USS Fitzgerald Editorial - gCaptain has stirred the hornets nest


And therein lies the rub … we know that no matter what the findings are, or the real story is, not a “God damn thing” is going to change in the way the Navy operates or thinks.

As many others have stated, the Navy can run away from the minutes leading to the deaths of those young sailors but it cannot forever hide the story behind those minutes. Witnesses will talk, they will share their experience. Much of what upsets former US Navy officers may well turn out to be another verification of how accurate “crowd sourcing” can be when analyzing events like this.


There is no dim NAV light setting on a destroyer. Just on and off. And while the angles and radar absorbent materials reduce the radar cross section of a destroyer it just ends up looking smaller than 500 feet it is in NO way shape or form hard to see on RADAR. A merchant vessel will have ZERO problem picking it up and tracking its course and speed. When we do formation steaming or DIVTACS as we call them I make out the other destroyers just fine on the extra civilian radar we have in the pilothouse.


What is the purpose of spending millions of taxpayers money on making warships stealthy if they " in NO way shape or form are hard to see on RADAR"??

In close formation and knowing where the other ships are, or are supposed to be, I believe there is no problem to identify the weak blips on the radar screen, but when you have no other indication or reason to know that there is a warship lurking in the vicinity, it may not be as easy as you say, especially if there are some seas running, or rain showers around, requiring use of clutter to mask weak signal from stronger signals of vessels and land contours.

You made no comments to my last: [quote]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[/quote]

Or this one from Mark Caprio: [quote]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.[/quote]


It is indeed as easy as I say. I have sailed close or far away from destroyers in good weather and bad and NEVER had an issue. Im just trying to let you know this didnt play a part that’s all. The point is to reduce the RCS not to make it invisible to radar. And its just not as effective as we’d like. It really isnt any harder to hook and track than any other ship.

I didn’t address the last quote because the only thing we do that you listed is not transmit AIS all the time. And there’s a sound reason for that which has been discussed ad nauseum here.

I addressed what Mark Caprio said already above but I’ll repost it for you:

"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."


Defense contractors need to feed their children too, you know. They also need to keep funneling our tax money to the politicians who make sure they get contracts for crap that doesn’t work or isn’t needed or even wanted by the military.


The point? Seriously?

One reasonable assumption would be standard, run-of-the-mill defense contractor fraud. Historically, plenty of things are sold to the public as state-of-the-art when in fact they won’t work as advertised, or possibly at all. Politicians in the contractors district, or sitting on the appropriations committee, get bought off in one way or another. Rinse, repeat.

And sometimes things are honestly done with the best of intentions but the technology just doesn’t work, or ultimately works but much less effectively than was initially hoped/thought to be the case.

There is a tendency to have blind or excessive faith in fancy new dazzle-dazzle tech stuff, but the reality is often that it doesn’t live up to expectations.

If the passive anti-radar coating improves their odds even a little as an anti-ship middle is homing in on them who am I to say it’s wrong? Survival is all about doing everything you can to tip the odds in your favor.

Again, I’ve never had a problem with picking up naval vessels, and often aircraft, on marine radar units. Even the under-powered kinda crappy ones that many tugs are equipped with.

It can’t be ruled out yet, but I’m presently disinclined to give the Crystal a pass because the Fitz may or may not have presented a less-than-ideal radar target. Even if the technology substantially worked and effectively reduced their radar signature by, say, 50-60% we’re still talking about a 500 ft. steel-hulled destroyer here, not a fiberglass sailboat in driving rain and rough seas.

I’m looking elsewhere for primary factors.


An old trick I learned from a crusty old Dock Reporter who told me to always pay attention when the Navy announces it’s testing new systems equipment because the test is guaranteed to be an expensive failure… and readers will eat the story up.

Expensive failures are just what happens when you push the envelope on technology… and we do want the navy to push the envelope because if they don’t someone else will and a failure in testing is MUCH better than a failure at sea during combat.

P.S. Yes, newspapers use to have Dock Reporters… reporters assigned to the docks… people who knew how to speak our language… sadly these old times have been replaced by young generalists who are good at research but have no industry contacts or expertise)


Ok I guess you guys have your wooden spoon out and are doing some more stirring of the hornets nest.
fine and dandy.

