The Navy doesn’t make sense to me

I’m working on a paper for school right now, and I’m reading the NTSB report of the collision between the USS John McCain and the Tanker Alnic MC. The amount of things the Navy reported doing just doesn’t make sense to me. I know they’re not necessarily governed by the IMO so Solas and the ISM don’t necessarily apply to them, but they should at least follow OPA 90, but while reading this it says the average hours of rest for the 14 crew members on the John McCain bridge was only 4.9 hours over 24 hours, a violation of OPA 90. After the collision, no crew members were tested for alcohol, a violation of OPA 90. Also very few of the CO’s standing orders had been followed after the bridge team realized they had lost steering.

I know people always say that the worst sailors are the navy, but after reading the NTSB report 10 sailors lives could have been saved if they would have just practiced common sense/and followed the law…

Thanks for coming to my ted talk

You have answered your own question. Navy are not the worst sailors, just the worst trained in navigation in close quarters. Common sense sometimes is not a teachable trait. The good ones move up, in spite of that. The other ones end up on 6 o clock news. I always believed our Merchant Marine trained guys for the most part can do quite well if put in similar positions… Oh gosh, partisanship again.


You’re saying a lot of nonsensical things. OPA 90 applies to oil tankers, not Navy warships. OPA 90 has never and will never apply to the USN. You can’t require a warship to maintain work/rest hours. I think it’s pretty safe to say they weren’t drunk on watch. The CO’s standing orders don’t really matter since the CO was on the bridge and in overall command. The incident was really just swiss cheese. Tragic, worst place and time for it to happen. What started the cascade was the CO asking the helm to pass steering to the lee helm.

What started it was that stupid touch-screen interface for helm and throttles.


Old timer here, but the KISS technique was very reliable. Keep it simple stupid. And look out the window.

You are confusing OPA90 with STCW work/rest hour rules.

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OPA 90 applies to more than just tankers. While not applicable to Public Vessels they generally abide to its regulations.

Edit: Referring to the environmental regulations.

On my tanker, our work/rest hours were documented on the OPA 90 Work/Rest hour file. There might be a provision about work/rest in OPA 90 as well.

I guess nit pickers are gonna pick nits. Is anyone really confused that the post is saying that the Navy doesn’t follow the work/rest practices commercial vessels must comply with?


My beloved nephew is a chief in the USCG and a good engine room troubleshooter. Got called off watch more than a few times.My dad, a master chief in the navy on a missle ship, had many young sailors under his watch, and was there for them. They called on him quite often. After he retired, went on shakeout cruises for our vaunted submarine fleet , Hours were not the main concern in their service to our country, although sleep was well deserved. Thankfully, both had good wheelhouse guys with common sense. Preferably, in a perfect world you get adequate rest periods, but it sometimes doesn’t work out that way in military or civilian workplaces. OPA 90 regulations made a lot of sense to most civilian mariners, but will never be applied to our service forces. JMHO

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You might consider approaching the problem in a different way. I like this approach and it’s easy to understand.

There are some other thread on here - like this one.

We can and we should. If they want to train all hands evolutions stay in the middle of the ocean well the fuck away from other vessels but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be expected (legally required) to have properly rested bridge crews when they’re in traffic.

I bet there are a lot of navy bridge officers that are a lot better rested than commercial guys working 6/6 schedule that’s stcw compliant.


The person working 6/6 has the ability to get way more sleep than these Navy personnel had. I’m not a fan of 6/6 and don’t think it should continue to be legal but it’s better than the current Navy system.

Subtract the words, “to me” and the title of this post abouts says what needs to be said about the USN

Stcw and Opa 90 in theory is a great idea. Opa 90 a bit easier to comply with and we have an obligation to honor it. Stcw is a bit harder because of working hours. Easy to do at sea, hard to comply with while in port, we just didn’t have enough manpower to work the hours out. 6 and 6 in port. At least that was how it worked when I sailed more than a few years ago. Stores, vendors, maintainence, piloting,etc. 2nd and 3rd mate shared cargo responsibilities. Engineers caught hell, helping out with untimely deliveries and repairs. Was glad to get the hell out of port to get rest and back on a 4 and 8., we only had 2 Engine guys that stayed on 6 and 6. Somehow we made it work. My engineers were rock stars. But very tired. I can’t compliment them enough.

Update: Latest information is that a lot of the blame goes to the over complicated digital ship control system. The Navy ship didn’t have a WHEEL
and rudder was locked in position for a while when it wasn’t supposed to. The Navy is removing this system and reinstalling wheels.

Wheels actually give a feel for the vessel. I either used the long sticks imitating the rudder or the wheel. Lot of leaning into the turn. Captain training me asked why I didn’t like the electric steering. My answer was ok with him. He was a good mentor. So what, I was old fashioned, and ok with what worked for me. So was he. Most are gone now, and the industry misses them.

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