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, November 18, 2009

USS Hartford JAGMAN Released

Two media outlet -- The New London Day and Navy Times -- both published stories based on obtaining the "heavily redacted" investigation report into the recent USS Hartford (SSN 768) collision in the Straits of Hormuz. Excerpts:
The Hartford's command leadership routinely observed informal behavior by sailors operating the submarine, the report says, but did not immediately correct it. Those driving the ship would often slouch in their seats with one hand on the controls, and sometimes take their shoes off. Sonar operators and radiomen were missing from their stations for extended periods. Stereo speakers were added to the radio room to listen to music during work.
There were five known "sleepers," or sailors who would routinely nod off on watch, but no disciplinary action was taken, the report states. Two of the five sailors were working during the collision, although investigators found no evidence they were asleep.
The hands-off leadership style created a climate that "gave the appearance of tolerating routine inattentiveness and lax professional standards," the report concludes.
On the night of the crash, sonar operators chatted “for the majority of the time [in the hour before] the collision.” An officer of the deck did not look through the periscope prior to the collision after taking over contact management duties.
The navigator, off-watch, was found to have been taking an engineering exam in the wardroom “while listening to his iPod,” despite the hazardous evolution underway.
Brookhart was never in the control room during any time crossing the strait, the investigators found.
Prior to the accident, speakers had been installed in the ultra-sensitive radio room “that allowed music to be played from an iPod while on watch. This was hidden from the Chain of Command.”
Please read both reports; they include some interesting info on how the submarine's crew was able to get onto the bridge after the collision (it took 4 hours using wedges and a portable hydraulic jack).

Here's my take: the report is pretty damning. But honestly, I think that you'd be able to find similar examples on most boats if they had an investigating team crawling up their butts looking at everything. We've seen this before, where Big Sub Force seems to go out of their way to make the crews of boats that have mishaps look like the biggest bunch of shitbags in the Fleet. I think that it's more likely that most Submariners could look at what goes on in their own boats and think, "There but for the grace of God go I". That being said, this particular instance does look pretty bad, considering where they were at.


Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

"There but for the grace of God go I".

After listening to the audio tapes from this many times, you can bet I took a deep, hard look at just exactly Who holds all the cards. I asked a WWII sub vet a couple years ago about his experience.

During the conversation, he talked about some of the "scary" times. "If you aren't a believing man when you first sign up, you'll be one by the time you leave. Some came home, and others went Home."

While they didn't experience "ash can rain," the men of HARTFORD certainly will never view life the same way again. A guy that lives down the street was onboard when it happened, and he certainly grateful to be alive. A lesson to us all.

What gets me about this and the SAN FRAN bump is how our boats get into these situations, but then pull amazing feats to save the boats. We have been extremely lucky, and God certainly has kept an eye out for us all. From talking with the guy down the street, the boat didn't seem all that "ate up." But listening to those tapes, you have to ask: "What were you guys thinking?!?"

I hope that we as a Force take a good look at this, learn from it, honestly address our shortcoming, and make a change for the better. I pray we don't all go into damage control mode, scramble through our asses, start ripping the Force apart, and all get slapped upside the head when we actually lose a boat.

The odds are stacked against us in a business like this. We have been extremely lucky, and branding a good boat as a bunch of shitbags will not do anything good for the rest of us. I may be off being a lowly LT, but my gut tells me otherwise. In the meantime, you can bet you bottom dollar I have all my family and friends praying for the Force. We will always need it...period.

Ah...the caffine is finaly kicking in.

11/18/2009 8:09 AM

Blogger SJV said...

Are you suggesting that most of our boats have the NAV in the wardroom during a complex navigational circumstances like what Hartford had? It's been a long time since I was in, but I find that hard to believe. OOD's not scanning the scope at PD? In the Strait of Hormuz?

We've got a whole batch of comments about foolishness underway, but most crews know when they need to pay attention.

Unless these guys had done this evolution so many times it was routine, not paying extra attention while doing what they were doing was on the border of criminal.

11/18/2009 8:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fail to understand what speakers in the Radio Room has to do with what happened. As a former radioman on a 637, there were at least a dozen speakers in radio you could patch to various receivers. I used them quite often when at PD to listen to the radio during weekly ops and it didn't affect the driving of the boat. I even made reel to reel recordings to have something to listen to when deep. Did they move the radio room on the Hartford to the control room?


11/18/2009 8:24 AM

Blogger Squidward said...

RM2, they are shotgunning - looking for any evidence of informality and treating all of it as equally bad.

There will always be some level of informality and some deviation from "perfection". The big question is, is the crew disciplined enough to "turn it on" when they need to do so, or are they in permanent slacker mode?

Is anyone else freaked out a little by having one's shoes off while on watch? That seems extra-slack, somehow.

11/18/2009 8:30 AM

Blogger Squidward said...

So, what happened to the CO of the New Orleans? Was he relieved? Does he get his command back? Does someone say that they are extra-special sorry?

11/18/2009 8:32 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

What is glaringly wrong with the reported (NavyTimes) conclusion
"Report: Lax leadership led to Hormuz collision"?

The reported problem has greater totality. Lax wardroom leadership would certainly have been sensed back aft, too. There would probably have been related "plant inspections" by now (I am guessing this has been, or soon will be, the case).

"The navigator, executive officer and weapons officer underwent nonjudicial punishment, as did 10 sailors. Also, administrative action was taken against three direct support element members assigned to Naval Information Operations Command in Georgia as well as a fleet intelligence specialist based near Washington, D.C. The report did not explain what role they played."

Standby, this story is incomplete. My guess is that the Hartford
(15 years since commissioning) will not be headed for early deactivation. We can expect years more news from this boat. Let's hope all of it will be better.

11/18/2009 9:42 AM

Blogger Boise Dave said...

A couple of observations:

1. I agree with SJV -- most crews know when to pick it up. In my view, an excellent command knows when to push hard but also knows when to back off and allow some "informality." It requires energy to be 100% dialed in and focused -- good commands recognize this and allow for some "down time."

2. It appears to me that there is frequently a disconnect in holding the "middle management" accountable. I can't really tell who got dinged from the article, but it appears that the senior leadership took it in the shorts and then they went hunting for the blue shirts. Not that the blue shirts shouldn't be accountable, but what about the JOs and the Chiefs? The "complacent" attitude is more than just the CO and COB -- the entire ward room and goat locker need to be looking at themselves as well. They knew too.

Boise Dave

11/18/2009 9:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to see that some of the shore-based, effective waterspace management guys got slapped around, but what's glaringly but not-too-surprisingly absent here is the lack of CTF-level accountability.

I'm sensing a certain degree of exhaustion here. We'll not be told what these guys were doing beforehand, but - whatever it was - it allowed the Nav to consider the Hormuz situation as being so comfortable as to go stuff an iPod in his ears while taking an EOOW proficiency exam. That's just amazing on several levels of disbelief.

11/18/2009 10:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Submarines have been notoriously informal but in my opinion, not lax. We wore underway shoes, hats, beards and at times civilian attire. It was common knowledge on every boat I was on that Radio and ESM listened to radio stations when they were at PD. Sometimes when the RM’s & ET’s were at depleted manning, they stood 12 hour watches and they could not be in the space continually. We had speakers in AMR on two boats and while on Dive, if the planes men wanted to take the shoes off, why not. They don’t help or hinder the driving of the boat. If the planesmen wanted to slouch over the planes, ok. We had several, including our Battle Stations Planesmen, who drove that way and he was the best and most reliable person I had.
Several have already mentioned that with the informality comes the responsibility of all parties to know when and when not to be informal. While it is not uncommon for the Nav, or anybody, to be in the wardroom/goat locker/mess decks when they are off watch, I couldn’t fathom the Nav not being in control when crossing the Straits. I’ve done it several times and it was always handled as a high alert situation.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

11/18/2009 10:46 AM

Blogger J said...

I don't think that it was so much the informality that got them. It was the informality at that particular place and time.

Reading the non-redacted report and listening to the tapes convinced me that they had an inappropriate level of comfort with the evolution. They were operating as though they were in the local op areas, not one of the busiest and most constrained areas we spend time in. It was evident that the root cause of the collision was that inappropriate level of comfort and acceptance of informality when it was time to step things up, so they went hunting for other instances of that attitude on the ship. That direction was evident from early scuttlebutt and the canning of the COB really soon after the incident.

11/18/2009 12:29 PM

Anonymous EM1(SS) said...

I will not comment on the Hartford never having been in the Straits of Hormuz. I do know much of the things that went on aboard the 655 while there but we never ran into anything. But if you need a chuckle, read the comments on The Day article for a reality check of what civilians think. This is my favorite.

