USS J McCain / Alnic MC collision near Singapore


Geez Heiwa, have you missed being called out as an idiot or something. As usual your post earns another moron badge.


Are your referring to my last posts? They were removed! I just mentioned that drugs and alcohol misuse are common causes of accidents at sea.


In transiting situations these Navy ships are not manning CIC, they can’t be. They have 3 radars capable of ‘seeing’ those merchantmen. The surface search radar even has a repeater on the bridge and it has Furuno components… tech that can pick up birds! A vessel so equipped must maintain a proper radar watch. If the plan is that the repeater on the bridge relieves the responsibility of manning CIC then the repeater on the bridge requires a dedicated watchstander… just as a helmsman does not qualify as a lookout, using the OOD as the radar watch is irresponsible. This is all besides the fact that we had dedicated port and starboard lookouts. Every target on radar was relayed to the lookout for visual confirmation or their heads-up. All of those data points that you see on the verbose version of an AIS display, we calculated all of that by hand at the top of every minute, for every target until they were either resolved to be DIW, stationary or clear of us. Info on targets of interest were relayed to the bridge at suitable increments on the 1MC. Nothing ever got anywhere near us without fully knowledge of the watch, Nothing, Ever.

I was on 3 auxillaries during my 5 years on the Navy, 250 to 580ft. We never had a radarman or sonarman assigned, they were all on ships of the line, Gulf of Tonkin. I was an electronics technician but my watch station was a ‘nav’ watch in CIC. We had a 1/4MW surface search radar. '50’s vintage, it had 28 knobs and switches, nothing automatic. Once you became one with the radar you could do anything with it. Watch passenger planes take off from HNL and track them over 100 nm towards the mainland from Lahaina Lake. Pick up a submarine’s periscope long enough to compute her course… more than once. Spot wooden masts 15nm away DIW in the Alenuihaha Channel and tow them back to Hilo… more than once. So, from my perspective, I have no concept of how these M-o-W allow any cargo vessel get anywhere near them, let alone collide with them. That this situation exists aboard these warships constitutes nothing short of gross negligence.


In Singapore Strait and at the approaches to Tokoy Bay you HAVE to let something near you.


That’s a mighty strong and prejudicial statement for USCG-GM2 to make with so little information. (You may one day wish you’d reserved judgement, gunner.) What strikes me most is the similarity of this incident with that of the Fitz. Both struck basically amidship on the starboard side by significantly larger and ostensibly slower vessels. Even the damage is nearly identical. The similarity is just to suspicious to suggest simple incompetence, laziness and lousy sailoring (offensive in the extreme). Some people are investigating the possibility of hacking, but that doesn’t entirely answer the mail, either. I’m with Ctony on this one - stop the witch hunt until we know more.


Yeh, pretty similar except the difference in starboard and port side impact. And bridge wing versus quarter impact. And angle of impact between the two accidents. And main deck additional damage versus no real main deck additional damage. Other than that, yeh identical…


Can we all agree that an OOD with solid understanding of and access to true trails and an EBL might be a good thing? Why does the Navy have to make something like collision avoidance so F-ing complicated?


Apologies for the port side damage error re: McCain, otherwise, the differences you cite are accounted for by the differences in bow structure of the two commercial vessels; a sentence I deleted before posting, but see I should have left in place for your benefit, Slick.


Yes, my old radar had the very long persistence phosphor so it had trails after a fashion. But the OOD has a different work load. A warship which typically shows NO deck lights or any lights but basic NAV lights not very far off the water is a different animal. And as the helmsman does not constitute a prudent lookout, so too the OOD does not qualify as an adequate radar watch stander. The radar watch stander on the bridge of a MoW or even a military AUX ship should be qual’d for a Radar, Unlimited endorsement with serious training in the area of interference, noise and false echoes. If they can’t pass those requirements they have no business on the radar watch for a 30kt+ vessel carrying munitions and the potential target of a ill gotten anti-ship weapon. Contrary to announcements from what I can see both of these merchantmen approached at least 22.5 degrees abaft the warship’s beam thus she was displaying only the stern light low to the water and fairly hard to see from the much higher bridge of MM. In fact, once close aboard the MM had very little chance of seeing the MoW until impact.


