Update on USS Fitzgerald Incident

| November 22, 2019 | 21 Comments

Fitz damage

Fitzgerald’s  CO will retain his rank in retirement. He will be medically retired.

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2019/11/21/navy-to-allow-ex-fitz-co-to-retire-at-current-rank/

From the article: It’s the latest twist in the case of Benson, who learned in September that he would appear before a panel convened to determine whether he should be punitively removed from the sea service for his role in the collision.

Dogged by allegations that senior Navy leaders wielded unlawful command influence to keep Benson from getting a fair trial, prosecutors dropped dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel charges seven months ago.

Benson’s quarters suffered a direct hit when the ACX Crystal cargo ship plowed into the destroyer’s starboard.

While he’s officially assigned to Naval District Washington, Benson has spent each day getting treatment for injuries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. –  article

Benson was finally transferred to Walter Reed as there was no one in Yokosuka qualified to treat his injury and mental health issues. It is disturbing to find a reference to ‘unlawful or undue command influence’ anywhere. Benson may have been out of his depth as a skipper, but to whom did he answer? Likely, the very people who are trying to fry him now. He was physically injured in that collision.  It does not excuse his inability to do his job as the ship’s CO, but if they think he’s an embarrassment, what are they?

The investigation into the collision of Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal is below, as a refresher.  https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2019/01/14/worse-than-you-thought-inside-the-secret-fitzgerald-probe-the-navy-doesnt-want-you-to-read/

From the article:  Unsparingly, Fort and his team of investigators outlined critical lapses by bridge watchstanders on the night of the collision with the Philippine-flagged container vessel ACX Crystal in a bustling maritime corridor off the coast of Japan.

Their report documents the routine, almost casual, violations of standing orders on a Fitz bridge that often lacked skippers and executive officers, even during potentially dangerous voyages at night through busy waterways.

The probe exposes how personal distrust led the officer of the deck, Lt. j.g. Sarah Coppock, to avoid communicating with the destroyer’s electronic nerve center — the combat information center, or CIC — while the Fitzgerald tried to cross a shipping superhighway.

When Fort walked into the trash-strewn CIC in the wake of the disaster, he was hit with the acrid smell of urine. He saw kettlebells on the deck and bottles filled with pee. Some radar controls didn’t work and he soon discovered crew members who didn’t know how to use them anyway.

Fort found a Voyage Management System that generated more “trouble calls” than any other key piece of electronic navigational equipment. Designed to help watchstanders navigate without paper charts, the VMS station in the skipper’s quarters was broken so sailors cannibalized it for parts to help keep the rickety system working. – article

A dysfunctional CO makes for a dysfunctional crew. In essence, that is what the investigation found, in addition to lack of training and training time, malfunctioning equipment that should have been replaced and/or properly repaired – there is a long list of these things. The blame for this lies with many people. How long it will take the Navy to fully recover from the morass it became is unknown, but the Good Idea Fairy should have been smashed flat a very, very long time ago.

For those of you mumbling in to your coffee cups that ‘women don’t belong on ships, etc.’, the issue is not ‘women on ships’ or anything remotely ‘women this or that’. The issue is an officer in CIC who did not communicate properly with the crew and a CO who was apparently so dysfunctional that his ship’s crew became unable to do its job properly, which was to keep the ship out of harm’s way.

It is also not about whether or not women belong here, there or anywhere, as there are plenty of very competent women who are not dysfunctional, who do their jobs without broadcasting their personal issues, and without making fools of themselves in the public eye. They are cops, doctors, nurses, instructors, truck or bus drivers, heavy equipment operators, farmers, accountants, lawyers, soldiers, sailors, pilots, Marines, etc.

They are not grabbing the spotlight, not looking for public attention – none of that.

They don’t have to.

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Navy

Comments (21)

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  1. Bob Drennan says:

    “shit rolls down hill” If your Sr leadership is shit it will reflect down and the shit leadership was way high. Fought those battles all the time in the Navy. No matter how fucked the order was-when it was a shit command I got the do your job and stay in your paygrade shipmate. This ship shows what happens when it goes unchecked all the way to the top.

  2. Thunderstixx says:

    Several million dollars worth of hardware paid for by the taxpayers of America left in the hands of incompetent, untrained and derelict in duty shiploads of clown college rejects…..
    I wonder how many more ships are in the stupid condition that the USS Fitzgerald was in.
    The fish rots from the head down, sounds a lot like the US Army I was in back in 74…

  3. CCO says:

    Someone here or at CDR Salamander’s blog in discussing this accident or the McCain accident mentioned that destroyer tenders might be a thing that is needed again.

  4. The Other Whitey says:

    Drachinifel on Youtube just did a 20-minute video on the Honda Point Disaster that’s worth a watch. A lot of differences, but a couple of nasty similarities to the Fitz collision.

    https://youtu.be/cTveGOZo1_g

  5. 5th/77th FA says:

    Dead sailors and a warship put in the body and fender shop because some one literally got her literal panties in a wad. Add to that incompetent and/or lazy ossifers. Like ‘stixx, saw a lot of this in ’74 myself. And I agree with Ex, not a man or woman thing, if you can do the job…then DO THE JOB. We had girls in historically men jobs at about everyplace I ever worked. Some did as good if not better job than some of the men. Some were sorry as some of the men. Had some highers that let them get away with BS cause they were girls. Had other highers that rode the girls harder cause they were girls.