K. Posted - November, 18, 2009 08:24 AM

102.6 million SO FAR just to fix the The Hartford???? You've got to be kidding me. How much does it cost to build a new one?

'nuff said

11/18/2009 12:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike our court system where you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, the mere fact that a tier one event occurred means that you had to be doing something wrong. The coffin is already done. All the jag investigation has to find is the nails. It doesn't sound like the investigation team even had to look really hard.

Complete lack of CO presence in the Control Room while operating in one of the most challenging places in the world.

OOD not looking out the periscope.

Everything else is sauce for the goose.

We really got lucky that the ship was not lost and that no one was killed this time.

11/18/2009 1:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just occurred to me: I wonder if none of the senior leaders (CO, XO, COB, Nav, Eng) had ever been in a really bad shiphandling scenario before?

While the Navy does its utmost to ensure that these things never happen, I've gotta believe that there'd have been a lot less complacency amongst the group if someone, somewhere, sometime had been in seriously deep kim chi before.

The halo effect of "it hasn't happened/can't happen to me" seems like it was unusually strong with this bunch. Not that you want to encourage this sort of direct-experience, but firing everyone in sight doesn't likely to help much in terms of honing future instincts by way of scar tissue and muscle memory.

11/18/2009 2:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Those driving the ship would often slouch in their seats with one hand on the controls, and sometimes take their shoes off."

Throwing crap like that into an offical report leads those who are at least familiar with the "business" to question the validity of the report altogether. This is useless BS trivia that has absolutely zero bearing on the ability of the watchstanders to correctly do their job. And don't preach to me about "formality" - there are more than enough "formal" boobs to go around.

That is all.

11/18/2009 2:36 PM

Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

To Anon at 2:36,

Formality absolutely comes in to place here. Lack of formality breeds complacency, which was at the heart of the problem here.

Directly, slouching doesn't cause collisions. Indirectly, in this case, it contributed to the problem.

Just my two cents.


11/18/2009 3:29 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

While there is true fault here, there is also a lot of high handed BS. To whit:
1. The Nav. Give me a break. If the navigational circumstances required a NavSup, it does not have to be the Nav. Or are you suggesting that the Nav never gets to sleep? If he was in the rack, vice listening to music, would it have mattered?
2. A contact coordinator instead of an OOD? Time for the sub force to turn the discerning eye upward...The forces of darkness have FOR SOME TIME been advocating the use of a 'contact manager' at PD that is not necessarily the OOD. I never bought that snake oil.
3. Radio room speakers are fine, it is the playing of music that is wrong there, as it is in any operational space. That said, it is mentioned in the report because it was just 'another thing that the command did not know.' The lack of a radar log has never caused a collision, but that does not stop every collision report from mentioning it.
4. Having a light hearted atmosphere is NOT the same as goofing off. Not doing your job is not doing your job.

It does not matter what the CO was doing at the time of the collision--he was not where he was supposed to be. Just like the time the OKC had its collision.

TSHBP. Nothing new here. Time to let it go.

11/18/2009 3:41 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

1. The Nav. Give me a break. If the navigational circumstances required a NavSup, it does not have to be the Nav. Or are you suggesting that the Nav never gets to sleep? If he was in the rack, vice listening to music, would it have mattered?

THANK you! I, too, saw this and said..."and...?" I got paid to let the nav get some bunkie, as do others.

Directly, slouching doesn't cause collisions. Indirectly, in this case, it contributed to the problem.

I'll take this further to say...I don't think it really contributed to the problem so much as it provided an indicator of deep-seated problems.

And, since nobody else tagged it:
So, what happened to the CO of the New Orleans? Was he relieved? Does he get his command back? Does someone say that they are extra-special sorry?

Report specifically pointed out that no blame rested with NOL. Did any of us really need a report to tell us that? T'was pretty obvious from the start. NOL deserves the extra-special apology...a formal "My Bad", of sorts.

Listened to the audio the other day. Took a while to organize my thoughts, but I finally came to the conclusion that I was more frightened by things I DIDN'T hear than the things I did. When certain reports get made, you sorta have a mental checklist of things that are supposed to happen next. Kept listening, waiting for things that never came.

11/18/2009 4:24 PM

Blogger Randall said...

you gotta love what Doc said after the crew was inspected for damage...
"i've had more cuts and scrapes at a swim call."

11/18/2009 4:36 PM

Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

@ Ret ANAV,

Thank you.... contributed was the wrong word. What you stated is really what I was intending that to mean.


11/18/2009 5:19 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

What I find ironic is that up UNTIL the collision the Hartford was being pointed out as the boat that was getting it done right...

They were aces on the mission before the collision and had no significant issues beforehand on PDT or POMCERT.

Where's the blowback on the Squadron or TRE/ORSE staff for not catching any of this?

The knee-jerking has already happened. Some of it is good - improving formal comms and on watch professionalism can only have a beneficial effect in my eyes. Taken to far extremes and it can have deleterious effects on morale, but that's for CPO Mess to ensure the rudder doesn't go too far over.

The whole thing looks like a big case of "let-down". What they were doing before was dicey, making the straits transit by comparison (& something they'd done before) seem not as dangerous & thus they didn't give it the attention it deserved.

I truly think if the STSC who didn't get DFC'd (another was) had been on watch another hour this wouldn't have happened.

11/18/2009 5:31 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

"Where's the blowback on the Squadron or TRE/ORSE staff for not catching any of this?

While no one is a fan of TRE/ORSE/Squadron 'Ass-istance', there is no way they can know what the boat will be like when no one is around. That's why we have a CO to hold accountable.

He was there, them other guys weren't. We don't pass the buck and I don't want to see it start.

11/18/2009 7:35 PM

Blogger fourfastboats said...

The accountability and responsibility are completely on the CO. This is the way it has been and the way it needs to remain. This is the essense of command and anyone who has worn or is wearing the sheriff's badge should feel the same way.

All you ever get as a squadron or TYCOM staff rider is a snapshot and the very fact that you are present to observe can alter the crew's performance.

I am not sure how long HARTFORD had been deployed, but it is wrong to rely on riders to set your standards for you. Don't do things because that is what an inspection team expects - do them because it is the right thing to do.

For whatever reason or reasons HARTFORD was trying to perform a varsity level event with a JV effort.

11/18/2009 8:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the level of informality that was allowed during such a high risk transit.

I'm a skimmer sailor and I've experienced passage through the Strait of Hormuz multiple times, and I can assure you that during the entire transit we where in restricted maneuvering doctrine with 3 repair lockers manned for 12 hours, and extra watch standers on the bridge, and with the presence of an experienced OOD as well as vigilant oversight by Navigator and CO.

I wouldn't know what other measures we were taking seeing as how I was a simple engineering sailor, but even for a surface ship, this evolution was taken very seriously.

So coming back to the Hartford, I think the findings are somewhat legitimate in canning the officers and sailors for their lack of awareness during a high risk transit.

Also as a side question, how much responsibility goes to the amphib for the collision?

11/18/2009 9:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The amphib bears no responsibility for this collision.

11/18/2009 9:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blah, Blah, Blah...sounds like a cut and paste from every other submarine accident report.

Bottom line: It is all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out or you run into a mountain or hit the bottom of a warship!

Oh, and congrats on being 1000 days DUI free!!!

11/18/2009 10:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Four word summary: Chief of the Boat

11/19/2009 12:07 AM

Blogger Chap said...

I have not heard the audio and am speaking from ignorance but am not letting that stop me from having an opinion.

Another boat a little while back collided. There were root issues involving enforcing standards, and the CO and XO were fired, but the key was this: When the boat came off station, the ship didn't consider the transit with the correct attention to what they should be doing, and thus set themself up to sink a fishing boat.

A lot of times, incidents happen not when the risky thing was happening, but after the risky thing was done and everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief and lost focus.

So without more information than what I've seen on the blogs, it sounds as though the collective relaxation after doing a hard task caused Hartford to fail to take the next task seriously. Other weaknesses closed the last switches in the circuit and they collided.

Ret ANAV, how far off am I on this?

11/19/2009 2:06 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...


Well, since you asked...You're pretty spot-on. How many times have we seen the completion of the mission as, well, the completion of the mission? Anyone who's been "up there" knows that the first 36 hours and the last 36 hours are the toughest...same with SOH (just not as long). Mission ain't over until you secure the maneuvering watch, regardless of the OPSEC condition. Not that we have to walk around with 2x4's up our butts, but the MINDSET still needs to be present.

11/19/2009 2:47 AM

Blogger DDM said...

