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Old 02-13-2020, 06:44 PM   #1
Onkel Neal
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radar Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy.

It's the dead of night, and the USS Fitzgerald is on a secret mission to the South China Sea.

The sailors on the $1.8 billion destroyer are young, tired and poorly trained.

Disaster strikes at 1:30:34 a.m.


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A little after 1:30 a.m. on June 17, 2017, Alexander Vaughan tumbled from his bunk onto the floor of his sleeping quarters on board the Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald. The shock of cold, salty water snapped him awake. He struggled to his feet and felt a torrent rushing past his thighs.

Around him, sailors were screaming. "Water on deck. Water on deck!" Vaughan fumbled for his black plastic glasses and strained to see through the darkness of the windowless compartment.

Underneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, 12 miles off the coast of Japan, the tidy world of Berthing 2 had come undone. Cramped bunk beds that sailors called coffin racks tilted at crazy angles. Beige metal footlockers bobbed through the water. Shoes, clothes, mattresses, even an exercise bicycle careered in the murk, blocking the narrow passageways of the sleeping compartment.

In the dim light of emergency lanterns, Vaughan glimpsed men leaping from their beds. Others fought through the flotsam to reach the exit ladder next to Vaughan's bunk on the port side of the ship. Tens of thousands of gallons of seawater were flooding into the compartment from a gash that had ripped through the Fitzgerald's steel hull like it was wrapping paper.


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The collision of the vessels was the Navy's worst accident at sea in four decades. Seven sailors drowned. Scores were physically and psychologically wounded. Two months later, a second destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, broke that grim mark when it collided with another cargo vessel, leaving 10 more sailors dead.

The successive incidents raised an unavoidable question: How could two $1.8 billion Navy destroyers, protected by one of the most advanced defense systems on the planet, fail to detect oncoming cargo ships broadcasting their locations to a worldwide navigational network?



.....

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Old 02-14-2020, 07:28 AM   #2
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This makes, IMO, a pretty strong point for a rethinking of the USN's OOB, to switch from a full capital ship navy made mainly of AB and Ticos to a mixed fleet with capital ships and smaller frigates, that allow the execution of the still important flag showing and presence missions while reducing drastically the load in terms of crew mobilisation. Assuming similar numbers of sailors, the numerous missions that do not require WW3 level of combat - and even some of those that would - could be executed properly with smaller and less crew-intensive ships. Even BMD missions can be done seriously with frigates, these days.

We'll see if the USN's FFGX program will take this into consideration and whether they'll make the choice of deactivating enough Burke and Tico to man these new ships rather than pushing the pressure even harder on the human elements.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:59 AM   #3
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Default What about radar

Wouldn't there have been an officer and crew on watch with radar?
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Old 02-14-2020, 09:34 AM   #4
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Read it, there was.
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Old 02-14-2020, 09:49 AM   #5
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Well , apparently USN officer didn't have a lot of real naval training before being commissioned, they are thrown on ships and learn on the fly.



In France (and I think in many other countries, they spent a lot of time on ships before being Officer, from bridge simulator to rowing boat to LHP)



here an old paper from the USNI

https://www.realcleardefense.com/art...ps_112891.html
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Old 02-14-2020, 10:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by UglyMowgli View Post
Well , apparently USN officer didn't have a lot of real naval training before being commissioned, they are thrown on ships and learn on the fly.



In France (and I think in many other countries, they spent a lot of time on ships before being Officer, from bridge simulator to rowing boat to LHP)



here an old paper from the USNI

https://www.realcleardefense.com/art...ps_112891.html
The big issue is one of personnel availability, from my understanding of things. The Pentagon gets more and more ships to do more and more missions given by the political leadership, but doesn't get enough crews and support to fill all of these. Thus my opinion that mothballing part of the AB/Tico (I'd go for mothballing all Ticonderoga and specializing some AB in the coordination/ABM roles), freeing a lot of people for the remaining ships and then getting the rest on smaller frigates that would show the flag, provide ASW support, do some ABM, etc.

