Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #51  
Old 08-22-2017, 10:01 AM
Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,773
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
How common are ship collisions? These two made the headlines because a U.S. warship was involved, but are there lots of other collisions? Or is the U.S. Navy having an unusually bad run?
Two ships from the same 8 ship Destroyer Squadron having deadly collisions within two months is orders of magnitude more common than even equally 'kinetically'* serious collisions among merchant ships. Add to that another collision and a grounding among a few cruisers under the same 7th Fleet command and basic management principals would say to assume a systemic problem and try to find and fix it, though there would never be 100% proof a systemic problem is not just an extreme statistical outlier in a well functioning system.

There are a few 10,000's of oceangoing merchant ships (nailing down one number is sensitive to the lower size cut off), order of 100 times as many as USN ships. The European Maritime Safety Agency's "Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2014" (the 2015 report graphic is harder to read) counted 22 'very serious' and 103 'serious' collisions involving merchant ships worldwide. So considering the 7th fleet, 1 per month which would probably both qualify as 'very serious' even aside from the loss of life, is a huge number. Considering the whole USN for the year and the 7th fleet's 3 serious or very serious collisions are the only ones, and taking the is USN as around 1/100 the size of the world merchant fleet, it's not orders of mag but still a higher rate. And one would probably expect warships to avoid collisions better not worse than merchant ships.

But of course deadly collisions involving USN ships are going to get enormously disproportionate attention in the media compared to non-US merchant ships which hit each other as hard. The crews of modern merchant ships sleep above deck in the (usually) aft deck house so aren't going to be killed in their berthing spaces by flooding from a collision, and unlikely from impact either. A handful at most of engineers are below the waterline on watch. And anyway deaths of non-US merchant seaman in accidents outside the US get virtually no attention in US media.
  #52  
Old 08-22-2017, 12:36 PM
aceplace57 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 26,040
I'm not surprised to hear that Navy crews are over worked. Our entire military is underfunded and stretched thin.

We've been deploying troops ever since 9/11. Our Navy has to contend with China's Navy that keeps expanding. That's hard on the men and the equipment.

The McCain was recently deployed to that area because of N Korea. I'm not sure how long they've been deployed at sea.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-22-2017 at 12:38 PM.
  #53  
Old 08-22-2017, 06:32 PM
Green Bean is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: NJ, Exit #137
Posts: 12,083
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The McCain was recently deployed to that area because of N Korea. I'm not sure how long they've been deployed at sea.
Do you have a cite for this?
  #54  
Old 08-22-2017, 10:08 PM
PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,604
Quote:
The US navy is to relieve the commander of the 7th Fleet of duty following a series of collisions in Asia according to multiple reports. Three star admiral Joseph Aucoin will be removed from his role, an official told Reuters. “An expedited change in leadership was needed,” the official said, explaining the thinking behind the decision.

The Navy declined comment on any plans to relieve Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and has since been carried by multiple US outlets.

The news comes after a collision involving the USS John McCain last week that left ten sailors missing. In June the USS Fitzgerald crashed into a cargo ship, leaving seven US sailors dead.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...cain-collision
  #55  
Old 08-22-2017, 11:29 PM
Princhester is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 14,259
Never underestimate chaos theory. It's unlikely that you will get five heads in a row on a coin flip. It's also unlikely that you won't get five heads in a row if you keep flipping long enough. It reaches the point of statistical certainty after not too long.

When something like this happens, everybody goes hunting for meaning in the tea leaves. There may well be absolutely no connection between these two collision events. It is a statistical certainty that every now and again, an unlikely thing will happen for no reason.

It's a strange thing: when someone flips three heads in a row, dumb people say there must be something magical going on and smart people shrug and just say "it's a coincidence". But there isn't necessarily any difference between flipping three heads in a row and two naval vessels from the same group having a collision within a short period. Yet it's surprising how many smart people think the situation must be something more than a coincidence.
  #56  
Old 08-23-2017, 02:46 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
Never underestimate chaos theory. It's unlikely that you will get five heads in a row on a coin flip. It's also unlikely that you won't get five heads in a row if you keep flipping long enough. It reaches the point of statistical certainty after not too long.

When something like this happens, everybody goes hunting for meaning in the tea leaves. There may well be absolutely no connection between these two collision events. It is a statistical certainty that every now and again, an unlikely thing will happen for no reason.

It's a strange thing: when someone flips three heads in a row, dumb people say there must be something magical going on and smart people shrug and just say "it's a coincidence". But there isn't necessarily any difference between flipping three heads in a row and two naval vessels from the same group having a collision within a short period. Yet it's surprising how many smart people think the situation must be something more than a coincidence.
Random coincidence?

So the crew of one ship in the 7th fleet is negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained.
The crew of another ship in the 7th fleet is negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained.

And you think this is pure coincidence? Please!

The level of efficiency of a ship's crew isn't determined by a random die roll. These collisions are due to major human error. It's like a driver crashing into another car because he was busy texting on his phone.

