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, April 15, 2009

USS Hartford CO Relieved

As expected, the Commanding Officer of USS Hartford (SSN 768) was relieved of his command following last month's collision with USS New Orleans (LPD 18). From the Navy News website:
MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The commanding officer of USS Hartford (SSN 768) was relieved of command April 14 due to loss of confidence.
Rear Adm. Michael J. Connor, commander, Task Force 54 (CTF 54) and commander, Submarine Group 7, relieved the commanding officer of USS Hartford (SSN 768), Cmdr. Ryan Brookhart.
Connor expressed his loss of confidence in Brookhart's ability to command. Brookhart was in command of Hartford when the submarine collided with USS New Orleans (LPD 18) March 20, in the Strait of Hormuz. Although the investigations into the accident are not complete, Connor determined that there was enough information to make the leadership change.
Cmdr. Chris Harkins, deputy commander of Submarine Squadron 8, assumed command of Hartford April 14. Harkins previously commanded USS Montpelier (SSN 765).
Brookhart has been temporarily assigned to the CTF 54 staff in Bahrain.
Word on the street is that when the official investigation is released, there will be no new lessons learned.

135 Comments:

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"...there will be no new lessons learned..."

An old skipper of mine, the late Don "Cruncher" Kniss, put it this way: "In the Navy there are no new problems, just new people."

4/15/2009 6:29 AM

 
Anonymous boat goat said...

I agree. There's always some SOB willing to sell out his shipmates for a buck... and there's always one of those shipmates who thinks it's just... um... ducky.

4/15/2009 6:58 AM

 
Blogger montigrande said...

I served with the Commander on Philly during his XO tour. He always gave me confidence as a Sub driver and he was a good administrator, both of which were in his job description. He also had a low tolerance for the “coner vs. nuke” thing, which earned him my respect. It is sad that this misfortune befell him, but I do feel that he relieved the watch (as CO) and it was his boat, therefore his responsibility. It is interesting that shortly after he left the Philly, she was run over by a Turkish freighter. My thoughts and prayers remain with the crew of the Hartford and the rest of the Submarine Force.

4/15/2009 7:42 AM

 
Anonymous SJV said...

I wonder how the leaders who put him in command will respond. The last incident I recall that gave insight to that was the Greenville, and the finger pointing there was disgraceful. The only one who stood up for his actions WAS the CO. I remember a minor incident I was involved in as a very junior PO at a prototype. I fessed up and admitted my errors with a fairly good analysis of what I should have done differently. The senior PO who was in charge did the opposite and told everyone how what he did wasn't wrong, and that it was simply circumstances beyond control that led to the problem. I left with my tail between my legs but didn't have any further action taken. He left with his head in the air and was assigned a significant amount of extra "instruction". I don't suggest there's any amount of fessing up that would have kept the CO his command, and while my incident was minor compared to commanding an entire boat, the lessons are the same. When you see something that isn't right, take action to fix it. When you're in charge, check to make sure that you foster an environment where problems are brought out and solved, rather than hidden and ignored. There is no doubt that the investigation will reveal that some of the contributing factors to the incident were observed before they led to the collision.

4/15/2009 7:59 AM

 
Blogger 630-738 said...

Sly:

You make excellent points, and it is that very environment that any organization should aspire to; in fact, it is the very bedrock upon which the nuclear power program was founded on. Unfortunately, the Submarine Force lives in a "zero-defect" mentality. That's not to say that setting a zero-defect goal is wrong, far from it. What I mean is there is zero tolerance for mistakes, which leads to two things: justifying your actions even if they are known to be wrong, and hiding mistakes if at all possible. The term "post-incident critique" has developed a negative connotation, as if it has become some elaborate witch hunt rather than a method to establish the breakdowns in established procedures and human performance methods, and to put corrective actions in place to prevent recurrence.

At the end of the day though, the CO is the man in charge, and it is ultimately his responsibility.

4/15/2009 8:11 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sub force has trashed two subs in five years and the only heads rolling were previously attached to silver oak leaves?

Maybe subpac and sublant should go chopping at the squadrons too ...

4/15/2009 8:38 AM

 
Anonymous SJV said...

630-738:

I'm with you 100%, but remember that all individuals are responsible for their own actions. Some, such as a CO, are responsible for the mistakes other make as well. But...the mistakes in most incidents don't end there. When major events ( 9-11, airplane crashes, space shuttle, nuclear plant accidents...etc.) occur, final reports always conclude that the culture of the leadership system in place was a contributing factor. I read the proceedings of the Greenville incident(I had a small personal interest in it), and I saw the upper levels of leadership (squadron level) engaging in exactly the same behavior I saw my senior PO exhibit years ago. One would think that at CO level and above, there would be a greater understanding that real self analysis and critique would be rewarded, but the current leadership system does not reward it. I think that overall, the upper layers in the Navy are willing to reward the junior PO who is brutally honest, but above that level, things are complicated by the desire for individual advancement (coupled with the knowlege that mistakes will doom a career). Perhaps if we can break through that barrier, we can actually get to the point where we hit zero-defects. It's a fine line to balance between picking individuals who make few mistakes, and guys who will fess up in the face of self incrimination. I think in many cases, guys who were just better at hiding their mistakes get selected for command. (Not necessarily in this case, I never met or likely will meet the CO of the Hartford.)

Sorry for the deep thinking so early in the AM.

4/15/2009 8:50 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Got a question to you guys.

What will ultimately happen to the relieved CO? Will he go to the surface navy and command a vessel there, or does he just disappear in some admin office with a red stapler, making copies, wearing an aguilette working for some admiral?

4/15/2009 9:10 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe he'll go on the Today Show and write a book.

4/15/2009 9:14 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure why he was relived by any other squadron than his. I am not sure, but I think he is attached to SUBRON4. Is it not squadron who should make that call? Just wondering....

4/15/2009 9:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer the Dune man:

It almost always goes the route of the red stapler when this sort of thing happens. If they're not past 20 yrs (likely in almost every case), they'll try to fit into a role (there are plenty) for a while. But his command days are over - the Navy doesn't make a serious attempt to recycle these guys. There is some logic to this: if they can screw up at this order of magnitude after 16-18yrs of training, they're not going to be able to 'fix' him in the time he has left.

And he will definitely not go to the surface fleet.

4/15/2009 9:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Determining fault on the Greenville was a complete no brainer. It was 100% the CO's fault. I read the transcripts from the hearing. That CO took too long chatting with his guests at lunchtime and fell behind on their timetable. Then, to make up time, he blatantly violated standard procedures before coming to PD and then again blatantly violated standard procedures prior to performing an emergency blow.

Reading what the CO of the Greenville did made me simply furious. He should have been punished far more than he was.

4/15/2009 9:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more option: he could possibly to to a training command for a while. The Nav sometimes likes to put the guys who f'up at these commands for show & tell purposes. Nothing quite like a first-hand "boy, did I ever f'up" story to rivet people's attention.

We had a boomer navigator at SOAC when I went through who had hit a piece of submerged South Carolina back in the day. The river there was known to have a nasty set in some places. Said navigator subsequently spent his time teaching navigation at SOAC, and more than occasionally setting up an unsuspecting JO with the same circustances he'd faced to see if they'd screw up as well.

He tried his little game on me, but, alas, I was a suspecting JO. Saw the effect of the set while on the scope, recommended a higher bell and changing course to offset rather than dive into the charts looking for an answer, as apparently he'd done.

We didn't run aground...but the boomer nav was downright flaming pissed that we hadn't.

True story. Numbnuts happen.

4/15/2009 9:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:35 - Sounds like you're whining because a guy tried to keep the new sub drivers in the pipeline from making the same mistake he did. Poor methodology doesn't make the training less important.

4/15/2009 9:44 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, you assume too much. The lesson was all well and good...it was the getting pissed off that we hadn't f'd up like he did that I could have done without. Honestly, the guy was red-faced mad that we hadn't screwed it up. Numbnut is as numbnut does. The guy lived for schadenfreude.

4/15/2009 9:48 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Back in the day, I was always grateful that I never had to navigatet the Cooper River where the most the Navigator could so was 'document the grounding'. Regarding the 'screw up and forgive' climate, I know the watchword in the seventies and eighties was "It is better to fall on your own sword, than to have someone else impail you with it because you will miss the vital parts." This worked very well in my submarine career. I have a number of examples where someone did not take appropriate corrective action before the squadron or CSL and the retribution from above was well out of proportion while if the command reported the problem, the immediate corrective action, and showed a permanent corrective action that was not palative, nothing was said at the higher level.
This effort is hard to do in the case of a collision so relief of the CO is the expected corrective action. Since HARTFORD was under the command of the deployed squadron/taskgroup, it makes sense that that command executed the relief. The HARTFORD parent squadron in New London is not in the 'chop chain' for Hartford until the ship returns to Groton. If Joel's initial comment that 'no new lessons were learned' is correct, it is imperative that the subforce get the old lessons out for a little reinforcement.

4/15/2009 9:53 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Thanks guys. I learn something new in here all the time.

Not going against what you said, Anon, but I know a case where a former submarine CO DID go to the surface fleet after he ran his submarine aground - I wish I could remember the name of the submarine, but the CO was a complete jerk and his name was Capt. FS Schery. He took command of USS Charleston (LKA-113) after he ran that sub aground. Maybe times have changed, I don't know, but his story was a bit interesting and I wonder if anyone in here knows this guy somehow.

4/15/2009 9:55 AM

 
Blogger chief torpedoman said...

wtfdnucsailor, did you used to be on SSBN 610? Your name sounds very familiar. Weren't you the Weps on the Blue crew? I was a TM Launcher Tech on the Gold crew before the overhaul.

4/15/2009 10:14 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turns out that there was a Capt. FS Schery on the USS Charleston (LKA-113. Not very popular with the crew either.

It doesn't say if he served in subs or not before that tour.

http://navysite.de/crew.php?action=ship&squad=false&starty=1983&ship=LKA%20113

4/15/2009 10:21 AM

 
Blogger montigrande said...

Anon 9:16

Having been a temporary guest at a squadron during a similar event (Philly in ’05) I can almost guarantee that his parent squadron was consulted. In all likelihood, the only qualified, deployable (ie. ready) candidate was a post-CO in theater. And having been assigned to a forward deployed tender with squadron onboard, having the deputy take over is a hazard associated with the job (his). The same thing happened in the last Hartford issue and for Philly.

Additionally, I have to agree with bubblehead and rubberducky about lessons learned. I personally know that there are lessons learned out there about shallow water operation in the several classes of 688’s dating from the late 90’s. I don’t know any details, but I hear there are definite hydrodynamic differences in the littorals (Xenon transients....pretty much the same).

4/15/2009 10:24 AM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Relieving a Commanding Officer after an event of this magnitude should not be construed as 'zero defect.' I could easily go off on a rant about that, but I won't. On the other hand, Scott Waddle did anything but stand up to be counted. He blamed everyone but himself, then was so self-centered as to write a book! NOT ONE submariner I know has purchased a copy, and some, like me, will not touch one. The SOB should still be in Leavenworth.

I am interested in the 'word on the street' and would like some of the missing details. Were they already at PD (my bet)? Were they in dip-scope (my bet)? Did they somehow miss an amphib in flat seas? Seems unlikely, but then for something like this to happen it requires at least one unlikely thing to be true. Unlikely--and wholly avoidable.

Interesting: that makes two former XOs of the Philly that were relieved as CO in the last four years. And another XO on the Philly got fired for the turkish freighter incident. Hmmm.

4/15/2009 10:31 AM

 
Anonymous SJV said...

Hold up.

I'm not suggesting that the CO not be fired. Far from it.

