Navy OOD (Officer of the Deck) qualifications and experience


Originally, the Master was supposed to be present on the bridge during the 3/Mate watch.


You ought to examine the density of equipment and electronics in a naval ship.Those require a lot of continuous maintenance, calibration, testing, tuning, if you want your weapons to hit their targets accurately. In comparison a merchant vessel is mostly cargo space.
The merchant ships are just that…merchant ships. They have to turn a profit. They can earn only when they are moving cargo. Time in Port is minimised for loading or discharging cargo. All maintenance must be aligned with the port stay… governed by cargo work.


My problem when this is brought up is combat is only one department on a naval ship. The other two departments (engineering and operations) are doing the exact same job merchant ships (engineering and deck) are, with very similar equipment.


No. They are not. Merchant ships do not have Gas Turbines. There is also a bigger range of Damage Control Equipment. Look at the crew complement. The Arleigh Burke class ship at 9000 Tonnes is my manned by 230 crew in comparison with a Panamax bulk carrier at 80000 tonnes with only 26 crew.


The power plants on some civilian vessels are more complex than most non-nuclear military vessels, be it multi-generator power plants, alternate fuels, water jets, or gas turbines. And, the engineer’s in particular, need to be able to service that equipment without having nearly as many specialists on board.


The Arleigh Burke class ship at 9000 Tonnes is my manned by 230

300ish now that we’re finally done with “optimal manning”, and thank God.


Some ? May be, but the average cargo ships, No. She has one Main Engine ( running on HFO) 3 AEs ( MDO) and other auxiliaries. A tanker will have additional cargo pumps. The Eng room complement is about 12 in all.


The average cargo ship constitutes the minority of civilian operated commercial vessels. I’m not trying to brush away what a naval vessel has, but it’s a pretty short sighted view to consider most merchant vessels as average cargo vessels with simple plants and technology to deal with.


It is not my short-sighted view, just a hard fact.
The Japanese perfected the art of building what are known as the UTILITY MERCHANT VESSELS. That is the same approach used for building cheap utility type small cars. That’s how the Japanese knocked out the Americans in the car industry and the rest of the world in shipbuilding. Today the Koreans and the Chinese have captured a major part of the shipbuilding industry but the original model endures; CHEAP, UTILITY MERCHANT SHIPS, that are usually good for a trouble-free run of 15 years, no more. Every equipment on a merchant vessel is the fitted on the principal of minimalistic expense, in a truly LEGO style knock together of equipment. Also, these ships are not a minority but a majority close to 98%. You will have a hard time trying to find a wordwide trading merchant ship that is built in a country other than Japan, China or Korea. However these ships do maintain fairly strict performance standards through a well organised inspection regime by Classification Societies, Flag State inspectors and Port State inspectors.


Exactly my point. There are plenty of other vessels in addition to “worldwide trading merchant ships.”


True, but many civmars operate them, such as the Supply and Watson class ships.

I’ve served on GTE naval ships, and the Navy won’t touch them (they are pretty trouble free), and will always contract GE or someone to fix them. So much easier than a large slow speed diesel when you don’t have to do any corrective maintenance. That I assure you.

The moral of the story is that this is a lame argument. Civmars even operate steam ships that the navy cannot anymore (such as the USS Ponce). Hell look at LCS and the DMEC contractors that were running the plant for them (merchant chief engineers).

Those GTEs work great for the Navy because they have a module around them preventing it from being touched by them.


May be in numbers, but not in tonnage.


I don’t know where this discussion is going, so let’s get back to the subject.

Firstly, just because the US Navy has suffered two mishaps doesn’t mean that the service is full of blithering idiots. They are in fact professionals of great ability and I am sure they will quickly work out the problem of improving bridge watchkeeping standards of Junior officers.

Secondly, the merchant marine also went through a very stressful period of ship losses in the 90s which was sorted out by bringing in a strict code of safety management.

Thirdly NASA had its own share of mishaps which too was tackled through better safety systems.

None of us in this forum is a fount of great knowledge and ability. We have all made our share of stupid mistakes that we don’t want the world to know.


Actually, the Navy was full of blithering idiots before the 2 ships collided with merchant ships.


Welcome to the forum! Best get used to it. It happens frequently


Tonnage has no bearing on the complexity of a power/propulsion plant nor navigation system.

That does not mean they have adequate OOD qualifications nor experienced OOD’s. And ‘that’ is the subject of the original post.


We’re discussing numbers, not tonnage.


The U.S. Navy would not have had the Arleigh Burke class of ships if were not for the gas turbine propelled merchant RO/RO, the GTS Admiral Callaghan operated by Export Lines under charter to MSTS (later MSC). The Callaghan provided the propulsion performance data in the late 1960s that gave the Navy the confidence to go ahead with the construction of the gas turbine powered Spruance class destroyers in the early 1970’s. This would not have been possible without the lessons learned from the Callaghan.

I know that Chevron built three gas turbine powered tankers in the mid 1970’s and MSC has 8 - Watson class LMSR ships that are gas turbine powered. There are quite likely others of which I am not aware.


Gas Turbines are complicated. They can never be the basic propulsion systems unless Daddy has a lot of money.
The concept of CODOG ( Combined Diesel or Gas) and CODAG ( Combined Diesel and Gas) has been used in warships since the early 70s. Diesel engines we’re used for normal cruising and Gas for high speed manoeuvering for surface operations, for a limited period. Gas Turbines could not complete with Diesel engines in cost effectiveness for long distance cargo carriage on merchant ships. Only the navies with big budgets could afford it.


I get it. You think the world revolves around complicated naval vessels and large ocean going cargo ships. Yes, those vessels are important. But by the numbers, there are many other vessels out there of all sizes. Some are simpler than naval vessels and some are not. Some are smaller than naval vessels and some are not.

Yes, there are many knowledgeable and professional men and women in the US Navy, I know several personally.

Yet there’s still a problem. It’s a profound competence gap in regards to OOD’s and their shipboard leaders in the US Navy when it comes to basic watchkeeping and navigation?

It is a problem. Why else were the top three on the Fitzgerald sacked? Why else was there an operational standdown? Why was the admiral over that fleet canned? Because there’s a problem. Let’s hope the Navy is open and honest as well as willing to fix some serious problems.