At the time of the collision, I commented on how bad I felt for the crew and CO. I retired the week before the Hartford deployed. I had ridden that boat many days and visited her many time when they were at PNS. As a whole, they were a hard-working, motivated crew.

The culture part that really stands out to me is the part about how lax Sonar was and the lack of planning by the CO/XO/COB. I've been in the strait a few times and every time, the total ship focused on the transit.

To say there must have been problems aft too is BS. Otherwise why did they let the EDMC act as COB for the return transit?

Crappy watchstanding culture. The root of all evil.

11/19/2009 3:23 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Honestly, I don’t believe to much in complacency …there is another mechanism going on in there.

I more looks like a numbing mechanism…the symptoms of complacency more looks like struggling to cope…more like intellectual or mental exhaustion. They had a prolong period of a hyper necessity of maintaining attention in a stressful environment…and they came to the end of their ability to maintain attention!

I’d like to see the components of their atmosphere and CO2 levels?

Man, there is a lot of similarities between the USS Port Royal and the USS Hartford….like inadequate basic fundamental training.

I sense a technological failure…the inadequate management of contact information thru electronic means and its display to the crew.

On this page: …way down at the bottom on the left hand side. Why is the accident report with the USS Hartford and another nuke cheating scandal of USS Truman CVN 75 on the same page? Do you think it is a coincidence or are they related…I think this is related. They are a artifacts of the systemic dysfunction. Remember that is the second aircraft in 6 months, the USS Eisenhower CVN 65 catching the nuke cheating disease first. And there is a clog in the training pipeline for new sailors? Now how many surface ships are exhausted by under manning? It is all driven by priorities and budgets?

Hmm, the fire on the USS George Washington CVN in the middle of 2008…training and so called complacency again:
"It is apparent from this extensive study that there were numerous processes and procedures related to fire prevention and readiness and training that were not properly functioning. The extent of damage could have been reduced had numerous longstanding firefighting and firefighting management deficiencies been corrected."

Man, were are really deep into the Vietnam syndrome…the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan our destroying our naval fleet. That sucking sound is all the money going to Afghanistan and Iraq. You know my feelings are, budgets and priorities are immoral and unethical on the broadest sense.

11/19/2009 9:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty damning that they did not have a transit piloting brief.

On one deployment I was on we transited Gibraltar many times, at the time a record for a deployment and each time we briefed and each time the CO spent serious time in control.

Note that for Hartford the CO was never in control for the transit.

For hose who have been around a while there are a lot of similarities between this and the Atlanta grounding in 86.

Also, how could Hartford watch standers not know that 0 bearing rate is far more dangerous than high bearing rate until you know range?

11/19/2009 11:14 AM

Blogger patrick said...

With the number of accidents that we have experienced over the last decade, I think we continue to miss the big picture in regards to the real underlying problem. If you look at San Francisco, Philadelphia, Montpelier-St. Paul, Newport News, and Hartford there is a common theme: lack of leadership skills throughout the chain of command. This is not to say that the submarine force has no good leaders, but that most do not have the skills necessary to lead and develop both individuals and organizations.

While we excel at training for operations and maintenance, we play lip service to actual leadership training. We have formalized training programs for tactics, maintenance, operations, and risk management, but we are expected to gain leadership skills through a trial and error method. Spending one week during SOBC and a few days in SOAC covering leadership did little to prepare me for the leadership challenges I would face as a Division Officer or Department Head. While I have no experience with the material covered during the formal PXO, PCO, CPO, and LPO leadership training, based on what I have seen in the Fleet, the training received is not meeting the needs of the submarine force as a whole.

As an example, the comments made by a retired O-6 in the New London Day article refer to a Commanding Officer changing the “culture” of the submarine within a few months. The CO is not changing the culture, he is changing the climate. While it may seem like I am trying to sea lawyer the issue, there is an important difference between organizational culture and climate, and what is required to change each of them. The submarine culture is something that has evolved over a long period of time, and therefore is not easily changed. The command climate however is directly influenced by the actions and attitude of the commanding officer.

As a current student at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, I have learned more about leadership and developing organizations in a little over 20 hours of instruction than I have in 15 years of submarine service. In 12 classes we covered leadership and organizational development, team building, leading organizations through change, organizational ethics and stress, and influencing organizations. The instruction included reading, lectures, and case studies throughout the course. Nearly everything I learned would have provided me with the skills to more successfully accomplish the leadership challenges I faced during my previous tours. The majority of this material can be modified to fit the needs of the submarine force and incorporated into all levels of our leadership training.

By providing our leaders with the ability to lead and influence subordinates and organizations as a whole, as well as understanding who they are as a leader, I feel that many of our previous “incidents” could have been avoided. I know there is a lot of talk about complacency, informality, and lack of integrity, but these are all signs of a negative command climate. Leaders armed with an understanding of how organizations function from the leadership prospective will be more able to ensure a positive command climate and stamp out a majority of the issues we are facing today.

My two cents.

11/19/2009 11:15 AM

Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

@ Patrick,

I could not agree more.

I obviously don't have the knowledge of what they teach at leadership courses above my grade, but I do know that when I went through P03, PO2, PO1 leadership courses, I might as well have been sleeping. There was nothing useful there.

I honestly learned more about leadership in my years as a cub/boy scout when I was school aged. It's really a pretty sad situation.


11/19/2009 11:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thought about not wearing shoes while on watch....SA(SU) Mulligan is standing mid-watch as the helmsman (under instruction as he's still mess cranking after three deployments. His general quarters station is phone talker in the torpedo room bilge. His shoes are off and setting slightly behind and to the right of his helmsman chair. The DO has his feet up on the console with his shoes also removed and is not paying too much attention to the idiot at the helm. The boat is off course by 27.5 degrees and off depth by 65 feet. as a result,the boat experiences a collision, resulting in flooding from the overhead in the control room. The lights go out, neither Mulligan nor the Dive can find their shoes. Mulligan's bare feet delay him from reaching his GQ station in the torpedo room bilge. His delay could have resulted in any number of bad things happening at his GQ station, and he now realizes it's just stupid not to wear shoes anytime you're out of your rack.

And what ever happened to those
11 general orders we learned in boot camp:

1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

2a. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.

2b. Mike Mulligan is an idiot.

2c. Shoot non-qual idiots out the TDU.

3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.

4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.

5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.

6. To receive, obey and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the Commanding Officer, Command Duty Officer, Officer of the Deck, and Officers and Petty Officers of the Watch only.

7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.

8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.

9. To call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions.

10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.

11. To be especially watchful at night, and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

11/19/2009 12:01 PM

Anonymous (Been) On the Bridge said...

@11:14 Anon

"Also, how could Hartford watch standers not know that 0 bearing rate is far more dangerous than high bearing rate until you know range."

This all-too common problem is mainly physiological. People are wired for movement, and something that does not move is shunted by the mind as being low threat. One must actually THINK to realize the danger of a low-bearing-rate contact.

BTW, that's not an intended insult...just a pointer towards how instincts alone can not suffice when it comes to eternal vigilance.

Any number of collisions have happened with a long-term zero bearing-rate on a known contact (Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Hartford, etc.), so the problem is a very embedded one and so not to be taken lightly. The holier-than-thou tone of the investigators' comments comes very close to making light of this clearly BIG problem.

11/19/2009 12:02 PM

Anonymous Been there, seen that, got the T-shirt said...


So, are you saying that lack of leadership is a cultural problem in the submarine force and not easily changed?


But I'll leave that as a rhetorical question...I honestly don't know and would be quick to say so, but I would agree that the results may speak for themselves.

As regarding other perhaps major cultural problems in the submarine force, I don't know about you but I cringed while reading all those implied problems with the sonar shack. Talk about cultural issues.

11/19/2009 12:07 PM

Blogger patrick said...

@Been there

Yes, as a culture I think we lack the necessary organizational leadership skills to effectively correct some of the issues facing the force today. As a cultural problem, it will take time and support from the upper chain of command, I think we all remember how effective we implemented "mentoring".

Don't get me wrong, I think our tactical leadership training is effective for the most part. While I may not agree with some aspects of our tactical training/evaluation (TRE?), I think we successfully develop leaders that can tactically fight the ship. The issue is that we don't necessarily have the "people" skills to develop the organizational as a whole, which is to be expected based on our nuclear/engineering backgrounds.

Again, just based on what I have seen and what I have learned over the last few weeks.

11/19/2009 12:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This all-too common problem is mainly physiological. People are wired for movement, and something that does not move is shunted by the mind as being low threat. One must actually THINK to realize the danger of a low-bearing-rate contact.

