U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

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Mikedunford
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#276

Post by Mikedunford » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:59 am

Possibly worth noting:

Not sure what the total officer complement is for that class of destroyer, but it's probably close to 22. I'm sure that all US Navy officers are trained in, and expected (at least in theory) to have mastery of, the rules of the road. But as a purely pragmatic matter, I'm not sure I'd expect the supply or disbursing officers to maintain as much proficiency as (eg) the operations officer.
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Sam the Centipede
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#277

Post by Sam the Centipede » Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:07 am

Maybenaut wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:13 pm
Yeah, that was kind of my point. The rules might vary depending on the type of navigation you're typically engaged in, and the ones you deal with every day will be more familiar.
I get that and I was agreeing with you :bighug: :thumbs:

The COLREGS rules are similar to so many bodies of regulations: they look complex but the underlying principles are often a mixture of the blindingly obvious: "look where you're going and try not to hit anything, especially when overtaking" and the vety simple: "if it looks like you might hit another ship's left side, turn right". The regulations then deal with the difficult cases, to make it clear that a cargo ship should give way to a fishing boat, not expect it to pull up its nets.

A key point (imho) in the USS Fitzgerald case was that this was exactly the textbook's first exercise, no complicating factors, two ships in open water.

It was interesting how many contributors here were saying "there must have been a technological problem", underestimating the massive prevalence of human error (sometimes to an implausible degree) in these incidents.

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#278

Post by Maybenaut » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:05 am

Sam the Centipede wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:07 am
Maybenaut wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:13 pm
Yeah, that was kind of my point. The rules might vary depending on the type of navigation you're typically engaged in, and the ones you deal with every day will be more familiar.
It was interesting how many contributors here were saying "there must have been a technological problem", underestimating the massive prevalence of human error (sometimes to an implausible degree) in these incidents.
I keep getting the facts of the McCain and the Fitzgerald confused. One of them had an issue with the steering; the setting were off, causing the helmsman to think he was going in one direction when he was really going another (I can’t recall all the details, but that was the gist). But to the extent there was a trchnological problem, the real problem, IMO, is relying to much on technology.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#279

Post by ZekeB » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:20 am

Mikedunford wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:59 am
Not sure what the total officer complement is for that class of destroyer, but it's probably close to 22. I'm sure that all US Navy officers are trained in, and expected (at least in theory) to have mastery of, the rules of the road. But as a purely pragmatic matter, I'm not sure I'd expect the supply or disbursing officers to maintain as much proficiency as (eg) the operations officer.
I was a fully qualified Supply Officer in the Navy Reserves. I was not taught one iota of navigation, rules of the road or anything else related to ship handling. I was not expected to have command of a ship under any circumstances. If all other officers were put out of action, I was still not supposed to take command. That falls to a senior enlisted member.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#280

Post by Sam the Centipede » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:14 pm

Maybenaut wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:05 am
I keep getting the facts of the McCain and the Fitzgerald confused.
Yeah, I get them muddled too, and muddled with other ship collision reports I have read.

There are often technological issues involved in these accidents, but I'm not sure that I'd characterize it as over-reliance. Realistically a bridge crew must rely on its radars to understand what's going on around them, because it's too difficult to observe with the naked eye or binoculars. Radar gives the vessel's details, position, course and speed, while the eye just sees a grey blob in the distance; with AIS running, it also identifies the ship, its details (size, cargo, etc.), destination and so on.

Rather than over-reliance, it's inappropriate use of technology, or failure to understand its limitations, or failure to cross-check against other systems.

Occasionally the technology itself causes problems. Some navigation systems produce so many spurious warnings of possible issues with a planned course in moderately shallow waters (such as a coastal route) that the navigator will ignore them, or even if not ignoring them, will not spot the genuninely worrying warning hidden in the morass of irrelevance. That factor has led to ships running aground – the navigator can miss the important "wow! that's going to scrape!" warning mixed in the shower of "hey, this looks a bit shallow!" warnings. Of course, often a better trained and conscientious navigator can work out how to configure the system so it produces only the significant warnings, although some systems are apparently poor at this.

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#281

Post by RTH10260 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:09 pm

Sam the Centipede wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:07 am

It was interesting how many contributors here were saying "there must have been a technological problem", underestimating the massive prevalence of human error (sometimes to an implausible degree) in these incidents.
The reputation of the US Navy as a well trained fighting corps has taken a yuuuge hit.

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#282

Post by ZekeB » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:34 pm

They had the technology. They had it turned off. The dufii.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#283

Post by Notorial Dissent » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:41 am

According to an ABC News report, the Navy has dropped the charges and courts martial of Cmdr. Bryce Benson and former crew member Lt. Natalie Combs, instead they will receive a Secretarial Letter of Censure.
The fact that you sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that the “Law of Gravity” is unconstitutional and a violation of your sovereign rights, does not absolve you of adherence to it.