What I want to know is how much above that should it go. Now we're talking about multiple incidents with a common thread of the Philly, which leads me to question the squadron, and maybe the CSL. As far as Capt. Waddle goes, if he was such a bonehead, how did he get a command? Somebody had to sign off on his performance. When I read the transcripts, I was also mad at him, but I also read about a senior officer who expressed "surprise" that the Greenville operated at test depth and flank speed on a DV cruise. Do you suggest that he never did the same thing when he was CO?

My point is that the leadership culture of the Navy contributes to such events. Leaders are ENCOURAGED to be like Capt. Waddle, and after a failure, the same individuals who encouraged the behavior condemn it.

My next question is how many times has a "near miss" similar to the Hartford's gone unreported, except in the sea story lore?

4/15/2009 10:53 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that Squadron leadership be A) investigated and B) relieved of their post at Squadron level ie: Commodore etc for the decisions their commaders make for certifying them?

4/15/2009 11:20 AM

 
Anonymous SJV said...

Yes to A.
If the circumstances warrent, then yes to B.

This is just similar to what happens when the CO is held accountable for what a watchstander does.

What I'm really driving at is that the existing system has some serious flaws. We've been having collisions at a regular freqency for some years, and other than relieve CO's, nothing has changed. It's in the first post.
Maybe it's time to change.

4/15/2009 11:33 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Anon: THANKS!

That link you provided helped me find some old shipmates from LKA-113....!!!

4/15/2009 11:38 AM

 
Blogger montigrande said...

It’s about the climate and what you learn is normal or successful. The situation on Philly during that period set them up for failure, set the crew up for failure and set their future crews up for failure. I’m unsure about the squadrons up there now but in ’05 they new what was going on and “their hands were tied.” The general attitude that I saw was that if the boat could get to sea and pass the next exam they were good to go. If there was one (or two) bad egg(s) it was ok, replacing them was not an option because if the squadron wanted a LCPO/DH/XO/CO replaced, someone from squadron would be transferring to sea duty as their replacement. I had a rant but posted it over on my blog to keep the traffic down here (http://nukesro.blogspot.com/)

4/15/2009 12:12 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

The Navy's treatment of COs in moving accidents is legendary (well-known to all PCOs beforehand) and sensible (not so harsh as to deter the competent).

That said, these are usually good family men with exceptional prospects for salvageable civilian lives. I have trouble conferring a greater rank on any career congressman than on a career submariner.

Rather than dwell on some lifelong blindspot that finally caught up with them, or misfortunes of ill-preparedness for some predictable circumstances, we should credit the men with serving their country longer even than most USNA grads do these days. [Do not know for sure that Cdr. Brookhart is or is not USNA].

The mistakes they made are of an order of magnitude commensurate with their rank.

Perhaps we should first contrast such errors to the much greater mistakes (e.g. subprime mortgage promotion) made by members of our government, still in office.

4/15/2009 12:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read with great intrested the debate on the blog about what the appropriate level of "punishment" for a sub CO that runs aground or has a collision is. Keep in mind that there have been indicents like this for as long as man has been sending ships to sea and there always will be. That is not to say that we should not endeavour to prevent them or anakyze each one for the approriate lessons, we should. But to think that there is something significantly wrong with the sub force leadership at the squadron and force level because two submarines have hit a ship in one of the busiest waterways in the world is ludicrous. One poster asked how many near misses happen. I can tell him that they do happen and each one is analyzed and lessons are learned, both personally for the people involved and fleet wide. The possibility of losing your command if something like this occurs is a known risk before you ever accept the job. Command at sea is one of the last truly god-like jobs. You have almost absolute authority, and on a submarine, virtually no day to dy oversight. The buck truly stops at the CO's stateroom. Were mistakes made? Undoubtedly, just as mistakes are made on every sub on any given day. It is the combination of mistakes and circumstance that forced thos accident. When you read the report, whenever it comes out, and read all the contrary to's and failed to do's remember that a similar report would be issued if an investigative board looked at a 24 hour operational period on almost amy ship in the Navy.
From a 15 year submarine vet with gold dolphins who is still in the fleet.

4/15/2009 1:08 PM

 
Blogger Chap said...

@Steve Harkonnen: It used to be that submarine officers came from the surface fleet and commanded surface ships. This changed upon the rise of nuclear power; the guys who come from the surface fleet are rare indeed and more likely brought into the surface nuke program (which has I'd speculate as many nukes as the submariners do, or more, by now).

About 1983 or so NR turned off the submarine officers going to surface command citing lack of bodies for nuke billets. This decision later made a very tight stovepipe between the three warfare unions in the Navy; I know sub officers who know more about joint work than how to talk to a skimmer.

@Rubber Ducky: Some wag told me of a Brit who disgustedly looked at one report and directed they call their report "lessons recognised" because it was clear nobody had *learned* those lessons...

4/15/2009 1:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I cannot speak personally for CDR Brookhart, I have it on good authority that his attitude as a DH was one of legend (and it wasn't a good legend). As for the man who relieved him, I can personally vouch for his skill and expertise, both as a submariner, and as a leader.
It is important to note, that the submarine community tries very hard to perform a proper asessment of its PCOs. Unfortunately, some people are very good actors, or meet the right wickets on paper.
The unfortunate truth, is that accidents happen. When accidents of this magnitude occur, someone has to take the fall. I don't think it would be correct to lop off the commodore's head for the actions of the CO, but I do agree that if a trend is shown within a squadron, that an investigation should occur.

4/15/2009 1:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the squadron that the sub is attached to at the time of the collision is making the Decisions (Subron8) for Brookhart, who is making the decisions and Recommondations for the Leadership at Groton (SUBRON4) and does that leadership end up at Adm's mast for this accident?

4/15/2009 2:09 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

As I previously reported on the other thread covering the chain of command on Hartford, CDR Brookhart was a good man. I was part of the squadron that the 768 was attached to. I will not make specific comments about things the 768 was weak in, but I will say that CDR Brookhart took over in the shipyard. He relieved an outstanding CO who was (or is) the NPEB CO. The XO was gung-ho. As a team they worked very hard and overcame many challenges from the time they left the shipyard until they deployed. I'm sure some of the Squadron identified shortfalls will come out. Truth be known, squadron identifies many deficiencies. Joel has bashed the squadrons on other threads, but I can honestly say that my former chain of command felt good about Hartford leaving on deployment.

So everyone will be shocked to learn that 768 was found deficient in some area that contributed to the collision. I bet that if you check inspection records on every other submarine you may find similar weaknesses in some aspect of their operations. So do we stop every submarine with navigation or sonar problems from going to sea? It's easy after the fact to say Squadron should have known. What's tough is to see are all the latent problems that lead to degrading performance. There is a balance between driving for results and driving for behavior. One of the tough things I did while Squadron EDMC was tell a CO his startup brief was UNSAT (not on the 768). It was easy to call it UNSAT because it sucked. What was hard was convincing all the monitoring organizations in shipyard and CSF that the ship was ready to startup in the future without Squadron there. If the CO, EDMC, or ENG waited for Squadron to stop an UNSAT brief, how could we trust them to stop one in the future if squadron wasn't on board? The point I'm trying to make is that PCS'ing (i.e. firing) everyone who makes a mistake or fails to maintain standards is not easy or realistic.

Let the firings begin: 768 CO, XO, NAV, WEPS, OOD, FTOW, Sonar SUP, QMOW; Squadron CO, SR Deputy, JR Deputy, Nav, ANAV, ST; Is that enough? You know CSF pushed to keep 768 on schedule so we should fire ADM, Deputy, and OPS too. Now we need to replace all these guys. Where do we get them? Let's get them from the same body pool that the incumbents came from. That will fix them.

4/15/2009 2:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 209

in reality, SUBGRU 7 made the firing decision, undoubtedly with some consultation between SUBPAC, SUBLANT, SUBGRU2 (who owns SUBRON 4), though the theater commander has final authority, since they own the boat when it operates in their water

as for SUBRON 8 being involved, all that happened here is that they had to donate a post-command deputy out of hide to fill the vacancy in a sensitive spot, as soon as he gets there, he works for SUBGRU 7

no idea about certifying SUBRON (4 in this case) being investigated, but as lessons "re-learned" are promulgated, you can be certain the TYCOM will be watching closely the next boat to be certified for deployment from that squadron (certification is a joint venture between SUBRON and TYCOM N3)

4/15/2009 3:21 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

The Chief of Naval Personnel approves requests for detachment for cause. Special provisions for removal of a CO. Fairly complex legal procedure - reference here:
http://www.npc.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres/318CB952-C9CC-4982-8212-FC7634E88C9A/0/1611020.pdf

In practice, it takes a flag in the chain of command to make this call and CNP normally backs him/her.

Once approved by CNP, it takes action by the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR, otherwise known as The Waxworks) to reverse the decision. I've seen COs DFC'd spend big chunks of money on lawyers trying to get their removal reversed or removed from their record - have never seen one succeed.

4/15/2009 3:34 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Erik Hollnagel - To Err Is Human: The ETTO Principle


http://www.namahn.com/resources/interview/erik-hollnagel-birds-do-it



At a 1983 NATO conference, Professor Dr. Erik Hollnagel stated that the theory of human error was not a useful one. In this fascinating interview, he explains to Namahn why he still considers this theory to be flawed for the simple reason that human error is unintentional, otherwise errors would be something people wanted and planned to do and would therefore be preventable.


Download the interview (mp3, 31:23, 29,4MB, December 2008)

Hollnagel argues that the focus of risk analysis should be normal human performance, suggesting that accidents occur as a consequence of a series of trade-offs we make between efficiency and thoroughness, coined by him as the ETTO (Efficiency Thoroughness Trade-off) principle. These trade-offs are not random; they are regular, effective and learnt. Hollnagel believes if we study this variability of normal performance and discover under which conditions it combines in unwanted ways, we could then build in preventions.

Hollnagel goes on to discuss with Namahn the challenges our complex and intertwined social technical systems pose, using the present financial crisis as an example of a system many people do not understand, and yet we try to control it in a very simple way: the interest rate. "It's like having just one dial for a complex system, and not knowing how the dial works. In the US they've turned the dial completely to 0%. What if this doesn't work? They don’t have a model explaining the effect it will have, it’s a physiological response, one to make people feel better."

So, does this make it an irrational response? Hollnagel considers rationality to an artifact of logic. In Western cultures, we've separated 'cool' (rational) cognition from 'hot' (emotive) cognition and effectively pushed the latter aside. Hollnagel argues that we can't separate the two because we use them both. People try to accomplish tasks through tried and tested short cuts and their general knowledge of the world and not through rationality: the ETTO principle.

When Namahn asks Hollnagel whether his work makes him more safety conscious he admits that when he climbs a ladder and something is out of reach, there are two things he can do: stretch out to reach it or climb down and move the ladder. "Ten years ago I stretched out; today I move the ladder. I've learnt it's worth the effort."

4/15/2009 3:42 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

"CSF pushed to keep 768 on schedule so we should fire ADM, Deputy, and OPS too." Anyone hear of normalization of deviance.

It's interesting, the USS Port Royal was pushed out of overhaul...now the 768 was rushed....and they both crashed into something. Boy, this is bigger than the sub fleet.

You just got to few ships and you are overcommitted...I bet you, you don't have adiquate shipyard resources....and you have no idea where the line of unsafe is.

I have seen a lot of stove piped organization. Where everyone is required to talk in a certain way, it's like the departments and organizations talked in a form....rationality or rationalism, rules based communication, I mean you are never allowed to be a full human being, you got to talk in a way that creates a image or in a way that keeps your career in motion.

4/15/2009 4:01 PM

 
Anonymous LT L said...

@ Srvd_SSN_CO

One of my shipmates did his Firstie cruise with Waddle and bought the book out of curiosity; I read it during transit coming back from mission to burn time (very easy read).

