Navy says destroyer captain removed after lying to San Diego fleet command about ship’s position

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Civilian ships do this all the time…less paperwork to just not tell the office!

It’s been decades since I retired from the USN. Much has changed and much hasn’t.

Ships file MOVREPs to report their intended movement, e.g. track, speed, ETA, etc. You are required to be within four (4) hours of your projected movement position, and most transits were planned at a 16kt SOA.

Back in the day before electronic systems reported back to ‘higher authority’, common practice on a transit was to get ahead of PIM by just under four hours, so you had a cushion in case of bad weather, or to allow for such niceties as man overboard drills and ship handling training for the JOs. You would let that cushion slide back as you neared destination, so your arrival at the sea buoy was on time.

While there was clearly no need in the 70s or 80s to report that you were doing MOB or running towards a rain squall to get a washdown, the reporting of DIW to conduct an engineering repair, or calibration, would likely have been a judgement call. If it didn’t go as planned and you were four hours behind PIM, you would have to report it and then explain how it happened.

With onboard electronic systems reporting position and movement to ‘higher authority’, it seems that the choices were to report the event when it happened, or to take the actions outlined in the article. I find it difficult to accept that multiple members of the crew disconnected electronics, calculated and reported phony DR positions, and likely falsified the Deck Log, without specific instructions to do so.

Years ago, one of our boats was headed from Puget Sound to Charleston SC to pick up a cargo. They were steaming through the Caribbean, days ahead of schedule. Then the home office got the call: reduction gear overheating. Had to shut the main down. Drifting in Bahamian waters. Nothing to panic over. Weather good. Working the problem.

The port engineers called Reintjes. Flurries of technical emails go back and forth. Try this and that. Forward them to the boat. The chief emails back: Leave me alone. I’m working the problem.

Which works. About 18 hours later they’re underway again. A one-off thing, fixed and forgotten.

Ten years or so later we found out there had never been a problem. The captain had just anchored off some uninhabited Bahamian island and had a beach party. Skin diving and BBQ. A crime, yes. Because of the customs & border-regulations-jail-time thing. But the perfect crime, because everyone kept their mouths shut for ten years…


How impossible is that? Good for them.

What a stupid way to get yourself canned? Falsify position and lie to command for no good reason…makes me wonder what else was going on?

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The lure of island girls is a powerful force.

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This story warmed my cold quarantined heart today. I have a new hero…


I think he meant the Navy thing :wink:

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Way back in the pre-AIS day a racing skipper got an idea to have the crew strategically call home and give their wives fake position reports well ahead of their actual position. They would talk about being way ahead of X, Y,and Z. They knew X,Y, and Z were very likely to have the SSB on pick up on the calls and become demoralized.
It blew up in their faces when X,Y, and Z got near the finish and called home too and then the wives got together, realized the “slow” boats would be in port well after the fake fast boat should have been in. They of course all screamed at the CG to launch a search mission, which quickly found the “lost” sailors about 100 miles back :roll_eyes:

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It’s usually understandable that journalists who aren’t doing in-depth investigative pieces don’t know enough to describe technical issues, but is it safe to assume they were having an issue with the prop pitch?

the pitch of the destroyer’s starboard shaft — which connects the engine to the propeller — came out of alignment.
In order to repair and calibrate, the ship would need to lock the shaft, meaning that for the duration of the maintenance the ship would be adrift.

Bowen also is later quoted calling it a “Pitch Recalibration.” Arleigh Burke Class are CPP. I’ve sailed on CPP tankers (T-AO). The systems are usually pretty reliable when maintained and I don’t recall ever having to stop underway to address pitch read-back issues, certainly not for “routine maintenance.”

“Bowen said the maintenance was routine and not due to a failure.” But then he also said he “didn’t want them asking questions.” Usually when you tell your boss exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it then, and that it is routine, that generally leads to fewer questions, not more. It seems like the loss of confidence in his ability to command is actually appropriate in this one.


The standard quote from Navy when they let someone go.

This does indeed sound strange. I’ve had pretty much the full gamut of pitch issues, from loss of hydraulics, electrical readout fail and binding control sleeve, through exploded support bearing. There’s not much of that I’d consider repairing at sea, save for installing emergency screws or a strategically placed vise grip.

Pitch reference being a mission critical system is just weird. If you lose readout or precision, you start clutching during maneuvers, the manual be damned, right? Maybe it was about retaining some sort of joystick functionality? I’m also hard pressed to see why you’d need to lock the shaft for adjustments, but all this is pure guesswork without knowing more about the specific system.

A skinny dipping halt may yet be the best guess.

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Very strange.

Why would a Captain risk his career by lying over something so trival.

People do strange things.

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Not even the strangest one I can recall:

It wasn’t all about the goat, obviously, but that was a huge part of it.

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:rofl: Line of the day right there!! Quite a few gems in that article too:

The U.S. Naval Institute last year published “A Brief Illustrated History of the Navy Goat.” With their sure-footedness, swimming ability, compact size, and willingness to eat anything, goats were better suited to sea voyages than, say, cows, the history noted:

“A half-ton cow being tossed in a storm could be as dangerous as a loose cannon.”

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I’ve heard of goat lockers for chief petty officers but that’s ridiculous.

Either they were ordered to or it didn’t happen. I can’t imagine anyone ordering a whole team to do things like that because we know how well people keep secrets.

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