USS J McCain / Alnic MC collision near Singapore


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.


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?




Not as good of a job that should be done. The Navy has a massive lessons learned database, but it is treated more as a requirement than a resource. SWOs, being the cynical bunch we are, usually refer to it as ‘lessons identified’ or ‘lessons relearned’. At SWOS in Newport they have a variety of collisions programmed into the full mission bridge simulator, I’m told the replay of USS PORTER crossing the TSS in the Persian Gulf with bridge audio is horrifying. And we have our own forum where I promise you every collision, grounding, and every other mishap gets discussed ad nausem. Rarely do we see much systemic change though.

Yes, but it’s probably better spelled “Merchie” (the “ee” was an homage to a few esteemed posters here who struggle to spell “navy”). Merchant Mariner just doesn’t roll off the tongue. It’s not used as a derisive term (except by a very few USNA grads looking down on USMMA/SA grads). If I was on the bridge internally referencing another ship I would simply refer to it as Group 1, 2, or 3 Merchant (usually just Group 3 - superstructure aft). But there’s no animosity (except for those squid boats with their collapsed suns for lights - f those guys).


I don’t see what make people think a 3rd mate is going to do better than an ensign. I’ve sailed with new ensigns and with new 3rd mates, seem about the same more or less.


There are many navies, such as the RAN, RN, JMSDF, ROKN who can do every mission area we do with the exception of carrier operations. Our breadth and depth is a testament to our size but necessarily skill.
Having fewer officers was not always the case, and I would argue isn’t a great reason to have better skilled officers, but thats my opinion.

I think we need to define seamanship, as it is the art and skill of operating a ship and everything related. War fighting is built upon this cornerstone, as I believe JPJ once pointed out. Driving the ship is only a portion of “seamanship”, but includes all ship operations. My problem from what I’ve seen in the USN SWO community is that seamanship seems heavily marginalized (as even described by yourself). I personally believe this correlates directly with how our war-fighting prowess can seem sloppy some times when compared to other nations. These are strictly my personal observations from seeing other Navies and ours, and one reason I keep harping on them and their system so much (again my opinion).

Again this is just due to our numbers, but operating hours per hull is not significantly different. When MSC took over the auxiliaries, they were able to better maintain the ships and stay underway much longer running many more missions than when the USN operated them. Foreign Navies do not fall short of the USN by any means in this regard, so it just doesn’t seem like a good talking point.

There are over 52,000 merchant ships in the world sailing our oceans day in and day out operating many more underway days per year than a USN ship, so this is hardly a comparison. I would love to find the statistics for operating hours per accident rate and see how the USN stacks up. A better comparison would be the MSC fleet vs the USN fleet (with MSC having many more operational hours). Who has the better record?

I can see the merit in this thinking but believe we can do better.


Clearly I am not going to convince you what a special organization we are, and that’s ok. When the JMSDF starts to shoulder the burden of patrolling the Black Sea, Med, Caribbean, Persian Gulf, Baltic, and not just the Western Pacific let me know. They’re a great organization, they really are, but they’re not us. I attended a briefing from the ROKN where they proudly announced their new KDX III destroyers would allow them to extend their reach to Singapore.

The requirement to be a good seaman has been dropping steadily thanks to technology. In JPJ’s day you had to maneuver your ship into firing a broadside, so things like the weather gauge and lee gauge mattered. Turreted guns and steam made that less relevant, and missiles, aircraft, and guided torpedoes have eliminated the seamanship variable almost entirely. There are companies out there investing in technology that threaten the future of deck officers everywhere obsolete. Pilots feel the pressure exerted by drones. The future won’t be men simply operating equipment. More will be required, and in that sense focusing on warfighting is prudent. Until we get there though we absolutely need to shore up our seamanship, but cannot be distracted by it either.

I don’t know that there will ever be an apples to apples comparison, but at least the MSC fleet does UNREPS. How many of those 52,000 ships are getting called into plane guard in the middle of the night and chasing around a carrier at 30 knots (like those poor unfortunate souls on the FRANK E EVANS)?

My only goal is to leave this organization one day better than I found it.


The only struggle here is not to get sick every time the navee screws up.

And the term navee is a derisory conflation of navy and ditch digger or navvy - look it up since it probably isn’t in the SWO for dummies guidebook.


Your definition of seamanship appears to be focused on its application to war fighting, which is your prerogative as a naval officer, but there is MUCH more to the art and science.

From my (and possibly others on this forum) perspective, the attitude that taking a back seat while the ‘technology’ takes over is the crux of your organizations problem. The attitude that seamanship as a skill and lifelong pursuit can be replaced with gadgets and tech is folly. We have all benefitted from the use of technology in navigation, but the ‘mark one eyeball’ coupled with the ‘sailors eye’ have been the foundation upon which all the rest of those nice electronic nannies were built upon.

This may just be my humble ‘Merchie’ opinion but I’m afraid if your attitude displayed on this thread is endemic of the whole officer corp of the navy we are already screwed.