Let's put it this way: you ain't missing much.

-LT L

4/15/2009 4:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mulligan, actually has a blog! Who da' thunk it?? Mikey is that you in the first pic of Walquitting? Are you wearing a diaper? Is that what I see? You need to give some serious consideration of getting your fat bloated ass of the net. That image is beyond offensive.

I'm going to have nightmares tonight because of the image in my mind Mulligan!!

Thanks a lot Asshole!!

4/15/2009 4:38 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

That is a treasured family picture of my father and mother...I only wish I was as hot as my old man?

4/15/2009 4:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now doesn't that fucking figure?

Mulligan you should have stood a firing squad a long time ago. Oh wait a minute, the Navy can't shoot retards. That would make for bad press in the end. But please get your fat diaper wearing ass off the internet. That image is horrendous!!!

4/15/2009 4:53 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

What I have come to understand, most of our institutional failures, Wall Street, Katrina, 9/11, NASA and Three Mile Island, and most of our industrial accidents...most of them are driven by a altruistic rationalization. They walked off the cliff with the eyes wide open thinking they were doing it for our collective good. I mean altruism, those feelings and rationalization of doing good, it bypasses all our brain circuitry...this stuff is so powerful. The problem is large groups of people get numbed by the thought of doing something for altruism.

Altruism, most of us don't realize how powerful this stuff is. It is staggering thinking about the trillion of dollars of lost opportunity that this distortion of thinking has cost us across the ages.

The "Stanford prison experiment" brings to mind what gets turned off in us when we are trying to control hardened criminals in a imagined prison for the good of us all...under limited resources.

4/15/2009 4:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, when I see a post by Mulligan, I just blur my eyes and scroll past it.

4/15/2009 5:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Stanford prison experiment"?
You mean like this one?
http://www.spankinglinks.net/mood-stan.html

mikey what is it with you? Is this your way of telling us you've been appearing in bondage films nowadays?

Whats next for you? Trying to get an elephant to blow water up your ass with his trunk in a swimming pool to see if you'll float. Gives a whole new and rather nasty meaning to "Blow Ballast tanks!"

4/15/2009 5:13 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

MM quoted me:

"CSF pushed to keep 768 on schedule so we should fire ADM, Deputy, and OPS too." Anyone hear of normalization of deviance.

This is taken out of context. My point was that any Commander (of a boat, squadron, or force) wants his boat(s) to keep commitments. Wanting the boat to keep a commitment does not mean deploy on time at all costs. That being said, I'm quite sure that had the squadron said 768 was not ready to deploy, then they wouldn't have deployed until they could pass certification. Where do you draw the line? Guess what, we have troops killed by friendly fire. Does that mean we don't fight?

Somewhere between "Sh^t Happens" and no boat can go to sea because they all have deficiencies is the right mix.

4/15/2009 5:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

into the surface nuke program (which has I'd speculate as many nukes as the submariners do, or more, by now).There were roughly equal numbers of surface nukes and sub nukes when the nuke cruisers were operating - at least new officer accessions.

Since the start of this decade, however, the surf nuke numbers have been cut a lot, and it's around a 3:1 sub to surf nuke ratio for (officer) baby nukes.

4/15/2009 5:45 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

ddm,

Personally, you owe it to all the sailors and the nation at large on the submarine to go to sea without any deficiencies. A week after you go to sea with you WalMart submarine, we could have another Iraq or other emergency...where you guys will be under the gun for the next 2 years of heavy operation. That's called the slippery slope. I don't think you are doing the nation any good when you go out to sea with known deficiencies. I know you have to because the system above you is so clumsy.

I know a lot of submarines went to sea in the 1970's where they were in no shape to fight a war...but everyone was playing the commitment game. Do you keep tract of deficiencies where you went out to sea with them and it later interfered with submarine operations...do you keep tract of equipment that was known to be degraded that caused or made worst accidents or events?

This certification thing, it sounds like self regulation, where it was necessity to get that sub out to normal operation with known deficiencies to meet the squadron absolute commitment. It's obvious the self interest of the squadron interfered with the certification of the sub.

Nobody believes me, your employees and sailors are talking about the accident 6 months before it occur...they can see the cues to the upcoming accident months before it occurs.

There is no such thing as sh*t happens....there is people just dodging responsibility and accountability with such a phrase.

I think everyone is moving closer to a USS Scorpion SSN 589 tragedy, instead of getting further away from it. I'll make a case many nation's on the planet are underfunding their submarine fleet...it's a world wide event with degraded submarine operation.

We have defaulted to a insular 1930's style Navy...a 1960's style Navy...where we are massively hiding problems from the public...based on phony national security concerns. Believe it or not, the first person you blind in hiding problems from the public, is you blind yourselves.

Remember the good old days when a group of submarine captains and principled senior Navy staff would go pubic or go congress...would make a principled stand demanding the appropriate resources and would risk their whole careers on keeping our nation strong by making the submarine force strong. I am talking about the early WW II period where these skippers made demands...risked being called traitors and war sabotage, fought to fix the dud torpedoes.

4/15/2009 6:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Since the start of this decade, however, the surf nuke numbers have been cut a lot, and it's around a 3:1 sub to surf nuke ratio for (officer) baby nukes.}

I've heard the enlisted surface nuc manning is huge. I work with a surface nuc and I've asked him what the heck they do with all those people - especially the chiefs. They have lots and lots of watchstations I've never heard of.

4/15/2009 7:11 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

While I have heard there is some additional interest in how the ISICs do business, that will never change the fact that the CO, out on his own in the big blue ocean, is ultimately responsible for his ship. There should be questions as to how ships are certified for deployment; all the more so because those responsible for getting them out (the ISIC) are deciding when they are ready (ISIC).

You can make mistakes and not be criminally negligent. Waddle clearly committed negligent homicide. Good thing I wasn't on the board. All this is to say that despite accounts of Brookhart being a great guy, he could still make a very bad decision. We of the ship driving Navy (not the aviators) take bad decisions very seriously. That's the way it is.

4/15/2009 7:34 PM

 
Anonymous Fast Nav said...

"...Personally, you owe it to all the sailors and the nation at large on the submarine to go to sea without any deficiencies."

A statistical impossibility. No one is perfect in every single facet of submarine operations. And even the slightest bit off from perfect is noted as a "deficiency" in the sub force. It's just the jargon we use.

Because a boat has deficiencies doesn't mean they aren't safe or ready to go to sea. It just means there's some things they do better then others.

I feel bad for the CO because, although I don't know the circumstances of what was happening at the moment of impact, I know that in his heart he thought he was doing the best thing to keep his ship and crew safe. No one wakes up going "I'm going to screw myself today!" Regardless, people will look through the previous year's worth of inspection reports to find the smallest comment of deficient performance and point to it as the North Star of indication for future performance. After all, "Shit Happens/Bad Day" isn't an option on the critique report.

4/15/2009 7:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Navigating a straight is always a huge deal. Loss of depth control could have easily been the issue since scopes were not raised. Relieving the CO is a must for the ship and crew to be able to fix themselves with the massive supervision they are about to receive.

4/15/2009 7:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The crew is not going to fix themselves with all the supervision in the world. They're going into a Dry Docking SRA somewhere for at least 18 months (likely longer). A yard period is NOT conducive to getting better. It's a fact, proven time and time again, that they will loose whatever level of proficiency they currently have. Interesting that they just came out of a DMP. Hopefully, Big Navy is looking at SUBFOR's method of preparing Submarines for deployment.

4/15/2009 9:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold the Commanding Officers accountable. But at what point and how are the Brass ever held accountable. I'm talking about the Commodores, Admirals, and their staffs? I'll say it again, "Hold the C.O's accountable"....But in my experience, the ISIC staffs and Flag Staff's get a free pass. They have a role to play too and it takes work to do it right. If they're doing their jobs, they're working just as hard and long as the boat crews....but we all know, that's generally not the case (with some exceptions of course).

4/15/2009 9:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people here are suggesting that heads ought to roll at the squadron level and above. About half of the other post on this blog are filled with comments about how squadron and NR needle dick too much and need to give the boats more room to do their job.

I propose that these two sentiments are not compatible.

4/15/2009 9:43 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

As a former skipper, I'm with Srvd_SSN_CO on this one. I recall when Chuck Griffiths was ComSubPac and a couple of his boats bent their periscopes running too fast. He put out an AlSubPac that said this (exact quote, as I recall it): "The next skipper who bends a periscope will be fired." And there were no more bent scopes for the rest of his tour.

Samuel Johnson: "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." Amen.

4/16/2009 3:39 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I still remember a COMSUBPAC change of command in the mid sixties when the outgong CSP (I think it was JASON MAURER) spent his address chewing out his COs for all of the collisions and groundings that had occurred during his two year tour. That slowed down the incidents but they really did not go away because the tempo of ops was just too great. I also remember VADM Joe William's ALSUBLANTs (Recently a ship of this force....) that shared lessons learned from problems large and larger on an almost immediate basis from lost anchors, wayward torpedos, to collisions and groundings. Some very effective corrective actions, such as improved NAV training, changes to the SOBC and SOAC courses as well as the PXO and PCO courses, and some adjustments to the tempo of operations with improved deployment work ups, helped reduce the number of messages as William's tour ended. Although on the outside looking in, I still feel that the tempo of sub ops today is similar to the tempo from the mid sixties to the early seventies when collisions and groundings were on a once every six month 'schedule' with a few duel occurances. I hope the current higher ups look at this, along with the lack of sea time for COs and XOs compared to the late seventies and early eighties and take appropriate corrective actions.

4/16/2009 10:00 AM

 
Anonymous RM2(SS) said...

I am presently at the end of reading The Right Thing and have found the book a dynamic of faith and bio on Waddle to express his view points of the Greeneville incident. In CDR Waddle's case we have a breakdown between Sonar and the OD, in proper reporting of the contact. That coupled with missing the fishing boat during the standard periscope sweep caused that terrible tragedy. Do we have any material as yet on this Hartford collision? This being said the Navy must resolve these incidents through the UCMJ.
I believe that in many cases the Navy is rushing people through with less training in less time, so therefore due to budget cuts perhaps that is where the problem lies. Does today's CO get the same level of training/ experience as say someone from the 80s? A fact is that today's enlisted are not as well trained as the sailors of the say even a decade ago. My recommendation is that the submarine fleet return to the high standards for training and maybe just maybe some of these terrible events could be avoided.

4/16/2009 10:28 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Greenville: "That coupled with missing the fishing boat during the standard periscope sweep caused that terrible tragedy...

Missing my ass. The OOD did not get enough scope up to truly sweep the danger area ... because his ordered depth was too great. The skipper was in the conn, CSP's COS was also. This was sloppy submarining, not an act of God.

And a 'breakdown in proper reporting of the contact"? I'll bet sonar said it right and the conn either didn't register the report for what it meant or didn't understand its significance. A sonarman is too junior to hang for 9 deaths. The skipper signed the Title B card. The whole thing was a colossal cockup.

4/16/2009 10:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth be told, some of the sailors on Hartford had a "loss of confidence" in the CO well before the collision. He was a reckless, dangerous man who was intent on seeing that things were done to his satisfaction and whoever else he thought was important. He was out for himself. He gave no regard or support to the men who actually knew what they were doing and worked tireless hours to ensure it was done correctly. When he took command, the morale of the boat swiftly headed downhill and stayed there. There were red flags pertaining to his leadership ability before the ship deployed, but nobody bothered to pay them attention.

4/16/2009 11:00 AM

 
Anonymous RM2(SS) said...

RD... thanks for your comments and concur with your thoughts for the most part. Are their transcript records to support Sonar actually reporting this contact or was the account in the book inaccurate on this aspect of the event?
And with your former experience, can you also comment to my perspective on training?

