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Old 16-06-2017, 23:29   #16
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

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I always wanted to sarcastically reply that I intended a 90 degree course change at the last minute to cut right through the convoy. But I am sure they wouldn't have found that amusing...
Ben, I think that is when you utter the immortal words : Damn the torpedoes...full speed ahead"!

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Old 17-06-2017, 01:02   #17
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

As a preface to the below. I spent 4yrs as a Midshipman at Annapolis, & was commissioned as an Ensign. I had LOTS of sea time while at Annapolis; during summer training stints on ships & submarines, smaller 100'+ craft, & loads of time on the water as part of the Varsity Offshore Sailing Team. And after commissioning I went through further ship handling training, & then was assigned to a Cruiser, roughly the size of the one in this incident. So driving (conning) ships is mostly 2nd nature to me, & I also know what it's like being on the bridge of such a ship when maneuvering in close quarters:


There are great watch standers & bridge officers on USN Ships, & rather inept ones. Or rather, ones qualified on paper, but lacking in depth of experience. And while there are always "qualified" people on the bridge, how much in practice a bridge team, especially the deck officers, are, varies by a good bit.

For example, as a 20yr old Midshipman (1yr away from receiving my commission) the CO would literally send men to track me down & report to the bridge to be the deck officer (in charge) during any tricky maneuvers. Even when I said to him (a man 20yrs, & 6 steps in rank my senior)
"Sir you have a whole wardroom (about 25) full of officers who need to both get qualified doing these things, as well as comfortable with being in charge during them".
He gave me a look that meant Shut Up, in no uncertain terms, & I went back to driving (Conning) the ship.

And there were times when I'd come onto the bridge in the wee hours for a watch, only to find him camped out in his CO's chair up there, basically babysitting the current watch team. With me knowing full well that he hadn't slept in 2+ days due to op tempo.
He'd then ask me if I was "good" (to handle anything & everything as the Deck Officer [OOD]). Given that he REALLY trusted me. Which I knew & respected.
To which I'd reply "yes sir".
At which point he'd tell me to ignore the bit in the standing orders about waking him for questions on "anything", & to only roust him from his bunk in his at sea cabin for a true emergency. His at sea cabin being 15sec from the bridge.
And I'd make sure that No One bothered him for the duration of my watch. This despite every officer onboard being senior to me.

So CO's sometimes have folks they only trust marginally driving the ship. And the CO or XO can only spend so much time camped out on the bridge, nannying. They've other tasks to attend to.
Plus ALL of their officers need to develop the skills & judgement to be able to take care of the ship sans supervision.

Think of the Ensigns (most junior Navy officer rank) who during the attack on Pearl Harbor, got their ships underway & out to sea on less than zero notice, under horrendous conditions. This, at the ripe old age of 22-24.

They had to be capable of such, in order to get the ships into open waters, where they were safer from attack, in not being literal fish in a barrel that day (or on any given day).

Consider how much experience a person really needs to be a watch captain at night on a large sailboat, especially racing, or in bad weather, when piloting, & or in congested waters. It can be, & is stressful, even for many quite experienced hands.

The basics, in theory, are easy. But it takes a good bit of experience to safely be in charge for such. And on a large ship, especially a large warship, it can at times be 100x more complex. Including having too much information on the state of affairs with regards to contacts. Plus as a Deck Officer (the OOD) you're in charge of 100 other things in addition to driving the ship. As you're literally the defacto captain, unless the CO or someone senior to you steps up & relieves you, thus taking command themselves.

Why such a collision happened, we won't know until the events are fully recreated. Assuming there's naught classified about them. But yes, barring something extreme, something like that just shouldn't happen. Hopefully the reports will tell us why it did.
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Old 17-06-2017, 01:21   #18
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

Great post Uncivilized and so true about the difference's between a certification/rank and a mariner's competence.

You try to weed out the bad ones as quickly as possible

Understand the CO was airlifted out so perhaps he was in his bunk when it happened.
I know that location well, lots of cross traffic but not particularly constrained.

Reports say the AIS track of containership was erratic, but that is fairly normal in this area of busy cross traffic.