The notion of overkill is a very real one, and the US isn't going to solve these issues by shoving more money at it. It's either this or cut down the missions of the USN.
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Old 02-14-2020, 10:24 AM   #7
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great article, thanks for posting.

yes, many mistakes were made, many by the officers on watch, but also many by the U.S. Navy and DoD.

but what I love about these stories are the heroes, enlisted men and officers who step up and take the actions which are required to save lives and save the ship, they are the backbone of the Navy.
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rufus Shinra View Post
The big issue is one of personnel availability, from my understanding of things. The Pentagon gets more and more ships to do more and more missions given by the political leadership, but doesn't get enough crews and support to fill all of these. Thus my opinion that mothballing part of the AB/Tico (I'd go for mothballing all Ticonderoga and specializing some AB in the coordination/ABM roles), freeing a lot of people for the remaining ships and then getting the rest on smaller frigates that would show the flag, provide ASW support, do some ABM, etc.

The notion of overkill is a very real one, and the US isn't going to solve these issues by shoving more money at it. It's either this or cut down the missions of the USN.

On the 32 mandatory course for the 4 years cursus at the US Naval Academy, only 4 (one per year) are about seamanship with only one practicum (with labs on simulators not on ships!) so whatever the cause, the officer at the end of the 4 years have no practical knowledge about real ship handling.
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Old 02-15-2020, 02:39 AM   #9
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I would point out that USN is stretched thin as it is with it's current global comitments, cutting down ship numbers is not going to work.
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Old 02-15-2020, 05:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ikalugin View Post
I would point out that USN is stretched thin as it is with it's current global comitments, cutting down ship numbers is not going to work.
Having ships more adapted to these "commitments" (to which I personally fail to see the interests, as there aren't such things as guided missile destroyers flying the Jolly Roger in the 21st century) would be more sensible. The vast majority of missions where the USN deploys a DDG could be done entirely by a FFG. Arleigh Burke crew: 300+, FREMM (European MultiMission Frigate): 130.


And, hell, for many, many missions, even a FREMM would be overkill, so the USN could still do what the politicians want from it while saving a lot of bodies, if it switched from a full DDG/CG format to a mixed FFG/DDG/CG one. I mean, imagine if the USN tried to win the Pacific War by acquiring nothing but heavy cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers.
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:12 AM   #11
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I personally, from what I know which is not much, lay most of the blame on Mabus and Clark. This is the companion article, on USS MCCAIN, just as informative:
https://features.propublica.org/navy...-cause-mccain/

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At the Pentagon, Navy Undersecretary Janine Davidson repeatedly told her boss, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, that the Navy was plowing money into buying new ships while its current fleet was falling dangerously into disrepair. His expanded fleet would take years, even decades to build; the risks were immediate. Mabus, appointed in 2009, served the entire two terms of the Obama administration, leaving just months before the crashes.


"His priority was shipbuilding. He made it very clear," Davidson said of Mabus, whom she accused of blocking her from speaking to Congress about her concerns. "Anybody who had a different opinion was shut down."
I believe Davidson, I have worked with leaders like Mabus who are closed to input.


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In the early 2000s, the Navy embarked on a quest for so-called efficiencies. Vern Clark, the Navy's top military officer during much of the Bush era, brought an MBA to the job and pitched his cuts to the force using the jargon of corporate downsizing. Smaller crews were "optimal" crews. Relying on new technologies to do the work sailors once did was described as "capital-for-labor substitutions."

Promising a "workforce for the 21st century," Clark's team tried out new training and staffing ideas, including a decision that officers no longer needed to attend months of classroom training to learn the intricacies of operating billion-dollar warships. Instead, aspiring Surface Warfare Officers, charged with everything from driving ships to launching missiles, could learn mostly at sea with the help of packets of CDs. The program was widely derided by sailors as "SWOS in a Box."

The efficiencies even included eliminating a requirement for ship captains to post lookouts on both sides of ships, a cut that would later prove crucial when the Fitzgerald's crew failed to see a fast-closing cargo ship until it was too late.

In an interview with ProPublica, Clark said these reforms were intended as experiments for a more streamlined and ready Navy and should have been regularly re-assessed.

"Only a nitwit of the highest order would continue down this path without seeing if it's working," he said.
Yeah, only a moron of the highest order would alter proven training methods so radically and expect it to work.

Plus, I suspect the caliber of sailors has changed over the years. Our society has changed.

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A legion of poorly trained junior officers aboard the ships were being promoted, Balisle warned, creating a generation of unprepared leaders.

Balisle's report, dated February 2010, was delivered to Mabus and to Congress.