Agree in general terms, but, reading the report (and listening to the audio) indicated that, at some point, thought WAS given to the issue at hand, however little. It was clear that they took the answer that most appealed to them...distant contact...without using ALL the resources available to them a'la Scope, ESM, etc.. My read of their thought process goes something like this:

(OOD) Hmph...Zero DBy...gotta do something. FTOW Report solution to S-4.

FTOW gives Near Solution

(OOD) Thinks to himself - He CANT be THAT close...besides, now I gotta call the Captain...Shyte. Now walks over to FTOW to work on distant solution.....There, thats better. I'm happy now.

Or something like that, though I may be way out to lunch here.

11/19/2009 12:29 PM

Anonymous (Been) On the Bridge said... said...

Yes, but even in your fictional version, was the OOD's heart pounding with adrenaline over a zero bearing-rate contact...?

No, of course not.

Zero DBy is too easily rationalized away without additional data. It's not a piss-your-pants situation like, say, a 40 degree-per-minute movement, 'cuz you KNOW that dude's close.

Had the Hartford OOD done anything reasonable to try and drive the New Orleans DBy by changing course, his pants may have been the only thing that got wetter than it should. But, absent that new-info high DBy, his unconscious mind is saying 'no big deal.'

11/19/2009 12:54 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Ok, I finally choked my way through this 'heavily redacted' copy. A few other things stand out.
1. Zero DBy contacts should always be checked. NO WAY the LPD was cloaked, so it should have been way visible.
2. Why is any mention of AIS redacted? I bet NO was squawking.

Everything else has been said. As to the guy who thinks we don't develop leaders...get bent. What sweeping new TQL initiative do you have?

11/19/2009 1:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things must really have changed concerning 0 bearing rate.

In my day it was the George Washington collision and Jacksonville collisions.

But one thing that was beat into my head was you had to prove 0 dby was not close.

Think of the situation the Hartford was in....restricted water night transit of a very busy waterway at PD....I am having a hard time understanding being nonchalant as a whole watch section given the situation. A 0dby in that situation is something that has to be resolved...I was not in the SOH but I have been in similar tight spots before. I am assuming the redacted parts tell of other clues they should have seen....much like the GW collision of the 80s.


11/19/2009 1:24 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

"But one thing that was beat into my head was you had to prove 0 dby was not close."

Ah, but therein lies the rub...the only person you have to prove it to is yourself (as OOD). Too many times, people confuse the words "Prove" and "Convince", usually opting for the latter. I can easily convince myself that something isn't close. Proving it requires work, so often the path of least resistance is taken.

Which is more appealing on the FCS; The closing solution or the opening? Either can be made to work, but only one is TRUTH.

WRT NOL squawking AIS: She wasn't. Straight from the horse's mouth.

11/19/2009 2:09 PM

Blogger Don the Baptist said...

"A thought about not wearing shoes while on watch...."

As a lowly not even able to aspire to no-qual-pukedness, even I got that well depicted imagery. LOL.

11/19/2009 2:25 PM

Blogger submandave said...

My big-picture read is that Chap & anav are spot-on: the boat failed to manage the transition between operational postures effectively, which was pretty much VADM Donnelly's initial impression back in June when he was asked about this during a conference I was attending. It seems many of their operational choices stressed covert posture (no longer as critical given their tasking at that time) over safety. My impression is that there were command climate issues that contributed to the non-ORM approach to the transit. Amongst a knowing audience, though, the shotgun approach to documenting specific indicators (e.g. slouching in the stern planes seat) tends to come off as isolated BS charges.

11/19/2009 4:23 PM

Blogger DDM said...

Wreaks of bulletproof mentality - we just had a stud mission, nothing bad can happen to us. Studies show that when you don't identify and mitigate risk and/or follow approved procedures, you have about a 50-50 chance of putting yourself in an accident situation. Identifying and mitigating the risks puts you at about a 1 in 10,000 chance of accident. Simply blindly following approved procedures puts the risk to about 1 in a 100.

11/19/2009 5:45 PM

Anonymous Subdude83 said...

For the knowledgable among us, here's the dirty truth about the JAGMAN: It was headed up by an Amphib commodore (not relavent wrt NO's actions or culpability, but serious lack of understanding of submarining and relavence of the BS comments his inspectors detailed, which bloggers have correctly pointed out). The only 1120s were a CO(ss) - not good enough to actually be a CO, and "Served" co who was relieved early for poor command performance.

Too bad that an opportunity was lost for the Submarine Force to try to find the real root causes of the collision. The Safety Investigation Board report is more useful and factual (vice opinions about not wearing shoes, or sleeping).

The real missing link is "What would distract a CO so much that he would not go to the control room when he was informed of impending strait crossing, then again of lowering the periscope at PD" As the CO, he has to be in the right place at the right time, and unfortunately, he chose wrong: The Unlucky Have Been Punished.

I've seen far worse informality and ops, but they were saved by the "Big Ocean Theory"...

11/19/2009 6:03 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I’d like a list of all the broken or degraded equipment they have had in the last 6 months...especially in the last 3 months. Did they run into a lot of equipment problems?

11/19/2009 7:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the sail, the periscopes, the port bow plane...

11/19/2009 7:43 PM

Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

"The only 1120s were a CO(ss) - not good enough to actually be a CO, and "Served" co who was relieved early for poor command performance."

At the risk of irritating some out there, are you saying that this review run by a skimmer (not implying the NEW ORLEANS did anything wrong) and two 1120's that have yet to have a successful command tour? Where the hell are our A-team post-CO's when it came time to investigate this?

Seriously...we are eating ourselves alive as a Force. Not to imply that a COSS (I have know a couple great guys victim of some "admin" requirement) can't contribute insight, but why not have the "eyes on target" of a successfully served CO? I think much more could be gained from such an individual.

And if it is true the other 1120 was relieved early due to poor command climate, what is that guy doing being involved? Did the Navy want to have a "subject matter" expert on hand when it came to finding all the problems possible with a ship? Then again, we don't admit to ourselves there is a problem until we have to via someone's DFC.

If we want to "get real" and honestly learn from this so it doesn't happen again...we need the best people looking at this. I don't know the individuals involved, so what was mentioned in the referenced post could be false. But if it's true, what will we tell ourselves when this happens again (I pray it never does)?

I may the the lowly LT in the room, but I have a feeling people in higher paygrades are thinking the same thing. Like I mentioned before, we are extremely grateful that God is looking out for us. We need to stop testing that interlock.

11/19/2009 7:59 PM

Blogger fourfastboats said...

As far as the JAG man goes, HARTFORD provided the conclusion by the mere fact that the collision occurred - all the board had to do was find enough data to show how screwed up they were. And HARTFORD provided plenty of data.

You can scoff at some of the findings of fact, but it presents a fairly bleak picture that starts with the CO and spread down through the entire crew.

In the end there are really no new lessons learned in this disaster. We can keep making better systems, but they are no crutch or substitute for well trained watch standers with questioning attitudes. I think that far too many take what we do for granted. The magnitude of the recent tier one accidents (SAN FRANCISCO, NEWPORT NEWS, MSP and HARTFORD) is disturbing. We have been lucky not to have lost a boat and tragically lives have been lost.

11/19/2009 8:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the problem is that the quality of life is so shitty on SSNs that PERS42 cant meet the 33% retention (current economic meltdown excluded). The result is subpar performers because no one is turned down.

The submarine force is a joke.

11/19/2009 9:21 PM

Anonymous Casual observer said...

"Where the hell are our A-team post-CO's when it came time to investigate this?"

Short answer: They were on the Safety Investigation Board, and identified early-on on this blog.

It struck me as nothing less than bizarre that the Navy's CoC put a skimmer/amphib commodore in charge of the JAG investigation. Probably his first time ever on a nuclear submarine, and no I'm not joking.

A submerged submarine is always going to be at fault in this kind of a scenario, so the implicit conflict of interest in having the amphib commodore run things isn't the real problem...but the lack of relevant expertise sure has heck is.

Hmmmm...stunning arrogance from skimmerland. What a shock.

11/19/2009 11:13 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

For Christ's sake, what difference does it make WHO chaired the JAGMAN? My CAT could have chaired it and the end-product would not (COULD not) have been a helluva lot different. Some things are pretty damn obvious, right out the gate that all that's really left is to put the right checks in the right blocks. Yeah, I'll stipulate that it was probably a little hinky to put the PHIBRON guy in charge but, again, my cat could have done it with similar results.

11/20/2009 3:04 AM

Anonymous Casual Observer said...

Yes, your cat probably would have added as much value as a skimmer squadron commander in regards to adding value to the lessons-learned pool. Very well put.