A Quote from an editorial.

“You do not lash out, and you do not become defensive. You stand tall, accept the facts and drive on. So much protesting from the Navy, and maybe from the Merchant Marine, indicates people and organizations realize they have not been holding up the standards of their profession. They know this horrible accident occurred due to human error…a combination of an autopilot with no one on the bridge, or Navy deck officers not really knowing or being able to stand a confident deck watch. Maybe a culture these days where there is too much emphasis on process and not results”

Based on precisely what?

No investigative authority has given out any statement to suport any of this BS.
There is no reason to suspect the US Navy is not conducting a full and complete investigation into this and taking a serious look at its own procedures.

If anything Gcaptain posting a link to the Bridge audio from an incident in 2012 would suggest the we can expect the US Navy to be quite forthcoming after they have completed their inquiry.

PS I am not ex Navy. Or a Pilipino seaman.


Shipmate, dolphins and wings are not the same thing and I can’t imagine a skimmer having dolphins (skimmer is the derogatory term we use to refer to surface sailors). Dolphins are what I have. Also known as “Qualified in Submarines”. It is required for all submariners to meet this standard. You have up to 12 months to earn silver dolphins, from the time you report to your first submarine. If you fail, you risk being sent to the surface fleet. It took me about ten months. You have to learn all major systems on the boat, including the basics of the scientific principles behind their operation, and you have to learn all emergency operations. You have to qualify one at-sea watch, outside of your rating (in other words if you are a radio ET, learning a watch in radio doesn’t count) and one in-port watch.

Enlisted are held to exactly the same standard in terms of knowledge about the systems and emergency operations as officers. The main difference is that one of the watches an officer has to qualify for to become Qualified in Submarines is Officer of the Deck.

For both officer and enlisted, you must pass a Board of three people: one nuclear reactor trained officer, one nuclear reactor trained enlisted person (usually of high enlisted rank), and one non-nuclear reactor trained enlisted person. They can ask you literally anything they want about the boat and you have to know the answer. They’ll ask things like, what type of fuel is used in the nuclear reactor, what are its modes of operation (normal modes and failure modes), when would you want to use Emergency Blow, describe the steps in fighting fires aboard, when you would you want to pressurize a compartment in the process of fighting a fire, how would you do this, draw a schematic diagram of the Trim and Drain system, what is the typical fluid pressure in pipe X, how does a pressure reducer work, etc.

So, indeed, dolphins are definitely not handed out like candy. It is an intellectually rigorous process. Even officers with BS degrees in physics (in fact all the officers are required to have STEM degrees except the Supply Officer) find it difficult. :slight_smile:

I agree with Mr. BK05 that people seem to get a lot of ribbons and medals these days. :open_mouth: I only had three: defense service medal (9/11), good conduct, Battle E.


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: gCaptain Guidelines - Advice From The Chief


Sounds similar to submarine dolphins, sir. It has now been made a requirement, right sir? Like on submarines? All officers and enlisted personnel must earn it? :slight_smile:


What part of “what look like wings or dolphins” was confusing? Look like, as in appear to be or might be confused by appearance to be something they are not is the meaning of that phrase.

As one who is looking at a small framed display of both my well earned gold wings and silver dolphins I can say that when they started that program it was justified as a means to increase retention by creating a feeling - a word is heavily used in all of the documents describing the reasons for creating the pin and why it looks like wings or dolphins from a few feet away.

I think there are lots of them, or used to be anyway. I know several guys who took skimmer jobs for reasons they felt were beneficial to them. Non-vols were not uncommon.


Based off of forum posts and interviews with Marines and naval officers and mariners who where naval officers and harbor pilots who are civilian mariners that work on both civilian and navy ships. Bases off documents the navy has published and reports from previous incidents (both navy and civilian). Interviews with professional incident investigators.

We all knew why the El Faro sunk ( does that make investigation useless? The entire industry knew why the Marine Wlectric sank but still the companies atill running WWii ships in the 80’s fought to obscure facts. And the world learned very quickly why the Titanic sank but that didn’t stop the investigation.

And neither investigation answered the real question “Why did the captains allow themselves to be pressured into travleing so close to something dangerous (hurricane and iceberg)?”