4/16/2009 11:01 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Date: April 16, 2009

From: ComSubPac
To: All US Navy Submarine Commanding Officers
Subject: Hitting things will get you FIRED!!!

Dear Skippers,

Let this memo serve as a notice that if you run your boat aground, or hit another vessel, I'll fire you......

4/16/2009 11:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Date: April 16, 2009

From: ComSubPac
To: CNO
Subject: Memo to Commanding Officers

Dear CNO (Boss),

I've sent a memo to all submarine Commanding Offirers expressing my desire for them to stop running my uh their boats aground, and to stop hitting other sea going vessels. I've instilled the fear of being fired should they commit such an act.

I believe this memo will do the trick and these collisions and groundings will stop, at least in my command.

Any chance that this pure act of leadership on my part could result in another star?

Your devoted servant.....

4/16/2009 11:55 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Date: April 16, 2009

From: ComSubPac
To: CNO
Subject: Feel free to share

Dear CNO (Boss),

As a post script, an old boss once told me, "whip them into ship with the simple threat of firing. This threat works every time". Please feel free to share this bit of leadership with the other force commanders. If it works for me, it'll work for all.

Now, how about that other star????

4/16/2009 12:05 PM

 
Anonymous ex SSN Eng said...

Not to oversimplify, but to be clear: both Greeneville and Hartford ultimately failed in their operations due to poor periscope operation.

As RD points out, the boat was kept too deep by the CO during their vital look-around before the EMBT blow. There's no telling, but how likely is it that the skipper was effectively showing off his impressive combat skills (to an audience that could not possibly appreciate it, mind you) rather than thinking of safety of ship?

Hartford's facts have yet to roll in, but getting clocked like they did while at PD for some time (as appears to be the case) can strongly be blamed on poor periscope technique.

There'll be an ocean of other contributing facts and factors in the future, but let's not lose sight of the basics. Poor periscope operation kills.

4/16/2009 12:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what the civilian world in Iowa thinks...

Muscatine Native Relieved From Duties As Submarine Commander
By Chris Steinbach, Muscatine Journal, April 15, 2009


MUSCATINE, Iowa – A 1985 Muscatine High School graduate has been relieved from his duties as commander of the Hartford, a U.S. Navy submarine that collided March 20 with an amphibious ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
Cmdr. Ryan Brookhart, 41, was removed from his duties Tuesday by Rear Adm. Michael Connor, commander of the Navy’s Submarine Group 7 and Task Force 54.
Brookhart, who is to celebrate his 20th anniversary in the Navy in August, is the son of Keith and Janet Brookhart of Muscatine. His wife, Melissa, is the daughter of Karl and Linda Reichert and the sister of Rep. Nathan Reichert, D-Muscatine.
The Brookharts, who have two daughters, live in Mystic, Conn.
“He has had an absolutely wonderful record. Just one accident and they put him off the ship. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Linda Reichert said Wednesday.
Brookhart had been commander of the Hartford since 2006. It collided with the amphibious transport dock New Orleans at night at the entrance to the Persian Gulf off Iran’s coast.
Navy officials said the submarine was “submerged but near the surface” at the time of the accident. No one was reported seriously injured and both ships limped into Bahrain for damage assessments and repairs.
New Orleans has a 16-by-18-foot gash in its hull. Hartford’s sail is bent and partially torn from the hull.
Although the safety and mishap investigations into the accident are not concluded, “Connor determined that there was enough information to make the leadership change,” the Navy said in a news release.
Andrew Scutro of Navy News contributed to this story.

4/16/2009 2:33 PM

 
Blogger phw said...

How close was Brookhart to finishing his tour?

4/16/2009 3:21 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Interesting article in his hometown newspaper. Having grown up the son of a lifelong print-journalist, I'll offer this up:

I am very surprised that his hometown (Pop. around 25,000 +/-)paper would publicly drag him through the mud like that. Perhaps a reporter (or newspaper Managing Editor?) who knew him in his past and had an ax to grind? Perhaps his State Rep in-law?
Dunno...maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it really does seem that SOMEONE wanted him publicly embarassed at home. Odd. Just my thought.

4/16/2009 3:35 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

RM2(SS): cannot comment on state of training but do find resonance with the discussion of HARTFORD's certification for deployment. That's where training truly gets evaluated and it's a joint decision by the home training center (advising the ISIC) and the ISIC that the boat is good to go (literally). ICO GREENEVILLE's grounding at Saipan, my read is the boat never should have left Pearl without a re-inspection of its Nav team, which was woefully deficient in the POM period but never looked at again. Maybe same-same HARTFORD, maybe not.

As to the GREENEVILLE's collision with EHIME MARU and its causes, this is the link to NTSB's investigation report: http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/2005/MAB0501.htm

Warning: it's not a pretty read. Plenty of blame to go around, no one shines, just a goddam zoo. And — to this old sonarman and CO — maybe a case of TMI. It's not that the boat didn't have the info it needed, but maybe that it relied too much on all its tools and suffered a severe case of cranial-anal inversion on dealing with the basic data regarding S-13.

Avoiding a collision with a surface sonar contact that you hold solid and have for considerable time isn't that difficult, especially when you can augment your knowledge of the situation with the periscope. I won't second-guess HARTFORD until the facts come out, but GREENEVILLE was avoidable, big time.

4/16/2009 3:48 PM

 
Anonymous RM2(SS) said...

RD, thanks for your suggested link and I will follow it up. Concur about the process of surfacing or proceeding to PD being the item in question for both incidents. In all of my time underway, it was always a conducted with patience and precision, even when we were performing an emergency blow! I have appreciated the thoughts shared on this thread as it has created a balance to the book which I only finished this evening.

4/16/2009 5:12 PM

 
Blogger Chap said...

@RM2(SS): I write this comment having some inside knowledge. I'd recommend you look at Waddle's book knowing that it's his side of the story, and that the publisher is one that focuses on stories of faith. That might change how you read the book a bit.

4/16/2009 5:38 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

"Truth be told, some of the sailors on Hartford had a "loss of confidence" in the CO well before the collision. He was a reckless, dangerous man who was intent on seeing that things were done to his satisfaction and whoever else he thought was important. He was out for himself. He gave no regard or support to the men who actually knew what they were doing and worked tireless hours to ensure it was done correctly. When he took command, the morale of the boat swiftly headed downhill and stayed there. There were red flags pertaining to his leadership ability before the ship deployed, but nobody bothered to pay them attention."

CDR B relieved a top shelf CO in the shipyard. He got a new ENG early in the shipyard. Early in his tour he trusted his CPO's when they weren't delivering. Getting the boat out of the shipyard was challenging for everyone. Once the 768 got out of the shipyard, I saw things turning around. There were some negative things too that I won't comment on, but compared to other COs, CDR B cared about his crew more than many other CO's I worked for or observed. That doesn't make him tactically good or a great ship driver. I just disagree that he didn't care about his crew. The bull nuke and the COB seemed to like him too, though I didn't have much interaction with the new COB.

4/16/2009 6:47 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

As to GRV being anything other than a CO f$%kfest, here is the _truth_:
-Time actually at PD: 80 seconds.
-Time ship was broached to conduct a thorough search while at PD: 0 sec.
-range to Ehime Maru at time ship left PD: <2000 yards.

The ship was held on sonar. The CO -ORDERED- the emergency blow after -ORDERING- the ship steadied on the same bearing as the Maru. The other ship was being TRACKED. There was no communication but a clear failure to just do his job.

Is there any other way to spell criminal negligence? He was in a hurry and blew off the rules. A COMPLETE dumbass.

I say this as someone who tipped back more than a few beers and smoked a few cigars with him at happy hour in Lockwood. The man was quite full of himself and until the moment he hit that ship, everyone in his chain of command seemed to think almost as highly of him as he did himself.

The FACTS repudiate every stupid, asinine attempt to put the blame on someone else. The man was a colossal ass.

We are not the air community. We accept responsibility when we cock it up. Waddle is a disgrace.

I now relinquish the soap box.

4/16/2009 8:17 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh No shit huh?
Waddle would have made the perfect Airdale. By now, he'd be in command of a squadron yelling at the deck crew on a regular basis. That way if one of his planes didn't make it back he'd have plenty of people to blame there after, regardless of the circumstances of the loss.

4/17/2009 1:57 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, his personal judgment may be been just awful, but I bet Waddle was great at "mental gymastics"...and isn't that what matters? (he said as he snorted hard enough to blow out a 21st century computer screen)

4/17/2009 6:46 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Yeah, his personal judgment may be been just awful, but I bet Waddle was great at "mental gymastics"...and isn't that what matters? (he said as he snorted hard enough to blow out a 21st century computer screen)

Wether he was great at it or not is a moot point...what he REALLY excelled at was giving the IMPRESSION that he was great at it. Unfortunately, it's the end result that tells the true tale.

4/17/2009 9:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Navy tends to vastly overfocus on the quantitative over the qualitative. Somehow I doubt that Waddle's lack of qualitative judgment was unknown, but like many he got through the quantitative filters just fine.

To be clear, what I'm speaking of is 100% the Navy's problem...not Waddle's.

4/17/2009 4:11 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

This talk of CO selection 'filters' is silly. Potential COs have three hurdles to jump: qualifying for command; being selected for command by the Submarine CO/XO Screening Board; and getting through the nuke PCO pipeline satisfactorily.

No comment on the nuke aspect.

The qualification is managed by the officer's commanding officer and the boat's ISIC, who ultimately bestows the qualification. It's not perfunctory, but it's also not exceptionally rigorous for the candidate who has his CO's recommendation and the requisite skills under observation.

The CO screening is conducted by a sworn Board of senior submariners, who look at all records before them and rank the candidates on the strength of their records. The number of CO slots available to the board are matched up with the top-ranked candidates and they screen. It's a numbers game, competitive on all available information, and those whose records cause them to centrifuge as the heaviest get selected.

I never heard any discussion in the several CO/XO and Submarine Major Command screening boards I've participated in regarding 'qualitative' or 'quantitative' selection factors. Every aspect of an officer's record is looked at, briefed to the board by a board member, and then voted for in a weighted secret ballot. The most challenging aspect in these boards was finding the requisite number of prospectives meeting traditional standards for the position being screened for.

4/17/2009 5:53 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

The weakness in the selection process is the fitness report. It is the only allowable source of negative information during any screening. That doesn't mean you have to write a nasty 'brit' fitrep to ensure the weak ones don't screen, but it does mean you better make sure it reflects the truth of how you feel about his moving on.

In sooth, the selection wickets for XO and CO do a damn good job. Nevertheless, you really cannot tell what people will be like when there is simply no one else around to answer to. The majority of recent firings have been for command climate--something very hard to predict from fitness reports.

If 18 years and multiple selection processes do not give us the best, what else is there. No. We have the best in the job. There will still be mistakes--both in screening and in operations. And when there are mistakes, the stupid will be punished (thanx ducky).

4/18/2009 4:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The screening process for command begins far earlier than a CO/XO screening board. And all along the way - Nuke school, SOBC, SOAC, SCC etc. - there is little or no attempt to measure the quality of someone's judgment unless it all too profoundly evidences itself via a fubar event in the operational world. My suggestion is that the Navy could do better than that if it just so much as tried to gauge the quality of an individual's collective judgment and not just their linear logical abilities.

For quite some time it has been all science and little art when it comes to CO selection (via the many wickets...not just the final board, guys) and thus today's Navy is very weak at even grasping what I'm talking about.

This is overtly demonstrated by the Duck's overly linear response, though he can be forgiven for not seeing the forest as despite his interest in being seen as an iconoclast he is in fact one of the trees.