Oh, wait...I forgot...there are no new lessons-learned when it comes to navigation things like collisions and groundings. There never are. The tag line is always "...there are no new lessons learned."

So we can all just go back to sleep.

11/20/2009 5:38 AM

Anonymous SubIcon said...

I think patrick has a valid point.

Consider for a moment how many hours the Navy requires an 1120 have invested in the following two categories before he can take command:
(1) care and feeding of equipment
(2) care and feeding of sailors

Hours spent during training pipeline, fulfilling specific school requirements, and simply meeting various weekly minimums during career milestone assignments (DO, DH, XO) are good places to start.

The next question to ask is: How much effort does the Navy spend formally verifying training or education in was effective, by category (getting the most out of man or machine)?

Our priorities have shaped us into a community of engineers with leadership skills, rather than leaders with engineering skills. I suppose the debate is simply whether or not you think those priorities are well-placed. Personally I think we need to include both engineers and leaders in our community if we want to do well in both areas.

Anon @ 9:21PM on 11/19 - Sadly, there's some truth in your harsh observation at the DH level... which then reduces the available pool of decent XOs/COs per required billet to roughly 1:1, which means their screening boards have much less margin for error. This is the sort of problem that requires effective leadership to correct. Tweaking on the COPAY dial has become a marginally acceptable engineering solution that gives us the raw numbers, if not the consistent quality, that we desire.

11/20/2009 7:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It struck me as nothing less than bizarre that the Navy's CoC put a skimmer/amphib commodore in charge of the JAG investigation. Probably his first time ever on a nuclear submarine, and no I'm not joking.

Doesn't seem very bizarre to me. The Safety Investigation Board was there to learn lessons. The JAGMAN investigation was there to kick ass. Do you want a sub officer or a skimmer to do the ass kicking?

11/20/2009 9:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why wasn't Squadron punished? It would seem that leadership and Command climate is a reflection of squadron? The training and certs go through them? Can someone explain?

11/20/2009 9:46 AM

Blogger fourfastboats said...

Ok, here we go again. In the Navy the Commanding Officer is the individual that is responsible and accountable for the performance of his command. When something goes wrong, he or she is accountable. It does not matter where they were when it happened - they could be any where on board, awake or asleep, at home, on leave it does not matter. This is how it has been and it should not change.

The process by which a ship and crew are prepared and certified ready to to deploy are governed by TYCOM instructions. Both the squadron and the TYCOM participate in and support this process. The squadron could only be faulted if it was found that it did not follow this process. An example of this would be that the squadron it did not follow up on corrective actions required from findings during the certification or any other inspection.

In the end it all comes back to the CO. Once the lines are cast off and all of the hatches are shut, he is the one who is responsible and accountable for the performance of his ship and crew. It is a difficult concept for many people to understand and there are not many places in the world today where this applies, but it does here AND it should not change.

11/20/2009 10:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


11/20/2009 11:12 AM

Anonymous Casual Observer said...

Aside from all the administrative 'cert' crap - which also obviously remains unchanged - I very much doubt that the sub commodore's career is going to flourish.

Not spotting problems before they germinate is generally considered to be a deep fault.

11/20/2009 11:14 AM

Anonymous Casual Observer said...

@9:38 Anon

Suffice it to say that we have a wide gap in our views of the senior skimmer force.

Those who live in Port Royal glass houses - albeit with awesome views of Wikiki Beach - shouldn't pick up stones, much less throw them.

11/20/2009 11:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, here we go again. In the Navy the Commanding Officer is the individual that is responsible and accountable for the performance of his command. When something goes wrong, he or she is accountable. It does not matter where they were when it happened - they could be any where on board, awake or asleep, at home, on leave it does not matter. This is how it has been and it should not change.

At some point you have to see whether structural problems above the boat level bear some responsibility for mishap trends. Has the rate of major failures over the last 5-10 years been acceptable? (Hartford x2, San Fran, Greeneville x3, OKC, Newport News, Hampton). I would say no.

It borders on willful stupidity to say that every single instance above was just a bad CO failing to live up to his responsibilities. There has to be something else going on here. At the end of the day, COs' actions are largely a reflection of policies and directives from higher authority. Would be interesting to hear if any changes at the Squadron level and above have occurred as a result of the last few years' screwups.

11/20/2009 11:28 AM

Anonymous Casual Observer said...

@11:28 Anon

Take this with the spirit with which it is intended - one of playing devil's advocate, not outright disagreement with you - but:

1) What if it really is ALL the CO's fault in every single case? What if their training sucked, or they blew off nav/ops issues because they didn't give them enough priority, etc.?

2) What if the underlying problem is that the COs in question are all-too-often political weenies who don't/didn't have the nutsack or ability to convince the squadron/op commander that they need some personal downtime for safety's sake? (I wonder how flat-out exhausted the Hartford CO was, for instance...yet pressed on to the port call in order to let the guys hit the beach ASAP rather than let people catch their breath first.)

3) Ditto re. #2: What if the optempo is too high all the way around, and no one is outright calling bullshit because that's not considered career enhancing?

In each and every one of these examples (and any number of others), it really is the CO's fault in an arguable way.

11/20/2009 12:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad that an opportunity was lost for the Submarine Force to try to find the real root causes of the collision.

Get serious. The "real" root cause is obvious throughout that JAGMAN. That other guy who said that he "cringed while reading all those implied problems with the sonar shack" could have been me, because I was cringing in high speed while reading. Who knows WTF all of those watchstanders were thinking. In my mind, every CPO, and every officer ranking LT or higher on that boat shares in the blame for this with the CO. Way too much "poking the pooch" going on for my taste.

11/20/2009 12:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


All plausible explanations, and all of which point to overtasking (either admin or operational). That can be fixed by actions above the boat level. Absent such action, the dirty non-secret is that boats do it themselves by reducing emphasis on/blowing-off the tasks of perceived least importance.
Too often, the least-important admin tasks are the most important operational tasks.

My personal issue with this incident (and one which is expressly discounted in the JAGMAN report) is that the boat was transiting at PD in dip-scope through a high density area. This question was brought up before, and I haven't yet seen a good answer. AIS? Then surface. Counterdetection? Then go deep. Grounding? Surface. Force Protection? Get an surfaced escort or go deep.

My personal sense is that all of these independent conflicting concerns led the team to make a "middle-ground" decision that flies in the face of common sense submarining: being at PD is the worst place to be for a submarine not on mission in a high contact density environment. Maybe someone with some more info can provide further insight.

11/20/2009 1:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

addendum: I just looked at the water depth for the SOH and it looks like deep is not an option. All the more reason to go surfaced, since Emergency Deep puts the nose in the dirt.

11/20/2009 1:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO changes were made at the Squardon level. The Commodore is the same. Actualy, a few were transfered to Squadron off the boat. Hey, maybe they will be apart of future JAGMAN investigations.

11/20/2009 1:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the Commodore who was on ALBANY's Bridge for the screw impacting the pier is now wearing stars.

11/20/2009 6:39 PM

Anonymous SSN / SSGN / SSBN said...

Regarding why the ISIC isn't held accountable -

The only reason these tier one events don't happen more often is that the ISIC isn't onboard for the majority of a deployment. If they were, the Submarine Force would be screwed since the ISIC weiners can barely get dressed by themselves.

Seriously, the buck stops at the CO. Command at Sea is a unique priviledge as well as a yoke to bear.

Unfortunately, the ISIC frequently tries to "help" with frequent inspections (by the above weiners), rediculous administrative corrective actions (vice demonistrated basic skills).

Way too much ASS covering - "I Told Them to Fix That..." when something bad happens, vice any actual help.

The screening rate is currently 100% from Command at Sea to Major Command. It only takes a political weiner to get in over his head and directly contribute to one of his ships having a tier one event. Makes you wonder what it currently takes to be a commodore....

11/20/2009 6:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And GREENEVILLE #3 is the CSP Chief of Staff? WTF

11/20/2009 6:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the Philly either.

11/20/2009 7:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Makes you wonder what it currently takes to be a commodore...."

Ask Steed, since the "P-Commodore" course is, I believe, his brain-child.

11/20/2009 7:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't the Commodore wear his Command pin on the right side of his uniform? Why is he not held accountable for the actions of his ships the way the CO is rightly held accountable for the actions of his crew? Same Command pin, same side of the uniform....hmmmmm

11/20/2009 9:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Like I mentioned before, we are extremely grateful that God is looking out for us. We need to stop testing that interlock."

Does that mean God hated the Thresher and Scorpion?

11/20/2009 9:54 PM

Blogger bigsoxfan said...