Lawyers might care about allocating fault but few mariners really care to blame fellow mariners… what we do care about is all the myriad bits of tangental information (e.g. industry wide problems, equipment malfunctions, human failures, etc) that are uncovered by an investigation… all information we can learn from and use to improve our ships.

The Titanic investigation never fully answered the primary question as to why the captain made that perilous choice but it did uncover a lot about safety… information that was used to write the SOLAS convention. Which - did very little to prevent captains from making bad choices - but did anwhole lot to mitigate loss of life aboard vessels of all types.

What we may uncover by speculating on the USS Fitzgerald incident may have nothing to do with the incident itself but may lead to improvements that are completely unrelated to the incident incident itself but save thousands of future lives nonetheless.

In today’s 24/7 news cycle and always on social mesia B.S. the most precious comodities are attention and time. Rigt now we have the attention of the world on this event and, if we combine our individual resources - lots of cumulative time and experience that can be used for the greater good.

Basically incidents like this allow stake holders to air out their grievances and, in applying the scientific method to that, we are able to improve saftey aboard ship regardless of who the lawyers end up decided to hang for the actual event.


Ah, ok. I misunderstood your post. So you are a fellow submariner! Nice. :slight_smile: Respect, shipmate. :slight_smile:

Not that I can’t or don’t respect surface sailors…in fact I’m interested in being one, lol. I actually got the physical exam from my doctor at the VA recently, in association with putting in a package at Military Sealift Command. :slight_smile:


The Leadership and Management course should be required to address this.


Excellent descriptions of merchant and naval bridge watch keeping. Thank you.


Here’s a wild-theory… what if this involved not two vessels, but a third Navy vessel also not visible on AIS.

I know I’m a reachin’ here - but the more I look into the systems and backup systems (both technological and human) that were available to avoid this, the more I can’t see it being plain old human error. I just can’t bring myself to accept this was just plain-old human error for the sake of those poor people - they were professionals, and a lot of them.

Anyway, yeah let’s not make this even more bizarre… yup… wait for the report. Time for my meds :wink:


That leadership and management course isn’t going to teach anybody anything. More courses are not the answe.


“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” -Upton Sinclair

Who all to blame this one on is still up in the air, but there have been an awful lot unnecessary risks taken when key people had conflicting incentives, especially when one of those incentives is his career.


Thank you for your reply John. I realise I am giving you hard time.

It may just be my opinion. I believe when you or someone else puts Name plus a list of qualifications and experience and publishes the comment as an Editorial. You have identified yourselves as an expert giving expert opinion in an editorial in professional publication. So I would expect a higher standard than the average internet forum poster.
You have wondered why it stirs a hornets nest. I am pointing out why I believe it stirred a hornets nest.
Hopefully in a positive manner.

Ok I will focus to the quote from the most recent Editorial by Michael W. Carr. Why I think their is a problem publishing this as an editorial.

" So much protesting from the Navy, and maybe from the Merchant Marine, indicates people and organizations realize they have not been holding up the standards of their profession"

Your “unbiased” pal just made a very sweeping general statement about 2 completely different organisations. Is it your contention he came to this conclusion based on the rantings of some unidentified anonymous old farts on the internet. OK. speculation. I suppose some of them may feel this way, hardly evidence its a general feeling about all Naval or Merchant Marine Officers.

“They know this horrible accident occurred due to human error” Ok I accept this is a reasonable conclusion. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I know, My speculation it is very, very likely. Some of the Humans made some errors. Its what humans do.

“…a combination of an autopilot with no one on the bridge,” This is the quote which to my mind damages Gcaptain credibility. Can you quote any source of information confirming this. If not it is not speculation it is just plain slander.

“Navy deck officers not really knowing or being able to stand a confident deck watch”. Not quite as blatantly biased as the one above. Can you quote any actual source or reference for this comment.

I to am wondering about the, Qualifications, Training, Experience, and abilities of officers on duty on the USS Fitzgerald. No doubt any investigator will make the relevant enquiries. While I may have many questions I certainly could not make a general accusation about Naval Officers in general.

“Maybe a culture these days where there is too much emphasis on process and not results” I will let you off the hook on this. It is just a question.