Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our Broken Surface Navy

Five officers involved in two Navy ship collisions last year that killed a total of 17 sailors are being charged with negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday.

A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.
I'm throwing the "Bullshit Flag" on this.

But don't listen to me. Pay attention to Commander Salamander. He has a long and excellent piece over at the USNI blog, but this is the nut of it, if you don't want to read the entire thing:
As the former COs of FITZ and MCCAIN get ready for their ordeal, there are a few things we should keep in mind.

They were not the ones who created the conditions that addressed manning shortfalls by cross-decking Sailors neither trained nor qualified for the watches they would stand.

They were not the ones that created the conditions where ships could not get the depot level maintenance they needed, so already short-manned ship’s company would complete that required maintenance out of hide – not doing their primary jobs or getting enough rest.

They were not the ones who so “optimally” manned their ships to the point there was little white-space in the calendar for the COs to fully train and drill their crews.

They were not the ones who were more than happy to deploy ships that demanded 80-100 hr work weeks for weeks and months on end and expected nothing bad would happen on their watch.

They were not the ones who created a culture where self-abuse was a virtue; where professional development and mastery of your craft was seen as an obstacle to ambition.

…and yet, they will be the ones at Courts Martial. They were in command. That comes with the package.
It is hard to train people. It's hard to persuade our skinflint do-nothing Congress to pay for it. It's hard to get funding for enough people to do the jobs, so the fraking in-house MBAs at Ft. Fumble came up with the idea of cross-decking-- "let's train gunners' mates to stand helm watches" and more stupid shit.

The surface Navy is so far behind the curve on shipbuilding and manning that, well, you ain't seen nothing yet. The Tyco-class is wearing out without any replacements in even the planning stage. In contrast, the CG-47s were being launched well before their predecessors, the CG-16/26s, were scrapped (or SINKEXed). There is no real replacement for the DDG-51s, which have been in production since the late 1980s. The LCS class will be the subject of "WTF happened there" studies for the next fifty years. It seems that insufficient manning is now baked-in to the system.

People who were aboard those ships were killed because of this shit. Others may go to prison. These charges and upcoming courts-martials are and will be the most egregious use of the military justice system to cover up systemic problems since the execution of Admiral John Byng.

The flag officers who were responsible for the lack of training and undermanning, both active-duty and retired, should be put up against a retaining wall at Ft. Fumble and shot, pour encourager les autres.

(Earlier post.)


Anonymous said...

Billions of dollars in military spending so where does it go to?

does it go to ship maintenance? apparently not.

does it go to personnel training? apparently not.

are we even meeting recruitment goals for personnel???

3383 said...

It goes to buying new things.

Parts for the new things? not so much

Training to maintain them? not so much

Time for quals? not so much

Time to work on advancement? well, sleep isn't necessary
and you must not be brown-nosing up the chain enough

Anonymous said...

I think back on my Air Force electronics training in the mid-1960's. Over a year and half long and included learning different prop and jet fighter platforms. Took USAFI courses after that and leveraged civilian BSEE level engineering positions after mustering out. Good ole days gone forever?

Borepatch said...

Amen. The Pentagon desk jockeys must be in fear for their careers, and looking for scapegoats.

Nangleator said...

The purpose of a modern standing military is to funnel tax money from non-rich people into the coffers of arms manufacturers as quickly as possible.

3383 said...

1534 Anon- The schools were still excellent in the late 80s, at least.

William Newman said...

It would be nice to see higher-level people held accountable for higher-level problems. (Besides the ones you mentioned, I was impressed by the argument --- on a programmer-oriented semtechnical forum elsewhere, around the time the accident report came out --- that the division of thrust control and rudder control between two people is a bad idea in this day and age, and the US Navy should've switched over to the now-widely-used unified control long before the arrangement was central to the bridge confusion involved in one of the accidents. I'm not very knowledgeable about naval affairs in particular, but I know a thing or two about bad UI and accidental confusion in general, not just in pure software but in e.g. aircraft crashes, and the argument seemed awfully plausible to me.)

That said, there also seems to be enough low-level blame to go around that not punishing some of the people who were more directly involved would be a bad idea. I was particularly struck by bits in the accident report about how there were apparently standing orders to report some kinds of nearly-accident problems --- approaching too close to other vessels, stuff like that --- and those standing orders had been disobeyed for at least one incident not long before the accident. That seems fundamentally messed up, and not easy to excuse by the short-staffing sorts of higher-level mismanagement which you listed.