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Old 02-08-2010, 13:17   #1
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How Does this Happen ?

Below is a link to a story of how a Navy destroyer hit a 21ft. dive boat. Wouldn't the Navy's radar detect a 21 ft. boat?
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Navy Destroyer Collides with Civilian Boat off San Diego Coast - San Diego 6
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Old 02-08-2010, 13:27   #2
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Pilot error, running dark, boat profile to distance. RADAR does not detect everything, however these destroyers also have more than your typical recreational/commercail RADAR. They will most likely find someone was failing to pay attention.
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Old 02-08-2010, 17:11   #3
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Could be any number of reasons. If the USN ship is found to be at fault, then the captain will probably bear the ultimate responsibility.

In 1934s the USS Arizona was steaming off Cape Flattery. At about 0230 she overtook a fishing trawler under power and lighted up, and sounded her siren to alert the trawler. The trawler turned out of the way but it was not realized on the battleship that the trawler had another vessel in tow and which was apparently not lighted. The Arizona struck the towed trawler, cutting it in two and killing two crewmen. Captain Milne of the Arizona stopped the ship, launched a boat and illuminated the area with her searchlights to render assistance.

Shortly after, the Arizona was ordered back to Seattle and Milne stood before a courtmartial which found him guilty of 'culpable inefficiency in the performance of duty,' even though the stricken trawler had not been properly lighted.

The captain of the USN destroyer in this recent collision may have some rough times ahead.
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Old 02-08-2010, 17:28   #4
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In many of these incidents, in civilian life, our mindset would accept the event, with sympathy, but with the attitude of accidents happen.
Not so in the military IMHO. The event took place, lives are sometimes lost, and SOMEBODY must be held responsible.
We see it from war battlefields, as we become more politically correct.
The lines defining competence and incompetence are very fuzzy now-a-days.
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Old 02-08-2010, 17:33   #5
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I was just out on a dive boat around there. Spooky.
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Old 02-08-2010, 17:41   #6
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I was just out on a dive boat around there. Spooky.
Even though no one was lost, it still gives you a sort of 'there but for the grace of God" feeling, doesn't it.
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Old 02-08-2010, 17:44   #7
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Even though no one was lost, it still gives you a sort of 'there but for the grace of God" feeling, doesn't it.
Most of the divers (and fishermen) really have no clue what they're doing out there. I've yet to be on a private fishing boat that was on channel 16, or even knew what channel 16 was. Their charts, even when ~50 miles offshore consist of the fishing maps you can buy at west marine. It blows me away that those guys aren't getting killed on a daily basis.
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Old 02-08-2010, 18:12   #8
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Captain of Navy vessel is toast, period. Will get a job as a "defense analyst," but will get no more commands and will not be an admiral, ever. Officer on the bridge is also toast, no other captain will take him (or her). He'll spend the rest of his days on a buoy tender (or equivalent) and take a pension. The End.
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Old 02-08-2010, 18:54   #9
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Wouldn't the Navy's radar detect a 21 ft. boat?
Depends. The article states the Destroyer was conducting an exercise. It would be pretty standard when wargaming to run the ship under EMCON (EMission CONtrol). Since an active radar can be detected (passively) at much greater range than it can detect anything, the radar would most likely be off. Most people aren't even on the bridge. The ship is run from the Combat Information Center, a windowless space in the heart of the ship. No one is on deck either, since the weapon systems & fire control radar can kill or injure crew.

However, you would think they would have adequate lookouts if they were running in a coastal area, & if they were blacked out.

