Tag Archives: Navy

Criminal charges filed by Navy against commanders of collision ships

The Navy today announced that it is filing criminal charges against the commanding officers of the two ships that were involved in collisions earlier this year.

The commanders of the two guided-missile destroyers that were involved in fatal collisions with merchant ships in 2017 will face military criminal charges that include charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide, after the two incidents that resulted in the death of 17 sailors total, USNI News has learned.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, former commander of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), along with three Fitzgerald junior officers, face a mix charges that include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide related to the June 18 collision between the ship and ACX Crystal that resulted in the death of seven sailors, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy provided to USNI News.

Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, former commander of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), faces similar dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide charges for the Aug. 21 collision between the guided-missile destroyer and a chemical tanker off the coast of Singapore that resulted in the death of 10 sailors.

I don’t know whether the military trials will be public (they should be), but if so they will reveal some very interesting details about what was happening on these Navy ships that allowed these collisions to occur.

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Another Navy ship collision in the Pacific

Another Navy ship was involved in a collision in the Pacific on Saturday, this time with a Japanese tugboat.

The USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, sustained minor damage when a tugboat lost propulsion and drifted into the ship, the Navy said. No one was injured on either vessel and an initial assessment of the damage showed that the destroyer only sustained minimal damage including scrapes.

It sounds as if the majority of the blame falls on the tugboat, though one must still wonder how a Navy destroyer was unable to avoid the drifting tugboat.

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Human errors and lax management caused Navy collisions

A new Navy report blasts bad management, lax standards, poor training, and numerous human errors for the ship collisions that occurred last summer.

The long list of errors by the crews, some as simple as failing to sound the standard warning blasts when it appeared they would approach other ships too closely, suggest that no one in the Navy’s upper ranks is following the Navy’s own operational guidelines. They are improvising wildly, while doing nothing to prepare their crews to act properly.

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Surveys find major morale problems in Navy ship

Despite three different surveys of the crews of a Navy ship that found significant morale problems pointing directly at its commander, the Navy did not remove him initially.

The Navy Times obtained three command climate surveys featuring hundreds of pages of anonymous comments from sailors revealing widespread morale issues aboard the USS Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser based in Yokosuka, Japan. Two Navy officials told CNN that the information reported from the surveys was accurate.

According to the obtained surveys only 31% of the sailors who responded to the survey said yes to the prompt: “I trust that my organization’s leadership will treat me fairly,” compared to 63% under the previous commanding officer. Additionally, only 37% agreed with the statement “I feel motivated to give my best efforts to the mission of the organization,” compared to 69% agreeing to the statement under the previous leadership.

The Navy officials added that the poor results of one climate survey caused Navy leadership to increase the frequency of which such surveys were conducted to help prompt the commander, Capt. Adam Aycock, to improve his performance.

One of the officials said they could not explain how Aycock managed to retain command in the face of the poor survey results. Aycock served as the Shiloh’s commanding officer from June 2015 to August 2017 and is now at the US Naval War College. [emphasis mine]

That this guy was not relieved after the first survey suggests some significant rot in the higher Navy management above him.

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Navy relieves two officers in charge during ship collision

The U.S. Navy has removed two officers who were in charge on the U.S.S. John S. McCain when it collided with a merchant ship in August.

The McCain’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, were “relieved due to a loss of confidence,” according to statement from the US 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, the ship’s home port. “While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program,” the statement said.

Both officers were assigned to other duties in Japan.

The story also quotes the Navy Secretary saying that this is part of a more comprehensive investigation, resulting from the spat of collisions and other ship disasters in recent months.

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Navy removes top management in response to recent ship collisions

The Navy has removed the two top commanders of its largest operational force in response to the four recent incidents in the Pacific, involving three collisions and the ship’s grounding.

A third man has also requested retirement in order to “to step aside to allow for new leadership.”

The important question is whether the Navy is really instituting real management changes, or is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We shall see.

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GAO report finds Navy training in Pacific inadequate

A General Accountability Office report has found that more than a third of the Navy’s ships based in Japan do not have properly trained crews.

There are 70 to 80 ships and submarines in the 7th Fleet, which is on the front line of sea-based missile defense against North Korea. The GAO testimony focused on the destroyers and cruisers, the two kinds of ships involved in the four collisions this year. The Navy’s ships require more than a dozen training certifications, including mobility and seamanship and warfare capabilities like ballistic missile defense and surface warfare.

The cause of the McCain collision is still under investigation, but military leaders, lawmakers and the GAO have long warned about the Navy’s readiness crunch as the size of the fleet has increased and the number of ships deployed has remained constant, while the length of deployments has increased. “The Navy has had to shorten, eliminate, or defer training and maintenance periods to support these high deployment rates,” John Pendleton, director of the GAO defense capabilities and management, said in the written testimony.

But the GAO has also issued specific warnings about ships based abroad, and specifically Japan. In a May 2015 report, the GAO said that the Navy’s schedules for overseas ships limited dedicated training and maintenance time — and found that incidents of degraded or out-of-service equipment nearly doubled from 2009 to 2014.

There’s more, but essentially the Navy has been sending these ships out without properly trained crews.

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Navy temporarily relieves commander from ocean collision

The Navy has temporarily relieved the injured commander of the U.S.ship involved in a major ocean collision with a cargo ship in mid-June.

The investigation is on-going, and they say this action is because he is injured, not because of any decision based on the investigation. I personally do not expect this commander to ever get a command again.

For those that want to read a detailed discussion on Behind the Black of this incident, see this thread.

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New Navy communications satellite in trouble

A Navy communications satellite launched two weeks ago by a ULA Atlas 5 rocket is having trouble reaching its planned geosynchronous orbit.

From that highly elliptical preliminary orbit, the Lockheed Martin-built satellite would perform 7 firings of its Liquid Apogee Engine to raise the low point to circularize the orbit and reduce its orbital tilt closer to the equator.

But after an unspecified number of burns were completed, the trip to geosynchronous orbit was stopped, the Navy said in response to questions submitted by Spaceflight Now. “The satellite experienced an anomaly that required the transfer maneuver to be temporarily halted,” the Navy says. “The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems has reconfigured the satellite from orbital transfer into a stabilized, safe intermediate orbit to allow the MUOS team to evaluate the situation and determine options for proceeding.”

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Practicing Landings on a Carrier in bad weather

An evening pause: Last night we had the Flight of the Foo Birds. Tonight, we look at real flight, military pilots practicing landings on an aircraft carrier when the ocean is rough and the ship is rolling. The movies always give us the impression that this is easy, when in fact it is not.

Hat tip Rocco.

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In an effort to save money and protect the environment, the U.S. Navy has decided to move away from fossil fuels and back to non-toxic and environmentally friendly wind power.

In an effort to save money and protect the environment, the U.S. Navy has decided to move away from fossil fuels and back to non-toxic and environmentally friendly wind power.

Not letting Republican obstructionism of the budget process go to waste, President Obama’s national defense team is putting together a plan to retrofit US warship with ‘tried-and-true’ sails, taking advantage of free, naturally occurring wind rather than diesel and nuclear fuels that put crews at constant risk of causing an ecological disaster.

Used by many advanced cultures for thousands of years, sails were the environmentally sound propulsion system for naval vessels until the 20th century.

Many experts agree that their return might just usher in a new era of ‘green military technology’ – if it can overcome opposition from the generals and the fossil fuels lobby, whose alleged “concerns” about military readiness only serve to ensure more profits for the military-industrial complex.

Read the whole thing. It makes perfect sense!

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