USS J McCain / Alnic MC collision near Singapore


Problem solved!

U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Adm. Phil Davidson, says sailors also need to get used to working better while sleep deprived or physically worn out.

“One of the things that leaps out is, you’ve got to be able to handle fatigue. This is about more than just, ‘Hey, the routine is too much,’” Davidson said.

“If you saw the investigations directly on what transpired on [destroyer] Fitzgerald and McCain after the collisions, and the leaders that have to cope with fatigue, whether it’s the lack of sleep or whether it’s the physical exertion of it all, there is some component there that is not robustly tested in the fleet. We really have to take a look at that,” he said.


Sounds just like the quote from a certain tugboat company CEO in reference to the 6 and 6 watch schedule “these mariner’s are trained to deal with it” or some bullshit like that.


Further confirmation that the Navy is just another clueless government bureaucracy that can’t find its ass with both hands.


Former Fitzgerald, McCain COs Face Negligent Homicide, Dereliction of Duty Charges Over Fatal Collisions

The Navy doesn’t always move at the speed people would like, but it does move. The negligent homicide charges seem ambitious, but I am not a lawyer. I look forward to justice being served and the release of these investigations to the public.


Finally someone is talking about deck and engineering specialization on Navy ships.


As I fill out my STCW required log of rest hours, I’m comforted knowing that my USN brethren on the 27kt grey-hull approaching on a steady bearing-decreasing range “give-way” vessel, is working better on his 100 week, all jacked up on Mountain Dew or Monster drinks, is sleep deprived, and is driving like a drunk.

Y’know, in my Nam days running FREEDOM TRAIN and LINEBACKER gun strikes on the North, we worked a lot of hours, but that was during combat. Out of the war zone, we worked 4 on/8off-nowhere near 100 hours.

Bill Engvall is right; “You can’t fix stupid”.

Is this “progress”?


Photos from Panama.


Aside from ADM Davidson I don’t know a single sailor who is excited at the prospect of having to work through the fatigue on their 100 hour week.

A ship on the gun line probably had a lot less manpower shortages thanks to a supply of volunteers looking to avoid the draft, not to mention a whole lot fewer requirements for mandatory training on sexual harassment and protecting personally identifiable information.

Ten years ago a DDG was mustering around 330 officers and men. Today that number is closer to 250. Compound that by an insatiable demand for reports, metrics, data calls, and other distractions by a squadron staff with broadband connectivity.

Admirals have yet to learn that they are only going to be able to do less with less. Captains have yet to learn that they are going to need to say “no” to tasking they cannot meet. Until one of these things happen, do not expect progress.


It’s an interesting idea, but ultimately one that I doubt will come to pass. Specializing engineers into their own branch (and make no mistake, this will not be a separation of equals) may yield some improvement in the operation of the engineering department, but it is unlikely to improve ship handling or combat performance.

On the other hand, specialization will damage the Surface Warfare Officer community. That may not sound important, but it is. On all but the largest ships Chief Engineers are first or second tour department heads (LT or LCDR). Unless Big Navy is willing to create scores of CDR billets, engineers will not have a viable career path that parallels their topsider cousins. As the Navy found out with its last attempt at creating SWO specialists, no career path means no interest.

As the “mainline” SWO community spins off the engineers, it will grow smaller, and have less of a voice at the table for allocation of resources. While you may be right in pointing out that community clout is a poor way to run a railroad, it doesn’t change the fact that SWO is best served by putting up the largest numbers they can.

Finally, there is benefit to having jacks of all trades. Right now to be eligible for command it is not necessary to have done an engineering tour, but it is necessary to be qualified EOOW (OICEW). Understanding how the plant operates (theoretically) makes SWOs better ship drivers, because they know her capabilities and limitations. It may not be strictly necessary to know how a power train works to drive a car, but it helps. More importantly, knowing what the plant can and cannot do is tactically relevant in combat, when limitations of 60hz, 400hz, firemain, seawater, chilled water, LP air, etc. influence what and how you use your weapons systems.


Looking back retrospectively, I don’t know if the tin-cans were fully manned. All I know is that when running the gun strikes to NVN, not laying-to on the gun line and lobbing “harassment & interdiction” shells occasionally in the south, is that GQ was frequent every day, fuel un-reps every other day, ammo un-rep on every other day (usually not on fuel day-but sometimes after a high-intensity mission), and groceries once a week.

Sleep was a scarce commodity in those days, and after several consecutive days of this high-intensity work out, the ship was dispatched to YANKEE STATION for plane guarding or NSAR/PIRAZ to ride shotgun for RED CROWN (usually a gunless DLG). The tempo of ops allowed for some rest, although chasing the bird-farms at 30+ knots usually meant fueling every other day. Those “rest cycles” were well worth it.

And thank Jesus we didn’t have to put up with the bullsh!it of sexual harassment and protecting personally identifiable information. God forbid the inclusion of “human trafficking” curriculum also. The medical briefing prior to entering Subic was bad enough!!

I’m ignorant as to why DDG’s have lost 80 personnel. Automation? Streamlining? Less intensive weapons? But you are absolutely spot-on with squadron’s insatiable demand for reports, metrics, and others. We suffer from it here in the civilian world too. Way too much bureaucratic BS going on, interfering with the true mission.