    Big Navy needs to use these instances to CLEAN UP THEIR MESS.

  6. Comm Center Rat says:

    Meanwhile CPO Gallagher’s Trident Review Board remains scheduled for December 2nd by order of RADM Green. 😆

    • The Other Whitey says:

      What’s the penalty for a flag officer who ignores explicit lawful orders from his commander in chief?

      • Martinjmpr says:

        Don’t flag officers have to draft and sign an undated letter of resignation when they get appointed to that rank?

        I think what happens then is the president pulls that letter out of the drawer, puts todays date on it and says “I am regretfully accepting Admiral Green’s letter of resignation” and he is shown the door (or “hatch” as you sailors would probably say.)

    • MustangCryppie says:

      Hmmm. Well, if this is so, I sincerely hope this flag gets what he deserves and that he gets it GOOD AND HARD!

    • Club Manager, USA ret. says:

      Heard a news report the SecNav supports the hearing. His resignation would be the first one I accepted if I were POTUS. He needs to put an end to anyone questioning the legal authority of the POTUS.

  7. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I wonder just how many 0bamunist Officers (Vindmans) and NCOs like him still curse the ranks with their presence? I hope there’s a purge of them!

  8. JURASSICHM says:

    The Secretary of Defense should have asked for the resignation of some high level Admirals over this BS. Unfortunately those Admirals fired their subordinates to preserve their own jobs. There is lots of talk going around that our next major conflict could be centered around naval battles with China. Obviously ships that can’t identify contacts in peacetime shipping lanes will have their asses handed to them in a fight. The Navy is good at “making progress”. Fix it instead dumbasses.

  9. Nic says:

    The Fitz should never have gotten underway. Every single senior officer and senior enlisted on that ship should be keel hauled and hung from a yard arm. I read the unclassified reports a while back and I got angrier and angrier as I read them.

    Those in command have a duty to speak up and do the right thing. Especially when it isn’t popular. Even if it could cost you your job. It’s a tough gig and exactly why it’s hard to find good leaders.

    They’ll shit can folks for getting drunk and stupid. But allow your own Sailors to be killed because of a dysfunctional CO and its nothing.

    And the CO? His punishment should be severe and public enough that every officer on every ship in the Navy will have his name burned into their memory. His name should be part of initiation so everyone wearing anchors gets a bad taste in the mouth just from the sound of it.

    Instead we get a bunch of Sailors needlessly killed, nothing really changes, and the CO (who owns EVERYTHING that happens on his ship) is going to be a lesson in……nothing.

    So glad I’m retired.

  10. Perry Gaskill says:

    The Navy Times story draws heavily on one by ProPublica which paints the personal cost to Lt. Cmdr. Bryce and his family. ProPublica has also done another piece which gives some some political background at the time of the Fitzgerald and McCain incidents. What it apparently boiled down to was that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus wanted to build lots of new ships and ignored warnings that such a policy was causing severe problems with maintenance, repair, training, and personnel counts for the existing fleet.

    https://features.propublica.org/navy-accidents/us-navy-crashes-japan-cause-mccain/

  11. Old NFO says:

    Maintenance in CDS-15 was a LONG TIME issue, going back to at least 2009 that I’m aware of. Re Fitz and McCain, my personal belief is that this is a result of doing away with SWO school and sending JOs directly to ships with NO training in shiphandling, much less coordination between the bridge and CIC. I thank God every day I was an aviator and didn’t deal with the SWO bubbas other than over the radiol

    • CCO says:

      In my state you can drive a (sport) boat at 14(I assume if you stay below the size/number of passengers that requires a license). So in the Navy you just get commissioned and *bam* you can con a ship of any size in traffic? No schooling required?

  12. FC2(SW)Ron says:

    Sailors cannibalized it for parts to help keep the rickety system working?!?!? This is supposed to be a state of the art, modern AEGIS warship!

    This article makes me absolutely sick! Sailors relying on electronics and not having appropriate back ups in place, disobeying standing orders, no trust of CIC? Unfuckingbelieveable…. the prior administration ripped out the soul of our military!

  13. Club Managaer, USA ret. says:

    My experience as a Director of Community Activities for an Army Post is sometimes the best man for the job is a woman. So gender is not a factor, competence and willingness to do a job correctly is the benchmark. I also worked for a female O-6 Post Commander who was more squared away than some of her male counterparts. My question, previously asked but not answered, is where was the senior enlisted leadership? Why did not the Command Chief pick up the phone to the next higher Command Chief and tell him there was a command competency and materials problem that is unnecessarily putting sailors in danger.

    • CCO says:

      I read something (with my former Army eyes mind) a few years ago at strategypage.com that chiefs are loosing their influence due to officers’ fears of a career-ending slip-up in the era of zero tolerance.

      OTH, there seems to be too much tolerance of [fill in the blank—-shortcomings in general?], perhaps because (I’m guessing) a feeling that nothing can be done due to budget or manpower constraints.

  14. Stranger says:

    I hope that nobody names another ship Fitzgerald. The Edmund Fitzgerald is still remembered.

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