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USS Fitzgerald collision in C7F

egiv

Well-Known Member
ProPublica has high journalistic credibility...

Great story telling and leveraging technology. Human element really comes out.
One thing this story brings to life is the way interpersonal relationships and petty disputes can mean life or death in a crisis. I think that surface navy 'get it done' culture is accurately depicted, which is something I admire. But what some overlook is how being headstrong, aggressive, and ambitious can come at the cost of unit cohesion, which is exactly what you need when things go south. It's no secret that there are SWOs (some, not all) who believe that being a jerk is just the cost of doing business in a tough line of work, despite others who have high standards without treating their people like trash.

TAOs are supposed to back OODs up, but this routinely turns into a condescending back-and-forth, which can turn into outright animosity. If FITZ watchstanders weren't talking on the net because they didn't like each other (at least in part), they wouldn't be the first. The fact the the OOD had so many personality conflicts that she didn't even eat in the wardroom says a lot. OPS was either incompetent, not trusted, or not focused (they found a pile of admin on her console after) yet sat the most important watch on the ship (TAO) during a high-risk evolution. Add in a SuWC who's out to lunch (or the head, in this case) and disliked by the OOD and this is what you get.

I honestly can't comprehend another explanation for the TAO not saying a single word to the OOD in the half-hour leading up to the accident, let alone the 2-3 other bridge watchstanders and 3-4 in combat whose primary duties are to not run into things. The OOD is getting rightly accused of not following the standing orders, rules of the road, etc. but where was everyone else who should have known all these things were wrong? She either had no backup or didn't listen to it.
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
The question I have, after reading these recent accounts, is to what extent the CO knew (or should have known) about the lax watchstanding habits of his crew. I didn't get the sense that they were afraid to wake him up, but those perceptions can take on a life of their own if the CO doesn't deliberately establish that kind of approachability in his relationships with the crew. I think we in aviation do a pretty good job of separating operational necessity from everything else in applying the "get it done" mentality. Seems like the surface community has some work to do there.
 

xj220

Will fly for food.
pilot
Contributor
I don’t know how other communities do it, but the safety programs and culture of aviation are pretty huge. We’ve focused on them and developed them over a relatively short amount of time because the consequences can be catastrophic.
 

NavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
The question I have, after reading these recent accounts, is to what extent the CO knew (or should have known) about the lax watchstanding habits of his crew. I didn't get the sense that they were afraid to wake him up, but those perceptions can take on a life of their own if the CO doesn't deliberately establish that kind of approachability in his relationships with the crew. I think we in aviation do a pretty good job of separating operational necessity from everything else in applying the "get it done" mentality. Seems like the surface community has some work to do there.
There is work to be done, coming from the surface nuke world community approachability is/was an issue, as a young CPO I was woken up middle of the night by my guys due to a broken piece of engineering equipment, by the time I was down there tagout was done, parts pulled from our stock, ready to do this fairly simple repair, and we did it. The next morning I told out tech assist (LT) what had happened and he chewed me out for not letting him know right when it happened, ok my mistake. Then fast forward a few months later, broken equipment, basically same process, but when I arrived in the engineroom and rec'd my brief I called our tech assist and briefed him like he requested, this time he asked why the fuck I was calling him if I had it under control and if I couldn't handle it he would have me removed as LCPO? This is what causes an approachability issue!!
 

IRfly

Registered User
None
Adm. John Richardson, head of the Navy, called the two collisions “avoidable tragedies.” The ships’ commanders and their superiors, he said in a written statement to ProPublica, were responsible for the results.

“The tragedies of USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain reminded us that all commanders, from the unit level to the fleet commander, must constantly assess and manage risks and opportunities in a very complex and dynamic environment,” Richardson said.


All the way up to the fleet commander...yeah...the buck stops right there. Just the fleet commander. It goes no higher.
 

Angry

NFO in Jax
None
I don’t know how other communities do it, but the safety programs and culture of aviation are pretty huge. We’ve focused on them and developed them over a relatively short amount of time because the consequences can be catastrophic.
I think this has less to do with standardized safety and maintenance programs - they might not be sufficient, but the SWOs do have them.