There is a time and place to say, “NO.”


The Royal Navy model means that the highest rank an Engineer officer can aspire to is Rear Admiral. Weapons and electrical is a seperate specialisation.
All officers do modules of all specialisations as junior officers including engineroom watch keeping with hands on experience. The Technical officers do bridge time as well.
On the plus side technical officers are highly sort after by commercial companies. A general list engineer who joined just after me completed a Batchelor of Engineering degree concurrently with an apprenticeship in fitting and turning by completing the required time during university vacations.
He gained a bridge watch keeping certificate as part of his sea training and after 2 years at sea as a second engineer did a 2 year post graduate engineering degree.
Guess what? He was head huntered by an international firm within months of returning to sea.


Not surprisingly, Singapore Authorities have done their own enquiry into this insident and come to a not surprising conclusion:


The latest on that news from Straits Times also:


The complete report here:


Wouldn’t call it “a decision to make a sudden turn” so much as “didn’t know how to drive the ship and lost control.”


This seems like a lot of excuses to justify “it’s just how it is” in the USN. The bottom line is many top notch Navies around the world do this, and it works better than the conglomerate system the USN uses today. The basic SWO engineering training and even qualifications such as EOOW (because everyone knows almost no JO ever really stands EOOW) can still be done. I have seen many a CO that didn’t know much at all about engineering, and even less than many Masters I have sailed with as well.


I’ve known officers who have advocated to switch to an RN-style system of specialists, and they were universally snobbish types who didn’t want to get their hands dirty down in the hole. That system may very well work for other navies, but the USN isn’t other navies, just like the US isn’t the rest of the world. I did my time as a snipe, and I hated every minute of it. But it made me a better officer, 100%. All the benefits I referenced are true, and even if the USN had a specialist system it wouldn’t have prevented any of the calamities of 2017. We have proven it works since the days of steam, provided Big Navy mans, trains, and equips our ships properly.


And what I referenced is true as well. An EOOW qualified JO normally will not stand that watch. All their information (just like OOD) is stacked in some line items and a board, and then largely forgotten about. Even still, this could be a process easily incorporated even if specialized like the rest of the world.

We can’t be so full hardy to see the errors of our ways and not adapt.

It wouldn’t have prevented calamities of 2017? I would highly disagree on that. Have you stood watch with the Royal Navy, Australian, Japanese, or any other? Have you seen the competence they have compared to our trepidation? It is insulting to say the least. I would argue with evidence that this would have a drastic benefit in both engineering and bridge operations. Not only would no benefit you mentioned be lost (if non engineers got EOOW qualified), but we would gain so much. Think about all the self induced engineering casualties the USN has comparatively to everyone else as well. Is there any statistic that shows contrary to my argument?

The world thinks the USN is not competent. They struggle to even talk on bridge to bridge. Is that evident enough? The evidence is staggering.


Those EOOW JOs will become the Chief Engineers and N4s who have a clue what they’re doing in those roles, even if they’re not standing m(any) qualified watches after their boards. They will also be better TAOs, XOs, and COs, because they know the plant’s capabilities are and the engineer’s capabilities are. It’s possible to get command having never done an engineering tour, but those officers are missing out on some important training. If anything SWO is already too specialized, take the AEGIS/Amphib divide.

JSM’s proximate cause was a cross-decked seaman who had no training on the piece of equipment he was using. Unlike officers, enlisted sailors are specialists, but we don’t bother to train them adequately. That’s not a critique of how we’re structured, but how we actually operate the structure in place.

You also have SWO (and Sub) Nukes, who rotate between billets in the plant and topside jobs. If you want statistics, look no further. Zero nuclear accidents since inception. What’s the difference? They take good people and train the hell out of them. If we trained our conventional SWOs like the Nukes train our accident rate would plummet too.

I have stated here numerous times there are many things the USN needs to do better, including BTB communications. That said, I don’t give a damn what the rest of the world does or thinks. No one else comes close to being able to do what we do.


I would say you are incorrect. A proportionally smaller percentage of normal 1110 will become Chief Engineers compared to any other DH tour. Why? Because Chief Engineer is supplemented more than almost any other DH tour by LDOs, and it has become more and more common today. Additionally, the Chief Engineer in the Navy is more of a paper pusher than knowledgeable on the plant, and can’t even compare to a RN or USMM Chief Engineer in that respect.

Without a doubt you can know the capabilities of an engineering plant without having to be a prior Chief Engineer (especially a USN one). I can promise you that most deck watch officers in the RN, JMSDF and even the Mexican Navy (and many others) understand their plants just as well, if not better than we do.

In regards to SWO nukes, there is a big push RIGHT NOW to exempt them from the SWO qualifications, especially OOD. They really lack this experience in basic ship operations, especially when they reach command. If anything, they are pushing to specialize them solely as nukes, which further reiterates my point.
I agree, they are trained well as nukes for good reason, however the USN struggles to train them effectively in other areas because of the time investment required to be a nuke. To this point, you need a highly effective nuke at doing nuke things, but to try and make the good at everything else is unnecessary and detrimental. The USN has recognized this as a fact.

No one in the world comes close to being able to do what we do? Such as what? Having more ships and money? I guess you never have done DIVTACs with the RN, Australians or anyone else? If so what did you think? This is just one example…