Uss imbecile

Hawaii-Based Ship’s Grounding Detailed :eek:

Navy Inquiry Finds Numerous Errors

(HONOLULU ADVERTISER 07 JUL 09) … William Cole

A misinterpreted navigation system, a sleep-deprived skipper, faulty
equipment and an inexperienced bridge team led to the grounding of the
Navy guided missile cruiser Port Royal on the night of Feb. 5, according
to a Navy Safety Investigation Board report.

The very visible and very embarrassing four-day grounding of the Port
Royal in 14 to 22 feet of water off the Honolulu airport’s reef runway
caused an estimated $25 million to $40 million damage to the ship.

Capt. John Carroll, skipper of the Navy’s guided missile cruiser, had
only 4 1/2 hours of sleep in 24 hours, and 15 hours of sleep over three
days as he pushed to get the warship under way after shipyard repairs.

Carroll was qualified for the job, but was not proficient, the report
said. He was at sea in command for the first time in nearly five years.

The 9,600-ton cruiser’s fathometer, which measures water depth, was
broken, and both radar repeaters, or monitors, on the bridge were out of

A shift in the ship’s navigation system led to erroneous information on
the ship’s position. The switch from a Global Positioning System to a
gyroscope caused a 1.5-mile discrepancy in the ship’s position and set
off alarm bells that were continuously disregarded.

During the transfer of personnel back to shore that night using a small
boat, the operations officer took a binocular bearing to the harbor
landing from the boat deck and noted a discrepancy.

He tried unsuccessfully to radio others and then headed back to the
bridge, where he immediately realized the cruiser was in the wrong spot.

Waves were breaking forward of the bow, and silt was visible in the

At 8:03 p.m., the Pearl Harbor ship was “soft aground” with the bow’s
sonar dome on the reef a half mile south of the reef runway.

Waves forced the 567-foot ship firmly onto the reef as the crew tried to
free it. “Backing bell” and “twist” maneuvers using one screw, or
propeller, failed.

The board found many equipment malfunctions and human errors - but said
there were enough working sensors and visual cues to prevent 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,” the report says.

The safety investigation report, obtained by The Advertiser, said the
ship ended up shifting two miles to the east.

The officer of the deck had been qualified for only three months, and
had no experience operating at night in the vicinity of the reef.

According to the internal report, the quartermaster of the watch had
stood three months of watch on a deployment a year earlier, but could
not plot fixes in near-shore waters, so another sailor, a navigation
evaluator, took over to plot the ship’s position.

The navigation evaluator subsequently lost "situational awareness,"
officials said.

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.

Set and drift were not calculated, the report states.

Carroll, the captain, “did not receive forceful recommendations to
improve the navigation picture.”

subject to change

Names were not included in the report, the purpose of which is to
enhance safety. The report says the information is still in the
endorsement process and subject to change.

Capt. W. Scott Gureck, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, yesterday
said he would not comment on the safety board report.

Gureck said the report was not intended to be released to the public.

Norman Polmar, an analyst, author and authority on naval issues, said
the safety investigation reveals a series of red flags that indicated
that the Port Royal was potentially straying into danger.

“Three things should have caused an alarm bell in the skipper - no
matter how little sleep he had,” Polmar said.

"One is if you are operating in that area without a fathometer, you are
in trouble.

"Item two, when you switch from one (navigational) system to another and
it shows a significant discrepancy, you are in trouble.

“… And the third thing is when the operations officer came in, what he
should have done is just dropped anchor right there (and) turned on all
the lights.”

Polmar also was incredulous that Carroll, the Port Royal’s skipper,
hadn’t been to sea in command in nearly five years.

“That’s the system that’s wrong,” Polmar said. “The system should have
said if you are not at sea in three or four or five years … he should
have gone out in an identical ship with another captain. He should have
been a rider for a day or two.”

According to the report, the Port Royal was in the shipyard since Sept.
24, 2008, for maintenance and repairs. It was originally scheduled to
leave dock Jan. 21, but the sea trials were delayed for two weeks, and
scaffolding on the bridge wing was not removed until 30 minutes before
the ship got under way on Feb. 5.

Carroll said he had 15 hours of sleep in three days before the ship got
under way, and admitted that he was tired and the subsequent small boat
operations added to his fatigue, according to the report.

Carroll appeared at a Navy hearing on the grounding and was given
"nonjudicial punishment for dereliction of duty and improper hazarding
of a vessel," the Navy said in June.


