial side are too often know-it-all’s, that just don’t know enough. Of course, I’ve also seen some really impressive ex-Navy guys too. The ex-USCG guys I’ve seen are good.

The Navy has had too many problems. Something is wrong, probably several somethings.


I would add that the proximate cause of the deaths of the sailors were not the collision itself but the stupid design of the war ship with a 30 sailors cabin located below waterline just inside the shell plate with insufficient/unsafe escapes via vertical or sloping ladders. The poor sailors were trapped like rats down there. A better design is to put the CO’s cabin down there with the sailors above deck with a view of the sea.


With the large number of crew members on board a naval vessel I think a redesign is necessary with one or two at least extra decks to accommodate everybody with a view on the sea. What is next, balconies?