US Naval Academy YP Squadron Runs Aground at Kings Point

As a USNA grad, reporting this makes me cringe, but I was informed via a credible source that a squadron of US Naval Academy “Yard Patrol Craft” aka YPs, apparently cut the corner at Stepping Stones Light the other day and promptly ran two of their 108’ training ships aground in sight of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. The vessels suffered propeller damage and fortunately did not get stuck on the reef.

Every summer, the Naval Academy YP’s cruise from Annapolis to New England and back as part of the “3rd Class” summer seamanship training program where most midshipmen get their first taste of life at sea. These vessels are captained by “Craftmasters” who are typically active or reserve duty Lieutenants (O-3s).

YP 680 passing Stepping Stones Light inbound to Kings Point, image via George Conk

I spoke with waterfront director, CDR Chris Gasiorek this afternoon, who said that the recent visit by the US Naval Academy midshipmen was a very productive and enjoyable meeting of the two academies, however he did not comment on this particular incident.

I reached out to the US Naval Academy public affairs office this afternoon, and I’m awaiting official comment about this unfortunate incident.

Update from the Naval Academy: Only 1 YP ran aground.

More info to follow…

Maybe the Navy was trying to impress the new leader of KP with their ability to “hold the high ground” like good little groundpounders.

Damn! I thought maybe the Navy middies were reenacting one of the USN’s most glorious moments…The Tragedy at Point Honda!

Hey I know! We can have Captain Kenneth R. Force, USMS write a slow march to the “Lost Squadron of the Yard Patrol”!


“Shit Happens” (Forrest Gump)

The sooner the regulatory agencies, corporate entities, and above all the schools(making these unreasonable unrealistic expectations keep going) realize that this can’t be learned in a short classroom setting, and with a three week “sea drill” the sooner all of the industry can recover.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will occur.

This was just sent to us…

Three YP vessels proceeding eastbound from under the Throggs Neck Bridge at slow speed behind Steppingstone Lighthouse at low tide. Didn’t realize where they were. The first two made it through. The third didn’t. Fourth vessel steered clear. VHF channel 16 calls from local fisherman warned them but they didn’t get the messages.

So it was a reenactment of Point Honda afterall! Damn…such a shame to have missed it!

Those YP’s almost get run over by a ship or tug & barge once a year cause of their shitty crews.

[QUOTE=Mikey;74899]This was just sent to us…[/QUOTE]

Oh my goodness …

Here’s the official statement just sent to us from the Naval Academy:

On July 2, 2012, during a routine summer training cruise, a Naval Academy training vessel (YP) ran aground in shoal water near Kings Point, NY. This vessel was part of a squadron of four YPs on a month-long midshipman summer training cruise. There were no injuries. The training vessel suffered minor damage to the propeller and rudder. A formal investigation into this incident was immediately launched and is ongoing. Following an operational and material assessment, three YPs returned to USNA while one YP remains in NY for further assessment and possible repairs.

The Naval Academy is a training command with a mission of developing the next generation of leaders for the Fleet. We are committed to providing the safest and best practical hands-on training to our Midshipmen while utilizing our YPs. Insights into the cause of this incident reported out by the investigation will be used to better prepare and train all personnel involved with YP operations so that similar future incidents can be avoided.

Well, at least it was a ‘training’ vessel, and not some kind of larger ship. Bent wheels aren’t cheap to fix!

I saw one of these flotillas once a few years ago, and asked myself, are they merely playing follow the leader or are they each navigating on their own? Sometimes follow the leader is ok, but every now and again, it will bite you good.

[QUOTE=rob;74850]These vessels are captained by “Craftmasters” who are typically active or reserve duty Lieutenants (O-3s).


Craftmasters are usually Senior Enlisted (read: Chief Petty Officer (E-7) or First Class Petty Officer(E-6) usually from a source Deck Rating); Junior Officers (O-3s) function as and are referred to as Officers-in-Charge (OIC)

[QUOTE=rob;74850]These vessels are captained by “Craftmasters” who are typically active or reserve duty Lieutenants (O-3s).[/QUOTE]


CRAFTMASTERS are usually Senior Enlisted (read: Chief Petty Officer (E-7) or First Class Petty Officer (E-6) from a source Deck Rating). Junior Officers (O-3) act in the capacity of and are referred to as Officers-In-Charge (OIC).