Carroll was relieved of his command soon after the grounding and was
reassigned to the Pacific Fleet staff. He was appointed captain of the
Port Royal in October 2008 and had commanded the frigate Rodney M. Davis
out of Everett, Wash., in 2002.

Along with Carroll, executive officer Cmdr. Steve Okun appeared at the
hearing and was given nonjudicial punishment for dereliction of duty,
the Navy said.

Two officers and an enlisted sailor appeared at a separate hearing and
also were given nonjudicial punishment for dereliction of duty and
improper hazarding of a vessel, the Navy said. Their names were not

Damage to the Port Royal was estimated at $25 million to $40 million.
That does not include damage to the reef, which the Navy has begun to

Checks were commenced 72 hours prior to the under way. At sea, the ship
performed under full power, steering and helicopter flight operation
checks. Carroll spent most of his time on the bridge or in the Combat
Information Center, the report states.

To foster a “strong relationship” with aviation assessors, who were
requested on short notice, the ship’s command added boat operations at
night to return the passengers to shore, the report states.

The earlier navigation shift in the ship’s "Voyage Management System"
meant the Port Royal had a position error throughout its time at sea.
The bridge team did not recognize the input difference, officials said.

The report also said bridge watchstanders silenced or ignored alarms
calling attention to the position discrepancy.

The Port Royal is expected to remain in drydock into September for
repairs including the refurbishment of the 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, U.S. Pacific Fleet said.

The Safety Investigation Board concluded that training was inadequate in
a number of areas.

Its recommendations included 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 are adequately rested and
prepared for underway operations.

[quote=KneelbeforeZod!;15450]The switch from a Global Positioning System to a
gyroscope caused a 1.5-mile discrepancy in the ship’s position[/quote]

Gyroscopic INS like on an aircraft? Do they use that on Navy ships?

OK, so now I understand why the USCG wont give me any sea time credit for being on or near the bridge of a US Navy vessel…:cool:

Another post-shipyard incident.
The Accident
Having just completed her overhaul, [I]Blackthorn[/I] was outward bound from Tampa Bay on the night of 28 January 1980. Meanwhile the tanker [I]Capricorn[/I] was standing into the bay. The captain, Lieutenant Commander George Sepel was on the bridge, but Ensign John Ryan had the conn. Having been overtaken by the Russian passenger ship [I]Kazakhstan[/I], [I]Blackthorn[/I] continued almost in mid-channel. The brightly lit passenger vessel obscured the ability of the crews of [I]Blackthorn[/I] and [I]Capricorn[/I] to see each other. [I]Capricorn[/I] began to turn left, but this would not allow the ships to pass port-to-port. Unable to make radio contact with the tender, [I]Capricorn’s[/I] pilot blew two short whistle blasts to have the ships pass starboard-to-starboard. With the officer of the deck confused in regard to the standard operating procedure, [I]Blackthorn’s[/I] Captain issued orders for evasive action.
Though collision was imminent, initial damage was not extensive however, [I]Capricorn’s[/I] anchor was ready for letting go. The anchor became embedded in the tender’s hull and ripped open the port side. Just seconds after the slack in the anchor chain became taut, [I]Blackthorn[/I] capsized. Six off-duty personnel who had mustered when they heard the collision alarm, were trapped in the skin of the ship. Several crew members who had just reported aboard tried to escape and in the process trapped themselves in the engine room. Though 27 crewmen survived the collision, 23 perished. In the end the primary responsibility for the collision was placed with Commander Sepel as he had permitted an inexperienced junior officer to conn the ship in an unfamiliar waterway with heavy traffic.
The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral John B. Hayes, has approved the report of the marine board of investigation on the collision between the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn and the Tankship Capricorn. The collision occurred in Tampa Bay, Florida, on January 28, 1980, resulting in the death of 23 Coastguardsmen.
The board determined that the cause of the casualty was the failure of both vessels to keep well to that side of the channel which lay on their starboard (right) side. Concurring with the marine board’s determination of the cause, the Commandant emphasized in his “Action” that the failure of the persons in charge of both vessels to ascertain the intentions of the other through the exchange of appropriate whistle signals was the primary contributing cause. Additionally, Admiral Hayes pointed out that attempts to establish a passing agreement by using only radiotelephone communications failed to be an adequate substitute for exchanging proper whistle signals.
The collision occurred in the evening of January 28, 1980, near the junction of Mullet Key and Cut “A” Channels approximately three-quarters of a mile from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. The vessels collided nearly head on, and as a result, the port anchor of [I]Capricorn[/I] became embedded in the port side of the [I]Blackthorn[/I]. The momentum of the two vessels caused the [I]Capricorn’s[/I] anchor chain to become taut which resulted in the capsizing of the [I]Blackthorn[/I]. The [I]Capricorn[/I] subsequently ran aground north of the channel and the [I]Blackthorn[/I] sank in the channel. Twenty-seven of the 50 [I]Blackthorn[/I] crew members were rescued.
The marine board found evidence of violation of various navigation laws on the parts of the master and pilot of the [I]Capricorn[/I]. There were similar findings on the part of the commanding officer and officer of the deck of the [I]Blackthorn[/I]. These matters were referred to the commanders of the Seventh and Eighth Coast Guard Districts for further investigation and appropriate action.
The Commandant also acted on various safety recommendations made by the marine board concerning training and equipment aboard Coast Guard vessels, and navigation considerations in Tampa Bay.

