USS J McCain / Alnic MC collision near Singapore

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…


SWOs jump around from AEGES CRUDES to Amphibs, to LCS, to MCMs to PCs etc etc… They jump around jobs just as wide as well, and never become really experts at any job, and by the time they do, they are shuffled off to a shore tour. For the sake of your argument, imagine being specialized in engineering. You could take the time to throughly understand several engineering plants. It wouldn’t matter if you went to a GTE or Diesel ship etc. You are a master at engineering and know this stuff. Same goes if you could only focus on weapons and tactics. You could go from AEGIS to AMPHIB and really take the time to know the differences and be a master at many systems throughout the fleet instead of knowing just enough to get you in trouble at any one job (as we see time and time again). This system is proven…

Any PERS source on proposed changes to the nuke career path?

I would hardly use DIVTACs as the yardstick of naval capability any more than armies would measure effectiveness by the ability to march. RAN? Great guys, worked with them, but they can’t build their own ships or combat systems. Once upon a time they had their own fixed wing aircraft carriers. Not a positive trend. RN? Just now getting back into the CV game. We make design their planes though, and we service their SSBNs and missiles. I’ve sailed with the Korean Navy as a liaison, very clean ships, but the steel was so thin you could push your hand through it. We on the other hand can conduct multiple carrier sustained combat operations, in multiple theaters, conduct opposed landings of brigade-level forces, and regularly deploy ships, subs, and task forces for six or more months. No one else is coming close to that.

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After department head, once you’ve gone amphib you’re not going back to CRUDES. I have seen some CRUDES officers “step down” to amphibs though, but there’s no going back.

The generalist system is proven too, we have simply strayed too far from our fundamentals.

Now that’s the winning attitude that generates greatness and turns the tide in a flawed enterprise. :roll_eyes:


Sure but there are plenty of yard sticks besides this.

Essentially the other arguments you bring up are our civilian infrastructure and contractors, not the USN per-say and is solely due to the size of our navy and associated investment.

Not PERS, but I can assure it is being debated right now within the USN.

What is it you do that nobody else is capable of?? (Aside from being a danger to other seafarers)

Merchant ships have maximum two persons on the bridge navigating and if there is problem due weather/traffic/light they can always ask for assistance. USN practice with 10-20 sailors on the bridge creates problems as nobody knows what is going on. The extra 8-18 sailors should do other things down below, e.g. body building, arms practice, chipping and painting the decks, etc.

Is this the attitude and logic that are the epitome of the USN and it’s problems? I believe so. You can’t even substantiate this claim.

I substantiated what makes the USN uniquely capable several posts up. You are free to try and refute it.


I originally meant my US vs the world comment in a more narrow sense, but since I’ve seemed to kick the hornet’s nest I am going to own it. We were talking specifically about the USN generalist system compared to the deck/eng specialties everywhere else. Regarding that, no, I don’t really care what the rest of the world does or thinks. That’s their system and it works for them. Our system works for us (provided we meet our own standards). Advocating a position because “everyone else is doing it” is the epitome of lazy arguing. It’d be like going to the UK and telling them that the rest of Europe drives on the right, so they should get with the program. They’d justifiably tell you to piss off - their system works for them.

The USN advantages you mention are strictly due to our civilian infrastructure, ship assets and associated investments, not on account of the USN. When it comes to general training and execution on what we can directly compare with other nations, I believe we clearly fall short.

This isn’t about what side of the road you drive or that fact that everyone else is doing it, but rather the fact that we have a serious problem and historically have had a relatively high percentage of problems as well. We appear to be driving on the wrong side. Arguing that it was better in the past isn’t a great one, as we were shunned back then too by many for incompetence. Just take this stunning account from the CO of the HMAS Melbourne at 2:25 “Incredible incompetence of the crew” “The people he had on the bridge were completely untrained”. Many more collisions, allisions, groundings, engineering casualties per under way hour. You can see I’m talking mainly about the seamanship of the SWOs, the drive and steam part (2/3rds of a SWOs job). The combat stuff we aren’t too bad at, but even still I can think of nations that just seem so much more proficient at it. Am I crazy?

Sure, we do many things well. Having well trained 1110 (SWOs) is probably one of the worst things we do comparatively, and many JOs will tell you that (just ask).

When it comes to general training and execution on what we can directly compare with other nations, I believe we clearly fall short.

I disagree that other nations can do what we do, simply because the breadth of what we do is so much larger than other nations. I will concede that some nations that don’t venture far beyond their territorial waters may have highly proficient crews. These countries operate a small number of ships and engage in a small number of warfare areas. The only other navy with global pretenses and approaches a level for comparison is the Royal Navy. Pound for pound I will accept that the average RN officer is better trained than his US counterpart. Part of the reason is they have fewer officers to try and train, and part is they are better attuned to their half a millennium’s history as a naval power. I wish we had their training, but not their system.

I further disagree that seamanship is the most important aspect of being a SWO. Before the howling starts, let me say that yes, of course SWOs need to be proficient ship drivers. And there is no great mystery as to what we need to do to get better, just a reluctance to dedicate the time and resources necessary. That is squarely on Big Navy’s shoulders to fix. But the most important part of being a SWO is preparing to engage in war at sea. Seamanship is a prerequisite for that, but it is not nearly enough.

You advocate for specialization based on some non-provided statistics. You don’t recognize that we operate more ships more often in more unfamiliar waters than any other nation on earth. Yes, last year we had far too many accidents and lost too many good sailors. But even if we had every SWO earn their STCW quals the accident rate would not drop to zero - the front page of gCaptain will attest to the fact that even the formally-trained “professional mariners” still have accidents. The only real difference is every time a civilian ship crashes naval officers don’t stand around screeching “MERCHEES CAN’T DRIVE REEEEEEE!”

I advocate for generalization because I am interested in growing the next batch of Admirals, not OODs, and I believe that diversity of experiences is important to having an open mind for leading ships and sailors in combat. We need officers who have the necessary backgrounds to lead our forces in combat. In fact I wish we would have tours on other platforms; look at the career paths of Nimitz or King and see all the assignments they had. It made them better problem solvers. If we go to war tomorrow we can go out and hire a hundred 3rd Mates - can we hire a Nimitz?

That may be so, but do they try to learn from others mistakes? “Merchees” do and that is what these forum threads and accident investigations allow us to do.

“Merchees?” Is that really a thing?