[QUOTE=Jolly Tar;75111]INCORRECT

CRAFTMASTERS are usually Senior Enlisted (read: Chief Petty Officer (E-7) or First Class Petty Officer (E-6) from a source Deck Rating). Junior Officers (O-3) act in the capacity of and are referred to as Officers-In-Charge (OIC).[/QUOTE]

True statement. I think surface warfare officer qualifications can be used in lieu of craftmaster, but then again, you may be required to have a craftmaster qualified person on board. Not sure the exact regs, it’s been a while.

Who the hell said this bullshit was limited to USN training vessels?

Port Royal aground off Oahu
Date: February 5, 2009

The 2009 USS Port Royal grounding was a ship grounding by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser Port Royal off Oahu, Hawaii on February 5, 2009. In the incident, the ship ran aground on a coral reef, damaging and necessitating repairs to both the ship and the reef. The incident received wide press coverage in Hawaii, at least in part because of the damage caused to a sensitive coral environment.

A United States Navy investigation found that the grounding was caused by a combination of a misread navigation system, a sleep-deprived commanding officer, broken equipment, and an inexperienced and dysfunctional bridge team. The ship’s commanding officer, John Carroll, was relieved of duty and disciplined. Three other officers and one enlisted sailor were also disciplined. The United States Navy reattached 5,400 coral colonies in an attempt to repair damage to the reef.


After spending time in the Pearl Harbor shipyard for $18 million in scheduled repairs, the Port Royal departed for the open ocean off Oahu for sea trials at 08:15 on February 5, 2009. The ship’s fathometer was broken. At 12:01, the Voyage Management System’s (VMS — an automated navigation system) primary input at the chart table was shifted from a forward Global Positioning System to forward Ring Laser Gyro Navigation, an inertial navigator. Three times the VMS dead-reckoned the ship’s location, mistakenly reporting the ship’s location as 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from its actual position. The error was not noticed by watchstanders. The ship was undergoing its first sea trials, including full power, steering and helicopter flight operation checks.[1]

The grounding occurred at 8 p.m. on February 5, 2009 when the Port Royal ran aground about a half-mile south of the Honolulu International Airport’s Reef Runway. No one was injured in the incident and no fuel was spilled. The location of the grounding was in full view of aircraft landing and departing from the nearby airport, causing embarrassment to the Navy.[2][3]

The cruiser, which has a draft of 33 feet (10 m), ran hard aground on a sand and rock ledge in an estimated 14 to 22 feet (5–7 m) of water. The salvage ship USNS Salvor made three unsuccessful efforts to pull the Port Royal off the sandbar (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 6–8 February), despite full-moon high tides and the offloading of 200 tons of fuel and water, 7,000 gallons of raw sewage, and 15 tons of crew members.

According to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the ship ran aground while moving very slowly as it transferred shore-based aviation assessment officials to a smaller boat to take them to shore. An oil recovery ship, the Clean Islands was behind the ship to clean up oil spills. Rear Admiral Dixon R. Smith, the commander of the Navy Region Hawaii and the Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, embarked the ship on the morning of February 6 to serve as the on-scene commander.


On February 9, 2009, the Port Royal was pulled off the rock and sand shoal at around 2 a.m. after crews removed another 500 tons of water and 100 tons of anchors and other equipment to lighten the vessel, the Navy said in a statement. The removal by a salvage ship and seven tug boats took about 40 minutes. No one was injured during the recovery effort, said Rear Admiral Joe Walsh, the U.S. Pacific Fleet deputy commander. Smith relieved the ship’s commanding officer, Captain John Carroll, of his duties pending investigation. Carroll had been commanding officer of the Port Royal since October 2008.[10] Captain John Lauer, an official in Smith’s Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, temporarily assumed command.