I don’t know which is scarier; the guy who hasn’t been in command at sea in five years or his boss that thinks a day or two will requalify him.

Polmar isn’t the boss, he’s a maritime pudit and author. Standard practice when I was in the Navy was to get some of the crew out to sea on other ships now and then during the yard period so some proficeincy could be maintained among a percentage of the crew.
Before going out to sea we would have what is called a “fast cruise” where we would either go to the anchorage or if at the pier, un hook the shore phone and we would run drills and evolutions ad naseam for a few days.
Sea trials schedules, as I recall were front loaded with easier evolutions so the crew could get the kinks out before being challenged. It seems like this small boat transfer wasn’t in the schedule "To foster a “strong relationship” with aviation assessors, who wererequested on short notice, the ship’s command added boat operations at night to return the passengers to shore, the report states."
With the non working RADAR screens, non working fathometer the CO should have reassesed his his small boat transfer. I wonder why the QMOW couldn’t plot near-coastal fixes? Did the chart scale throw him?
BTW, Capt_A, the Navy does have SINS on ships, the ones on the Submarines are nats-ass accurate when working properly

Cool, thanks!

Well, gotta get my couple of cents worth in here. Reading the article pretty much confirms all of my initial thoughts wrt this grounding. First while many USN warships have Inertial Navigation Systems they are generally used as input in the weapons systems and are primary navigation systems. Second is a question not answered, was the GPS position off by 1.5 NM? Probably not but even if it was anybody with a barely calibrated eyeball should have seen that they were not where they thought they were. Third why was a QMOW who had only been qualified on their previous deployment (for 3 months) maintaining the ships navigation plot in restricted waters (by US Navy definition) on their first underway after an extended overhaul and with multiple equipment failures. I could go into a long list of my thoughts of how they got here, starting with mismanagement of the QM rating, 0 retention bonuses until the rate is depleted then 100 percent advancement (if you can get your name signed properly on the score sheet you advance), just to start the list but the navy bean counters have long espoused the virtues of replacing navigation personnel with their NAVSSI (navigation systems and sensor interface) or now ECDIS-N. But this only digs the enlisted, where was the Navigator & Executive Officer and what was the Captain thinking. Seems to me that getting underway without your Fathometer is a little like driving your corvette around without tires.

james.hatch, I would say it would be more like driving a corvette without a speedometer… :slight_smile:

Just seems to me like this kind of stuff makes you shake your head. I have had MANY close calls with naval vessels. Including a CVA (the last non-nuke!) whose OOD couldn’t keep track of how many planes he had to land and take off. Or the destroyer that cut RIGHT across my bow so that I wouldn’t come between him and his carrier. I could go on, but I think many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m not an expert on the navy, just a former merchant officer with a thing for maritime/naval history. What would Preble, Decatuar, Porter or even Halsey say about this kind of lack of BASIC seamanship?

I think the problem comes in the way the navy trains its officers first and foremost. a four year degree in a science or the arts is great. Whether its from the USNA or a NROTC unit, the problem comes when they then take everything that we as merchant officers learned of our craft in 4 years at a maritime academy (or many years at sea) and try to compress it down to 6 weeks in Newport. (and frankly if you sent me to Newport for six weeks, I wouldn’t remember much…) Then after these 6 weeks you say “congrats your a SWO now my enswine friend,” and ship them off to a ship. There is your problem. Not only can their skills be lacking, but their ability to see weakness in their bridge team may suffer too.