If the articles are factual (big if) then it's got a lot more to do with senior leadership ignoring problems due to their own perceived agendas. And by senior leadership I mean NCA, Congress, and senior Flags. If those individuals "dont trust the data" and wont listen to SMEs on manning and readiness, where does the chain break? Does an O-5/O-6 have to put his career and personal freedom on the line by refusing to take a ship out of the port? What about the O-4/O-3 DH who knows the ship isnt safe and the crew untrained? When was the last time something like that actually happened?

I've refused to fly a mission I thought was unsafe; all I got was some brief push back. Once I made it clear no amount of cajoling would change my mind (or my signed, filed in triplicate pre-flight ORM checklist), it was a done deal. Something tells me it doesnt work the same way for a surface skipper.
 

BigRed389

Registered User
None
I think this has less to do with standardized safety and maintenance programs - they might not be sufficient, but the SWOs do have them.

If the articles are factual (big if) then it's got a lot more to do with senior leadership ignoring problems due to their own perceived agendas. And by senior leadership I mean NCA, Congress, and senior Flags. If those individuals "dont trust the data" and wont listen to SMEs on manning and readiness, where does the chain break? Does an O-5/O-6 have to put his career and personal freedom on the line by refusing to take a ship out of the port? What about the O-4/O-3 DH who knows the ship isnt safe and the crew untrained? When was the last time something like that actually happened?

I've refused to fly a mission I thought was unsafe; all I got was some brief push back. Once I made it clear no amount of cajoling would change my mind (or my signed, filed in triplicate pre-flight ORM checklist), it was a done deal. Something tells me it doesnt work the same way for a surface skipper.
The only person who gets to make that call on ship readiness is the ship CO.
If it gets left at the DH level to fight top pressure the deck is stacked against them. A DH who pushes back solo isn’t a team player, and ultimately expendable. A group of DHs pushing back is mutiny.

But when deviation from full readiness is normalized, especially when it’s accepted at all the way up to senior DON/DOD levels, there’s very little a single ship CO can do. Again, even COs are expendable. As are ISICs.

Your primary surface radar is acting up? You have 3 radars onboard CO.
Undermanned? In my day, we did port and starboard across the board.
Expired certs? Here’s a waiver, and you’re an O5 SWO CO...surely you can oversee just one more transit out and simple FON Op right?
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
I don’t know how other communities do it, but the safety programs and culture of aviation are pretty huge. We’ve focused on them and developed them over a relatively short amount of time because the consequences can be catastrophic.
You won’t realize it until you get out, but as a “learning organization,” Naval Aviation is solid gold. Between the NATOPS program and the culture, I’d kill to instill that level of standardization and adaptability in the private sector. Too many people just don’t get why that produces results, or they think “military” means mindless conformity and yelling at people.

Standardize at the right level, and it frees your mind to worry about the important shit without re-inventing the wheel. And having the standards written by the people who use them means they’re credible. But you still need the peer pressure to make people follow them or put in a change.
 

Recovering LSO

Suck Less
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
Bryan McGrath, another old retired twitter curmudgeon, writes for several outlets, War On The Rocks being one of them. Say what you want about his opinions on the FITZ, the fact that "Big Navy's" official twitter account retweeted an opinion piece about blame/culpability/responsibility while cases are still pending is some kind of fantastic....

It should come as no surprise that McGrath's narrative of singular blame is the one Big Navy prefers.

20995
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Say what you want about his opinions on the FITZ, the fact that "Big Navy's" official twitter account retweeted an opinion piece about blame/culpability/responsibility while cases are still pending bolsters the case for unlawful command influence.
FTFY. CDR Benson’s lawyers are already making hay about the alleged UCI angle.
 

UInavy

Registered User
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
I consider McGrath the less annoying alternative to Sal, who I currently find insufferable. I'm not sure what was in the 90s VPenis water, but between Sal and Hendrix, their most impressive quality is the complete inability to accept criticism in any form.
Ageed. Was Sal a VP guy?? I always thought he was a SWO. His band of sycophants that follow to make the same, recycled comments on every shallow Proceedings blog post that he churns out are the most annoying part of the entire traveling show.
 
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