My ultimate point is that there is a missing cog in the overall CO development and selection process, and that the Navy could fix it if they weren't blind to the problem by way of being trapped in their own paradigm.

4/18/2009 7:42 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Alas, the system that evaluates officers - for whatever purpose - is distributed in its execution and objective in its aims. So it has to have concrete rules simple to follow ('simple enough for a naval officer to understand' is my criterion).

My comments above were judgment-free, a description of the process that is and not advocacy of it. srvd_ssn_co is on target in seeing the fitrep as the system's foundation. In Dec 1990 and again in Dec 1992 in the pages of Proceedings, I took on our fitrep system as it was then, ensuring through back-channels that the CNOs at the time (old boss Frank Kelso in '90) and Bureau Rat Mike Boorda in '92) got their own personal copies. Boorda took it on, got a task force to work the problem, and from it the revised fitrep system of recent years (not quite as far as I'd have gone but lightyears ahead of the previous one in practice and rules).

To your points, the fix is to adjust the system if that is needed: make the rules do what is wanted. But I'm not sure I can draw that bold and profound distinction you do between 'judgment' and 'linear logical abilities.' To do so would suggest acceptance of judgment from some other process. Divine intervention perhaps. Emotional choices. Voices in the head.

It's only the last source - voices in the head - that I might sign on for. Good skippers will tell you that there is an inner voice that alerts the wise to danger. Thus a CO finds himself standing in the conn in his skivvies at 0345 to take the right action in an emergency that had never been communicated to him, the right guy at the right spot at the right time taking the right action.

My PCO instructor said 'listen to your gut - if it says something is wrong, act.' That may be what distinguishes great command tours from disasters, but I'm aware of no test or examination that can predict its likelihood.

And as old XO Ron Wiltsie said it: 'If you're not lucky, we can't use you.'

4/18/2009 8:19 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

One of my COs called it "If you have an itch, scratch it." He then provided concrete examples in his career. I have a few in my own as well. Generally, ninety percent are false alarms but that ten percent can be career enders or worse for all involved. So, for the current batch of sub drivers reading this blog, I hope that you will also "scratch the itch" and show up in the attack center or maneuvering or Lower Level Engine Room to check on that nagging 'itch.' It may save your life someday.

4/18/2009 9:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The collision investigating officer was back in town recently and I had a few words with him. Although he would not (rightfully so) go into any specifics until the reports are published, he did say (no surprises here) that the collision was preventable.

Contributing factors in generic terms were lax watchstanding, informality, & poor practices. Bearing out there will be no earth-shattering new revelations from the report.

Rumor is the XO & Nav were also fired. I'd imagine the Sonar Chief will get (if not already) DFC'd & he along with the Sonar Supervisor (at least) will go (or have already went) to Mast.

On GREENEVILLE, Sonar could have prevented that collision, clear & simple. Were they solely to blame? Absolutely not. Lots of people screwed up (most notably the CO). The command climate was such that almost nobody would go against the Captain, even when it was obvious he was cutting corners and/or violating regs. Sonar, Fire Control, the OOD, JOOD, anyone paying attention in the Control Room could have provided the forceful backup needed to CDR Waddle. But nobody was about to slow him down (several had gotten chewed out that morning is what I heard) after lunch. If the Sonar Supervisor had stood up and forcefully demanded a course change they might have ended up with a near miss instead of hitting the Ehime Maru. Making the decision (to buck the CO publicly after being dismissed on the first tactful try) isn't easy, and rarely has an upside to the enlisted man doing it. Very few CO's in my 5 boats worth of experience reward that kind of behaviour. Every time I've had to do it, I truly felt the safety of the boat was at stake. Rarely was it a pleasant encounter even I got what I wanted...

If HARTFORD's shack had a tracker on the NEW ORLEANS, Sonar likely could have prevented THAT collision in my opinion. They might have been shooting the breeze on the midwatch (& the open mic recordings will tell that tale for certain) or were not being aggressive enough w/ their contact management since the ship was at PD. We don't know yet. Maybe they got it right & were repeatedly ignored by Control, but I wouldn't bet on it. The guy(s) on the scope obviously messed up too.

The CO qualifies all the Sonar Sups & OOD's, so he bears responsibility for their mistakes, whether he was in the rack when they happen or not.

STSC

4/18/2009 5:41 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

STSC:

Good comments.

Gotta wonder about STs' sense of self-preservation. I've been in a few dicey situations while on the stack and have never hesitated to speak up if I thought we were about to slam into something.

There's a potential upside to all this. My skipper when I was a boat ST (actually, SO - olden times) was Yogi Kaufman. Arguing with him required a strong sense of being right, because he'd hand you your head if you weren't. But it must have paid off for me - Yogi got me my commission and was a lifelong friend.

4/18/2009 5:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got the DL on the Hartford. In a nut shell the watch standers in control were effin around. You can read about it when the report is released.

4/18/2009 9:03 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

0345 on the conn and not exactly awake. To the minute that happened to me more than once.

Since STSs keep coming up...I never had occasion to blame STSs or any other person who was diligently doing their job. IF you cultivate the right climate they can and will regularly save your ass (just like every other watch stander on the ship). You have to listen and kick the OODs ass when he doesn't.

The one time I didn't listen, yup, got in trouble.

Hey Duck, all I can say is "Bully!" in the Teddy Roosevelt way.

4/19/2009 4:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concur with STSC. From the word that's out unofficially on the street, this was not only preventable, it was a tragedy of errors across the forward watch section. They appear to have treated a pretty serious transit like they were tooling around on the midwatch in their home OAs.

I will be shocked if we don't see at least 4-5 individuals aside from the CO in some pretty deep kimchee. There are some situations in our line of work where it's just, well, for lack of a better description, "shit happens." Then there's basic negligence.

4/20/2009 6:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

COB is gone as well, and is did not leave with the boat.

4/20/2009 10:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More and more details are coming out, but I was specifically briefed NOT to share until the sanitized report comes out.

Suffice it to say, many HARTFORD heads will roll, & professionalism on watch is the new fleet hot-button.

STSC

4/21/2009 2:13 AM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Great. Now the evaluation point will be "rate on a 1-5 scale: no talking unless it is watch related." Hmm, never worried about that on any ship I've been on and we always seemed to get the job done. Never the less, that was never and excuse not to be doing your job.

It will be interesting to see the mechanism by which this is 'force internalized.'

Hopefully the report will come out in less than the standard time (nearly a year).

4/21/2009 3:22 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Da Sonar Chief sez:
Suffice it to say, many HARTFORD heads will roll, & professionalism on watch is the new fleet hot-button. OK, I gotta ask the rhetorical question here: When did it cease to be a hot-button in the first place? Seemed when I went back to sea in 2003 that it was a REAL hot issue and never let up right up to the day I retired in 2007. The 3 buzz-words were "Formality, Communications and Procedural Compliance", stressed from TYCOM right on down thru the ISIC and on to the boats. TRE/TSDIT would hammer hard on it, SCC hammered hard on it and...well, you get the idea.
For what it's worth, and I could be wrong here, it seems to me that instead of making new "laws", we just need to better-enforce the ones we already have in place?

I shall now go have my second cup of coffee and think this through a little more :)

4/21/2009 5:01 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading the "effin' around" theme that seems to be unfolding, my immediate question is "why?"

Don't these guys have a sense of both mission and the dangers involved? Are they being run so hard that the mere prospect of a liberty port has them bouncing off the walls and doing stupid shit? Is this creeping Greeneville-ism?

In a word: whazzup???

4/21/2009 5:18 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

RetNav said it right. Ernie King has an expression (c. 1941): 'orders to follow orders.' He was against them.

Grabass and casual watchstanding are just plain sloppy. And dangerous. An old mentor described the officer's job: 'to set standards.' Do we need to Ghost of Rickover to appear to tell us that the no-crap atmosphere required in the engineering spaces sets the right standard for the whole boat?

The submariner force stands to gain a great deal by institutionalizing an insistence that nuke standards be required throughout the boat.

And yes. If the rumblings here and elsewhere about lax watchstanding bear up, this goes straight to the CO. Everyone else is just collateral damage.

4/21/2009 7:13 AM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

yup.

4/21/2009 10:15 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Da Duck sez:
An old mentor described the officer's job: 'to set standards.'Couldn't agree more, but, obviously, it goes deeper than this. The CHIEF'S job is to ENFORCE the standards.

Anon @5:18 said "Is this creeping Greeneville-ism?"

No, this is creeping Gen-Next-ism...something we all SEE, but most refuse to acknowledge. Contrary to Ernie King's mantra, we're all to quick to give "Orders to follow Orders" without taking a step back and saying to ourselves "Why are we giving NEW orders when it's clear that some can't (or WON'T) follow ANY orders to begin with? "Orders to follow orders" merely treats a symptom and, as Chap quoted (from a Brit) in an earlier post, these are simply "Lessons Discovered", as we clearly haven't learned from them (Yet).

4/21/2009 3:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anybody looked into the number of collisions/near collisions that have happened since the navy did away with the QM rating on submarines. Lets see: Hartford, Newport News, San Francisco, Greenville. just to name a few off the top of my head. As a bubble head that has been out for a number of years but I still work with them every day, I see the lack of knowledge the Submarine Sailors have today comparied to 20 years ago.

4/21/2009 3:28 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Has anybody looked into the number of collisions/near collisions that have happened since the navy did away with the QM rating on submarines.Not quite sure what one has to do with the other, but I'll go off the top of my head here:

SanFran: ANAV was an original QM
Greenville: ANAV was an original QM
Newport News: ANAV IS an original QM
Hartford: Don't know. (Buhler? Buhler?)
Oklahoma City: ANAV is a former QM
JAX (1 and 2): ANAV is a former QM.
Philly: ANAV was a former QM

Again, not quite sure what this has to do with the price of tea in China, but since you asked.

4/21/2009 3:55 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Associating collisions with the way a set of skills and knowledge are packaged (i.e., in the quartermaster or some other rating) is not fruitful or telling. And suggesting that 'bad' ANavs cause collisions is equal folly.

The CO, the XO, the Navigator, and the OOD have duty to avoid collisions (and groundings, bottomings, etc.). They have the tools to do this. And on them rests responsibility to train and qualify watchstanders and watch teams, and then to supervise the watch in operation. This ain't rocket science. Follow the basic guidance: don't fuck up.

4/21/2009 4:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The QM may be the only one in the forward watchsection that did alright for all we know; the report hasn't come out yet, and no one has mentioned a problem with QMOW or Nav Sup.

I would be more inclined to blame the sudden uptick on optempo and training (or lack thereof) in pipeline schools. Since the SECF pipelines were shortened and CBT/SOBT has been the big push, the number and tempo of major incidents has increased dramatically. Since the standing up of the much vaunted (but low value) "Submarine Learning Center" (also known as more management for no good reason) the number and tempo of incidents has increased even faster.

But, getting back to the topic, "effin around" pretty much covers it.

4/21/2009 5:53 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

Up to this point I have been a staunch supporter of the 768. If it is true that they were "eff'ing" off in Control/Sonar they have lost my support. One of the things I was taught by my first CO was what was an "acceptable level of formality." He said he knew that guys couldn't go six or more hours and talk nothing but business, but we should act like we were driving a car. Talk but face the windshield (or panel).

Orders for orders sake. We have reached a point that requires a reset. There are many who think they cannot do anything without specific, written guidance. There are some non-negotiable procedures, but many of our junior blue-shirts and officers are being trained that formality means proper repeat backs and point-read-operate. CO/XO/ENGs are pinged for what they did when they couldn't run drills due to mission constraints. We are being told we must fill every minute of every watch with some kind of training. Some of the best training is being left alone on watch with some crusty old Chief telling you sea stories, but making you mind your business at the same time. Simple rule on watch - if you wouldn't do it with the CO standing there, you probably shouldn't be doing it. I've made my fair share of boneheaded mistakes, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't allow a standard that would make anyone think it was okay to f$%^ off in the Staits.

