FITZGERALD Officer of the Deck Pleads Guilty At Court-Martial


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?


Basic Training

NO ONE is an expert coming out of Boot Camp. If Basic Training was successful then the graduating Sailors have a reached a MINIMUM baseline from which they then will be further trained at their follow-on Commands. This isn’t new or unusual.

Anyone ever been to a MSC Training Facility and seen the new hires? I’ve visited Freehold, NJ on more than one occasion and for every shit-hot candidate there were at least two who could not swim, would NEVER swim and the closest they would EVER get to a boat (before AND after) was the Lifeboatman class.


Is there a better pub around than the Navy’s towing manual? 9

Not to my knowledge!


It’s an apples and oranges comparison. The Navy trains its people to operate inside the Navy. For example I went though Navy Signalman school. That school created a set of sailors with skills that were useful in the larger context of the navy. But if I was to work for you as a deckhand on your tug…that training is irrelevant.


Not sure what you’re disagreeing with. The Navy has the know-how, expertise and ability to train people, that doesn’t seem controversial to me. That’s not to claim that the crew of the Fitzgerald was adequately trained.


Ahhh. OK. I’ll agree - the Navy has the capability (Know-how, expertise and ability) to train; but that’s not what you originally wrote.

When I went to radar school (scope dope school), we were trained in the whole of CIC operation. That training included a plethora of items; rules of the road, radar, maneuvering board, DRT (dead reckoning tracer), formation steaming (not conning, but knowing where and how to get there), and the importance of keeping the bridge team informed of commercial/warship shipping, and aircraft. Much like the skivvie-waver you were (LOL), with the exception of radar observing & rules, the training was pretty much a unique set of “navy” skills, not worth much as a tug deck-hand.

So, “yes”, with that optic, the Navy has good training. But after spending the last 10 years of my sailing career as a MSC contract mariner on a variety of vessels, I continue in my belief the Navy’s training is lacking. For example, while on a TAGOS vessel during an multi-national exercise in the early 2000’s, the ship was accused by the exercise Officer In Charge, of being off station (and avoiding getting “sunk” by the target submarine). The OIC was totally chagrined to learn that all we had done was “darken ship”. The 3M was totally jacked that I’d turn off the nav lights. We were a ghost at night!!!

And another example, written in another thread, a submarine tender hailed the ship at 20 miles (40,000 yards for the Navy guys reading) to arrange passing in the middle of the ocean with no other ships in the vicinity. Heck, the closure rate was only 15 knots!!

The solution has been discussed at length, with no clear resolution. Generalist v Specialist. Or have the get a mate’s license like the Brits. Whatever, I hope the message does get through to the SWO’s that are out there, though. They have a tough job being in the Navy, and it’s complicated by us commercial guys with our “way of doing things”. For the SWO’s out there - listen to the scope-dopes!!


In one of the last big exercises before the Brits pulled out of Singapore in about 1964 we were sailing in formation fully darkened in the Indian Ocean. A merchant ship steamed into the formation of about 30 ships and in those days his radar was not operating due to the masters believing that it would get worn out.
A signal was sent out over UHF that on the order execute navigation lights were to be illuminated.
How I would have liked to be a fly on the wall on that bridge. It was about 02:00 in the morning. I reckon that after swallowing his cigarette and anointing himself with coffee he wasted no time in turning the radar on.