Would you know if the navy ship would be broadcasting AIS?

Interesting read of a bit of History, Admiral Nimitz in 1908 .ran his warship aground entering Batangas Philippines (wide open)

I wonder if the watch keeper last night will reflect on this at his court martial?


https://nimitznews.wordpress.com/201...dmiral-nimitz/
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Old 17-06-2017, 02:26   #19
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

Navy will start broadcasting AIS normally when on approaching Port but not out at 56 NM.
Navy ships do not "go all stealth mode" other than not transmitting AIS their design does make it more difficult to track as an ARPA target. AND both Navy and commercial shipping do run reliable navigation lights. Actually, the masthead lights and radar characteristics make easier to identify warships.
Finally, there is no good explanation for what happened other than bad bridge resource management.
One plausible explanation I heard was the prior day was filled with drills and fatigue at 0230 bit them. The commercial ship may have been scrubbing time by the repeated reciprocal courses but at 18 kts? Whereas the Navy ship saw they were on one course, assumed they held that course but it did not. Navy ship lost situational awareness, half awake thinking this ship is long gone but in fact it had turned onto what was now a collision course. The Navy ship may also have been "in a box" til the morning return to Port.
Lives and careers ended, the container ship will likely shoulder a fraction of responsibility as well.
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Old 17-06-2017, 03:57   #20
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

If the Captain was air lifted off he may already been relieved of duty. The can I was on used take VIPs out to watch the Americas Cup before Dennis lost it. We never had a problem traffic and there were more than a hundred small craft going every which way. The throttle men were changed every half hour due to intense maneuvering. The pilot house was crazy and we never even had to put out a fender. It was good training that was due to a good Captain who had faith in his officers and crew.
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Old 17-06-2017, 04:30   #21
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

I can understand how this happened from the commercial ship side . . . . . They are under severe cost pressure likely only one or two on the bridge, likely not strong discipline, possible equipment repaired needed, navy not transmitting ais, commercial ship stand on vessel. Bad, but I can visualize how it could happen.

But I have to say, I don't understand at all how this could happen on the navy vessel, even with all the discussion about about stronger or weaker bridge crew. They don't have any of the above excuses.

Clear calm night. Fully manned, state of the art tracking equipment - target trackable visually, on ais, and on radar. Navy give way. How can they possibly not know this ship was on a collision course? No matter how many u turns it did, they certainly had the resources to track it 7x24, #1 tracking should have been automatic, alarms going off at some stage in the encounter and #2 should have been obvious to watch standarders who's only job was to avoid this exact situation.

I really don't get it. And yes, it has happened before. Can someone describe a plausible bridge scenario how this happens, short of them turning off all their tracking gear and instead everyone watching porn on the big screens?
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Old 17-06-2017, 05:23   #22
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

Things were seriously wrong on both ships. That said, the container ship should have been transmitting AIS and the destroyer should have been monitoring that. I hope the seven missing sailors are found.
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Old 17-06-2017, 06:34   #23
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
So CO's sometimes have folks they only trust marginally driving the ship. And the CO or XO can only spend so much time camped out on the bridge, nannying. They've other tasks to attend to.
Plus ALL of their officers need to develop the skills & judgement to be able to take care of the ship sans supervision.
I agree with your insight. There are any number of "paper captains" I would not trust to push a shopping cart.

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Clear calm night. Fully manned, state of the art tracking equipment - target trackable visually, on ais, and on radar. Navy give way. How can they possibly not know this ship was on a collision course?
I am a Wayne Meyer trained man.

I truly do not understand how the Fitzgerald allowed this to happen. I wasn't there and I don't know and won't speculate.

The bridge watch has navigational radar, AIS, plenty of people for plotting boards, and easy access to the wings. Aegis, the finest weapons radar in existence, provides outstanding situational awareness in the combat information center whose watch has a direct line to the bridge at all time. Despite physical separation CIC and the bridge are supposed to operate as a seamless team. They train for that.

I remember the prototype AEGIS radar domes in NJ that used to track individual cars on the Turnpike. There is no excuse for an AEGIS platform letting anyone sneak up on them.

