USS Fitzgerald Editorial - gCaptain has stirred the hornets nest


Yeah, it seems like there is always some kind of comic relief coming up the gangway …

You are right about getting the real story though, it will come out and will only make the Navy look worse than if they just stated the facts about the sequence of events that lead to the point of impact. The facts are the kind of information that might help a lot of people, military and civilian alike but the navy will never accept the shame that goes with the facts.

The Navy is obviously struggling to find some way to spin this out to save face but they will only make it worse. I personally could care less about how they spin the “why” of this event, it is the same why that caused every other f-up; arrogance and incompetence at some level and usually multiple levels. You can’t blame them for wanting to hide it from view, how else can they maintain the trappings of royalty that keep the admirals in high esteem?

It is almost certain that they will dump heavily on the captain and a handful of clueless juniors then have the Navy marketing department come up with a new slogan or a catchy name for some new training scheme that will take the public’s mind off the event until the next debacle. This might even mean more support for KP since they may have an excuse to develop a cross training program with the able assistance of MARAD. Wasn’t it Churchill who said “never let a crisis go to waste”?

Make sure that Gary Rehm gets recommended for the Medal of Honor and call the other victims of incompetence “heroes” so the Admirals can keep admiraling while the Navy continues to attract budget dollars.


I agree, and it is funny you mention the Navy working with KP. VADM Rowden (SWO boss) Correction, CO of a DDG sent a letter praising a large group of KP cadets (eng and deck) who sailed on a Navy ship for sea time several months ago. He was astounded at how well they performed and wants to work with the SSO community more. So you got that.

and 27182, you stole my avatar from before this forum changed formats… haven’t been on in a while.


well if the ACX CRYSTAL is so guilty how is it the Japanese Maritime Authority allowed the vessel to sail from Tokyo Bay on Sunday? You think that the US government would have demanded the CRYSTAL not leave for anywhere for a very longtime


I’d love to see that letter. Hopefully CDR Harts started a trend with the SSO Divo tour as Repair Officer or Navigator.

Just like the Porter it was Todd Chloepeck and the rest of the merchants at SWOS in Newport who built the Porter case study and who are consulted during the investigation. I certainly wouldn’t say that they go easy on the Navy.

I just don’t think the Navy always makes the right corrections in response to these catastrophes. Hopefully after this one they will see a need to increase the level of education in a meaningful way.


I’ll send it to you.


There will probably be careers end and medals given. The poor guys that were killed deserve to have their families taken care of for life. The US Navy can’t avoid a containership? One billion dollars for a Navy 500 foot highly powered Navy ship that cannot avoid a collision? Come on, even giving benefit of the doubt to them you don’t run into someone and kill your ship mates to prove you know the rules of the road.
Once it’s over they might even make a few more admirals to handle things like this. If you compare the historical number of generals and admirals per enlisted person you can see the bloat. Either the current crop of generals and admirals are incapable of managing the same number of enlisted as their predecessors or they are very good at feathering their own nest.


Thank you for both articles, John. It is unfortunate that we are talking about this after such a tragedy.


I would think that the shallow angle that you perceive could easily be due to the merchant ship, at the last minute, giving hard right wheel. Regardless of the original angles at which the ships were approaching.


I am known to stray from the subject at hand at times, but this is getting ridiculous.
What has Parade Uniforms and “mini supply boats” with even half a dozen “captains” got to do with the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal, or the article written by our esteemed editor and owner of this forum?

Let’s get back to arguing with the Naval crowd!!!


That is a point that has been made several times here already.


Gee I don’t know in what spot to start today. No look, really. Some of you may think all these comments are actually helping others sort through the good comments from bad, but they are not. I for one would truly appreciate bickering to find a different forum.


I’m talking to you as well. I’ve yet to even have my second cup of coffee for the morning.


This is why we can’t have nice things. Al Gore should have never given us the internets.


@Jim_B Not sure where this is all ultimately headed or your position on the troll vs naive matrix - but I offer the below as unsolicited yes, but with best intentions (which we all know where that leads).

First I would suggest read this gcaptain FAQ

Then I would suggest you read below and your original post again.
(Please read the “you” as a generic person not you specifically, unless the shoe fits of course.)

  1. Have an honest understanding of your own competency, experience AND its limitations before contemplating posting something. Do you believe you are so special and so authoritative and so full of insight that you cannot accept others may be equally or more experienced? See point 5 below.

  2. Read the forums for many, many, many months. Explore as an ethnographer would to gain an understanding of the community - before you post something.

  3. Have a point. Make a point. An actual point. Not a sweepingly broad generality or ridiculously irrelevant statement(s) likely to unnecessarily offend at least one of the many sub-groups of this maritime industry of ours or offend logic or appear pompous in the process.

  4. Back up your point. Avoid the various logical fallacies in making and backing up your point. In particular the overuse of anecdotal information, the strawman, appeals to authority, the false cause among others. Facts are valued. Emotions and perceptions have a place but most readers will not accept them as facts. See point 6 below.

  5. Reconsider if presenting your resume is really central to your point. A captain and I were having a conversation with an “experienced” but poorly performing cook one time who told us he had 20 years experience cooking as if that fact made the food taste better. The captain said he (the captain) and the chief here have been eating food for our entire lives and that he felt equally qualified based on that experience to judge the performance of the cook. Others have made the point when one starts spraying out “qualifications” in terms of years whether one really has 20 years of experience or 1 year of experience 20 times. Still if you just cannot resist - there is a time and place and way of wording these little biographical details to help make your point without raising red “pompous a-hole” flags to the readers. But be aware for better or worse, your “years of experience” will no doubt shine through from the nature and quality of your posts.

