Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big Navy Gets Two More Scalps

I have to admit I'm a little conflicted about this story describing how the CO and XO of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) were fired following the investigation into the bad fire they had in May:
Capt. David C. Dykhoff and his executive officer, Capt. David M. Dober, were relieved of duty while the ship is in port in San Diego, California, for repairs.
The two were fired because of practices on their ship that Navy investigators believe led to the fire, Navy officials said.
The Navy officials said investigators believe the fire was started when a cigarette ignited material stored in an engineering room.
Investigators found flammable liquids stored in an engineering area of the ship, which is strictly prohibited. Investigators also found that sailors were allowed to smoke in the same engineering areas, considered another violation.
Clearly, lots of important safety rules were being broken here, and corrective action was undoubtedly called for. I've been in the Navy long enough to know that whenever there's a big incident that makes the paper, someone's head has to roll, and it's normally the CO's. Here's the thing, though -- I'm pretty sure the CO and XO didn't personally select the Aux Boiler area as the best place to store waste oil that they couldn't dump at sea, or put out an instruction that said "Smoking is authorized near the flammable liquids inappropriately stored in the engineering spaces". Sure, everyone knows the CO is supposed to know everything that goes on aboard his ship, but most people also know that's just not possible on a ship the size of the carrier. Where were the JOs and, especially, Chief Petty Officers? For that matter, where was the Carrier Group Engineering staff? (And I'm sure an NR monitor or two has walked through that area at some time or another.)

My point is that until the Navy starts holding the ISIC staffs and other shipboard inspectors to at least some level of accountability for preventable accidents, many more Sailors will feel jaded by the system wherein deskbound officers are continually punishing those at the tip of the spear while escaping any scrutiny of their own staff's deficiencies.

33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I look at it this way. I have been on both surface and subs, but last I checked you could not smokre below decks 'cept on subs. Thought that was the rule unwritten or written.

So if it was a smoker that caused this well they were smoking where they shouldn't, well than again it caused a fire, as an ex-smoker I find it sad smokers still are to blame even for others that mess up.

PS I got a user name but lost it after EMlog closed need to look it up

EX-ICman

7/30/2008 7:42 PM

 
Anonymous quotecritter said...

Not only that where were the leading PO's and the Safety Department in all this.

When I did the bird farm thing for a couple years on a needs of the Navy thing they put me into the Safety Dept as the RC division rep to do those spaces along with the others.

Lots of people in this food chain had a hand in it.

7/30/2008 7:51 PM

 
Blogger Pat said...

You know, I like to think that I'm in touch with what's going on with the Navy but I some how missed this story...... I first heard about the incident late last week from my boats Supply Officer when checking in to my new command. He told me that this had to do with the material stored in the location and the incorrect material stored in the adjacent location (MSDS issue) which caused this to be a serious incident. Any thoughts?

7/30/2008 8:25 PM

 
Anonymous K1W1 said...

The ISICS are checking such things - its the report to response loop that misfires.

V/R Smallboy Sailor....

7/30/2008 9:22 PM

 
Blogger King said...

Squadrons, in general, suck. It reminds me of a big deal type thing that happened on my ship, that while yes, technically speaking the ship's force screwed up (other crew than mine though, thank god), Squadron should have provided the proper back up and caught it... instead they're more worried about safety chains, "formality", and whether a JO could spin in a complete circle in *exactly* 30 seconds.

Fixing things like this is what squadrons SHOULD be doing, but instead, they provide the sort of ass-backwards useless backup that nobody needs.

7/30/2008 10:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a direct link to the USS Gets Worse as we call it. As many of you may or may not know, there is always more to the story. So much more that isn't going to be heard by the public, or hasn't yet been published. I think it is safe to say these 2 men won't be the only ones who will suffer the consequences. It is because of their high profile positions that we hear of them being relieved of their duties. Suffice it to say as well that one should never assume anything. I think as adults we all are aware of what that does. I could sit here and go on and on. I won't however, as that does no good. It was only a matter of time before something drastic happened on board the USS George Washington. This time it was major, and it caught up with them. I can only say that I am thankful my sailors are off that thing. Praise God for my sailors safety. For those still aboard, I pray for their safety. What's real sad too is the sickening politics that are in play not only aboard this ship, but in the military in general. I had no idea until becoming a family member of several sailors how filthy and disgusting a world it really is. My sailors have not been in trouble, they are first and second class in rank. So it's not that I hold rank at fault. It's just downright sickening as a taxpayer at what goes on when you see what happens firsthand. I've always heard that Karma is a biotch, well, I think that a couple of men have found that out.

SeaMom

7/31/2008 12:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thought to ponder...crazy how there isn't much carpet on an aircraft carrier, but there's so much that gets swept under it. Amazing ya know?