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#284

Post by ZekeB » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:57 am

Nearly the same result as a courts martial - their careers are over. The CDR is probably near the time that allows him to retire, so he will probably retire at his current rank if/when he hits the 20 year mark. Lt Combs probably holds a USNR commission and will not be promoted. She probably has about 10 years of service and I doubt that she will be able to hang on for another 10 years. In this case I'd say the ship's captain was the less-severely punished.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#285

Post by Notorial Dissent » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:24 am

According to the article, Combs has already left the Navy.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#286

Post by Maybenaut » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:46 am

Notorial Dissent wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:24 am
According to the article, Combs has already left the Navy.
I think that’s unlikely. The abc news article says she was “dismissed from her job” (sloppy reporting - “dismissal” has a specific meaning and can only be the result of a court-martial), but it doesn't say she left the Navy. And if she had left the Navy, the Navy would lose jurisdiction over her.

As to Benson, if he’s retirement eligible, he’d likely be retired as a Lieutenant Commander, the last grade successfully held.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#287

Post by Sam the Centipede » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:38 pm

Link for the article: abc news: Navy drops criminal charges in USS Fitzgerald collision that killed 7 De nada, smigos.

When charges are dropped, reduced, etc. in high profile cases, it's tempting to speculate on why that action was taken. Humanity, economy, risk of embarrassment, difficulty of proof, it could be any of those or others. It's certainly unpleasant if junior officers or even non-officers appear to be taking the blame for systemic failures.

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#288

Post by ZekeB » Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:29 am

Maybenaut wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:46 am
As to Benson, if he’s retirement eligible, he’d likely be retired as a Lieutenant Commander, the last grade successfully held.
Can they retire you at a lower grade if you weren't found guilty of anything by courts martial or UCMJ article 15?
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#289

Post by Maybenaut » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:38 am

ZekeB wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:29 am
Maybenaut wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:46 am
As to Benson, if he’s retirement eligible, he’d likely be retired as a Lieutenant Commander, the last grade successfully held.
Can they retire you at a lower grade if you weren't found guilty of anything by courts martial or UCMJ article 15?
Well, Benson was found guilty at Art. 15 before the case was referred to court-martial (yes, they can do that, and no it’s not double jeopardy - the prior Art. 15 only impacts the sentence the court-martial can adjudge).

But even if there is no court-martial or Art. 15, they can still bust you down at retirement. They hold a “grade determination board,” which is a one-officer paper board (you don’t get to appear in person, but you do get to tell the board in writing why you should retire in your present grade). Then the Board makes a recommendation to the Secretary of the Navy (who invariably follows the recommendation — but didn’t in one famous case that we discussed here on Fogbow, but I can’t remember the details of that).
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#290

Post by Somerset » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:15 am

Sam the Centipede wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:38 pm
Link for the article: abc news: Navy drops criminal charges in USS Fitzgerald collision that killed 7 De nada, smigos.

When charges are dropped, reduced, etc. in high profile cases, it's tempting to speculate on why that action was taken. Humanity, economy, risk of embarrassment, difficulty of proof, it could be any of those or others. It's certainly unpleasant if junior officers or even non-officers appear to be taking the blame for systemic failures.
I read that improper command influence played a role. Maybenaut?

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#291

Post by ZekeB » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:26 am

It does appear that command objectives took priority over safety. This wasn't the only incident and one could speculate that the actions the ship's crew took were SOP at command level.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#292

Post by Maybenaut » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:32 am

Somerset wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:15 am
Sam the Centipede wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:38 pm
Link for the article: abc news: Navy drops criminal charges in USS Fitzgerald collision that killed 7 De nada, smigos.

When charges are dropped, reduced, etc. in high profile cases, it's tempting to speculate on why that action was taken. Humanity, economy, risk of embarrassment, difficulty of proof, it could be any of those or others. It's certainly unpleasant if junior officers or even non-officers appear to be taking the blame for systemic failures.
I read that improper command influence played a role. Maybenaut?
Yeah, that’s what this Navy Times article suggests.

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-nav ... a-whimper/

Unlawful Command Influence is a funny thing. Historically, if you were going to win on that basis, you needed to win it at the trial level, but people rarely did. The appellate courts paid lip service, but never granted relief. That’s changing. There has been a spate of cases in the last 10 years or so where both the trial courts and the appellate courts have started to put the hammer down. Most recently, the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy was found to have committed UCI by suggesting to the convening authority that he should consider the impact that not referring a sex assault case to general court-martial would have on his career (maybe not exactly that, but it’s close).
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#293

Post by tek » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:09 am

There's no way back
from there to here

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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#294

Post by ZekeB » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:03 am

So the Navy actually blamed the system and not the person? That's a new one on me. They've usually called it human error and then declared the problem as being solved.
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Re: U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan

#295

Post by Notorial Dissent » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:26 am

My, ain't that interesting.
The fact that you sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that the “Law of Gravity” is unconstitutional and a violation of your sovereign rights, does not absolve you of adherence to it.

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