The warship suffered heavy damage to the underwater bow sonar dome and to its propellers and propeller shafts and was drydocked for repairs. Captain Neil Parrott was assigned to preside over the investigation into the grounding

Damage assessment and repair

Once the raw sewage dumped by the ship had dissipated, divers from the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources examined the site and discovered that the grounding had damaged the coral reef. The Hawaiian divers, with help from Navy divers, began mapping the damage to ascertain the extent of work required to repair the coral. As of February 12, 2009, several of the cruiser’s propeller blade tips had yet to be recovered from the ocean floor. Laura Thielen, chairwoman of the Hawaii state Board of Land and Natural Resources, told the United States Navy in a letter in April 2009 that the grounding had damaged between six to 10 acres (4.0 ha) of the reef and that the “main injury scar” covered about 9,600 square feet (890 m2). She added that the grounding may have damaged the habitat of green turtles.

On February 18, the ship entered Dry Dock Number 4 at Pearl Harbor for repair to the ship’s shafting, running gear, propellers, painting of the underwater hull, replacement of the bow sonar dome and its internal elements, and repairs to damaged tanks and superstructure cracks. The Navy estimated that repairs would cost between $25 and $40 million and would be completed by September 2009.[16] The Honolulu Advertiser reported that a shipyard worker had said that no work had been done to repair the warship as of April 12, 2009. The newspaper reported that its attempts to obtain information on the status of the warship had received short shrift or had not been answered by the Navy.

As of the end of July 2009, most of the repairs to the ship had been completed. Structural problems occurred in rebuilding the sonar dome, the area of the ship most heavily damaged in the grounding. Also, the struts that support the propulsion shafts were found to be out of alignment by a small, but critical amount. The repairs were expected to be completed in September and the ship was expected to return to operation in October.[18] The ship deployed for the first time since the grounding in June 2011. The cruiser departed on an eight-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle-East.

Acting on a request from the state of Hawaii to repair the damage to the coral habitat, Navy-contracted divers from AECOM, Sea Engineering and CSA International, Inc. Work to repair the damaged reef began the last week of April 2009.[19] At a cost of $7 million, by June 27, 2009 the divers had collected 5,400 loose coral colonies and reattached them to the reef using cement and plaster of Paris.[clarification needed] The divers also removed 250 cubic yards of rubble.[20] The Navy planned to conduct further repair work on the reef between October and December 2009[21] but it has since been reported that this work has been suspended.[22] The Navy reports that environmental experts have advised them that reattaching further coral to the reef would do more harm than good

Disciplinary actions and investigation findings

On June 2, 2009, the Navy disciplined four Port Royal officers for the grounding. In a hearing presided over by Vice Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the United States Third Fleet, John Carroll was given non-judicial punishment for “dereliction of duty and improper hazarding of a vessel.” Port Royal Executive Officer Commander Steve Okun was also given non-judicial punishment for dereliction of duty at the same hearing. In a separate hearing, Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, imposed non-judicial punishment on two other, unnamed Port Royal officers and an enlisted seaman for dereliction of duty and improper hazarding of a vessel. The Navy refused to provide further details of the punishments the sailors received.

The U.S. Navy safety investigation into the accident, not intended for public release but which was obtained by the Honolulu Advertiser in July 2009, listed several contributing factors for the grounding. The factors included a misinterpreted navigation system, a sleep-deprived commanding officer, faulty equipment and an inexperienced and dysfunctional bridge team.[3]

The report stated that John Carroll had only 4½ hours of sleep in the 24-hours prior to the grounding, and only 15 hours of sleep during the previous three days. Also, he was at sea after a five-year break in sea command duty. Carroll had directed that the aviation assessment personnel aboard the cruiser be returned to shore in a small boat just before the grounding occurred.[3]

The report found that the ship’s fathometer, which measures water depth, was broken, as well as both radar repeaters on the cruiser’s bridge. Some time before the grounding, the ship switched navigation systems from a Global Positioning System, called the Voyage Management System, to a gyroscope. The switch caused a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) discrepancy in the ship’s reported position. Audible alarm bells triggered by the discrepancy were disregarded by the ship’s crew. During the small-boat transfer, the cruiser’s operations officer took a binocular bearing to the harbor landing from the boat deck and noted the position discrepancy, but was unable to correct the ship’s course in time. Shortly thereafter, the ship ran soft aground, but then quickly was forced hard aground by the force of the waves.

