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.)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Destroyer Collides With Small Boat Off Point Loma

According to this article in Navy Times, USS Shoup (DDG 86) collided with a 21 foot small craft about 56nm northwest of Point Loma late Sunday, causing minor damage to both vessels. Excerpts:
Shoup was participating in an at-sea training exercise with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in the Southern California Operating Area, a large offshore training and weapons range.
Along with a rescue team from Shoup, the Coast Guard patrol cutter Petrel responded to the scene to assist.
Normally, I'm the first one to give the benefit of the doubt to a Navy crew when a collision happens, but this looks completely ridiculous. It's as if they completely forgot the lessons learned from the USS Cole (DDG 67) attack. Unless there are some really good mitigating circumstances, heads should roll from this incident.


Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Hmmm.....Agree that this one smacks of stupidity.

Shoup picked up the contact visually at ~3nm off port quarter, "closing at an apparently high rate of speed". Shoup reportedly sped up but no apparent course change. Even WITHOUT the Cole LL in mind, it seems to me as if a large turn (90?) to STBD would have been appropriate here (Rule 17 germane).

The small craft reported that she "hit a vessel showing no navigation lights". Shoup reported thet they "Verified All Navigation Lights were 'energized'" Could mean anything or nothing at all. Yep, the switches are turned on. 'Scuse me...did anyone put eyeballs on the lights themselves?

Yeah...this passes the "Ridiculous" test.

8/03/2010 4:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for some good Armchair OOD'ing. Yay.


8/03/2010 6:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that if this had been the USS Cole off of San Diego, there would be once less small craft filled with stupid people driving at night at high speed in the future. Evolution in action. Their security detachment probably remembers the lessons of Oct 2000 vividly, and would have responded appropriately.

General prudential rule applies; the small boat was travelling too fast that she couldn't pick out a 505 foot warship in the water (even without navigation lights).

This could be an expensive collision for the small craft operator. Navy Vessel Protection Zone rules makes it a felony to approach within 100 yards of a warship (6 yrs prison, $250k fine). He is lucky to be alive, since the DDG should have wasted him.

8/03/2010 7:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RULE 8 Action to Avoid Collision
(a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with the Rules of this Part and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.
(b) Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.
(c) If there is sufficient sea room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation.
(d) Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.
(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.

8/03/2010 8:27 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

"RULE 8 Action to Avoid Collision"

Rule 8 is all well and good, but that assumes that the Give-Way vessel:
a. KNOWS that risk of collision exists and
b. Is taking appropriate action to avoid collision (Per rules 8/16)

In this case (and I'm assuming a 30kt Closure rate) it should have been apparent fairly quickly that the give-way vessel was not taking appropriate action. Enter Rule 17.

Admiralty Courts recognize neither USN AT-FP requirements nor the Naval Vessel Protection Zone (which, IIRC, is applicable in inland waters only). COLREGS trumps all.

Motivations of the small craft notwithstanding, at some point it will (and SHOULD) be decided that there is equal culpability here. Small craft will be charged with violation of rules 5, 6 (Yes, 6!), 8, 13 and 16. Shoup will be charged with violation of rules 8 (Yes, 8 since it governs the actions when invoking rules 16 and 17) and 17(a)(ii) and (b).

Phew...with all that said...these clowns were probably too busy thinking "He's a Suicide Bomber" to ask the simple question "I wonder if he sees us?". Before you worry about what will happen when he hits you, why don't you try NOT TO GET HIT in the FIRST PLACE!!!

8/03/2010 9:31 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

"at ~3nm off port"

Apparently, navy surface vessels no longer require radar watches.

The CPA (closest point of approach) of a contact takes less than 3 radar sweeps (1 minute?) for a trained operator to determine and report to the delegated watch officer, after which it can be monitored acoording to standing orders.

USS Shoup had (Take your pick):
1- Piss poor standing orders,
2- No oprational radar
3- Poorly trained/supervised radar operator
4- Derelict watch officer

No more complicated than that guys.

8/03/2010 9:44 AM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Well, all that said, my first two years USN were on USS FRANK KNOX (DDR 742). Our normal steaming night-time lights consisted of port and starboard navigation lights (red/green) which could not be seen abaft the beam, a masthead light, range light, and stern light (which if I recall correctly spread a 120 degree "fan" of light aft of the stern.) One of the duties of the Lifebouy watch was to report "Stern Light's a Bright Light." That way the OOD and JOOD knew for sure that it was burning. Likewise the Port and Starboard Lookouts reported the other navigation lights.

Must have been calm seas for a 21 footer to have such a high closing rate. It could be that the tin can couldn't accelerate out of the way. Option "x" would then have been to spotlight the small craft and fire on it.

8/03/2010 10:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So should the OOD and JOOD be decorated for "courageous restraint" for not blowing the small craft out of the water?