Speaking strictly as a target; "you all need a mission" Not as a complement to a "ground strike", but a mission. Transitting through STROH with a multi-$boat is not a mission, but putting up with the floating airfields inferiority. Stay the hell out of an area not designed for the -688's and let the carriers rediscover their own cover.
Yeah, there were mistakes made, but if the bluewater attack subs were where they were not designed to be, then the Navy lost some people who could have mattered when they might have counted for something.
If anyone hasn't figured out my point, the Hartford was way out of position and the Naval command should damn well realize it. The Co/CoB/Sonar/watch standers may have well have been out of touch with the proper tennants of command, but the boat was not in its intended area for its design and i would like to see that fact recognized before the entire sub force is dragged under.
Sure enough, the sub force is in danger of being marginalized by lack of mission, but why play incompetent duck, than ace in the hole. We won't be hunting this particular brand of scum always, and it would be a shame to shoot the future, while making up a mission for which the subforce is not mission capable without unacceptable casualities.

11/21/2009 1:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Beantown skimmer writes like a drunken A-ganger but has a good point: old technology is being applied to a comparatively new mission (shallow water ops). In 25 years when we decide to do stupid things like peacetime/nighttime PD transits through the Strait of Hormuz, the improved sensors on the Virginia class should greatly reduce the chance of collisions.

Of course, we could just not do stupid things. Naaaaah...

11/21/2009 2:07 AM

Blogger DDM said...

To the Squadron wienie bashers, you obviously never had that duty. One of the great things about working for the three Commodores I had there, is that they weren't interested in administratively fixing boats. It is a fine line to ride. It is very easy to always say the sky is falling. That way if the boat fails, "You can say I told them so." If the boat succeeds, it's only because they fixed what we told them to. I bet you every time we rode Hartford, we had somebody in control for PD trips. Guess what, if Squadron was in control, the CO or XO were in control. We'd have no reason to think they would run amok unless somebody was watching. If CSS-4 had been their ISIC while on deployment, we would have wanted to be briefed on SOH transit plan. If we thought they were informal to the point of being unsafe, we would have taken action. If the Squadrons are that bad, what do you suggest as the alternative? None of the guys fired go to squadron on a permanent basis, for those who think squadron is manned by a bunch of poor performers.

11/21/2009 5:20 AM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

To Bigsoxfan: I don’t think anyone would say that having a submarine transit the SOH at PD is the right place for any sub, not just the 688 class, but as I understand it, they were headed into a liberty port so they did at least have a reason to be in the area.
As for the sub force not having a mission, I would disagree. While bear hunting season is probably closed for awhile, submarines do show that they are very capable in many other areas other than hunting other submarines.
Granted, I only spent three years in submarines with only two Polaris patrols and a miserable yard period in Mare Island, so I don’t claim to have the great wealth of knowledge. I did most of my career in the surface navy, but I believe my 3 years in subs gave me a unique understanding of them that is very lacking in most people in the surface navy.
During my first deployment in the Persian Gulf, I asked an STG1 why they had only a fathometer watch in Sonar (on a Spruance can). He said to me “there are no submarines in the gulf. It is too shallow for them here.”
He just would not believe me when I said that a submarine will go wherever it is tasked to do a mission. Small wonder that some STGs though a sub looked like a green flare!
To anon @ 2:07 AM – Now what’s wrong with a drunken A-ganger?

11/21/2009 7:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: SSN / SSGN / SSBN - for someone who has seemingly done three sea tours (I'm assuming as an officer), it's surprising how little you know about the officer career path. Screening for Major Command is nowhere close to 100% for successfully served at-sea Commanding Officers (i.e I'm not padding the stats with COSS deputies, NSSC COs, etc.). The board two weeks ago left many good officers on the table. Those that did screen are truly the best of the best, and only the best of them go on to Squadron Command. Does that mean they're all perfect? Of course not. But every one of the Commodores I've known has had as his primary role to train and mentor his COs. And anyone that was unfortunate enough to have a CO involved in an incident like this felt the pain as much as he would have had he been the CO involved. Historically, you can certainly find a surprise or two in those that have commanded squadrons - it's an imperfect system run by humans, after all - but it is by no means a rubber stamp from command at sea to Major Command.

11/21/2009 8:00 AM

Anonymous Not Convinced said...

So that means that SSGN COs are not the "Best of the Best?" - after all, they are the ones going back to sea and "Doing it" vice talking about it and "Mentoring..."

What about the Subschool and TTF / regional learning center COs - Since they are not the "Best of the Best", is that the reason that we, as a Submarine Force, keep having to talk about collisions, groundings, and needless loss of life at sea?

Looking at the most recent Major Command list, I'd be ashamed if I was "left on the table"

Not Convinced

11/21/2009 6:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BZ to Not Convinced!

BS to "Only the best go on to be Commodores" -

Best at what? Once post DH, it becomes a "Who you know - Who you blow" game. Who will try to pull strings to get you the assignment you want from the detailer.

There are PCOs who have finished the training pipeline and "wait" almost a year for their plum job to open up.

Same thing for Major Command assignments, only worse. No one looks at what the prospective Commodore did on his Command tour, how successful he was, or his leadership ability (or lack there of).

Only thing that matters is that he makes the boss (3+ stars ideally) happy, and he'll get a squadron to screw up.

11/21/2009 6:43 PM

Anonymous Leave the fart fest to Blazing Saddles said...


Let me be the first to say "too much information."

CO-and-above bitching on a public blog is unseemly. That's the sort of think that many would call "lacking in leadership." Maybe that's why you didn't get the job you wanted.

Any reaons why you would choose to have a bitch-fest in a public forum are clearly yours to own. But I doubt it'll change any outcomes to your liking.

Bitter is as bitter does, and stupid is as stupid does. And we all know what happens to "the stupid."

Go hug your family, have a cold one and plan your next fishing trip. All of that is at least productive.

11/21/2009 8:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey "Leave the fart fest to Blazing Saddles said"

Bite me!

11/22/2009 8:07 AM

Blogger bigsoxfan said...

I did preface my comment with "Speaking strictly as a target" And I had been at the bottle. All the same, thanks for not flushing me at first best. I'm an ex merchant mariner and that is that. I'll sit down now, but not without saying I respect the sub surface force immensely. I'd better my sister's husband is an ex polaris. No whining out loud, no crying, Just the willingness to carry out orders in the most professional manner.

11/22/2009 9:17 AM

Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/22/2009 7:34 PM

Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

"Does that mean God hated the Thresher and Scorpion?"

Anon at 2154:

I have been away for a couple days, and seeing that post stirred my blood. How in the world did you think I meant to convey that!

I am not implying that God hated the brave souls of THRESHER and SCORPION. As for THRESHER, you can thank a bunch of crooked SOBs working to radiography shop at PNSY for "gaffing" off inspections that would have revealed the flaws in critical piping welds. Those individuals should have been tried for murder if you ask me. And don't think for one moment I didn't think twice about all those welds on FLORIDA when we were on sea trials. Thank God we were at NNSY and not Newport News where that one inspector was caught "gaffing" weld inspections on all their VIRGINAs and the BUSH. The men of THRESHER died doing the best they could to save a flawed ship.

As for SCORPION, I believe the commonly accepted storyline is that she had an internal explosion, possibly from a torpedo hot run. Since the only sensor listening out for her was a SOSUS net, we will never know what exactly happened. Similar to THRESHER, SCORPION most likely was victim to an overwhelming casualty. I am certain her men fought as best capable to save the ship.

Am I saying God hated those men...absolutely not! Every submariner knows that at any moment, no matter how unlikely, our souls could be committed to Davy Jones Locker. Shitty shipyard work and a hot run torpedo are two situations I pray I never find myself in...but why create "situations" to test ourselves? Why not hold off that flank bell or look out the periscope one last time? We aren't Congress...we don't need to be creating problems just to solve them!

Bottomline...we have been lucky that we haven't lost more boats from these careless situations. And I attribute that to God watching out for us. He looks out for us always. Fortunately, most of us come home. For those that don't, they serve faithfully on Eternal Patrol with our Father, forever in His care. Either way, He loves and care for us all.

I know I may sound like I am on a high horse talking about our careless ways, but it needs to be said. And I pray God gives me the "watchteam backup" I'll need to keep my boat out of trouble. For if I do something careless and get someone's father/brother/son killed...I'll have to answer to someone's family and God for that!

11/22/2009 7:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em @7:35 PM. Good post. Thanks God that shipyard workers that gun deck inspections are not in the majority. San Franciso running into an undersea mountain at flank and surviving says that at least that one was built well.

11/22/2009 8:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Dude, how the hell did you survive your JO tour? You are the perfect storm of earnest and clueless.