The report concluded that in spite of the equipment and navigation systems failures, there were enough working sensors and visual clues to prevent the grounding. The report found that the ship’s navigation evaluator lost situational awareness and that the “Bridge watch team, navigation, and (Combat Information Center) team did not work together to assess situation and keep the ship from standing into danger.”[3] Qualified lookouts were on board for watch duty the night of the grounding, but they were working in the mess as food service attendants and were not allowed to assume the watch. Furthermore, set and drift were not calculated.

The report stated that the cruiser had been rushed out of dry dock, with some work scaffolding removed from the ship only 30 minutes before the cruiser departed for the ocean trials. Also, the quartermaster of the watch was inexperienced and lacked training, having stood three months of watch on a deployment a year earlier, but could not plot fixes in near-shore waters. The report recommended a supervisory-level navigation course, as well as an “operational pause” of at least 96 hours between shipyard availabilities and sea trials to ensure crews were adequately rested and prepared for underway operations. Captain W. Scott Gureck, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, declined to comment on the investigation’s findings.

The report was created by the Naval Safety Investigation Board but has been classified by the Navy Judge Advocate General as a “Dual Purpose Investigation”. The Navy will therefore not release the report under the Freedom of Information Act.[24] Reportedly, the Navy does not want to publicly discuss what caused the grounding because of threatened legal action by the state of Hawaii.


Port Royal left dry dock at Pearl Harbor on September 24, 2009 for final repairs and assessment before being returned to duty. While in dry dock, technicians from BAE Systems and the navy replaced the cruiser’s sonar dome, reinstalled rudders, and made structural repairs to the ship’s tanks, superstructure, and underwater hull. In addition, four sections of shafting were replaced, struts that support the propulsion shafts were realigned, and the underwater hull was repainted blue.

In February 2011, the Navy and the state of Hawaii announced that they had reached a settlement on the damage caused by the grounding. The Navy agreed to pay Hawaii $8.5 million. The amount was in addition to the $6.5 million already spent by the Navy in efforts to repair the reef. “This settlement agreement recognizes the State of Hawaii’s loss of a natural resource and takes into account the U.S. Navy’s unprecedented efforts to restore the reef where USS Port Royal ran aground,” said Rear Admiral Timothy Giardina, U.S. Pacific Fleet deputy commander. In response, William J. Aila, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources interim chairperson, stated, “We believe the Navy has done the right thing by acknowledging its responsibility, working cooperatively with the state to restore the reef, and completing a settlement that will provide funding for protection of the state’s marine resources.”

After $40 million in repairs, the cruiser deployed for the first time since the grounding in June 2011. The cruiser departed Pearl Harbor on a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle-East. Said Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, of the grounding incident upon the departure of the ship, “I’ve put it behind me. We’ve moved forward. The ship has moved forward. It was an unfortunate incident that we all learned from.”

Despite being the Navy’s youngest cruiser, Port Royal has been tentatively scheduled to be decommissioned on March 31, 2013 and will be dismantled.

If this was the Navy of Bill Halsey, men would be shot at sunrise for such idiocy. You know, I wonder if the master of the NOBLE DISCOVERER is ex Navee? He certainly shows the same level of skills and competence

I thought of that ship earlier. I just couldn’t remember the year! Such a shame that with such sophisticated electronics, several crew, etc. this still happens. Human error is and always be that, human error.

It’s hard to fix stupid.

When on July 2, 2012 the USNA YP squadron approached Kings Point I was sailing between City Island and Kings Point. We spied the squadron and took a bunch of photos. MY blog post was written unaware that one o the YP’s had run aground at the approaches to the East River and New York Harbor. I did a blog post which got picked up on this site. Now that I am aware of the grounding This is the link to that post as updated/ And the next is entire sequence I shot. It shows the damage preceded Stepping Stones light. It is possible that it was a couple of miles east at Execution Rocks where there is another light and a weather buoy.

[QUOTE=Jolly Tar;75111]INCORRECT

CRAFTMASTERS are usually Senior Enlisted (read: Chief Petty Officer (E-7) or First Class Petty Officer (E-6) from a source Deck Rating). Junior Officers (O-3) act in the capacity of and are referred to as Officers-In-Charge (OIC).[/QUOTE]

While CM’s are usually senior enlisted, the JO’s get the same qual and go through the same training requirements and get the ‘Craftmaster’ pin. They are just called OIC instead. Either a CM or an OIC have to be on the bridge of the YP at all times.