Navy temporarily relieves commander from ocean collision

A quick holiday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black!
Scroll down to read this post.
In past years I have managed to avoid asking for donations for Behind the Black during the holiday season. My finances however now compel me to do a short one-week fund-raiser, from November 11 to November 17.
I do not use Twitter for ethical reasons, which I have been told cuts down on traffic to the website. So be it. Furthermore, Facebook has clearly acted in the past two years to limit traffic to Behind the Black, almost certainly for political reasons. So be this as well. Finally, I do not post outside ads, as I have found them annoying to my readers and not that profitable to me.


Therefore, I need to ask for the direct support from my readers. If you like what I do here, please consider contributing, either by making a one-time donation or a monthly subscription, as indicated in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


Or you could consider purchasing one of my books, as indicated in the boxes scattered throughout the website. My histories of space exploration are award-winning and are aimed for the general public. All are page-turners, and all not only tell the story of the beginning of the human exploration of space, they also help explain why we are where we are today. And I also have a science fiction book available, Pioneer, which tells its own exciting story while trying to predict what life in space will be like two hundred years in the future.


Note that for this week only I am also having a sale on the purchase of the last 20 hardbacks of Leaving Earth. (Click on the link for more information about the book, which was endorsed by Arthur C. Clarke himself!) This award-winning out-of-print book is now only available as an ebook, but I still have a handful of hardbacks available, normally for sale for $70 plus $5 shipping. For this week only you can buy them, personally autographed by me, for $50 plus $5 shipping! Just send me a check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to the address above, with a note saying that the money is for the Leaving Earth hardback.


Please consider donating. Your help will make it possible for me to continue to be an independent reporter in the field of space, science, technology, and culture.

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.



  • Cotour

    Comment made by an Admiral in an interview on the subject: “I expect the executive officer and his subordinates will be fired.”

    And so it begins.

    Human error or what appears to be in-attendance late at night ON A WAR SHIP (?), crazy to me. But thats humans.

    Q: What would HAL 2000 have done?

  • Garry

    As I wrote elsewhere, this case is very puzzling, and I don’t know who is to blame (I suspect there was a cascade of bad decisions, with many people to blame). I’ll be interested to read the findings that come out.

    However, as soon as I read the news, I had no doubt that the captain would be relieved and his career effectively ended, regardless of who was at fault.

    Part of this is due to the culture of the captain always being responsible, but part is because the Navy, more than any other service, always finds a scapegoat. I always thought it fitting that the Navy mascot is indeed a goat.

    One of the most high-profile examples of this was the captain of the USS Indianapolis, which delivered the atomic bomb and was then sunk by a Japanese submarine. Several SOS messages were sent out, but one captain thought it was a ruse, another had ordered that he not be disturbed, and a third was drunk. As a result, he rescue ships came after 5 days, with the men facing shark attacks and insanity. Captain Quint from Jaws was a fictional survivor of this incident.

    In the end the Captain was court martialed, unfairly found guilty, and after discharge he suffered mental health problems (which were not helped by constantly receiving letters and phone calls from angry relatives of sailors who had died) to the point where he eventually offed himself.

    None of this means the captain wasn’t a root cause of the disaster, but I think his relief doesn’t tell us anything about his culpability.

  • SteveC

    In the peace time navy, being off duty, asleep in bed when your ship gets dinged is no defense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *