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.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.)
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.
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.