When exactly did you go to sea with the Navy? All modern ARPA radars have trails available as an option and can filter those other errors out automatically with a little effort by the operator. Most every member of this forum has a radar certificate and can monitor both the 10 and 3cm whilst drinking coffee and looking out the window. All hail Lord Helmet.

Also, where are you gleaning the knowledge that the McCain was the overtaken vessel? All I’ve seen so far is a marine traffic simulation which does not show the McCain because they were not transmitting AIS. The theory that the McCain tried to overtake the tanker at a high rate of speed and too close a proximity causing an interaction event sounds very possible, but the investigation will have to play out. A stern light is a stern light and where it was positioned should have no bearing here. These ships were in or about a traffic lane and would have been acting accordingly.


They sould be the only radar watch stander. The more people too and the more problems like this you’ll have. One extra person to relay that information to the OOD not only slows things down but inhibits the OOD’s situational awareness.


This is an astute point. It seems that due to the flow of information it may be impossible for the OOD to ever have situational awareness.


This article suggests that a lot more is going on than human error can explain alone. I found it helpful, perhaps you will, too.


There are basically always at least 2-4 people looking at the surface radar picture, one to two on the bridge, and one to two in CIC. Generally the OOD should be one of the ones on the bridge looking at it / using it to maintain SA.

If there are questions as to a radar return, then sonar could get involved, or sonar could be the initial gaining sensor and cue the bridge that a ship is around that maybe the radar hasn’t seen yet or doesn’t have a good return on.


GPS spoofing in the straights of malacca and only two vessels got into a knock up, one of them having the man power and the non GPS reliant technology to make sure they didn’t get into a collision.

Yes GPS’s can be spoofed, but no, this isn’t a Tom Clancy novel.


Perhaps. But when the Admiral quoted in the article says there are no indications of electronic intrusion but all options will be considered, perhaps not.

It is hard to admit mistakes and even harder to admit systemic break downs in procedure, but there is no fixing the problem if you are not willing to find the root cause. That is appearing more and more to be seamanship skills. GPS spoofing is a thing, but compasses and eyeballs are a little more difficult to fool. I think I’ll wait for the investigation report.


The Navy doesn’t really go easy on itself, no matter how appealing that sounds. GPS Spoofing isn’t the only possibility, and electronic targeting can be very specific, so the fact that no other ships were affected isn’t sufficient to rule it out.


I do agree that the people quoted in the article are groping, but their suggestion shouldn’t be written off as fantasy out of hand. You might be surprised what can be done, I was - until I saw some of it first hand.


all 3 ships i was on had keels laid before or during WWII. we had a 1950’s radar and a DRT table and 2 or 3 around the DRT, everything calc’d manual. The only input to the DRT was the pit log & compass. Nothing was in visual range that we couldn’t instantly respond to a query on the 1MC; range, bearing, course, speed, CPA and time to. Out in open water during a transit we had a skeleton crew in CIC for any incidental contact that popped up on the horizon… the radar’s horizon. On one, the radar op’s seat was the bowplanesman seat off a sub and CIC was the coldest space on the ship on those cruises into the South or Western Pacific.
A careful exam of the enlarged photos and the divers damage reports indicate the claimed angle as the DD actually floated up on the bulbous bow wave exposing the keel of the warship to damage not otherwise acquired if she’d been broadsided… If she’d been beam to the MM bridge would’ve seen the starboard in one case or the port in the latest case running light right in front of them. It you look at the theory of the extended bow, it creates the vessel’s bow wave around the full 360 degrees of the vertical plane unlike the knife edge with its two sides. I haven’t looked at this one but the first MM’s bow extension is 30ft creating a large enough of a distortion in the water’s surface for the DD to begin to float up it and list over on the lee side before actual contact is made, exposing the keel to more damage than you’d expect. Of course this is all conjecture on my part.


remember, the DoD does have access to the secure GPS… give me a 2 pound tin coffee can and I can defeat any covert GPS jammer on the planet and if you try to put a jammer in space it is exposed to god and everyone. and the gps antenna in the coffee can will still work adequately for ship nav.