What it indicates is that there are serious problems with the morale and training of the whole 7th fleet. Admiral Aucoin isn't being removed for nothing.
  #57  
Old 08-23-2017, 06:58 AM
JRDelirious is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Displaced
Posts: 15,881
Indeed: given that ships are under human command, when a series of incidents arise in the same unit it's only reasonable to look into what human factors may have contributed, if only to be able to have a process of elimination. Maybe it IS probabilities just catching up in a cluster. But part of the job of commanders (and the purpose of rules of the road) is to try to minimize or mitigate such randomness.

The Admiral may be faultless himself but still it happened on his watch and somebody else has to look into it, and you want to avoid the morale hit of a loss of confidence.
  #58  
Old 08-23-2017, 08:42 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
I don't see chance as playing much part at all. A US Navy warship has sophisticated equipment for tracking and monitoring other vessels, a large crew, and is very much faster and more maneuverable than the tankers and other merchant vessels in the area. It's their responsibility to avoid such 'accidents'.

Merchant vessels post courses and destinations and are clearly visible on AIS. US Navy vessels often operate with their AIS transponders off, with few lights, and have small radar profiles, so that they are not clearly visible to other ships, especially at night.

A Navy vessel sailing through a busy shipping lane is like a fast, powerful car merging into heavy traffic at night with its lights switched off.

They'll need a pretty good excuse to avoid responsibility. If the collision was due to a mechanical failure, or if it was the fault of the tanker, the Navy wouldn't have ordered an operational pause or replaced the admiral in charge. This is a tacit admission that it was the fault of the crew.
  #59  
Old 08-23-2017, 09:04 AM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 68,168
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The McCain was recently deployed to that area because of N Korea. I'm not sure how long they've been deployed at sea.
The ship is part of the Seventh Fleet, and its home base is in Japan. It wasn't "recently deployed," but rather "almost permanently on station" near there.
  #60  
Old 08-23-2017, 10:31 AM
Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,773
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
Random coincidence?

So the crew of one ship in the 7th fleet is negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained.
The crew of another ship in the 7th fleet is negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained.

And you think this is pure coincidence? Please!
As I said before, you typically can't know for sure if a pattern of bad events that seems very unlikely* is random or not. But if you waited for absolute proof you'd never address systemic deficiencies very likely to exist. In this case I think the conventional first reaction that there's something wrong in the USN, almost surely in the 7th Fleet it not whole USN, is probably correct, and a shake up is in order.

*see post above. If per EMSA 2014 report that there are 125 'serious' or 'very serious' collisions involving merchant ships per year and rough order of magnitude 100 times as many oceangoing merchant ships as USN ships, 3 collisions (including Lake Champlain's non fatal one) in the whole USN per year is over twice the merchant ship rate. But if considering 2 'very serious' in 2 months in one 8 ship 'Desron', then it's a couple of 1,000 times the merchant ship rate. So the other thing about stats is how you frame it, but looks like a situation where leadership must make sure there isn't a problem, not just assume there isn't one.
  #61  
Old 08-23-2017, 10:54 AM
ElvisL1ves is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: The land of the mouse
Posts: 50,127
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
This is a tacit admission that it was the fault of the crew.
Since there have been repeated incidents, it's not an admission that it's the fault of the crew, but of their training or the procedures they were required to follow or perhaps of their equipment. If nothing really changed after the first time, which it apparently didn't, that makes it a leadership failure.
  #62  
Old 08-23-2017, 11:09 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
*see post above. If per EMSA 2014 report that there are 125 'serious' or 'very serious' collisions involving merchant ships per year and rough order of magnitude 100 times as many oceangoing merchant ships as USN ships, 3 collisions (including Lake Champlain's non fatal one) in the whole USN per year is over twice the merchant ship rate. But if considering 2 'very serious' in 2 months in one 8 ship 'Desron', then it's a couple of 1,000 times the merchant ship rate. So the other thing about stats is how you frame it, but looks like a situation where leadership must make sure there isn't a problem, not just assume there isn't one.
Comparing numbers in this way doesn't do justice to the situation. A merchant ship may have only person on watch at night, and a minimum of radar and tracking equipment. A Navy vessel is expected to have a far higher level of discipline, training and equipment, good positional awareness, and a number of crew members on watch at any time - so the number of collisions involving Navy ships should be far less proportionally.

We know that the problem with the USS Fitzgerald was a crew problem - or a discipline, training and leadership problem if you prefer. You would expect that the causes had been addressed, and that the 7th fleet would be particularly vigilant about such things only a couple of months later.

We don't yet know all the facts, but it's certainly not looking like a technical issue, or the fault of the tanker.

Quote:
Incidents such as those with the McCain and Fitzgerald incidents are troubling, said Jan van Tol, a retired commander of three war ships who now serves as an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“Navy destroyers are remarkably nimble and responsive, including rapid acceleration ability, thus should certainly be able to get out of the way of almost anything approaching ‘too close,’” van Tol said in an email. “Such close quarters situations should NEVER be allowed to develop without various watchstanders and watchteams being well aware that they are developing.”


http://www.navytimes.com/news/your-n...cain-disaster/

Last edited by GreenWyvern; 08-23-2017 at 11:12 AM.
  #63  
Old 08-23-2017, 11:28 AM
scr4 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Alabama
Posts: 15,972
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I'm not surprised to hear that Navy crews are over worked. Our entire military is underfunded and stretched thin.