7/31/2008 12:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking from experience, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes down to those reboiler spaces on a regular basis except the watchstanders. It is an excellent place to hide, both people and stuff. It's a vertical ladder down about 40 feet from the best of my recollection and I used to avoid that like the plague. I would be willing to bet that less than 10 percent of all NRRO monitors on the planet have ever visited a reboiler space.

7/31/2008 6:21 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rickover would have a hey day with the lax attitude's on both Nuke subs as well as surface ships. A couple of weeks ago I got a taste of what the other navy is like. The subject was the war. I used the term Raghead and was promptly removed and banded forever from the group by a zero-6. His reasoning was I was insulting all muslims.
It's a different navy out there. It's been my experience that Chief's on surface ships spend more time in the Chief's mess than thier duty assigment. It's about time to fire the mid level management
I could go on and on but.......

7/31/2008 7:09 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with SeaMom, more people are being disciplined than we will ever hear about. I do however disagree with her comment about karma.
When the Greenville had her accident, all we ever heard about was Capt. Waddle. What happened to the rest of the Control Room Party. Very little was heard about that.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

7/31/2008 7:16 AM

 
Anonymous LT P said...

Maybe the anonymous GW member can share, but I'm not sure this fire started in a reboiler space.

Either way, to clear up a misconception: There is no "Carrier Group Engineering staff." For better or worse, a CVN ain't no damn sub when it comes to Rx stuff. If there's even a nuke on the CSG staff it's a coincidence, not by design and certainly not by billet.

CNAL/CNAP have visit teams that come out several times a year; I suspect those are the closest comparable organizations.

7/31/2008 7:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there when the fire started. From what we were told in my unit locker, it started because some JP-5 that had leaked onto the deck caught fire by an overheating generator and the rest is accurate. If memory serves me right, the fire started near a JP-5 pump room. Granted, I was not in the space when it started, but i beleive that more than someone smoking and catching some hazmat on fire. Having served under these to men, I am sad that they are gone. I have never seen a CO or XO work so hard to satisfy the crew and Big Navy

7/31/2008 8:30 AM

 
Anonymous Paul said...

I am not a fan of the summary removals from command. True, the CO is responsible for his ship and everything that happens on it. It is also true every space on every ship has someone in charge of it. If the fire started in a JP-5 pump room or a reboiler space, there is a DO, Chief, LPO or someone who is supposed to be keeping an eye on that stuff.

Time was when there was a major incident like this, a court marshal was conferred. Nimitz was court marshaled for running a destroyer aground in the Philippines. The court marshal issued a letter of reprimand and he went on to become the highest ranking officer in the Navy. These days, you get one chance and out. Not a comforting environment to command in, I am sure.

7/31/2008 9:40 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 8 steam generators on a CVN + 4 diesels. None of them are in reboiler spaces, JP-5 pump rooms, or any other place similar. None are in a position where JP-5 could conceivably be ignited by them.

Also, JP-5 must be in aerosol form and very, very hot to catch fire -- you can drop a lighted match into a bucket of the stuff and it's not going to go up.

In summary, that account makes absolutely no sense to me.

As far as Command responsibility goes: He's in charge. The end. Of course he can't be everywhere all the time, but by definition he sets the command climate. There's also other questions: Why did it take 12 hours to extinguish a small fire? What would have happened with missile impact-- loss of the ship?

I'm going to trust the 3 and 4 stars here-- they know the whole story and I see no reason to question their judgment on this issue.

7/31/2008 9:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul: ADM Mike Mullen the current JCS even hit a buoy with his Ship. He said that it took him like 10 years to recover career wise. At least he had a chance to recover from that mishap, nowadays he would have been fired, right off the bat. I really think that the Navy is headed into a very bad direction specifically when it comes from upper level permanent desk bound leaders.