Now that every O-3+ on the Pearl waterfront can now identify you based on your past three posts, you might want to exercise a little more discretion...

11/22/2009 10:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em,

You are poorly informed...You should read the Basic Report of Investigation into the USS Thresher prior to making inaccurate statements...the issue was substandard bonding on too many silver braze joints (this was before UT was a standard NDT method for these joints)...there was no "gaffing" of records.

The loss of the Thresher was in all probability attributed to:

(a) An initial flooding casualty from an orifice between 2" and 5" in size in the engine room, which continued, compounded by
(b) Loss of reactor power due to an electrically-induced automatic shutdown,
(c) Inadequate operating procedures with respect to minimizing the effects of a flooding casualty and the loss of reactor power, and
(d) A deficient air system, susceptible to freeze-up, with low capacity and low blow rate.

If you want a copy of the report please call the Office of the JAG at 202.685.4631.

You should get a clue next time before you insert you size 10-1/2 topsider inside your mouth.

11/23/2009 8:41 AM

Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

I'll have to go back and review my copy of Death of Thresher by Norman Polmar. I was aware of the other findings resulting most likely from a failed weld. I am not sure if it was in that book or in one of the QA trainings I attended, but I recall discussion about how the radiography on THRESHER was all jacked up (improper heating methods, exact same records for different welds, etc.) I don't know how all that gets overlooked without something serious going on. If I am wrong, then I am wrong. I'll definitely take it as a lookup. However, there certainly was "gaffing" going on at Newport News.

As for how I survived my JO tour...I did my job. Put it the hours and kept the bitching to a minimum. If an "anon" thinks that I am "clueless," feel free to enlighten me. Don't let me lose the game for the whole team. "Seriously, if we aren't our brother's keeper, what are we?" (A good question an old CO of mine always asked.)

11/23/2009 1:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let me lose the game for the whole team.

It's not the team I'm worried about - it's you. You come off as either a clown, tool or rube, none of which will serve you well as the new DH in town.

Even for anonymous blog posts, your Signal-Noise ratio is way too low. You spent 6 paragraphs on the importance of God in submarining; did that really add any value to the discussion on long-term mishap rates in the fleet?

11/23/2009 3:23 PM

Blogger SJV said...

"Any one detail, followed through to its source, will usually reveal the general state of readiness of the whole organization."


SO why does it take external failures to reveal massive problems like they had on Hartford?

11/23/2009 7:18 PM

Anonymous Not Convinced said...

Bubblehead said
"We've seen this before, where Big Sub Force seems to go out of their way to make the crews of boats that have mishaps look like the biggest bunch of shitbags in the Fleet."

Roger all, but to pile on with Subdude83: Here's the scoop on JAGMANs - Yes, they are intended to find the facts and establish blame. There are 3ish sections -

Findings of Fact (fairly indisputable), but subject to having knowledge and asking the right probing questins...Why, Why..

Opinions (need I say more...) quite experience and obvious conclusion based.

Recommendations (Hmmmm, based on the JAGMAN member's experience, it generally is useless) and is the reason that these tier one events are a bienneal occurence.

All great reasons to stack the Safety Investigation Board with 1120 experts, and low ball the JAGMAN to check the box and document the (OBVIOUS) blame.

and to respond to Leave the Fartfest to Blazin Saddles - I'm not a frustrated post CO airing dirty laundry - I can actually HANDLE THE TRUTH!

can you? Hmmmm

11/24/2009 6:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only skimmed the comments.

"Do more with less" is going to get 130 people killed shortly. The nation will mourn and THEN maybe big navy will get their collective head out of their ass.

We're dodging bullets with 18 year old kids that are working on 3 hours of sleep..if they're lucky. When things go south we blame leadership for not beating the kids enough to "straighten up and fly right"?

Cya assholes on C-Span explaining to Congress why you lost a SSN/SSBN/SSGN and 130 sailors.

It's coming.

11/26/2009 2:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subdude83, no 1120 CO(SS) on jagman, there was an 1120 LT and the served CO that had a 30 month tour and a change of command (to align with deployment plans and to prevent exceeding 40 months in command) and was not relieved early. I heard the rest of the team consisted of legal staff and one submarine served (former 1120) jag.

I am curious to read the redacted portions. It seems to me the majority of the report is redacted leaving the tabloid headlines available for comment.

Since I can't access the "high side" of the report any more, I will leave my faith in the overall process, professionalism of individuals when they take any duty. The endorsement letters (esp subfor) - also redacted - are telling in their support of the jagman. I have seen many jagman reports chopped to pieces by the endorsing commands.

11/26/2009 5:43 PM

Blogger King said...


You hit the nail on the head. It was obvious to me when I was a JO that the submarine force was heading to trouble, and talking to guys now arriving at shore duty, it sounds like little has changed. It's a shame, because, in general, I think most people are highly qualified, just that the culture is highly biased towards completing maintenance quickly and being excellent nuclear trained officers.

While obviously Ship driving is important, I think most CO's would rather fail TRE than ORSE. In fact, I was on a SSBN, and my opinion was that having actual strategic downtime would have been preferable to many CO's than failing ORSE or TRE. Doing your mission doesn't get a SSBN a Battle E, after all.

Clearly, that's a screwed priority. I know a lot of initiative has went into the paperwork reduction stuff but from what I hear from the fleet, little real progress has been made because the ISIC's and CO's don't believe in it. The real root cause of the major collisions is that dudes are on a straight three section, running drills during the day, updating binders, training plans, etc. and attending 12 hours of training per week.

simply put, it's dangerous AND it's probably the single main reason so many people leave the submarine force, but nobody is ever going to fix it.

11/29/2009 10:04 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Yep, the Navy’s Vietnam syndrome today?

Sailors report footing bill for needs on ships

By Philip Ewing - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Nov 30, 2009 6:19:14 EST

Chief Machinist’s Mate (SW/AW) Michael Seger was tired of his sailors being punished when they weren’t getting their work done on schedule. It happened over and over, and it wasn’t their fault, he said. They didn’t have the gear they needed to clean, paint spaces, or maintain their equipment by the command’s schedule.
So Seger took matters into his own hands. For years, first on the carrier Enterprise and then on the amphibious assault ship Nassau, Seger drove out to hardware stores and shopping centers to spend his own money on the stuff his sailors needed.
Between those two ships alone, Seger estimated he spent more than $4,000 of his own money “to buy everything from simple cleaning supplies that cost a few dollars to high-priced fittings for pumps that cost upwards of several hundred dollars,” he told Navy Times.
“Over almost 18 years of service, I know I am not the only one to do this, and honestly, it is simply pathetic,” Seger said

11/30/2009 3:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

King -

A Boomer Fag JO... Thanks for your thoughts. Those and $1.29 will get me a Coke at the mini mart.

Obviously haven't done much except offcrew and reciprocal TMA...Hide with pride.

When you're ready to run with the Big Dogs ( SSNs ) take a timid step off the porch!

Try for a DH tour on an SSN to prove your worth.

Otherwise, crawl back to the dawg house and find the "Hind Tit"

12/03/2009 7:50 PM

Blogger King said...

Keep working on your dolphins and come back to the adult's table once you have something intelligent to say.

12/04/2009 6:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queen (a.k.a king)

I earned my Gold Dolphins in 1994, and not from the bottom of a cracker jacks box, where you obviously found yours.

That little table you're sitting at is the kid's table...look up and see the Men at the big table. That's the Adult table! Hop up into the high chair.

12/04/2009 2:45 PM

Blogger King said...

So, what you're saying is that you're far enough removed from the fleet that you have little to add to a dialogue on the current state of submarines.

There's an off chance you're some kind of post-command CAPT running about somewhere, but if you are, I find it ironically another point of evidence that submarine leadership has its head far up its rear that you join the conversation with nothing of substance to add.

Things are much different now than 1994, and my SSN brethren have, for the most part a very similar perception on the state of the submarine force as those that are SSBN sailors.

But please, try to get your next assignment as head of PERS-42. I'm sure your charming personality and novel strategy of calling SSBN sailors worthless will doubtless solve retention problems for years to come.

Clearly, VADM Donnelly has been barking up the wrong tree by actually trying to address issues with the submariners. Luckily, he has many dedicated middle managers like yourself to undermine any effort to change the status quo for the better.

12/06/2009 2:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two nub officers arguing about being adults....classic!

Both of you need to get some time on the boat.

12/06/2009 7:34 PM

Blogger King said...

Well, you're not really a man until you test your mettle as an SSN Department Head. SOAC separates the men from the boys, and then you can make comments like "I've spent more time on the shitter at test depth than you have at EOOW/EWS training!" and talk about how you're doing "God's work."