We've been deploying troops ever since 9/11. Our Navy has to contend with China's Navy that keeps expanding. That's hard on the men and the equipment.
Even if the Navy is "underfunded and stretched thin," the effect should be that the crew are away from home longer & more often than they should have been. It shouldn't result in the crew getting insufficient sleep & rest each day. They wouldn't let a destroyer leave port without a full complement of crew, would they?

Last edited by scr4; 08-23-2017 at 11:30 AM.
  #64  
Old 08-23-2017, 11:46 AM
LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,035
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
Comparing numbers in this way doesn't do justice to the situation. A merchant ship may have only person on watch at night, and a minimum of radar and tracking equipment. A Navy vessel is expected to have a far higher level of discipline, training and equipment, good positional awareness, and a number of crew members on watch at any time - so the number of collisions involving Navy ships should be far less proportionally.

We know that the problem with the USS Fitzgerald was a crew problem - or a discipline, training and leadership problem if you prefer. You would expect that the causes had been addressed, and that the 7th fleet would be particularly vigilant about such things only a couple of months later.

We don't yet know all the facts, but it's certainly not looking like a technical issue, or the fault of the tanker.
Bolding mine.

That's a wee bit optimistic. For sure within a few days at most a message will go out to everybody: "Heads up!! Be more careful, dammit!"

But not actual procedural changes, modifications to watchstanding methods, sleeping schedules, new equipment or new ways to use it, new SOPs, etc.

All of that will be a year or more in the making. And if indeed the underlying problem is simply lack of sleep in a culture that deeply values the idea that 24-hour alertness is something humans can do, well, ... that's not going to change until there's been a lot of personal turnover among the culture-setters and a deeply unpopular intrusive inspection regime to find and root out any and all examples of backsliding.

We've gone through similar evolutions in my industry over killing off defective but time-honored cultural attitudes. It's the work of years to come to consensus on what to do instead and the work of a decade or more after that to thoroughly implement.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 08-23-2017 at 11:47 AM.
  #65  
Old 08-23-2017, 11:52 AM
LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,035
Late add:

As a trivial example, if sailors (including officers) need 50% more sleep time to not be walking zombies then we either need to increase the ship's complement by 30ish%, which can't happen because there's not enough bunking space, galley capacity, etc. Not to mention the extra payroll budget that would require.

Or we need to figure out how to operate the ship with about 2/3rds the people on duty at any moment than we have now, so the remainder can get adequate rest. After an accident the idea that we can increase safety by reducing the people at work minding the ship seems ... counterintuitive ... to say the least. But it may in fact be what's needed. Overcoming the public and institutional knee-jerk reaction in exactly the wrong direction will not be easy. Or quick.
  #66  
Old 08-23-2017, 12:02 PM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 68,168
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
There are a few 10,000's of oceangoing merchant ships (nailing down one number is sensitive to the lower size cut off), order of 100 times as many as USN ships. The European Maritime Safety Agency's "Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2014" (the 2015 report graphic is harder to read) counted 22 'very serious' and 103 'serious' collisions involving merchant ships worldwide. So considering the 7th fleet, 1 per month which would probably both qualify as 'very serious' even aside from the loss of life, is a huge number. Considering the whole USN for the year and the 7th fleet's 3 serious or very serious collisions are the only ones, and taking the is USN as around 1/100 the size of the world merchant fleet, it's not orders of mag but still a higher rate. And one would probably expect warships to avoid collisions better not worse than merchant ships.
I'm not a seaman, but I would also guess that Navy ships spend less time than merchant ships in busy shipping lanes like the English Channel, where collisions are more likely.
  #67  
Old 08-23-2017, 12:12 PM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
I wonder whether the problem is something more than insufficient sleep. If it was just one person watching a display, you could imagine that he simply fell asleep. But in this case there should have been two or more separate teams of individuals on watch. Surely they couldn't all have been asleep.

My guess is that they were relieving the boredom by doing something else - playing computer games, watching porn, interacting on social media, etc. while on watch.

Does anyone know whether the crew on a US destroyer has easy access to the internet?

Last edited by GreenWyvern; 08-23-2017 at 12:13 PM.
  #68  
Old 08-23-2017, 12:22 PM
MichaelEmouse's Avatar
MichaelEmouse is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 7,295
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pork Rind View Post
Came here just to mention this, and beaten to the punch. Still, when I read that yesterday I was astonished that this is acceptable practice. I once worked at a newspaper in the production department and due to a variety of circumstances, I worked several looong days in a row with maybe 3-4 hours of sleep a night. After a few days I was a wreck that wasn’t safe to operate an Xacto knife, much less a warship. I’m confident if that situation went the length of a tour I would have had some sort of mental breakdown. Dunno how they do it.
Drugs, likely. It used to be speed, now it's Modafinil I think. It's supposed to keep you going for 4 days without sleep. The sleep debt over a deployment must be pretty bad, though.