"It appears the effort to derive efficiencies has overtaken our culture of effectiveness," Balisle said in the report. He then took aim at the "downward spiral" of the Navy's culture, in which a commitment to excellence had been badly eroded.

"From the most senior officers to the most junior petty officer, the culture reveals itself in personal attitudes ranging from resignation to frustration to toleration," he wrote. "While the severity of current culture climate may be debated, its decline cannot."

The report left Work, then the undersecretary of the Navy and Mabus' No. 2, shaken. He decided to act.

My generation wasn't as tough as my father's generation. The current generations are softer yet. It's not a thing to characterize as blame or denigration, it's just a result of our success as a society. We're nicer, more thoughtful, and more understanding and supportive of each other. We're just not tough warriors anymore.
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:43 PM   #12
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Wow! I'm only a few pages in and this is some REAL journalism. Love the way it is presented as well. Thanks so much for bringing this article to our attention! Very fascinating read. Back to the article!
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Old 02-17-2020, 01:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rufus Shinra View Post
Having ships more adapted to these "commitments" (to which I personally fail to see the interests, as there aren't such things as guided missile destroyers flying the Jolly Roger in the 21st century) would be more sensible. The vast majority of missions where the USN deploys a DDG could be done entirely by a FFG. Arleigh Burke crew: 300+, FREMM (European MultiMission Frigate): 130.


And, hell, for many, many missions, even a FREMM would be overkill, so the USN could still do what the politicians want from it while saving a lot of bodies, if it switched from a full DDG/CG format to a mixed FFG/DDG/CG one. I mean, imagine if the USN tried to win the Pacific War by acquiring nothing but heavy cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers.

While I agree with you that many of those missions can be completed with FFGs the problem is that US needs to maintain dominance in naval theatres which means that they need all those DDGs and if anything I think that the decision to focus on them was a good one given limited USN resources post Cold War.


As to the crews - USN is known to deploy intentionally larger than normal crews as this makes at sea maintenance and the like easier.
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Old 02-17-2020, 02:43 PM   #14
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Thanks for posting that article.
But your closing statements caught my attention even quicker.
This:
[QUOTE=Onkel Neal;2649555]
Plus, I suspect the caliber of sailors has changed over the years. Our society has changed.
My generation wasn't as tough as my father's generation. The current generations are softer yet. It's not a thing to characterize as blame or denigration, it's just a result of our success as a society. We're nicer, more thoughtful, and more understanding and supportive of each other. [/QUOTE

Both my father and uncle were USN towards the end of WW2, late 1944. My father was on a destroyer in a csg. My uncle was on a tender in another fleet.
They both saw action but won't talk about anything but the fun times.
From what I have gleaned over time both saw some boats sunk and don't want to talk about the details.
They were/are both farmers before and after they served. And still the two toughest men i've ever met.

I followed my fathers footsteps and went into the USN at 20 years old. I spent 5 years patrolling for Somali pirates. We sunk more than a few and brought them onboard (brig) and dropped them off to the local authorities. Fairly sure they were all likely executed by firing squad after a VERY short trial. The (at least then) somali government didn't like them any more than merchant ships did.

I did get to go to a lot of exotic ports getting to/from patrol area though.


Quote:
We're just not tough warriors anymore.
Speak for yourself


But yes, my nephew (my sister passed away) seems to think I owe him something. I've told him the only thing I owe his lazy Millenial self is a swift kick in the ass. He can't even hold a job at a fast food restaurant while saying he is a "Chef" and won't work for anyone until they appreciate his ability.
I've suggested to him his only chance is to become a military cook because he runs out of his moms money in a few more months.
And i've let him know in no uncertain terms he won't get a penny from me unless he proves himself a man.

See? I am softer and kinder. I likely will make you walk the plank but I won't shoot you in the back to get you to swim, I'll just yank the plank out and find out if you can swim or not.
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:18 PM   #15
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I should add, most or all countries are suffering from the "Millenial" problem.
Young people were grown up thinking they didn't have to win, they only had to show up to get the same trophy as the winners.
Most of them know very little about courage, honor, or anything related to actually being that type of person.
Your statement of the population being kindler and gentler is correct.
As fortunate as that is in regards to less racial division and so forth, it WILL have the downside of peoples that would seek to end the USA realizing they might be able to, from within.
I won't speak to religions or politics, but i'm quite sure you know what i'm saying without saying it.
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