  6. Be ready to defend your point in the face of criticism. Constructive or otherwise. Don’t be surprised to be taken to task for sloppy thinking, writing, perceived arrogance, etc. By the way, observing all these points will not prevent other members from violating them in taking you to task for your generally poor content or your own violations. The usual thin-skinned warnings are valid.

  7. Use the search features to see if there have been previous discussions of similar nature where your question may have been already answered or your brilliant points already made.

  8. Don’t post stupid stuff.

What was your point? The USN can learn from the OSV industry because you work so hard? You have so few crew members? Get in line. Everyone works hard. Everyone is undermanned. I don’t know squat about the US Navy but I’d be surprised if they are looking to the OSV industry as a prime source of continuous improvement ideas. And this is not a knock on that segment, just how poorly you have represented your case.

Of all the reasons to offer comments on this serious and fatal event and all the ways you could have analyzed/commented on the manning / duties of a USN bridge even based on your own experiences I think you missed the mark. I’m sorry it just seemed gratuitous more to call attention to yourself than advance the discussion. I’d be surprised if you really are surprised at this reaction. Surely you must have heard these types of responses in your own messroom.

Good luck to you and yours.


Thank you Chief… good advice but let’s move this to another thread: gCaptain Guidelines - Advice From The Chief

To everyone else… remember it only takes me 10 seconds to delete a post you’ve been working on for hours. To increase the chance of you’re hard work surviving please start a new post (you can always link back to the original post if necessary for continuity purposes).

If someone’s resume or apparent irrelevance bothers you then - don’t start an argument - instead click the little flag icon below his post and ask us to moderate it.


Has anyone brought up the fact that these Arleigh Burke class Destoyers are coated in RADAR absorbing material and are designed with no flat or 90 degree angles for the very purpose of avoiding a reflected RADAR return? (I don’t have time to read all of these posts) They should, in peace time and heavy sea lanes fly some sort of reflector from a yard arm halyard to improve the RADAR cross section. And, of course, turn up the volume of the ARPA CPA Minimum violation alarm.


It’s not surprising this article" stirred up a hornets nest".
The article is pure speculation based on almost no “facts”. Expert opinion? Most of the “facts” are pure
speculation and some are apparently flat out wrong. Expert guessing.
If you are going to pontificate. At least get the facts right. If you don’t know anything about USN watch keeping routine Standard Operating Procedure. Don’t write about it as if you do. Having done so and gotten it wrong. Not only upsets former US Navy Officers. It doesn’t help your credibility.
Unfortunately having read the article. I would now question most if not all articles written by Capt Konrad. This might be an unfair assumption on my part. Some of his other articles may be a lot better. Unfortunately this article is the one I read.
Fortunately Capt Konrad is not investigating this incident. Some advice I was given a long time ago " Never send the Guy who knows what happened, to investigate an accident".
There will no doubt be a lot of lessons to be learned from this incident. Some of which may well fundamentally change the Standard Operating Procedure. On the Bridge of a US Navy Ship. And on the Bridge of a container ship.
The Training required may change.
This incident may well form part of future training.
One thing I am fairly sure of, Blaming one ship or other or both is not going to change a “God damn thing”.


In general I haven’t found a CO who allows use of the RADAR CPA alarm system. It is useful, but COs mostly don’t like the feature BC they think JOs will rely on it too much.

As far as PCMS (passive counter measure system) or the tiles stuck on to the hull that reduce our RCS, it doesn’t work that great you can see us just fine on radar we just may look slightly smaller than the 500 ft vessel we are. It makes for harder contact for a missile to lock on to, but you as a merchant vessel are going to have no trouble hooking us on ARPA and tracking our course and speed.


That has always been my experience.

Unless the Fitzgerald was jamming the container ship’s radar all along there’s no reasonable excuse for them not to have been able to detect a destroyer, determine if a risk of collision existed, monitor the situation and then take appropriate action if and when necessary.

What was stopping them? This one just screams improper lookout :eyes: on both vessels, no matter how you cut it.


I brought this up at an early stage of the discussion, but not in such details as you did.
I also mentioned the fact that if the Crystal was overtaking and approaching the Fitz from abaft the beam (112.5 degr. relative) he would be seeing only the stern lantern of the Fitz.

Somebody also mentioned that US Navy vessels have two sets of navigation lights (or two settings) one being the regulation strength per SOLAS requirement, the other a dimmed version for operations where they wanted to be inconspicuous, but not “running dark”.
Somebody also mentioned that warships shows very few if any lights, other than nav lights at night.

So with a low radar profile, low lighting, + that there were no AIS to identify any weak blip on the radar screen, or a single white light in a field of lights from other ships, from fishing boats and even from close by shoreline, There were also a moon rising at the time, which could also make it hard to see a gray warship, designed and operated with the aim to be as invisible as possible and making no efforts to improve that in a busy shipping lane by at least transmitting AIS signature.

With all that in mind it is entirely possible that the OOW on the Crystal could have missed the existence of the Fitz until very close, especially if she was overtaking the Fitz, thus being obliged to avoid the overtaken vessel.

At the same time, the OOD on the Fitz could have assumed that the Crystal would alter course to safely overtake according to the COLREGS, being blissfully unaware of his own invisibility to others.

It still does not explain why the Fitz didn’t take last minute actions to avoid a collision, also per COLREGS. With the maneuverability of a Destroyer, I can see no reason, or excuse, for NOT doing so.

The moral of the story??: If you are making effort to hide your identity, existence and operational activity, you should take action to stay clear of all other traffic, or make yourself visible to others and follow the COLREGS