Do US Navy captains have the attitude that civilian ships should get out of their way?


It must be particularly embarrassing because if US Navy ships can't avoid getting hit by big slow civilian ships, one wonders how well they'll avoid getting hit by small fast missiles.
  #69  
Old 08-23-2017, 12:48 PM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazybratsche View Post
This may be the case. It may even be a lack of sleep and attention that not even coffee can fix.

On Reddit, I've seen accounts of sailors that have served recently on US ships, some even on destroyers in the 7th fleet (this thread has been particularly informative). They all talk about being overworked, and not getting enough sleep. Normal duty rotations might leave 6 hours for sleep, but that can get cut down to 4, which of course means sailors are lucky to get 3 hours of decent quality sleep. Stories of dozing off during a watch, or making stupid mistakes due to lack of attention, are common.

Apparently there is some Navy research on crew endurance pointing out how this is a terrible way to run a ship, but the culture of overwork is entrenched. And on smaller ships like destroyers, there isn't any room to house enough sailors to keep everything manned with less demanding duty schedules.

There's also some grumbling about slipping training standards, but that's harder to evaluate as a layman reading anecdotes like this.
I have to say, that thread on reddit makes horrendous reading.

I was once on a schedule where I got almost no sleep every fourth night for more than a year, and had no chance of extra sleep on the other days. That doesn't sound too bad at all by comparison, but it took a serious toll and I was a real wreck at the end of it. So were all the other guys on the same schedule.
  #70  
Old 08-23-2017, 05:55 PM
aceplace57 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 26,040
Commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin  got canned.

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.usato...ory/592685001/

His dismissal makes sense. The overall readiness of the ships, in his command is the Fleet Commander's responsibility.

Whether it's over worked crews or lack of training something has to change.

A new leader can evaluate what's going on and get the problems corrected.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-23-2017 at 06:00 PM.
  #71  
Old 08-23-2017, 07:29 PM
TokyoBayer's Avatar
TokyoBayer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Taiwan
Posts: 10,517
Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
That's a wee bit optimistic. For sure within a few days at most a message will go out to everybody: "Heads up!! Be more careful, dammit!"
You have to wonder if the reaction to the first accident was for everyone to double down on additional training, making the situation worse if the problem was in fact related to insufficient sleep.
  #72  
Old 08-23-2017, 07:57 PM
LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,035
Either more training or COs saying things like "I don't want 2 lookouts on duty at all times per SOP, I want 3." For whatever specialists are required for whatever functions; doesn't have to be lookouts.

With a 50% increase in man-hours required but zero increase in headcount, each worker with that qualification now needs to put in 50% more watchstanding time. Which, unless a lot of other work and make-work is cut, may result in a 90% reduction in sleep opportunity or actual sleep.


Not directly related, but I recall earlier discussions about USN submarine ops. As I think I recall it, they run on an 18 hour day composed of 3 shifts of 6 hours each. Which is intended as watch-stand for 6, relax or do other work like office tasks or training or study or drills for 6, and sleep for 6. I guess eating, showering, and shitting come out of the middle 6 somehow.

Anyhow, by design humans are spectacularly bad at an 18 hour sleep cycle. Men rapidly become depressed zombies. And yet despite all evidence to the contrary the Navy persists that this is the way to run a multi-million or even billion dollar submarine.


In my industry we've made a lot of progress in the last 10 years on understanding just how fragile human performance is with inadequate sleep either near term or long term. Over massive screaming by the carriers the FAA finally upgraded the rest and duty regulations a few years ago to a more scientific footing that recognizes that sleep-deprived people are an active hazard and you can't substitute training or discipline or dedication or professionalism or drugs for sleep.

We workers "paid" for those safety improvements with other changes to our worklives to keep the whole thing mostly cost-neutral from the carriers' POV. The difference in immediate and cumulative fatigue between the old rules and the new is night and day. So this is a topic rather near and dear to my heart.

I certainly don't know that chronic fatigue was at the heart of the Navy's apparent problem. But I'd be willing to bet it's a part.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 08-23-2017 at 07:58 PM.
  #73  
Old 08-23-2017, 11:31 PM
TokyoBayer's Avatar
TokyoBayer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Taiwan
Posts: 10,517
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
Admiral Aucoin isn't being removed for nothing.
While I agree that to this arm chair admiral, it appears more likely than not that there is a systemic problem here, it's impossible to tell at this stage if it's really the fault of that particular admiral. Perhaps it's the entire Navy culture which is leading to this.

