Category Archive 'USS Fitzgerald'

20 Jun 2018

USS Fitzgerald Collision Connected to Female Officers on Duty Who Were Not Speaking To One Another

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damage to USS Fitzgerald

Robert Stacy McCain received an anonymous letter pointing out that other issues besides simple negligence were involved in the USS Fitzgerald’s collision.

Hi, Stacy.

During the early weeks after the USS Fitzgerald was speared by a lumbering Philippine container ship, it was noteworthy that the captain and a couple of admirals were publically named, but not the actual officer in charge, the officer of the deck. (OOD) The other person who should have kept the Fitz out of trouble is the person in charge of the combat information center, the Tactical Action Officer. That individual is supposed to be monitoring the combat radar, which can detect a swimmer at a distance of two miles.

Not until a year later, when the final reports are made public and the guilty parties have been court-martialed, does the truth come out. The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!! The Tactical Action Officer would normally be in near constant communication with the OOD, but there is no record of any communication between them that entire shift!

Another fun fact: In the Navy that won WWII, the damage control officers were usually some of the biggest and strongest men aboard, able to close hatches, shore up damaged areas with timbers, etc. The Fitz’s damage control officer was also a woman, and she never left the bridge. She handled the aftermath of the accident remotely, without lifting a finger herself!

Look it up: The OOD was Sarah Coppock, Tactical Action Officer was Natalie Combs. . . .

When I noticed last year that they were doing all they could to keep the OOD’s name out of the headlines, I speculated to my son that it was a she. Turns out all the key people (except one officer in the CIC) were female!

Indeed, I did some searching, and Lt. Coppock pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty. Lt. Combs faced a hearing last month:

In an 11-hour hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of Lt. Irian Woodley, the ship’s surface warfare coordinator, and Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, as failing at their jobs, not using the tools at their disposal properly and not communicating adequately. They became complacent with faulty equipment and did not seek to get it fixed, and they failed to communicate with the bridge, the prosecution argued. Had they done those things, the government contended, they would have been able to avert the collision.

That two of the officers — Coppock and Combs — involved in this fatal incident were female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It could be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on enthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.

RTWT


LT Coppock

20 Jun 2017

Act of Terrorism?

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USS Fitzgerald

John Steele Gordon explains that the collision of that Philippine cargo ship with the American destroyer USS Fitzgerald may very well have not been an accident.

What happened? It was 1:30 in the morning, to be sure, but the night was clear. Ships not only have watches, they have running lights and radar. They also have transponders so other ships in the area can know exactly where they are. And destroyers, unlike cargo containers, are extremely nimble ships, capable of both high speed (over 30 knots in the Fitzgerald’s case) and quick maneuvering. It’s what they’re designed for.

The container ship was to starboard and so had the right of way. But the officer of the deck and the rest of the watch should have had no trouble whatever keeping clear, even in the very crowded waters near one of the world’s great harbors. If it was just hugely incompetent seamanship, then heads, including the captain’s, will roll.

But was it? It seems almost impossible to imagine such incompetence in a highly trained U.S. Navy crew. (How highly trained, is shown by the fact that they were able to keep the ship afloat after being rammed at considerable speed in the middle of the night.)

And, indeed, there are reports that make it seem that something far more sinister might have been afoot. The AP is reporting that the crash, originally reported as happening at 2:20 AM, after the Japanese Coast Guard was notified by the container ship at 2:25. But it now seems that the event happened at 1:30 AM. The Fitzgerald was fighting for its life, but what kept the container ship from reporting something so serious for nearly an hour?

Further, there is at least one report, by Tom Lifson at the American Thinker, indicating that the container ship had had both its running lights and transponder off. Since that would have severely compromised its own safety, it’s hard to imagine anything but intent to ram the Fitzgerald.

It’s far too early to be sure of anything. But the only two explanations for this would seem to be extraordinary incompetence on the part of the Fitzgerald or evil intent on the part of the container ship. If it’s the latter, then we have a phrase for that: asymmetric warfare.


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