4/21/2009 6:12 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

"I would be more inclined to blame the sudden uptick on optempo and training (or lack thereof) in pipeline schools. Since the SECF pipelines were shortened and CBT/SOBT has been the big push, the number and tempo of major incidents has increased dramatically. Since the standing up of the much vaunted (but low value) "Submarine Learning Center" (also known as more management for no good reason) the number and tempo of incidents has increased even faster."


1. I'd like to see your statistics.

2. Last I checked, it was the boats (and, in many cases, the CO is the bottom sig here) that are responsible for
a. Assessing a person's level of knowledge and;
b. QUALIFYING that person to stand their watch.

Are the schoolhouses perfect? Not by a long shot...often as not, we (Yes, I'm part of that system) are a pump, rather than a filter but we DO have SOME QA built into the pipeline. We are not, for example, going to send a kid to the fleet with our blessing if he couldn't meet minimum standards. Do we manipulate numbers just to get the kids out of our classrooms? *I* do not, and I'd like to think my colleagues do not, but I'm sure it happens on occasion. Though we in the schoolhouse have a large say in the matter, at the end of the day the ultimate responsibility for giving a kid the thumbs-up or -down rests with his command.

4/21/2009 7:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the horrible anon who posted nasty, awful things about our schools.

Please note that I did not write a word about the work of the instructors, which has become consecutively more impossible over the last 6-8 years for a variety of reasons. I rather complained about the trend away from formal schools with exhaustive curricula and towards less expensive (and I might argue less effective, given recent fleet performance) Computer Based Training.

You seem to be operating on the assumption that I have never been an instructor. I've seen both schools of thought at work in my two instructor tours, both before CBT and after CBT, and the recent school of thought that has recapitalized our schoolhouses with a bunch of computers at the the cost of less manpower seems to me to be less than ideal. If I am the only one who feels this way, then I have to admit I may be mistaken, but I doubt it - either that I am wrong, or that I am alone if thinking this way.

4/21/2009 7:09 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Ret_ANAV said: "Last I checked, it was the boats (and, in many cases, the CO is the bottom sig here) that are responsible for
a. Assessing a person's level of knowledge and;
b. QUALIFYING that person to stand their watch."

It is a very sobering moment when YOU realize YOU qualified every OOD, QMOW, EOOW, DOOW, EWS and Sonar Sup on the ship. That better not be the first time you see the significance. Yet another reason the boat (read, CO) is ultimately accountable.

4/21/2009 7:27 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Anon@7:09:

Wasn't bashing you or your instructional abilities or methods. Wasn't really bashing the schoolhouse system, either (Though my thoughts on CBT would fill a not-so-small book!) Was merely expressing my displeasure at the pattern of deflecting responsibility for one's shortcomings back on the schoolhouse.

@CO: ...and BCE's, LELT's, ANAV's (Sort of), CWHS's, etc. etc. Thankfully, most of y'all GET it, but Jesus protect your bretheren who sign the cards simply to satisfy an administrative requirement.

4/21/2009 7:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a fair comment, and I apologize for misreading your original intent.

Don't read my comments as an attempt to deflect responsibility towards the schoolhouse, but read them as a pissed off instructor who knows how things USED to be done and is willing to warn others that some small measure of responsibility for operational safety does rightfully belong at the schoolhouse doorstep. It would be less than professional for any instructor to assert otherwise.

Are the schoolhouses THE problem here? No, absolutely not. They are, however, not really helping, either - because the professional instructor cadre is being replaced with mindless computer games, while at the same time being managed to death by a new command (SLC) in search of an identity and a mission. I don't know what contact you have had with a school in the past few years, but many of those who work at them are rightfully frustrated. I will do what I can to make the Navy a better and safer place in these last few years of my career, because I care. I'm just distressed to see our focus move away from the classroom and the trainer, and tip towards administration and documentation to the detriment of useful training.

4/21/2009 9:17 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To RetANAV:

With regards to your comment on my hot-button post:
Yes, professionalism, formality, and proper watchstanding should always be priorities to be enforced to the highest standards attainable. No argument there.

There are a million things we are all trying to do right daily. Yet there is only so much time in the day. I frequently run into the challenge of balancing my training goals (not necessarily what's on the SRTP & LRTP) with mission requirements. Sometimes they co-exist well together, but frequently they are in direct conflict with each other. We have to do what we can but rarely can we get everything done as well as we'd like in the time alloted.

Then there are the requirements on top of what we have to do to function that are driven from above. That's where the hot buttons come in. ISIC & TYCOM w/ their bees buzzing in their bonnets.

Latest example (pre-Hartford) is motorcycle safety courses. Yes they are important. We keep losing too many guys to PMV accidents. But knowing that and getting everyone required through the courses in a timely manner can be a challenge. Explaining in detail to the ISIC staff weekly why every sport bike rider hasn't finished his courses is just an added burden.

What I'm saying is each major mishap causes the external focus to shift to one area or another for a period of time. Which causes a shift on the boat. All things get looked at, but some areas harder than others.

After San Fran went bump in the night, stowage for sea standards across the fleet saw a major reset (back to how it should have always been). I'm sure some were already doing it right, but the fleet as a whole had let things slip some. A dead submariner and lots of hurt shipmates caused a re-evaluation of how we looked at things (Hmmm, Velcro is no longer good enough...) and stowage now gets a much more thorough look than it did in the past.

Newport News & the MSP mishaps now has us looking harder at how we
man topside & manage contacts (oh wait, guess we weren't looking hard enough).

Nebraska (& the other losses) has us installing guards & taking more precautions so we don't let another earnest Sailor trying to do right end up squished & dead.

Etcetera for the last several major incidents. Since lack of formality and professionalism (as opposed to say integrity like a year ago w/ the nuc exam scandal) seemingly were the smoking guns on Hartford, that's where the outside agencies will put more focus.

Which will therefore cause our CO's & ourselves to be more forceful in enforcing those standards. That's not a bad thing
in my book, even if it can be painful sometimes.

Sadly, we aren't learning any new lessons, we're just retraining on old ones with new examples.

Vulgar language has ALWAYS been contrary to the SSORM, but how many boats enforce that? I'd be willing to bet there was many an F-bomb and other profanity on the tapes heard by the investigators. Professionalism & profanity are opposites.

My boat right now (just started this week) is trying to eliminate swearing - a major command climate shift. Just one of the small ways we are trying to ramp up formality & professionalism. We're dusting off the parts of the SSORM like that which haven't been getting 100% enforced.

As more details come out, I think this will be a growing trend.

STSC

4/22/2009 2:21 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Anon@9:17;
"Are the schoolhouses THE problem here? No, absolutely not. They are, however, not really helping, either - because the professional instructor cadre is being replaced with mindless computer games, while at the same time being managed to death by a new command (SLC) in search of an identity and a mission. I don't know what contact you have had with a school in the past few years, but many of those who work at them are rightfully frustrated"

While this seems to be the case for Entry-Level (A-School/NMT) students, the more advanced courses (with few exceptions) are still the status-quo. To address your curiosity regarding my level of contact with schoolhouses, read my profile. Do I get frustrated? Yeah I do, but for different reasons: While I AM frustrated at the incessant need to reduce instructor/student face-time at the entry level, I am MORE frustrated by the quality of student I am seeing returning to the schoolhouse after a year or two (or more) at sea. I tell myself every day "It's OK, I can fix this". Sometimes I can, sometimes not. Oh, and there's the human-factor in the Instructor, too. Two categories here:

a. The instructor who genuinely loves what he/she does and is very passionate about their work, and;
b. The instructor who is there to
1. Stay in the area because nothing else was available, and
2. Fatten up the Eval before going in front of the CPO selection board.

Is the current curriculum sufficient? Again, in some cases yes, in some cases no. If the answer is no, I'll give ya three words: Course Activity Log. Are the instructor (and student) comments reaching back to CCMM? In my world, sometimes yes, sometimes no. If no, FIX IT! Is CCMM actually addressing the instructor comments, or do they themselves fall into b.1 or b.2 above? If no, FIX IT! That's what LSO's are for. They're civillians who are there because they WANT to be, not because they need a bullet for their eval. Won't go into FCR's, but I'll guess you know where I'm going with THAT!

@STSC: Did you ever notice how, after every major incident, the common theme seems to be "How we SHOULD have been doing things in the FIRST place"? As was posted earlier, we always seem to get "Orders to follow Orders". What really drives me nuts is that, as you say, the "Focus Seems To Shift" The problem with THAT is that that is ALL it does: Shift. Never seems to BROADEN and the "Lessons Learned" simply remain as "Lessons Discovered".

Coffee #2 and off to work.
Cheers.

4/22/2009 3:46 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Whne Kin McKee was the submarine boss in the Med, his staff got frustrated at his insistence that whatever was fresh in his mind be given added emphasis. Finally at a staff meeting one of them asked the Admiral this: "Boss, we've got all this stuff you pile on us that has to get done. Tell us what is the number one priority." His reply: "Folks, EVERYTHING is number one priority."

Whether it's motorcycle safety or running a taut watch, those responsible do not have the luxury of sliding this in favor of that or relaxing because a lot has already been demanded. The enemy isn't the skipper or higher authority or the silly twits trying to replicate the loaves-and-fishes with scarce training resources. The enemy is reality, the natural world and its laws. And in the combat realm it is a crafty enemy trying to kill 'em all.

The guys who are great in the submarine force do do it all. Those that can't, well they take risks, establish their own private priority system to slough off the too-hard, and sometimes get their names in lights for putting their boat in front of a big gray thing at PD in the dark.

An officer's job is to set standards, but the source of those standards is what's necessary, not what's possible. And submariners are divided into two categories, hackers and non-hackers. Lord help the latter and their shipmates.

4/22/2009 5:48 AM

 
Anonymous Smag(SW) said...

@Rubber Ducky: Whne [sic] Kin McKee was the submarine boss in the Med, his staff got frustrated at his insistence that whatever was fresh in his mind be given added emphasis. Finally at a staff meeting one of them asked the Admiral this: "Boss, we've got all this stuff you pile on us that has to get done. Tell us what is the number one priority." His reply: "Folks, EVERYTHING is number one priority."

(A small) part of the issue is that the USN continues to substitute platitudes (such as the one quoted above) for leadership. How does one reconcile the McKee quote with "Big Al" Konetzni's: "Keep the main thing the main thing?" I'll stipulate the understanding that everything's important--but some things are more important than others (or we would work 365/24/7 to complete even the most mundane of tasks). Prioritizing: that's what the policy wonks and those in positions of "great responsibility" (i.e., commanders) are supposed to do...set the priorities, get out of the way, and provide experienced oversight while the crew completes the job.

Obviously there are bigger issues (falling under the category of "lessons discovered/recognized"), but the above is my $0.02.

4/22/2009 8:02 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Smag: "How does one reconcile the McKee quote with "Big Al" Konetzni's: "Keep the main thing the main thing?" I'll stipulate the understanding that everything's important--but some things are more important than others (or we would work 365/24/7 to complete even the most mundane of tasks)."

Here's the rub: There are TASKS, and there are STANDARDS, so, in the grand scheme of things, BOTH McKee and Big Al are correct. McKee was referring to TASKS while BATSP was referring to STANDARDS. The Duck nailed it: the source of the standards is what's necessary, not what's possible. That said, it is absolutely inexcusible to prioritize standards at all, letting some slide in order to attain others or gaffing off the hard ones because you don't want to do your job. Remember...tasks are physical, standards are mental.

4/22/2009 8:55 AM

 
Anonymous Smag(SW) said...

@Ret ANAV (0855) "Here's the rub: There are TASKS, and there are STANDARDS, so, in the grand scheme of things, BOTH McKee and Big Al are correct. McKee was referring to TASKS while BATSP was referring to STANDARDS. The Duck nailed it: the source of the standards is what's necessary, not what's possible. That said, it is absolutely inexcusible to prioritize standards at all, letting some slide in order to attain others or gaffing off the hard ones because you don't want to do your job. Remember...tasks are physical, standards are mental."

I won't dispute your (impeccable) logic, but I'll agree to disagree regarding the separation of standards and tasks. The two are intertwined and inseparable (in my mind).

As such, prioritization does occur in both realms. I'm not saying that's a "bad" thing--it's reality. Unfortunately, as folks move up the food chain (both enlisted and officer), they become detached from that reality.

If each task was executed to the 4.0 standard, it's unlikely that any platform (whether submarine, surface, or aviation) would ever get underway. If one adds up the hours required for each PMS item, hours of training required, watchstanding, PT, etc., the math simply doesn't work. Yes, tasks are prioritized, but that also implies that somebody made a decision to prioritize a standard.

No right answers necessarily, but agree with many others in this thread that the basics require enforcement and until we do so, we can expect to see events similar to PORT ROYAL, HARTFORD, etc.

4/22/2009 10:06 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

@Smag: "I'll agree to disagree regarding the separation of standards and tasks. The two are intertwined and inseparable (in my mind)."

Never said they weren't...I just didn't get far enough to say they were. I couldn't agree more that that, indeed, they are intertwined and inseperable. Obviously, to accomplish any task, you must first know to what standard the deliverable will be held. Unfortunately, that standard (whatever it may be) seems to have become a somewhat moving-target of late.

4/22/2009 10:13 AM

 
Anonymous Smag(SW) said...

@Ret ANAV (1013) "Never said they weren't...I just didn't get far enough to say they were. I couldn't agree more that that, indeed, they are intertwined and inseperable. Obviously, to accomplish any task, you must first know to what standard the deliverable will be held. Unfortunately, that standard (whatever it may be) seems to have become a somewhat moving-target of late."

I think you--and several others--found the issue catalyst, as discussed in the last sentence above.

The "standards" (or their enforcement) vary (or seem to) according to wind velocity (i.e., ratchet up the level of attention based on the crisis de jour). A real standard is the same and enforced uniformly regardless of environment.

Until we start to remove personality/style from standards, regardless of their effect on items such as retention, promotion, etc., they (and their enforcement) will vary to keep people "happy," vice ensuring mission readiness.

4/22/2009 10:31 AM

 
Anonymous navyneutron said...

ret anav

i think it is worth modifying your assertion that Big Al's main thing applied to standards only

incorporating the admission that standards and tasks are inextricably intertwined, the main thing focus provides a way for both decisionmakers and watchstanders to prioritize within the constraint that everything is a number one priority

one of my old Sonar Supes gave me a bit of solid training when I was banging down his door in port for the training binder, some QA paperwork, the sound silencing report, eval drafts, outbound messages and anything else i could hound him for

he looked at me and said "sir, I have figured out in my 13 years that being a submariner is a juggling act... and submariners must keep the balls in the air, but as the stuff piles up, the real key is recognizing that some balls are made of glass and some of rubber, like for example, QA is a glass ball, so you better not drop it, but the training binders are rubber and can bounce once in a while to ensure the glass balls never fall"

keeping the main thing the main thing is recognizing at all levels of the watch team that safe transit of SOH is the main thing above all else, including whatever tomfoolery was occuring in control

it also means understanding that a safe, IAW proceedures sweep of the surface picture is required before an emergency blow for training, or understanding that when transiting from one liberty port in europe to another, that if sea conditions are worse than you have ever seen, the pilot can stay on board, since even in just pure economic terms, the navy would rather pay to fly a guy from one port to another than lose two sailors swept to sea

everything being a priority is what seperates us from the skimmers and keeps us striving for excellence whereas keeping the main thing the main thing is what gets us there safely and mission complete

4/22/2009 2:40 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

@Navy Neutron:
Since Srvd_CO used it earlier, I'll use it too: Bully! I stand modified :)

With regard to your last statement: "everything being a priority is what seperates us from the skimmers and keeps us striving for excellence whereas keeping the main thing the main thing is what gets us there safely and mission complete":

It's been my observation of late that the skimmers make everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) a priority too. Difference with them is that they have yet to (consistently) figure out which balls are glass and which are rubber.

Cheers.

4/22/2009 4:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look at the main thing as trying to determine the "law of diminishing return". If one hour of training is good, and two hours is better, would 8 straight hours be even better"? If three extra watchstanders help the piloting team, doesn't 6 extra people help even more?

The tough part is you often cannot measure the point of diminishing return quantitatively or qualitatively. It comes to a leader who is in tune with the signals of the system around him.

When you're piloting, if you're heading in the right direction, you're not going to run aground, so don't miss a turn. Does that mean you shouldn't try and get offsets from GPS to Visual and so forth? Of course not, but don't lose sight of the main thing, turn the boat when you're supposed to!

Classic case was Hartford's grounding in La Mad. Anyone in control, or on the bridge could have measured the distance of the track and said "hey, we've been going twelve knots for 14 minutes, we must have passed the turn right??

Yet, not one person performed the simple calculation, because, they lost sight of the main thing...

4/22/2009 9:37 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

The "main thing" is recognizing what the most important thing going on and ensuring you have the right people engaged at the right time.

When ADM K was CSG-7, he rode our boat (SSN-666). At a CPO call he spoke of the "main thing" and how other boats in theater didn't get it (A 688 had recently gotten tangled up in a skimmer's anchor chain or vice versa and another boat ran engineering drills when they could have been tracking someone). He basically told our CO that we would not do anything that might distract us from our mission. It was the best spec-op I ever did. Got the boat real clean, all the boys got really heavy LOK-wise, and we got a private party at the Submarine Sanctuary in Yoko on Big Al's dime. Despite missing all the training time on station, we still did fine on our RTHP ORSE.

4/23/2009 1:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With no new corrective actions, how can we expect any new lessons learned? CTF 54 lost confidence in the Hartford's CO. With two recent collisions doing this very transit, and another one nearby, who's lost confidence in CTF 54? Who's lost confidence in the home squadron's ability to train and screen a boat for deployment? I think that the checklist mentality in the submarine force has taken away our ability to think, react, and assess.

4/25/2009 4:26 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"I think that the checklist mentality in the submarine force has taken away our ability to think, react, and assess."

I like checklists. Aides-mémoire. Commercial pilots have it right: use the checklist, but look out the window too.

If the loose 'facts' floating about are near correct, it was sloppy watchstanding that did these guys in (as with GREENEVILLE and EHIME MARU). Correlation with excess reliance on checklists is vaporous.

4/25/2009 6:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really too bad about the Hartford. Hopefully future sub drivers will learn something about that incident.

Speaking of the Greeneville, it's unfortunate Waddle didn't hit that fishing boat back in 1945. Instead of being busted out of the Navy, Waddle would have received another NavCom. Plus he'd be a captain by now commanding a SUBRON.

4/25/2009 7:43 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commercial pilots use checklists to get the plane ready, then they put them away and fly the plane. Chesley Sullenburger didn't use a checklist for that amazing landing in the Hudson River. Neither did the air traffic controller. Listening to the audio of that incident is like listening to music. Two professionals who were able to think on their feet and turn imminent disaster into an exciting news story in half a minute. I like checklists, too, but when I refer to a checklist mentality, I mean that we use them too much. A checklist should be used to check yourself. Make sure you didn't miss anything. I see them used too much as a sole reference. When our submariners are confronted by a situation for which there is no checklist or best practice, they are often frozen with indecision. I think it's evident as well that the Officer Experience Log is an abject failure. But hey, we can stick to our checklist guns and keep colliding and running aground. Or, we can cut back the reliance on checklists, drop the zero failure tolerance, put decision making authority back into the hands of the JOs that drive the ship and watch the ship at night, let people make mistakes and learn from them where mistakes can be tolerated, put reasonable controls in place where they cannot, and grow a force of thinking watchstanders.

4/25/2009 9:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky- Your bent periscope analogy isn't doing anything for me. We all know that the next CO to run aground or collide is going to get fired. Seems like that is not working out very well for us. I think we need something better.

Served ssn co, no one thinks that the CO shouldn't be fired. It's pretty obvious his leadership fell short somewhere. But some of us are trying to step back and look at the big picture. Look at the culture of the submarine force, and how that contributes to making big mistakes. When we don't allow people to make small mistakes, it stunts our learning. Failure needs to be tolerated. Risk can be managed through effective leadership. When we drop the zero defect mentality, stop the micromanagement, and allow people to grow with their mistakes I think we'd see a reduction in big mistakes.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Want to defend the knee jerk firing? Fine, but give us something new to ponder; something that just might make a difference next time.

Besides the squadron deployment screening review, I'd like to see a CO screening review. If this CO is so unfit for command, how did he get there? How this and every other CO and DH who get DFC'd (and there are a lot these days) slip through the cracks? Who is writing their glowing fitreps and who else slipped through the cracks? NPC is filling all these billets with supposedly unfit people, so I think it's time to start asking Pers-42 some tough questions.

4/25/2009 10:48 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

anon @9:29 "Commercial pilots use checklists to get the plane ready, then they put them away and fly the plane. Chesley Sullenburger didn't use a checklist for that amazing landing in the Hudson River."

Uh...really?

OK, I'll stipulate to two things here:

1. Yes, pilots generally put the checklists away after takeoff (for a while anyway)....and
2. No Sully didn't have a checklist in his hand when he set his A320 into the Hudson.

Elaborating on #1: That said, each type of aircraft has a checklist for nearly EVERYTHING...except straight and level 1g flight. Pre-Flight, Pre-takeoff, Post-Takeoff, ILS Approach, Visual Approach, you get the idea. Haven't even gotten into the emergency checklists yet. Short-Field, Rough Field, Ditching...again you get the idea.

Brings me to #2:
No, Sully did not have the Ditching checklist in hand...he was flying the plane. But his #1 sure as hell DID have it...almost had it finished, too. And, I THINK, this was checklist #2 he had to complete before the plane went in the water. There IS a time-standard to complete the emergency checklists but, obviously, time was a luxury they didn't have.

You have it exactly right: A checklist should be used to check yourself and make sure you didn't forget anything. How you can say that right after saying "We Use Them Too Much" has me really confused.

Checklist mentality? Guilty as charged and I would never try to change it. It's one small administrative step to take to make sure that we grow old in this business. None of this was EVER intended to take away from our decision-making processes. Quite the contrary...it was designed to
a. Make it EASIER to make the tough calls and,
b. Make sure we consider EVERYTHING in the heat of the moment.

As far as treating the checklist as a sole reference, I'll say this: 99 times out of 100, the checklist IS the reference. Why? It comes from the source-document (i.e. NODORM/SOM, etc). If someone is frozen with indecision for lack of a checklist then, obviously, he needs to go back to the source-document for guidance. Too many people treat these checklists as an administrative burden...including me, from time to time, but I would argue that they have prevented many a grounding, or, in the case of those who HAVE grounded, COULD have prevented it were they properly utilized (Greenville-Saipan, Jeff. City-SOCAL, etc.). Coffee's done...time for cup #1. Happy Sunday!

4/26/2009 5:57 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"Rubber Ducky- Your bent periscope analogy isn't doing anything for me. We all know that the next CO to run aground or collide is going to get fired. Seems like that is not working out very well for us. I think we need something better."