This rush to place blame on one particular person happens a lot in Japan, and it often hinders efforts to make necessary improvements by assuming that it's an individual at fault rather than the system being bad.
  #74  
Old 08-24-2017, 07:20 AM
Princhester is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 14,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
RSo the crew of one ship in the 7th fleet is negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained. The crew of another ship in the 7th fleet is negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained.
How do you know all this? I keep a very close eye on this stuff as part of my work and AFAIK there has been no report into the cause of the first incident, and certainly no report into the cause of the second. You are engaged in classic armchair pontificating, with no basis that I can see beyond a pissweak res ipsa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
I don't see chance as playing much part at all.
Here's the really short version. Any safety system that assumes chance will not play its part (as you do) is assuming that absolute control can be achieved, ie that the system can be foolproofed. I would bet London to a brick the US navy is not that stupid. Everyone and everything fucks up now and again. Accidents in any halfway decent system are typically caused by the off chance failure of multiple failsafes.

Quote:
If the collision was due to a mechanical failure, or if it was the fault of the tanker, the Navy wouldn't have ordered an operational pause or replaced the admiral in charge. This is a tacit admission that it was the fault of the crew.
ROFL. Good one.
  #75  
Old 08-24-2017, 08:03 AM
wevets is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: hobgoblin of geographers
Posts: 4,353
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
Even if the Navy is "underfunded and stretched thin," the effect should be that the crew are away from home longer & more often than they should have been. It shouldn't result in the crew getting insufficient sleep & rest each day. They wouldn't let a destroyer leave port without a full complement of crew, would they?

They would and did, unfortunately:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Ewing for NPR
One problem was years of Navy penny-pinching, in which ships sailed with smaller crews, creating more work for the sailors who remained, which meant less time for hands-on training — and more rust, broken equipment and other such problems.

"It appears the effort to derive efficiencies has overtaken our culture of effectiveness," the report said.

Navy leaders said they were taking those insights to heart — adding sailors back to crews and renewing their focus on training and competence.
http://www.npr.org/2017/08/23/545297...an-so-far-in-2

I'm not sure if the USS Fitzgerald or McCain were undermanned, since it sounds like the Navy's been trying to address this problem. But it is possible.
  #76  
Old 08-24-2017, 08:04 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
How do you know all this? I keep a very close eye on this stuff as part of my work and AFAIK there has been no report into the cause of the first incident, and certainly no report into the cause of the second. You are engaged in classic armchair pontificating, with no basis that I can see beyond a pissweak res ipsa.
You ask how I know that 'the crew was negligent, undisciplined and/or badly trained'.

There has been no final report, but in 'keeping a close eye' perhaps you missed the preliminary report and line of duty investigation, and the actions taken against the officers and crew for failure of duty:

Quote:
Adm. Bill Moran, the deputy chief of naval operations, said that Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, head of the Navy's 7th Fleet, plans to relieve Cmdr. Bryce Benson for cause.
On Thursday, the Navy released a preliminary report on the June 17 collision between the Fitzgerald and the freighter ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan.About a dozen sailors in all face some punishment, including all of the destroyer's watch. Further sanctions are possible, Moran said.
"Clearly at some point, the bridge team lost situational awareness," Moran said.
Aucoin acted swiftly because the investigation indicated serious mistakes were made by the crew, Moran said. The Navy has lost confidence in the sailors being relieved.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...res/577805001/
So Adm. Moran says that "serious mistakes were made by the crew". In other words what I said was accurate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
Here's the really short version. Any safety system that assumes chance will not play its part (as you do)
Please don't set up straw men and attribute fanciful ideas to me in order to knock them down. Or at least don't imagine that nobody will notice what you're doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
Everyone and everything fucks up now and again. Accidents in any halfway decent system are typically caused by the off chance failure of multiple failsafes.
Yes, the chance of each crew member fucking up is a completely independent variable. It just so happened by random coincidence that everyone on watch happened to fuck up at exactly the same time. No doubt that's what the final report will say.
  #77  
Old 08-24-2017, 08:54 AM
ElvisL1ves is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: The land of the mouse
Posts: 50,127
Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoBayer View Post
This rush to place blame on one particular person happens a lot in Japan, and it often hinders efforts to make necessary improvements by assuming that it's an individual at fault rather than the system being bad.
Scapegoating is pretty common in the US too. A calamity means the gods have been angered, and a human sacrifice is required to appease them.
  #78  
Old 08-24-2017, 09:17 AM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,698
Yes- hang an admiral.
  #79  
Old 08-24-2017, 10:21 AM
Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,773
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
Comparing numbers in this way doesn't do justice to the situation. A merchant ship may have only person on watch at night, and a minimum of radar and tracking equipment. A Navy vessel is expected to have a far higher level of discipline, training and equipment, good positional awareness, and a number of crew members on watch at any time - so the number of collisions involving Navy ships should be far less proportionally.
OK everyone doesn't read every post but I said the first time you'd expect the naval rate to be lower not higher. My point with the numbers is just that how much higher it's been lately for 7th Fleet or USN depends a lot on how you frame it. But to me it's sufficiently obvious there's likely enough to be a systemic problem for USN leadership to assume so.

But just to comment further on reasons you'd expect warships to have a lower accident rate. It's mainly because they should, in peacetime, be able to adapt their operating profile to concentrate on safe navigation with less conflict with commercial considerations than merchant ships typically do, in getting to a particular place at a particular time, and the amount of time they spend in congested areas.