The CO will take the heat for the failings of his crew which is as it should be. Training and standards are leadership responsibilities.
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Old 17-06-2017, 07:28   #24
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

Too many people on the bridge on those navy ships. Its got to be a nightmare to properly coordinate all the noise. Also navy ships have a certain "arrogance" about them. They have speed and manuverobility, and I wonder if they end up much like motorcyclists on busy roads, weaving through traffic. Fine till it goes wrong. I am not sure if they have (or use) ARPA. Plotting boards are all well and good, but an ARPA is far better, and presents the info visually for the OOW.

If you haven't listened to this it is a classic piece that shows the US ship making every bridge resource management mistake. Appalling and scary how bad that ship was managed.
http://gcaptain.com/intense-bridge-conversation-porter/

Then again maybe the Container ship altered to port? Merchant ships aren't immune to mistakes either. But the long cadetship helps prepare OOW's reasonably well.

This was our companies moment of shame. One of the brightest lighthouses. Drunk OOW... BBQ night.

http://www.shipsandharbours.com/picture/number23871.asp
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Old 17-06-2017, 07:39   #25
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

I'll ask the obvious question: deliberate attack? I.e a rogue bridge officer on the container ship, knowingly altering into the destroyer. Looking at the ais tracks, there is a lot that is unexplained. It's a stretch, but not impossible.
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Old 17-06-2017, 07:43   #26
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

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Also navy ships have a certain "arrogance" about them.
Like this? :big grin:

This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95.

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a Collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States' Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that's one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
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Old 17-06-2017, 07:49   #27
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

Thinking out a plausible explanation other than mechanical steering failure or a suicidal buzz across the container ships bow, by an inept naval wko.

Preliminary comments about the AIS track said the ship made a 90 turn to Starboard just prior to collision.

That is gospel per normal COLREGS..... Except when being overtaken at close quarters on the starboard side at more than 112.5 when a turn to PORT is ALLOWED.

Commercial ship officers are drilled to Never Ever turn to Port (for legal reasons) so I suspect something like this happened.

Naval Warship (NW) following commercial ship (CS) in and out of thier shadow sectors while CS is killing time coasting along a well known route to meet an inter port schedule.

NW decides to overtake CS at close quarters on their own Port (seaward side) and this panics the CS who looses radar target and instinctively turns sharply to starboard...

NW underestimates turning circle of CS and applies last minute speed to cross ahead of CS.

Almost makes it but by this point the NW officer fails to turn away from CS and gets T-Boned.

I think commercial judgement will be 100% against the NW as they were overtaking a far less maneuverable vessel at too close a CPA.
NW had the onus to keep clear by also turning hard to starboard but instead tried to overtake by eyeball visual navigation and speed alone.

Commercial settlement to CS is nothing as probably only minimal plate damage, but the US Navy will spin the erratic course history of CS in a public attempt to save face.

Actually it still comes out to :

"a suicidal buzz across the container ships bow, by an inept wko" if they did not suffer a last minute maneuvering failure.
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Old 17-06-2017, 08:07   #28
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

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This was our companies moment of shame. One of the brightest lighthouses. Drunk OOW... BBQ night.

Ships and Harbours Photos - Kowloon Bay aground.

I blame Pu Rondo for not altering course.

Worked out well for me, I was skipper on one of the salvage tugs which refloated the Kowloon Bay.

On the Kowloon Bay, if I remember correctly, it was her skippers last trip before retirement, and it was a bit of a party trip. OOW the worse for wear and asleep, and the look out was absent from the bridge.

Strange but true, the OOW ended up getting a job with the salvage company, and promptly ran aground the first tug he was given command of.
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Old 17-06-2017, 08:07   #29
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

Just heard a report that the tanker took a sharp turn before the collision, this could be deliberate.
Speaking as a Canuck I find it somewhat unbelievable that this was the destroyers fault
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Old 17-06-2017, 08:11   #30
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Re: US Navy destroyer collision

I will never stop saying it... " assume nothing"
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