If I’m wrong in my perception, let me know.

It’s looks like it 6 months in Newport and then up to 18 months on the first ship to get SWO, some may/will complete the qualification quicker. But, within the SWO qual is the OOD qual, which according to the individual and time available might take a few months. I’ll guess 6 months of school and 4 month JOOD time to qual as OOD if the candidate is sharp and the ship is at sea all the time. Other candidates mileage may vary.

Any skimmers what to chime in? How about the “Navy SWO” on the board?

The problem on the Port Royal and other military commands is the fear of telling ones superiors that something is wrong for fear of looking like a misfit. This includes the Capt not wanting to explain to the Commodore, or others, why he couldn’t squeeze in the small boat transfer that night. But the reality is the opposite! I never saw the old man yelling cuz someone fed him over-cautious info but I witnessed lots getting an ass-chewing for remaining silent and not informing him. There has been a thread on here about Capt’s Night Orders, same thing applies in the Merchant Mariner World where there were times other mates have asked me “do you think I should wake the Capt and tell him?!” If you’re asking that question the answer is always YES!

Training Pipeline following commission. Upon commissioning, officers who select Surface Warfare undergo 17 weeks of intensive instruction at the Surface Warfare Officers School Division Officer Course (SWOSDOC) in Newport, Rhode Island. The first 11 weeks of SWOSDOC are common for all Surface Warfare candidates and emphasizes the basics in shipboard management, combat systems, ship control, and surface ship fundamentals. The final 6 weeks of SWOSDOC are ship class specific and center of the engineering systems on that class. SWOSDOC is designed to provide the tools needed for a successful first sea assignment. After completing the SWOSDOC Core, you will be sent to a specialty school for instruction focused on the requirements of your first job. Specialty schools include Anti-submarine Warfare Officer, Engineering Division Officer, Damage Control Assistant, and Communications Officer. Most of these schools are in Newport and are from 3 to 7 weeks long. Total time in Newport is 23 to 26 weeks.

Specific job elements for first tour. The primary goals of the Division Officer Sequencing Plan are to provide optimal readiness to the fleet and maximum development opportunities to the individuals. To this end, Division Officer tours are 42 month split tours designed to provide individuals diversity in their background and experiences. The first tour will be 24 months with the most important milestones of the initial sea tour being achievement of the Officer of the Deck (Fleet) and Surface Warfare Officer qualifications. These qualifications are designed to be completed within the first 12 to 18 months. During the initial sea tour, officers may be assigned to multiple departments to provide a diversified background and facilitate Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) and Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) qualification. Development of seamanship, war fighting skills, and dynamic leadership are key elements in the initial sea tour. The second Division Officer tour lasts 18 months and will always be in a department different from the initial tour. During the second tour, Division Officers are expected to complete Engineering Officer of the Watch qualification and many will make progress towards qualifying as Tactical Action Officer. The second sea tour billets are designed to fill specific needs of the Navy commensurate with an officer’s background. Additionally, follow-on sea tours provide professional benefits to the officer including additional qualifications and a more diversified background.

From the instruction,

Officers designated 116X/119X must attain SWO qualification within the first 18 months of shipboard service

There are so many things that are unique in this particular situation , compared to the destroyer that I served on…

One thing that comes to mind is where is the Navigator in all of this? Not only would this person be SWO qualified but also OOD qualified…Why was there only one QM ?, maybe there were more but the report didn’t mention it…When we operated close to shore we ALWAYS had a full or modified Nav team( sea and anchor detail)…At least 2 senior QM’s if not more and the Navigator was ALWAYS on the bridge…There would never be any excuse for the QMOW or who ever was in charge of the plot to not be able to chart a position…Was there a DR track? Without radar,fathometer and the knowledge of the electronics descrepency the bridge should have been of full alert…The Dr track would have been vital…I also didn’t see any mention of the use of the magnetic compass…

The qualified lookouts were on mess cooking duty? All of them? Not likely, these positions were filled by Bm’s and there are always extra ,qualified BM’s on board…

When I think of the term utilizing all means of navigation available,I have to go back to the navigator…If the gyro was off and visual fixes were out why not pull out a sextant and at least gain your latitude? With that and a decent DR track you at least had something to go by…Especially when the ops officer could see from the boat deck that something was wrong visually…