7/31/2008 9:54 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a small fire? when a fire is burning near 300-400 degrees F, it will take a long time to cool it down. The fire also reflashed at least three times in the course of the 12 hours and spread. Do not forget, the heat from the fire spread upwards and lit lagging on fire along the way and two berthings. Plus, an aircraft fueling station almost went up also. The offices that were five decks above suffered extreme smoke damage, the deck from the seventh to the second deck was warped, melted, and discolored, that includes our aft galley which was turned into an office afterwards. Bulkheads had paint bubbling and during the fire were glowing red, and that was on the 03 level, rubber from the soles of the firefighting boots melted to the deck, on the 03 level. Overhead boundaries on the 03 were bubbling. Even with many inches of water on deck. We had to flood the entire space where the fire started and spaces next to it to cool it down. Tell it to the four purple shirts who were caught in the pump room in temps around 130 degrees for five hours that it was small and the DCmen who first responded to it. Tell it to the people who had personal belongings destroyed, whose clothes, uniform, and sheets smelt like smoke for the next five days. Do not forget we could not do laundry for the five days after the fire since half the ship did not have electricity. I am sorry for my ranting, but it was more than just a small fire. If you asked the question about a small fire, i hope this enlightens you to the damage this caused. I would rather you here it from somebody who was there and saw what it did and was affected by it. The manner in which the fire started is not important to me, but the fact that we extinguished the fire before anything exploded. I hope no ship ever gets hit by a missile. That is a bad day for the crew. Provided it is far enough above the water line, i believe we would be up to the task. Chances are people are already at their GQ station if that is a threat. Again, sorry for my ranting. Hope i did not take up to much space, but information is key to understanding.

7/31/2008 10:55 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

The Navy does this right and should continue to hold our leadership accountable for what happens on their watch. If you need any confirmation on this just look at the Army and Air Force and see how to do this type of thing wrong. Abu Grab and Minot are fine examples of not letting the blood flow and having the press up you butt for months on end. No matter what the CO/XO were responsible for training and the standards set on that ship. Good or bad the results rest with them and that is why the press normally leaves us alone after something happens because we deal with it and that is that. I know that it sucks and guys careers are ruined, but the Navy doesn't end up getting "probed" endlessly by Congress and the press because we handle it.

7/31/2008 11:38 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.wvec.com/news/topstories/stories/wvec_local_073008_gw_leadership_relieved.1a72ec3c.html

More details on the fire and change in command....

Ex GW Nuke

7/31/2008 12:43 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Decapitating the command's leadership makes good headlines and makes the navy seem "serious" about accountability. They need to curry good favor from the Japanese to avoid opposition to homeporting the GW over there. How about holding some of the others complicit in this mishap responsible? The belief that the CO has supreme control over his command in today's navy is an illusion. Between the meddling of ISIC staffs, penny-pinching budgets, and an approach to doing business that respects the hierarchy at the expense of getting stuff done right, a CO may be solely accountable but he's not solely responsible. Somewhere there's a DH, a DIVO, and a chief who didn't do their part. With the amount of work that everyone has to get done, it's so easy to accept the way things are done up until something goes terribly wrong.

7/31/2008 1:41 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry -- more heads rolled; they just didn't make the papers.

7/31/2008 5:45 PM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

The reliefs are appropriate accountability. It's not just that the CO is "in charge of the whole ship" but organizationally, such large events do not happen in isolation or by dumb luck (or unluck). I can guarantee that there were many more instances of smoking in unauthorized spaces that occurred prior to this event. Likewise, housekeeping was equally sloppy in other areas.

The event occurred because tehre was a lapse in organizational standards and the CO and XO set and reinforced those standards (or lack thereof). They may have thought they had high standards but it didn't permeate the organization appropriately.

Likewise, the Navy was let down by the oversight organizations who failed to identify the lack of standards and communicate them to the appropriate organization. This could have been due to a lack of effective questioning and observation or it could have been due to a lack of objectivity to the oversight. The CO and XO likely did not hear what they needed to hear about their organization.

Similar organizational lapses resulted in the Davis Besse vessel head event (to tie it back to Nuke Land).

7/31/2008 6:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best explanation of the CO/XO firing ... The United States Navy: a model of accountability that should be used to reorganize the other military services. http://www.onecitizenspeaking.com/2008/07/the-united-stat.html

7/31/2008 7:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the surface fleet should adopt NSTM 555 version that Submarines use.

Scariest thing I've seen is how a mainspace fire drill is run on a submarine tender - everyone runs and shuts hatches / dampers and hopes the fire will go out (or cools the adjacent bulkheads). All that's left is the drill team and the crickets chriping.....

Would never work on a sub. All hands attack the fire agressively while it's small. Be the salmon and swim upstream against the flow of fleeing shipmates and fix the problem.

7/31/2008 8:34 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Secretary of navy Winter has to go like the air force secretary. Losing a nuclear weapon surely didn’t cost as much as this...but the Navy has been so mis-managed for the last few years.

7/31/2008 9:29 PM

 
Anonymous VT said...

To the 2034 anon: The surface fleet already has their own version of the triple nickel. IIRC, 555 vol 1 is surface and 555 vol 2 is subs. I may have them backwards, it's been a while.

In true navy fashion, the corrective actions never adequately address the root cause. Can anyone tell me how firing these two men will prevent recurrence of a similar event, either on the GW or on another boat? That's right, it won't.