There are those who think command of a submarine is formulaic ... if the selection process is competent, the individual's attitude and attentiveness topnotch, and all procedures are followed, 'twil turn out wonderfully.

And then there are those who've actually been in command or are now. Their view of command is tempered by reality. Best comment on the subject is from Charlie White after he'd had a great command tour in WAHOO and was Ops Boss at CSP: "Command of a submarine is easy ... as long as you don't plumber it up. So don't plumber it up!"

My bent periscope analogy wasn't meant to do anything for you unless you're headed for submarine command - landlubbers and shoe clerks don't really need to know how to run a warship. It was Chuck Griffiths' way of telling his skippers to pay attention to something that had become a problem. It worked for him.

4/26/2009 10:12 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My bent periscope analogy wasn't meant to do anything for you unless you're headed for submarine command - landlubbers and shoe clerks don't really need to know how to run a warship. It was Chuck Griffiths' way of telling his skippers to pay attention to something that had become a problem. It worked for him."

If leadership through fear tactics is what you need to get things done, then I would say that the leadership toolbox is pretty empty. You might be right that it worked for Griffiths, but therein lies the problem. Our commanders are thinking on the plane of "How can I get through my command tour" instead of "How can I solve this problem permanently for the fleet." Griffiths got through his tour, but the fleet continued to bend scopes, lose radar masts, etc. after he was gone. Read on for more on this.

As far as your intended audience goes, I really can't see anyone taking anything from this. The fear clause is in place. We all know what's going to happen to the CO, however it's clearly not working in this case because these incidents continue to happen; yet you continue to defend it. Leadership through fear tactics will never solve a problem. It might get a Commodore, Group, etc. commander through until he turns over to the next guy, but it doesn't solve the problem permanently. Let's say we follow Rubber Ducky's approach and tell the sub force "The next person to run aground or collide will be fired". (This is just like putting out a message instructing one-time training to address fleet trends, one of my favorite examples of how not to solve a problem.) Within 2 years the crews have largely changed out and someone who didn't get the one-time fear tactic message makes the mistake again. Also, when fear tactics are applied over and over again, it loses its effectiveness and morale plummets in this negative leadership culture. This is why we see so many cyclic problems in the submarine force, whether it be collisions or figure 3-1 problems.

The leadership through fear tactics also frustrates the subordinates who know there are more effective ways to solve problems and see it as their leaders' way of just getting through their tour with no more big mistakes to deal with. This is part of why the Navy struggles to maintain quality people. Talented people recognize the negative leadership culture and decide that it's not worth it to stay in.

Warships are certainly a unique leadership environment that requires a unique leadership approach. Leadership by fear is not that approach. It's a short term solution to a long-term problem.

4/26/2009 12:50 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Pack sand.

4/26/2009 3:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky said "Pack Sand":

Like I said, empty leadership toolbox. We can't do anything with that statement. It adds nothing to the debate. I suppose you used the same approach to your crew? It's no wonder we have retention challenges.

Ret ANAV- The problem with using the checklist as a sole reference is you lack the understanding, the depth of knowledge. You can check off A,B,C,D.... but you don't know why you are checking off those items if you do not consult the source document. When something changes that makes any of those checklists entries inadequate or wrong, you won't catch it because you don't understand what you are doing, and that's when disaster happens. Hence my position that reliance on checklists as a sole reference has left us with a force without thinking watchstanders.

Then there's the issue that when the source document changes, your checklist is out of date. You need to use the source document, too.

4/26/2009 4:17 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Silver Anchor, 96% retention over command tour. Pack sand.

4/26/2009 4:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With no new corrective actions, how can we expect any new lessons learned? Corrective Actions INCOMING!Message just came out. Any watch involved in contact management must get permission from the OOD prior to leaving their station for any reason.

Additionally, each CO owes a report to his ISIC on his own assessment of the status of professionalism & watchstanding on their boat.

There was more in there about professionalism and watchstanding (as we've been discussing) and that the CO is always ultimately responsible (duh) but the above were the nuggets in the "Thou shall now do this" category.

STSC

4/26/2009 5:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Rubber Ducky, that is quite impressive, even if I have a shadow of doubt in my mind. Problem is, considering the timeline to weigh one's options, make a decision, play the slate, negotiate orders, and wait for the PRD puts up to 50% of those numbers squarely under your predecessor's command tour. I would look to your relief's numbers to see what happened to the people you developed and mentored. No need to bother him, though because I'll concede this. I'll accept that you had great retention.

Your approach to lick a fleet wide problem are still limited to getting us to the next fleet/group/squadron's change of command. Packing sand isn't going to get us there. I think what you're struggling with is that, outside of your command, you can't just jam your ideas down everyone's throat. You have to have something intelligent to say, and deliver that with at least a modicum of communication skills. When you do that, people will recognize the value of your idea and embrace it. I'm not going to pack sand because I don't have to. What would really be impressive is if you have something of value to add, maybe something that would cause me to re-evaluate my position. Somehow, I remain unconvinced by "Pack sand".

Thank you STSC for the update. I hope there's more to it than that or we can look forward to a continued cycle of these mistakes. Formality and professionalism issues are not new problems. "Don't be the next guy" did not solve this in the past so I can't imagine a different result by re-application.

4/26/2009 9:42 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Anon @4:17: "Ret ANAV- The problem with using the checklist as a sole reference is you lack the understanding, the depth of knowledge. You can check off A,B,C,D.... but you don't know why you are checking off those items if you do not consult the source document. When something changes that makes any of those checklists entries inadequate or wrong, you won't catch it because you don't understand what you are doing, and that's when disaster happens. Hence my position that reliance on checklists as a sole reference has left us with a force without thinking watchstanders."

Have you ever SEEN the checklists in the NODORM/SOM (or even READ the NODORM/SOM), or is this just academic to you?
Pretty much the FIRST entering arguement in accomplishing those checklists is the assumption of a CLUE. They are not designed such that I can hand them to a brand new Academy grad, wait 3 hours and get a 5.0 product. That said...if I DID hand them to a newbie, he would be sufficiently confused so to need to ask questions every 3 minutes - prompting him (hopefully) to "Hit the books". Let me elaborate:

ET3: Hey, ANAV, what does THIS part of the checklist mean?

ANAV: First, read the applicable section of the reference, then we'll talk about it before you put pencil to paper. (Prime example: 3-sounding rule)

Sticking to my guns about checklists. While they have no guarantee of a perfect product, they do, if used correctly, ensure a consistent, safe product.

@STSC: "Corrective Actions INCOMING!Message just came out. Any watch involved in contact management must get permission from the OOD prior to leaving their station for any reason."

Here we go...Orders to follow Orders. What a surprise.

4/27/2009 3:47 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"Problem is, considering the timeline to weigh one's options, make a decision, play the slate, negotiate orders, and wait for the PRD puts up to 50% of those numbers squarely under your predecessor's command tour."

I knew my predecessor's numbers well - was a primary problem coming aboard. Over his tour, same length as mine: 4%. Repeat. 4%.

4/27/2009 4:57 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Rubber Ducky -

How many of those 96% were renlist for orders?

Lies, damn lies, and statistics....

4/27/2009 7:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ret ANAV, we have reached agreement. If used correctly, checklists are great. My whole point, which somehow eludes you, is that I don't think the submarine force uses them correctly. I think we rely on them too much. I use checklists regularly, but only to check myself after I've already thought my way through the situation. If I have the CONN when the shit hits the fan, you can have your checklist. I'm going to be performing TMA in my head to calculate a safe speed, depth, and course. Then I'm going to glue my eyes to the sonar and/or radar screens to look for changes. I'll tell someone to summon the CO to Control. When I feel I can spare a few moments from those sensors, I'll get out my checklists to check what I've done. If there's a spare body in the control room I may have them break it out sooner.

To substantiate my position, I point to STSC's post last night that, evidently, there were watchstanding issues on Hartford. I have no doubt they used the piloting bill checklist to put together the watchteam that ran the ship aground. Seeing their sail partially torn from the hull of the submarine does not fall within my definition of a safe and consistent product.

4/27/2009 9:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we go...Orders to follow Orders. What a surprise Not necessarily.
If the message gets explained in detail (which it hasn't), this is new.

ALL contact management personnel would include everyone in Sonar (except possibly the Aux. Operator in a non-COI scenario) & of course both the FT's. The Sonar Supervisor always controlled his subordinates ability to grab a cup of joe or empty his bladder, and only needed OOD permission for his own relief. Looks like those days are over...

Rarely would I ever tell the OOD about one of my guys leaving the shack, unless it meant I was going below manning requirements, and then I generally told him because I was going to be using the messenger to wake up a relief while someone was unexpectedly trapped in the head sick (coming out one end or the other)...

The second FTOW frequently would flit out of Control for quick tasks unannounced. That's probably history as well & deserving of being reigned in.

The reports to the ISIC I think are going to give the CO's a chance to self-report & self-correct their known shortcomings before the Squadron staff go telling Daddy Commodore about all the sloppy turnovers & poor practices each boat has (so easy to point the finger when on staff, another thing entirely once they are back on a boat).

Speaking of which, a boat recently completely FUBAR'd an aft training evolution that caused an unexpected issue (that was eventually corrected) involving something that rhymes with wiggle. That looks like another case of poor practices (w/ the drill team) & bad watchstanding coupled with a lack of procedural compliance.

The message I talked about earlier is just the prelude to what will come out once the final determinations are released.

STSC

4/28/2009 1:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to bitc@# about this too much when WE keep screwing it up. Yes, the Squadron Commodore certifies us prior to deploying and that certification implies that the ship is adequately manned and trained for extended operations. What we do as COs, XOs, COBs, CPOs, DH's etc after deploying is up to us.

In my previous experience (3 SSNs), it seemed the CSS cert was shallow - except the cert where boats started to have their cert "held in abeyance".

In my uneducated opinion of what has happened on HAR resulted from complacency throughout the COC. This was the CO's second deployment (I believe), so he has done this before as had many of his crew.

My real struggle is with the COB and XO. Yes, the CO is ultimately responsible for the ship. But, dammit, he was given two senior, experienced submariners that should have had his back! They failed him!

A few years ago we shifted the SCC pipeline to include both PCOs and PXOs. Since the Tier 1 events still occur, what assessment have we made from this?

I also haven't seen many changes to the way we approach day-to-day tasks. In our already overheated daily schedule, we were tasked to comeup with items that are administratively burdensome and produce negligible value. Who had time to really put somethought into this? And of course, this followed the infamous letter from 08! So who was willing to stick their neck out telling 08 that some of his programs were worthless?

So where do we go from here? We just keep plugging and chugging along trying to spin plates and looking out for our crew members.

Lastly, I do fully support the CO's firing (as I would mine in this situation). However, who is looking at the broader issue and taking some ownership in the problem? It is NOT just a CO problem! ADM Donnelly MUST get out there and really listen to the COs and we (COs) need to provide some honest feedback (however unpleasant) so we can focus on becoming better at what is important. This has to be the most frustrating I've been in my 19 year career!

4/28/2009 5:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brookhart was my DH and Navigator on the Rickover back in 98-01. He was the BEST Nav I ever worked for.

I had 3 in 2 years on the Atlanta and they could never measure up to this guy.

I was very surprised to hear that he was the CO for this accident and that there was apparent misconduct. That was not the man I knew. I stood QMOW for him for 2 years and not once did I ever doubt his methods or actions.

This was the kind of guy (as a LCDR) that would clean with us in the fan room during field day. He had our utmost respect.

Sometimes bad things happend to good people. And sometimes smart people make dumb mistakes. I don't know all the details (I have been out for 9 years).

I wish him much success in the future.

ET2/SS Corey Davis

2/10/2010 9:41 PM

 

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