And if you're really lucky you can become a triple rainbow shellback where you drink semen out of a fat guy's belly button... or something like that.

12/06/2009 11:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Don't let Anon's immature rant about SSN vs SSBN get to you. Pretty pathetic that someone who says he got his dolphins in '94 really thinks that way. He is either on 0-5 or an E-8/9 if he is still in, and you are right, he is the kind of person leading the Submarine Force into the abyss.

Don't fool yourself about VADM Donnelly though. He is leading the charge in ruining the Submarine Force forever. He only looks out for himself and his choosen "boys". He has risen to the top by using the knives in the backs of all the "non-chosen" ones as hand holds. The Sub Force is doomed until it purges Donnelly and his boys.

12/07/2009 6:32 AM

Anonymous SOAC LT said...

King -

If you don't like serving, then vote with your feet. There are plenty of TALENTED, MOTIVATED Junior Officers heading to SOAC and to the Fleet.

You can bitch about all you want, but you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Lead, Follow, or get the heck out of the way.

12/07/2009 4:40 PM

Anonymous SSN Tough said...

Leave the personal attacks on active duty Officers and Enlisted off the Blog.

As for destroying the Submarine Force, former CNO ADM "I hate Submarines" Vern Clark did a great job single handedly, that we're just now building our way out of.

12/07/2009 5:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, nobody said that SSBN sailors are "Worthless". Thank goodness someone wants to do that mission.

I hear that Offcrew is far from that now.

Any thoughts from the SSBN readers?

12/07/2009 5:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Leave the personal attacks on active duty Officers and Enlisted off the Blog."


Thanks for being the thought police!

STSCS Martin

12/07/2009 8:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Leave the personal attacks on active duty Officers and Enlisted off the Blog."

You must resemble one of Donnelly's cronies that ANON 12/7 6:32 is talking about. Restrict personal attacks on active duty members on this blog?!? You must be joking.

While CNO Clark hurt he force because of his cuts to the number of SSNs, the current leadership of the sub force is destroying it because of their policies and dreadful leadership.

12/08/2009 7:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you don't like serving, then vote with your feet. There are plenty of TALENTED, MOTIVATED Junior Officers heading to SOAC and to the Fleet."


FYI, department head numbers are hurting and tour lengths will be well over 36 months for the years to come. The sub force missed it's DH numbers the past two years (YG 01 and 02) and will likely miss again for YG 03. Don't believe me, see it for yourself on PERS 42 website:

With the economy as bad as it is, repeatedly missing retention numbers certainly says something about the sub force. The future of the force is voting with their feet!

12/08/2009 8:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon X 2:

"...the current leadership of the sub force is destroying it because of their policies and dreadful leadership."

What policies and dreadful leadership issues piss you off?

12/08/2009 2:34 PM

Anonymous STSSN Smith said...

STSCS Martin:

The COB asked me to tell you that you're about to lose your place in line for the shower. If you want to get your fifth shower today, get off the computer and report to the goat locker.

The laundry queen finished your laundry and your favorite pink poopie suit is clean and pressed for you after your shower. Your gold boomer pin looks impressive!

How many more patrols do I need before I get my gold boomer pin?


12/08/2009 3:46 PM

Blogger FastBoatTough said...

What I find entertaining is have any of you talked to any one involved? Y ou would find out that the 2nd CLASS sonar sup and another 2nd class sonartech were made out to be dirt bags. 1 being an ep sailor and the other just having been capped in january. Oh and btw the SONAR CHIEF who was off the watchbill to MONITOR SONAR and PROVIDE SUPPORT was in the chief quarters watching a movie during the transit. OH and let us not forget that he was promoted to STSCS after the NJP's were dished out. The 2 STS'2s were reduced in rate. And furthermore the Navigator was promoted to Lcdr as was the Weapons officer who was the OOD. And the JOOD was promoted to LT. and the JOOW made JG. I dont know about you but something seems wrong with that picture.

12/10/2009 2:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fastboat "tough"

Don't know who you're talking to, but you've got bum dope. Both STS2 weren't "made out to be dirt bags", they WERE UNSAT on watch! They are at the center of the informal watch standing mentioned in the JAGMAN. If they were EPs and Capped, then that's only more damning on the fired COB and CO.

If you have siper access, listen to the collision recording. If that doesn't convince you that they were guilty, then you better look in the mirror since you'll contribute to the next one of these.

You were not the NJP authority, but all khaki's subject to NJP are on their last sea tour if they weren't DFC'd. If the STS2s were as talented as you advertise, they will have no problem overcoming a mast early in their career and make Chief. Not so much for the Khakis - and rightfully so.

NAV and WEPs have not been promoted. STSCS (sel) was not the sonar chief.

TSHBP - time to move on and wait for the next tier one event, since no real improvements or innovations came from the JAGMAN. Document the obvious and punish the guilty.

12/10/2009 5:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen an electrician rest his testicles on the grab-bar for the EPCP ... is that informal? My buddy saw the same electrician strip naked in Maneuvering ... is that informal? Oh, by the way, my buddy is a current flag officer, so I guess it really didn't matter!

4/13/2010 7:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your "buddy" is probably running around lecturing others on formality and extolling the virtues of not smoking on subs, not drinking off of subs, serving with women, training plans, 30k feet looks, PRO, etc...

whatever human part of him that existed is probably long lost to submarine military PC power-grabbing, money wasting culture

4/13/2010 9:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former submarine officer, both SSN and SSBN most of the blogs were on track but failed to grasp an overall flaw in the leadership of our submarine force. In my opinion todays submarine commanders are not leaders at all for the most part. The pipeline recruits and rewards techogeek beancounters. Our military has many great leaders but not in my opinion, in the submarine force. As we always used to say, why does the back end always have to drive the front end. I will always remember reading the Medal of Honor Citations at Sub School New London. In my opinion if we went to war tomorrow the current men in command of our submarines would not be able to do what the WWII sub commanders did. Today's commanders are driven by Squadron and NR policy and live paranoid of not getting promoted. Essentially even though we have better technology we,in my opinion, are less able to fight a war.

4/28/2010 2:25 PM

Anonymous Mark said...

Seems no one senior was set on the midwatch by the COB. Seems like the most inexperienced and lowest seamen were on watch while the "elite" got to rest up for port call. That was an issue I tried to tell our XO about one day. He was shocked that I would talk about the COB and favoritism. It does not surprise me at all to note the Seaman Apprentice was 67foot off depth and 28 degres off couse on the midwatch probably nodding off constantly. Exausted probably because he was mess cooking all the time. That and everyone on the boat enlisted wise crapping all over the poor newb. No wonder they got rid of the COB real quick. Looks like he lined the CO up for failure with the "D" team on watch during transition thru the strait on midwatch....

9/02/2010 5:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at how far from the issue that this blog ventured off. Has anyone on here actually spoken with the guys who were on watch or even on board at the time? I'm just curious.
I have, and there are plenty of truths and eye pokes in the report for sure, but at the end of the day what is the real point?
Was it to find a root cause, look for blame or find lessons learned...I can say, I can't tell from reading it.
To me the bottom line is that gross negligence by specific personnel in their duties is the real cause for the collision...end of story.
Arrogance nearly cost the lives of 152 souls, even when a "questioning attitude" was in place and to me that is really sad.
Has anyone taken a moment to think of the guys that were doing it right, just not right then?
As a "culture" we always look to denegrade or ostresize the "group" rather than really looking at the whole picture for what it truly is...a few who men ruined an impressive and successful mission that is completely lost amongst the tragic mishap that ensued.
In the end the JAGMAN received it's "pound of flesh" by virtue of certain people's careers either being ended or ruined (don't think that most of those sailors that are still on active duty are still not feeling it either...) by politics of the day.
I'll close with this, I know many of those sailors personally and served with all of them, prior to the deployment they were the "coveted" unit and even post collision they were again praised for their command leadership based upon having over 1000 days DUI were they really the maligned group that was described to be throughout the JAGMAN? Who know's? In short the Sub Force should either operate within the "culture" it lives by or come up with a game plan that can actually be played by.

10/29/2011 9:12 AM

Anonymous theexilesclan said...

This will not really work, I think like this.

3/29/2012 1:57 PM

Anonymous Deidre said...

The guy is definitely right, and there's no question.

9/21/2012 1:18 PM

Blogger hira salman said...

I like you post so good I also share with you some tips hope you like it
Understand that there is going to be resistance from folks who prefer not to wear an ID badge. Explain that it is for their protection and safety. Remember, it starts at the top; make sure that your organizational leaders also follow the policy.ID Badge Reels

10/31/2012 2:57 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home