7/31/2008 10:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure that on every ship the following happens, so let me get that out first. However, with firsthand experience on the USS GW, there is so much that gets swept under the rug, accidents are likely to happen. If civilians were more privvy to the incidents our "upstanding Sailors" commit, I think the Citizens of the U.S.A. would be humiliated. It simply amazes me the things that certain sailors get by with. I realize this has zero to do with the current situation at hand. But know that the two men who were let go were not the greatest at running this ship. The one thing I'm most glad about is it didn't happen under the now Rear Admiral Gary White's Command. If we want to talk about a CO who served that ship and served it well, Rear Admiral White was the best. In my opinion, Capt. Dyckhoff had more interest in his career than anything. I'm glad that the blogger anonymous who served under these two men feels the way he does, it's great to feel that way about your superiors. But, never hold anyone so high that they can't be brought down. That being said, my aforementioned statement about Rear Admiral White probably sounds hypocritical now. I know he had faults, however, the USS GW never ran smoother. I wish those going to Japan luck.

7/31/2008 11:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you didn't read was that the fire fighting capabilities were severly lacking. Repair lockers not properly stocked, batteries for NFTI's all OOC, missing this and missing that. It was a DC nightmare...my guess that is the underling reason for the firing.

Fire fighting teams were also poorly trained...Can't say much more, but there is more to the story.

8/01/2008 9:47 AM

 
Blogger Rick said...

Remember the '88 fire on Constellation? It took almost 9 hours to extinguish and the #2 Engine Room was a write-off. Does anyone know if heads rolled then?

8/01/2008 5:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blow-by-blow description of the fire was very informative and put things in perspective. Even the self-confessed rant by the first person witness did too.

Now, as for King: can you please stop making comments that reinforce the complete lack of perspective you have?

Comments such as "squadrons suck" and " "formality" " just demonstrate that you don't realize the value of responsible oversight being conducted by an outside organization. It's what prevents problems on submarines and well run SQUADRONS of ships and aircraft. Is every deficiency noted a gem? No. But it's likely that everything you write in your job isn't perfect either.

You're a bitter J.O. from a boomer. We got that. You're probably the one that wrote the uninformed and infamous letter to the editor. Get over the bitterness and reflect on the role of junior officers in preventing events like what happened on GW.

As a minimum please at least provide comments as thoughtful and substantive as some of the civilian mom's of Sailor make on this blog.

8/01/2008 6:41 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I understand the magnitude of this situation, and the 2 high ranking officials responsibility, that is why they were named when relieved of duties. Will we ever know the entire story? No, probably not. So, why is it that we won't? Is it because the U.S. Government is making a statement to the Japanese Government? I would be interested to find out what others think about this. Not so much the incident itself. I don't necessarily want or need names specifically, but as a taxpayer, a civilian, and a sea mom, I would like to know (especially since they've already started this mess in the media) what reprimands the others are facing, etc.

Sea Mom Since 2005

8/01/2008 9:37 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Come on, didn’t they have to charge into the primary...they had you know exactly how much they were losing by the charging logs...maybe feel hot pipes somewhere.

Everyone feels the players are circling around trying to take out the secnav...the navy is trying to defuse a PR media cascade. You gota know this is kinda common. Why now?

How would the democrats use the Navy against McCain...his baby? Why doesn’t McCain fight against the degraded conditions of his beloved Navy? When is the Washington going in front of a congressional committee?

The media is intentionally magnifing this event...preconditioning the public to something?

8/02/2008 12:47 AM

 
Blogger Derek said...

As a former EDMC on a new con boat and a current squadron EDMC, I find it revealing that many people think the squadron has the ability and responsibility to ensure the ship has no problems and to fix systemic problems on a ship, even if the ship's CO is not willing, or lacks the manning to really fix problems (immediately). I've been on the receiving end of many, "How'd squadron let that happen?" remarks. Who is really responsible? As I HGR said (paraphrasing): "Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible." I have an idea, let's fire every person who could've or should've been in a position to prevent this from starting and for the poor condition of the DC gear that exasperated the magnitude of the fire. The roving watches, his/her EDPOs/DCPOs, the SDO/EDOs, the CPO who owns the equipment, the CPO who owns the compartment where the fire started, the division officers of the above CPOs, the department heads of the division officers, the CO and XO. The oversight squadron or ISIC, the outside monitoring agencies, the shipyard safety watches and space managers, the TYCOM staffs who didn't recognize the slack-ass manner in which the ISIC was providing oversight. I'm sure there are others. After we fire all these people, find replacements. Let's pick the replacements from the same body pool that allowed these poor standards to exist and fester. Then everything will be better.

8/07/2008 4:27 AM

 
Anonymous Laura said...

It will not really have success, I feel this way.

9/06/2012 10:41 AM

 

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