But OTOH the personnel situations on naval and merchant ships are very different. Naval officers have to lead and train large numbers of relatively inexperienced enlisted people, with some help from limited number of experienced enlisted. They have to train that group to do all kinds of combat related activities which are hypothetical as far as every day operation of the ship. Then if aiming for a full career they have to also accrue points in areas like shore assignments, further education etc to be 'well rounded'. The first of those issues can't be avoided. You can't perform the combat mission with a few long term career people, you need the less experienced people. The personnel/promotion system for naval officers might be debated at the margin.

But merchant officers mainly just operate their ship in the normal way, that's their career. They lead a much smaller (sometimes nowadays they even outnumber it) cadre of unlicensed people with the same single job focus. They don't train for some other hypothetical mission aside from that.

As other well informed voices have said, these collisions very rarely occur because nobody saw the other ship, so more people to spot the other ship, like 'don't they have radar?', is not the issue. It's much more likely a problem of coordination, or possibly a material failure (of steering suggested in latest incident don't know if it will pan out but possible in general). In these respects the big team of people, a lot of them relatively inexperienced, who have to coordinate on a warship, and its more mechanically complex nature, are not advantages. However once again, given its looser operating profile (and better speed and maneuverability in case of a DD type ship) a naval vessel should be able to avoid collisions at least as well as a merchant ship, so no disagreement on that basic point.

Last edited by Corry El; 08-24-2017 at 10:23 AM.
  #80  
Old 08-24-2017, 10:40 AM
aceplace57 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 26,040
It's troubling that redundant systems are failing.

First there's electronics on the bridge and CIC.

Then they have trained lookouts stationed around the ship.

There's radio communication. Get out of the way!!

Yet somehow, the same Naval group based in Japan has 4 collisions since Jan. 2017.

That many redundant safety systems shouldn't fail this often.

A former Navy Helmsman and Lookout wades in.
https://youtu.be/vQFSpLDla6c

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-24-2017 at 10:44 AM.
  #81  
Old 08-25-2017, 03:52 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,607
Good article in the NYT about the visibility of navy ships.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/w...il-tanker.html

Quote:
The tropical sky off Singapore was utterly dark when an oil tanker plowed into the side of the American destroyer John S. McCain before dawn on Monday — but the moonless night may have been only one of the reasons that the tanker’s crew may have had trouble seeing a warship in their path.

Hard to see and hard to track electronically, naval vessels have long posed special perils to nighttime navigation. That has proved deadly this summer in crowded waters like those near Singapore and Tokyo, where another United States warship, the Fitzgerald, was struck by a cargo freighter under a waning crescent moon on June 17.

The issue has prompted growing alarm in the commercial shipping industry — which has started warning merchant vessels to be extra careful around warships — and in the United States Navy, which began pausing its worldwide operations this week for a day or two to allow time for safety reviews.

“There have been four this year for the U.S. Navy, and the Singapore Navy has experienced one or two” collisions with commercial ships, said Capt. Raymond Ambrose, the president of the Singapore Nautical Institute. “We need an attitude of defensive driving out at sea.”

Naval ships, designed to avoid detection by enemy fleets and aircraft, are exempt from an international requirement that vessels automatically and continuously broadcast their position, course and speed. They tend to have dimmer lights than many commercial vessels, making them harder to pick out. They are painted gray to blend into the sea during wartime but become even more difficult to spot at night. And a growing number of modern naval vessels, including the John S. McCain, are designed to scatter incoming radar signals, so that they are less detectable.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore told The Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper, this week that the government’s vessel traffic information system had not even known the John S. McCain was there until the tanker, the Alnic MC, carrying 12,000 metric tons of fuel oil, delivered a crushing blow to the warship’s left side.

...

The difficulties with spotting naval vessels are amplified in busy waters — and those around Singapore are among the most crowded in the world because the city-state lies at the entrance to the Strait of Malacca, through which nearly all of East Asia’s oil imports and a large share of its seaborne exports move.

The congestion prompts military and commercial crews to turn off the early warning systems that alert them to potential collisions, said Capt. Harry Bolton, the director of marine programs at California State University Maritime Academy and a merchant marine officer who has traversed the waters near Singapore dozens of times
  #82  
Old 08-25-2017, 05:10 AM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,698
Seems like a simple solution would be to order military ships to make themselves more visible in crowded seas. Do they really believe that anyone who cares, doesn't know exactly where these ships are at all times?
  #83  
Old 08-25-2017, 06:48 AM
LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,035
Do the e.g. Russians usually know where most USN ships are most of the time? Sure. Does some local group intending to pull a USS Cole-style attack know where or when a USN ship is coming by? Not even a little bit. But they do have internet access and can subscribe to the same feeds everyone else is watching to know where all the participating ships are.