8/03/2010 12:05 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

So should the OOD and JOOD be decorated for "courageous restraint" for not blowing the small craft out of the water?

On the contrary...they should be reminded at every opportunity that, had the small boat's intentions been hostile, they'd either be floating in a liferaft or dead.

8/03/2010 12:13 PM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Courageous restraint. Cool, what a neat idea.

One other thing. Cloudy? Clear? Was the operator of the small craft adapted to the dark? What the heck was that small craft doing 40 miles out at 0-dark-30? Maybe he was blinded by lights in his cuddy, or by his own stern light. Was he so busy looking at his own compass, that he didn't see what else was going on around him?

8/03/2010 12:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe most COs night orders require him to called if a contact closes to a certain CPA? Not sure of the distance, but how hard would it have been for the Signal Man to put the big light on him? That would have gotten his attention or at least told him something else was out there.

8/03/2010 2:20 PM

Anonymous Quick Lickin' said...

Willing to bet the "failure to yield" vessel was:
a. Intoxicated
b. On Auto Pilot
c. Had malicious intent
d. 2 of the 3 above.

An asshole like that, traveling at such very high speed, will put the "Right of way" vessel in a compromised position very rapidly. At most, they rate 10% fault.

And to all you pessimistic armchair Navigators, our men and women of the United States Navy are, at the least, owed our benefit of the doubt.

Hand Salute, Carry on.

8/03/2010 7:59 PM

Blogger blunoz said...

Are we all looking at the same article? The commenters are posting details that I cannot find in the article to which Joel's post is linked.

I encourage all to refrain from the armchair quarterbacking and wait for the results of the JAGMAN.

8/03/2010 8:05 PM

Anonymous ssnret said...

Shoup was participating in an at-sea training exercise with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in the Southern California Operating Area, a large offshore training and weapons range.

I haven't been in PACFLT since '92 but isn't that area marked on the charts as a danger area? Should the little guy have even been there?

8/03/2010 9:31 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

@Blunoz: My comments are based on the OPREP-3NB. My off the cuff ATFP comments are purely tongue-in-cheek :)

8/04/2010 3:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick Lickin'

Your tone sounds too much like the departed Rubber Duckling. Coincidence?

8/04/2010 10:35 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/04/2010 4:16 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

"Yep, the switches are turned on. 'Scuse me...did anyone put eyeballs on the lights themselves?"

Damn, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that.

This sounds just like LaJolla, and every Jax collision...and Philly.
"Visual contact sir."
"I shall maintain course."
"CBDR sir"
"I shall maintain course."
"Why didn't that SOB turn?"
"Aren't we lucky BinLaden's nutjobs weren't on board?"
"Get some spray paint, maybe no one will notice."


8/04/2010 4:17 PM

Anonymous exMiss Sh*tcan Aganger said...

Sierra Quebec Three Sierra Quebec Three

8/04/2010 9:05 PM

Blogger RichG said...

I'm an ex-ops guy out of San Diego, CTG 14.6 (subs), and CFT 34. First off, 50nm NW of Point Loma is Catalina Island, in Los Angeles County, no where near Point Loma. But this is where the USS Houston had its accident with the tug Barcona.

Next, if they weren't near Catalina, they were near San Clemente Island (72 nm from Pt Loma, I remember that), totally military. So they are way offshore in a military zone? This does not pass the stink test.

This is 50+ NM offshore. I think details are missing.

8/04/2010 10:08 PM

Anonymous Quick Lickin' said...

Who is this "Rubber Duckling" you speak of?
I will never be, nor have I ever been, said Rubber Duckling.

Hand Salute, Carry on.

8/05/2010 12:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Who is this "Rubber Duckling" you speak of?

One CAPT. John B., USN, ret.

Sorry, he deserves his anonymnity as well as our gratitude for his service.

R. Diehl

8/05/2010 1:17 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...


Sculpin or Michigan late-80's/early '90's?

p.s. Don't get too wound up about bearings/distances...Media's way of generalizing for their target audience. Morning News Tribune does the same thing.

8/05/2010 4:16 PM

Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Keep us posted of any hearings/inquiries on this, fellow blogger.

8/06/2010 8:32 AM

Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

Regardless of the details of this incident, I think the comment about relaxed attitude towards force protection is evident to me. Now I'm just a sub mechanic, but to me, if a small craft is closing at that rate of speed... at that distance... hrm, I'd be ready to knock his ass to the bottom of the ocean.

What I'm getting from this is that possibly the attitude onboard is, "We are in our area... California is's not like this is Yemen or something." Maybe not, but I think we all need to keep in mind that dangers like this aren't just in the middle east and can hit us anywhere.

As far as the rules of the road go... I'll let all you OOD and navigation qualified dudes do your speculating. It's all greek to me.


8/06/2010 12:59 PM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

EmmmK...Now what happened?