Another USS Greeneville?
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Old 02-08-2010, 21:05   #10
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Captain of Navy vessel is toast, period. Will get a job as a "defense analyst," but will get no more commands and will not be an admiral, ever. Officer on the bridge is also toast, no other captain will take him (or her). He'll spend the rest of his days on a buoy tender (or equivalent) and take a pension. The End.
We used to joke around that the skipper will be heading up "Navy Bookbinding School". So many of the training commands are headed up by skippers who grounded and are waiting to retire.
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Old 22-08-2010, 01:32   #11
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Ordinary civilian radar has a tough time picking up small boats, especially with waves and scatter. And even if watch standers are out, a 21' dive boat is pretty darn tiny at long range and likely hidden under the bow at short range. It's a tough situation. The other thing to check on is whether the exercise area had been closed or not.
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Old 22-08-2010, 01:45   #12
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Wouldn't the Navy's radar detect a 21 ft. boat?
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Hi Stu,

If they could there wouldn't be any pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
We were quite taken aback when on a Brittish warship fueling in Oman between patrols off Somalia. Their radar was the biggest thing I've ever seen, and backed by other weird rotating thingies. They said that even when looking for small craft they can be difficult to see.
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Old 22-08-2010, 07:09   #13
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We used to sail out of Long Beach, Ca. and frequently made the transit between Angles Gate--near San Pedro--and Two Harbors on Catalina. On more than one occassion we were in the vacinity of warships coming and going to the Long Beach Navy Yard (when activated their search radars can have amazing effects on the brains of an ST4000) and several times we called them on 16 just to ensure they were aware of our presence. (Once they cleard the Gate they really punched up their speed.) More than once we were told our Cal 2-29 was not on their radar but their watch standers had a visual on us and we should not be concerned. A 21 foot dive boat likely has a freeboard of only 2-3 feet and can easily be hidden in the waves. That, plus the lack of colors, could make it very difficult to detect under all but the most favorable circumstances.

FWIW...
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Old 22-08-2010, 08:15   #14
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Last summer I was cruising Southern California and the Channel Islands. I made a night passage from San Diego to Catalina Island of about 80 miles. I left San Diego at 1800. There were naval exercises being performed in the area. There were Navy Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Submarines, Jets, Helicopters, Coast Guard Cutters and assault boats. It was quite a spectacle. At first I was just a little worried.

The Navy contacted me... "US Navy calling sailboat position Lat/Lon, on compass course XYZ, making 6.5 knots, please be advised that you are transiting waters now being restricted by the US Navy. Turn around now."
I called back and explained to the Navy that I was making passage to Catalina Island and that my course was direct. The Navy responded, "Sailing Vessel ITZAYANA please respond and follow all instructions. Come to compass course XYZ and reduce speed to 5 knots." They adjusted my course by 15 degrees and allowed me to continue.
I changed course, reefed to reduce speed and called them back. They thanked me for my cooperation and instructed me to continue to monitor channel 16 and comply with all instructions.
Throughout the night they called me annother 5-6 times. after the initial contact they called by name. "Sailing Vessel ITZAYANA, this is the US Navy. Come to compass course XYZ and increase speed to 5.5 knots."
All night I could see the lights of their ships and aircraft as they threaded my course through the excersises. It was quite entertaining. Jets and helicopters doing touch-and-go's. I was never closer than about a mile from them and ususally more like 3-4 miles.
As the dawn was beginning to light the eastern sky and the shape of Catalina was appearing in the west the Navy made a final call.
"Sailing Vessel ITZAYANA this is the US Navy you are leaving restricted waters. Thank you for your cooperation and have a safe voyage."
They were nothing but professional. I had no doubt that they were tracking every foot of my progress and that I had no reason to fear being run down.
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Old 22-08-2010, 10:59   #15
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Interesting. BTW, no Navy has 'Battleships' anymore, the last 4 the US has are either museum ships or in storage for the breakers or to become museum ships. Kudos for keeping a proper watch!

But it's an interesting question for the COLREGS. An aircraft carrier undergoing flight ops is somewhat limited in it's ability to maneuver (they have to head mostly into the wind to launch/recover aircraft). An assault landing ship will want the seas pretty much head on for launching LCACs or other assault landing boats. Smaller ships with just helos may want to put the winds over a particular quarter to make the recovery easier, as well.

Now, we're supposed to stay clear of vessels that are limited in maneuverability. OTOH, vessels aren't suppose to take advantage of that rule. So, who wins?

Lets see, 25,000 pound (or less?) displacement sailboat, 90,000 ton (or more) displacement Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, with a half-dozen or more lesser warships with guns to protect it?

Tough call
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