In today's world, we'd have lots of warning of impending hostilities with the e.g. Russians. We have essentially no warning of hostilities with the other groups. Said another way, we're already engaged in hostilities with the other groups. They're just pretty low intensity hostilities until they flare up whenever & wherever the groups can muster an attack.

So, perhaps paradoxically, we're more interested in hiding USN ships from goofs in skiffs than we are from the near-peer powers.


Agree that if you're going to skulk around sneakily in the presence of lots of other traffic behaving as expected by international rules, you've got a super-duper obligation to stay out of everybody else's way. You must assume nobody knows you're there. But that introduces problems in that if you maneuver to avoid somebody who does know you're there, you may well be maneuvering contrary to their rules-based expectations of your behavior.


We have a similar issue in aviation. There is long history of military aircraft operating in international airspace out of contact with or control by any ATC agency. This is enshrined in various longstanding international agreements on air operations.

Which works OK in the parts of the world with little or no traffic. Of which there are fewer every year. Crazy-assed Russian fighters or bombers wandering around the very busy Baltics talking to nobody will cause a midair collision soon enough.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 08-25-2017 at 06:51 AM.
  #84  
Old 08-25-2017, 12:18 PM
lazybratsche is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,737
There's another good article from ArsTechnica, going into the human factors that likely contributed to these kinds of accidents. This one happens to be written by a former Navy officer, and there's a bit of editorial cynicism that seeps in...

I wonder if part of the problem might be a culture that discourages lower-ranking sailors from speaking up. It seems like most of the fancy navigation systems on a destroyer are manned by junior personnel that have to know when to speak up. If they've been berated for false alarms or irrelevant details, they might remain silent even when they shouldn't.

Isn't that another area which has been identified in aviation*? The 2nd in command notices a problem, but doesn't bring it up because they assume the much more experienced captain already knows about.

*I might only be thinking of an episode of Cabin Pressure here...
  #85  
Old 08-25-2017, 01:00 PM
ivylass is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Orlando(ish)
Posts: 22,130
On the one hand, we have this column from a former sailor about why this wasn't preventable with technoogy.

On the other, I have my retired Navy sub husband, who said his sub had a proximity alarm that woke the whole damn crew when something got too close.*

Not sure which one to believe. Probably a combination of factors.

*Too close means "still enough time to get out of the way."

Last edited by ivylass; 08-25-2017 at 01:02 PM.
  #86  
Old 08-25-2017, 01:05 PM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 68,168
My understanding is that subs can stop much more quickly than surface ships.
  #87  
Old 08-25-2017, 01:10 PM
lazybratsche is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,737
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass View Post
On the one hand, we have this column from a former sailor about why this wasn't preventable with technoogy.

On the other, I have my retired Navy sub husband, who said his sub had a proximity alarm that woke the whole damn crew when something got too close.*

Not sure which one to believe. Probably a combination of factors.

*Too close means "still enough time to get out of the way."
One of the things mentioned in the NY Times article was that proximity alarms get turned off when ships go through busy shipping channels. If these alarms are set for any contact within, say, 1 mile, they'll pretty much always be going off, and would thus be useless. Instead, captains turn off the alarms and put more sailors on deck watch. But if they're already under-trained and over-worked, an extra couple zombies staring out to sea isn't much help...

Ideally, I suppose there'd be a special proximity setting for high-traffic situations.

Last edited by lazybratsche; 08-25-2017 at 01:11 PM.
  #88  
Old 08-25-2017, 02:34 PM
gnoitall is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5,973
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazybratsche View Post
One of the things mentioned in the NY Times article was that proximity alarms get turned off when ships go through busy shipping channels. If these alarms are set for any contact within, say, 1 mile, they'll pretty much always be going off, and would thus be useless. Instead, captains turn off the alarms and put more sailors on deck watch. But if they're already under-trained and over-worked, an extra couple zombies staring out to sea isn't much help...

Ideally, I suppose there'd be a special proximity setting for high-traffic situations.
My sense is that the "special proximity setting for high-traffic situations" would produce too little warning time for meaningful reaction. Ships are heavy, and even a quick agile ship like a modern destroyer may not be able to take effective evasion in time. Especially at night, if the watch staff has lost situational awareness enough that they don't know immediately where the proximity threat is. "All engines emergency astern" is a bad call if you're being overtaken from astern, for instance.

Last edited by gnoitall; 08-25-2017 at 02:35 PM.
  #89  
Old 08-25-2017, 05:41 PM
lazybratsche is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,737
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
My sense is that the "special proximity setting for high-traffic situations" would produce too little warning time for meaningful reaction.
Oh certainly.

In "spherical cow warship" world, I can imagine that someone could build a collision warning system that's based on some sort of probabilistic model of time to possible impact, rather than simply distance. I could probably kludge together a crude algorithm that works in a small set of ideal simulations.