Were the lookouts being brought enough coffee and Redbull in order to not fall asleep on watch on a moonlit night? Was visibility a problem? What was the bridge watch doing once an unknown contact was approaching? Was CIC watching porn on their IPODS instead of manning their stations? You have a civilian Evenrude 225hp outboard engine approaching fast & hot and Sonar can't detect and report it's deafening sound before experiencing a bump in the night? Who and how many guys fell asleep on watch that night?

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

"p.s. Don't get too wound up about bearings/distances...Media's way of generalizing for their target audience. Morning News Tribune does the same thing."

This last, made me stop and think for a few moments. The media in general does a consistent & exceptional job in fucking up when they attempt to report on our movements, nomenclature and area of operations in a typical expose. That would include other questions regarding who did what, when and where. Most of the time we want to choke the idiot media hacks who are clearly identified as not doing prior research before publishing. These "simple points" in life work out pretty well for us Bubbleheads so NNPI doesn't always have to play 20 questions with us once it's time to come home.

We're barely within the 3rd quarter of the year. How many COs have we lost already anyways?

8/06/2010 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest question here: How did they fail to pick up this contact until it was at 3nm? Seems like they should have picked him up sooner, which would have given them a lot more time to decide what to do to either avoid an accidental collision or stop a hostile contact.

Did they ever spotlight the boat? A big bright light in your face would work for even the drunkest boater, and if he had kept coming after that, sink him. And how drunk do you have to be to run into a destroyer? That's like driving your car throught the side of a Walmart and complaining that the parking lot lights were out.

8/06/2010 7:40 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Middle of the night.

21 foot fiberglass small craft.

Open ocean (3-4 foot seas).

In fairness to the Shoup, they did well to pick her up when she did.

Squawk "What About Radar?" all you want...gaining solid contact on such a target as that is much easier said than done.

Only part I'm trying to wrap my head around is: Ya picked her up visually SEVEN MINUTES prior to collision, and basically did nothing to prevent it. Physical or mental condition of the small-boat crew is irrelevant at this point.

8/07/2010 5:34 AM

Blogger Washington said...

I'm with you. If the Shoup had a visual on the 21' 3nm out how could they have collided?

Lets just say the Shoup did try to avoid the collision, how long would it reasonably take for the Shoup to perform an evasive maneuver assuming their spot light is burnt out(90 Stbd) ? 30 seconds? 90 seconds?

Lets say speeding up was a better alternative. Doesn’t it take a while for a ship like that to pick up speed? I’ve never been on a ship the size of the Shoup so I have no idea. Sounds like they had 8-9 minutes to react.

I navigate those waters all the time and no one in there right mind would approach a Navy ship like that unless they couldn’t see it. This story spooks me because I’ve been out there before at night and I cant imagine being unlucky/stupid enough to even get that close. I have friends in the navy that said they have stood watch a thousand times and they said that standard procedure is, flares, spot lights, directional PA, and then LEAD! Does that sound accurate to any one?

Ret ANAV what story did you read because the local news here in SD didn’t give any of that info?

8/07/2010 8:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey washington sounds like they should have had more like 20 minutes to react.
I read that the 21' dive boat even had its flood lights turned on, on the back deck. They didnt say anything about fog... Visual at 3nm? Should have been 10+. Sounds like watch wasnt watching.
I cant get over flood lights. Sounds like the 21'er was wearing a bow for the gunners.
Why didnt they warn those guys. They could have killed them.

8/07/2010 9:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dammed if you do, disciplined if you don't.

No matter where we're steaming, most COs will not give the order to fire.

8/08/2010 7:30 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...


I read the initial incident report from the Shoup.

WRT para 3 of your post, a speed change is almost NEVER the preferred alternative, for exactly the reason you state...most importantly, the other vessel is not going to SEE anything right away. COLGREGS Rul 8 (b) and (c) codify this pretty clearly.

WRT your Para 4, the implication was that the small craft could not see the shoup and alluded in her distress-call that she had "hit a vessel showing no navigation lights". I don't believe this for a second, but it's a "he-said, she-said" for now. Weather was more than conducive to seeing a large ship (and even a small craft, for that matter) in plenty of time (I checked).

Can't comment on AT-FP evasion procedures, mainly because I'm not really familiar with them, but I WILL comment that, by simply complying with the COLREGS, you can, more often than not, avoid having to invoke the AT-FP procedures in the first place.

8/08/2010 7:46 AM

Blogger Washington said...

The way I understand it is that the collision occured more towards the front of the SHOUP and that both vessels had N-NE headings and that neither vessel changed course. Assuming that to be true the SHOUPS response of speeding up sounds like it may have invoked the accident. What could have been their reasoning for speeding up. Bad judgement? Or a possible mind set of mines bigger than yours... It just doesnt make sense.

8/08/2010 11:25 AM

Anonymous Miranda said...

Quite worthwhile information, thanks for your post.

9/12/2012 9:20 AM


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