Ignoring the system warning alarms, we also had a similar problem with our primitive navigation sytems but all positions were plotted, they may not be used but they were plotted and logged…Ignoring them was unthinkable…

It’s easy to arm chair quarterback this grounding I don’t mean to do that, I just can’t believe that this is the same Navy that I was in…We over navigated everything we did…

Probably went to all-stop to do the small boat transfer, then let their guards down thinking they were “stopped” and didn’t have to pay attention anymore–then drifted up on the reef. That close to the beach there should have been augmented piloting team going as Shellback points out. Oh well, enough said…:cool:

What ever happened to fixing your position by taking bearings utilizing the telescopic aledaide or bearing circle on the bridge wing gyro repeaters? I wonder if they were even installed at the time of the grounding?

Jeffrox, thanks for the info…

It seems to me that the navy should be excellent seamen first and foremost.

This may be one reason why the USNI journal had a series of articles and op-eds last year about the woeful state of shiphandling, navigation, and watchkeeping aboard USN ships. One comment in particular struck me as telling; an op-ed author stated that many CO’s now use “valet parking” at their home port (pilots) and hope the formation guide isn’t lost the rest of the time.

In the old RN (sail), the master was in charge of navigation and watchkeeping while the commissioned officers fought the ship. The master was an experienced navigator and seaman (usually rising through the ranks or a former merchant officer) while the Captain and his lieutenants, while often accomplished sailors, where primarily concerned with maneuvering the ship for battle in accordance with the Flag Officer present tactical decisions. Is everything old new again?

kzoo… “Valet parking” Now that is funny. (no offense… from your name, I’m assuming you are a pilot!)

If my father was still alive, he would have had a fit if he read this report. He was a QM during WW2. He was the “special sea detail” helmsman on his destroyer. He once told me that his skipper wouldn’t even take a tug, and if required to take a pilot, told him to stay in the corner and keep quiet… Old school!

I have to say, he was a large influence in my thoughts on these subjects.

Yes, I am a member of the second oldest profession, but often am treated like a member of the first! That is life up here though . . . we are the red headed stepchildren of the US piloting community, but that relates to a rant against the USCG and would be waaaaay off topic.

Anyhow, the whole incident with the Port Royal is a case study in basic seamanship and navigation. “Eternal vigilence is the price of staying afloat”. There was another article early this year in Proceedings that dealt with some of the posts here; mainly that our naval deck officer corps is lacking in watchkeeping and shiphandling skills. The article was written by a USN LT on an exchange tour with the RN and was very interesting. RN watch officers are trained according to STCW. In fact, the author was sent to school by his CO to bring him up to the level expected of an RN officer. The author found his experience to be very valuable and was grateful for the opportunity to qualify to the level expected of Merchant Officers worldwide. While I am not always the biggest fan of the IMO and its associated endless stream of “Recommendations” and “Codes of Safe Practices” (which to me seem more like legislating common sense), it would be interesting to see if our Navy would see fit to follow in the footsteps of our common ancestors and seafarers across the pond.

Relating to the Blackthorn incident, the same problems still exists. The Coast Guard and USN need to comply with STCW and regularly attend Bridge Resource Management. As a former shipboard Coastie, I can attest to the “confusion” in the pilothouse. Too many indians in the camp. Special sea detail is a comedy of errors with multiple QM’s, QMOW, OOD’s, Conning officer, helmsman, lookouts, and the Captain all barking out information that the one man is suppose to carry out…steering the ship. The buoy tender I was on actually went aground and they ended up scrapping it and making a diving preserve out of the wreck.
Fortunately I completed my tour a year earlier on her before the incident. Also, several years ago I was fortunate to have a reuinon with one of my CG buddies after a decade. He was bringing a new Keeper Class buoy tender out the shipyard from Marinette Marine in Wisconsin. They were not taking pilots on the Great Lakes except the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence River so as a Lake Ontario pilot I was just riding to see my buddy, not for the work. As it turned out we departed lock one, out the channel to Lake Ontario, and I was dumbfounded to be in that same situation I eluded to earlier. No less than 8 people were on the bridge “navigating” at night. They proceeded to steer directly out of the channel at a dog-leg. I was able to correct the error, politely, before any damage was incurred. Evidence that this problem is still looming, large.

So MANY lads of the Gray Stack Line seem unable to ascertain whether they are the [B][I]Monkey[/I][/B] or the[I][B] Football[/B][/I] these days.

And to think that the Belly Button School isn’t even teaching Celestial to the little weenies…