The real world, of course, is far messier. Still, there must be some room to improve the usability of navigation systems, so that they provide the right amount of information to assist the crew, rather than distract or provide a sense of overconfidence. That sort of project might very well be an umpteen billion dollar debacle, however... and to be entirely cynical, it might be cheaper for the Navy to just pay out some death benefits, fire some commanders and admirals, and patch up a few destroyers.
  #90  
Old 08-11-2019, 11:36 PM
PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,604
Updating this thread the National Transportation Safety Board came out with its report a couple months ago:
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/...ts/MAR1901.pdf
  #91  
Old 08-12-2019, 08:38 AM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,698
So the basic verdict is that due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, the crew on watch were trying to carry out a procedure that they were not trained for at a time (in close proximity to other ships) when it was really not a good idea. The potential for disaster was compounded by the control systems they were using being unnecessarily complicated.

Add to that their lack of sleep due to badly arranged watches and a hint that alcohol might have been involved (why else did they not look at the display panels and realise what had happened).
  #92  
Old 08-12-2019, 11:12 AM
PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,604
And in reaction to this accident:

The US Navy will replace its touchscreen controls with mechanical ones on its destroyers after a deadly 2017 crash between a destroyer and an oil tanker
https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/11/2...nical-controls
  #93  
Old 08-12-2019, 03:30 PM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Add to that their lack of sleep due to badly arranged watches and a hint that alcohol might have been involved (why else did they not look at the display panels and realise what had happened).
Where are you getting that from, the alcohol? How about they were tired, untrained, and the control panels were confusing and not intuitive? You know, kind of like what you laid out in the rest of the post. Contrary to your speculation, there is ZERO implication made in the report or any of the Navy's investigations that alcohol played a role.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 08-12-2019 at 03:34 PM.
  #94  
Old 08-12-2019, 04:02 PM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,698
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
Where are you getting that from, the alcohol? How about they were tired, untrained, and the control panels were confusing and not intuitive? You know, kind of like what you laid out in the rest of the post. Contrary to your speculation, there is ZERO implication made in the report or any of the Navy's investigations that alcohol played a role.
Yes, tired, untrained and unsupervised. There was chaos on that bridge. The report states:
Quote:
1.9 Alcohol and Other Drug Use
Following the accident, the Alnic MC crewmembers who were in safety-critical positions
were tested for alcohol use; all results were negative. Drug tests were not conducted for the
Alnic MC crew. The John S McCain crewmembers were not tested for alcohol use after the
accident but were tested for drug use; all results were negative.
So the Alnic crew were tested but not the Navy crew. I wonder why that was?
  #95  
Old 08-12-2019, 04:21 PM
robby's Avatar
robby is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,560
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
...So the Alnic crew were tested but not the Navy crew. I wonder why that was?
Likely because alcohol is easily detectable (i.e. on a person's breath), and there was no suggestion of alcohol use by the Navy bridge crew.

As a former Naval officer, I can tell you that that alcohol use on a Navy ship (especially on a ship at sea) is completely verboten (with very rare exceptions). It's not allowed on watch or off watch, and simple possession can result in significant penalties (up to and including fines, a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge, or even jail time).

There's no need to to bring alcohol use into the mix without evidence. A tired, insufficiently trained bridge crew in a complex traffic situation easily explains the accident.
  #96  
Old 08-12-2019, 04:36 PM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,698
If those two ships had been cars or trucks on a highway, both drivers would have been breathalysed as a matter of course.
  #97  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:13 PM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 39
But they’re not. One is a commercially owned vessel flagged from where I don’t know off the top of my head, the other is a commissioned warship. It’s not as cut and dry as "police show up and breathalyze the driver."

I, like robby, was also a US naval officer. US Navy ships are dry. There is no reason to believe the helmsman or any of the officers on the bridge that morning were drunk or otherwise intoxicated. Unfortunately, we managed to plow two billion dollar warships into two commercial vessels in one summer and kill 17 sailors while stone-cold sober.

[editorializing]In a way, I almost wish we COULD point to intoxication as a likely cause. Then at least it would make sense and the corrective actions would be relatively straightforward. No, we just can't properly maintain or equip out ships, can’t train our sailors to properly operate the equipment they have, can't provide the necessary manning to keep people from being exhausted, and just all around can’t run a Navy. That’s my opinion as a recently retired surface warfare officer. Others will disagree.[/editorializing]
  #98  
Old 08-13-2019, 08:11 AM
Fir na tine is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Maine
Posts: 1,201
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
[editorializing]In a way, I almost wish we COULD point to intoxication as a likely cause. Then at least it would make sense and the corrective actions would be relatively straightforward. No, we just can't properly maintain or equip out ships, can’t train our sailors to properly operate the equipment they have, can't provide the necessary manning to keep people from being exhausted, and just all around can’t run a Navy. That’s my opinion as a recently retired surface warfare officer. Others will disagree.[/editorializing]
Everything I've read in recent years leads me to believe you are absolutely correct. The multi-year investigation and scandal (Fat Leonard) involving so many high ranking Navy officers leads me to believe there is a major systemic problem with the Navy. Folklore has it that 50% or more of the senior officers in the Navy at the time of Pearl Harbor were dismissed or set aside in favor of new blood after the attack. Maybe a house cleaning on a similar scale is in order now.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:41 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017