FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 3rd through 6th, 2017

Normalization of Deviation Within Seventh Fleet Led To Collisions At Sea

I spoke to some of findings of the Navy’s investigation into the recent collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain in the last edition of FOD.  Acceptance of deviations or the normalization of deviation from standards of training led directly to the shortfalls in the core functions of basic ship operations at sea in the case of the recent collisions at sea.  Defense News is reporting in one of the most remarkable U.S. Navy documents in recent memory, the service is admitting to widespread failures and training shortfalls at the core of its most basic function: safely operating ships at sea.  A comprehensive review of the Surface Navy conducted by the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command found that both the Japan-based 7th Fleet headquarters leadership and its ship commanders allowed training and proficiency to erode as they sought to keep ships underway to meet operational requirements.  “The risks that were taken in the Western Pacific accumulated over time and did so insidiously,” according to the report released Thursday. “The dynamic environment normalized to the point where individuals and groups of individuals could no longer recognize that the processes in place to identify, communicate and assess readiness were no longer working at the ship and headquarters level.”  The problems became easy to ignore because, prior to the mishaps, they were still getting the job done, the report argues.  The comprehensive review, led by fleet boss Admiral Phil Davidson, found that the issues in 7th Fleet were in some ways unique to the pressures and demands in the Pacific region, the Navy’s most fast-paced and dangerous operating environment, but in other ways pointed to serious lapses in training and evaluation of its officers and sailors.  The review raised troubling questions about the ability of surface warfare officers in today’s fleet and their ability to act under pressure.  In a detailed analysis of the four major accidents in 7th Fleet this year — two deadly collisions, a grounding and a minor collision with a fishing boat — the review found that officers and enlisted sailors performed poorly when faced with a dangerous situation.  The review ascertained that in all four incidents this year, when the crews were faced with an extreme situation, they delayed actions, froze and did not alert their crews of imminent danger.  “Incorrect actions in extremis were a contributing factor to the chain of errors that resulted in the incident[s],” the report reads.  The report also found that teamwork was at times non-existent between the bridge and the ship combat information centers, the place that displays and synthesizes the information from a ship’s sensors and weapons systems.  Furthermore, the review determined that sailors had routinely failed to use the tools available to them to increase awareness of their situations.  In the review, the Navy also acknowledges that its surface warfare officers lacked sufficient navigation and seamanship skills, and recommends creating an “objective, standardized assessment program to periodically assess individual seamanship and navigation skills over the course of a surface warfare officer’s career.”  The review details steps, including new evaluation processes, to correct the issues.  In regards to the issues at 7th Fleet, the review argues that leaders in the region were blinded by operational commitments and that cutting corners became the norm in order to fulfill commitments.  “Evidence of skill proficiency on ships and readiness problems at headquarters were missed, and over time, even normalized to the point that more time could be spent on operational missions,” the document reads. “Headquarters were trying to manage the imbalance, and up to the point of the mishaps, the ships had been performing operationally with good outcomes, which ultimately reinforced the rightness of trusting past decisions.  “This rationalized the continued deviation from the sound training and maintenance practices that set the conditions for safe operations.”  The collisions of the destroyers John S. McCain and Fitzgerald this summer led to the relief of both commanding officers and several other crew members, as well as the destroyer squadron commander, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group commander and the 7th Fleet Commander.  And that’s why we had changes of command without bands.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 3rd through 6th, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 31st through November 2nd, 2017

A Great Game 7, A Great World Series

Astros pitcher Charlie Morton got Corey Seager to send a weak ground ball to second baseman Jose Altuve, shifted into shallow right field, who made the throw to first baseman Yuli Gurriel to clinch the World Series 5 – 1.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

They scored twice in the first inning and three times in the second against Yu Darvish, sustaining them over the remaining seven innings. No surprise here: Astros outfielder George Springer was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 World Series. A game seven for the World Series is always good.  It’s the last winner-take-all event and is the buildup of all the series games prior to that combined with the culmination of the 162 game regular season.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros hits a double during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It was fitting that Altuve made the final out for the Astros, as he was the most valuable player on the team and arguably in all of baseball. He finished the regular season batting .346/.410/.547 with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, 112 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases. He won the batting title and led the AL in hits. Aaron Judge led him in FanGraphs’ version of WAR (8.2 to 7.5). Baseball Reference’s version gave Altuve the edge (8.3 to Judge and Corey Kluber‘s 8.1). We’ll have to wait a couple weeks to find out if he won the AL MVP award.  While my vote would have been for Judge, after seeing Jose Altuve in action over the course of the World Series, I can see why the two players are in such a close battle for the MVP vote. So the AL MVP will either be 5’6” or 6’7”.  Yasiel Puig had a bad night. His Dodgers lost Game 7 of the World Series AND some yahoos broke into his house.  This is a least the second time thieves have broken into his house.  You think he could afford a security plan!  If he is the target of a future break-in at least they won’t be stealing his World Series Ring.  Catchers and pitchers report for Spring training on February 13, 2018.

Go Navy Beat Temple!  

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 31st through November 2nd, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 14 through 22, 2017

Friends of FOD

Sorry for the delay in getting this edition out.  I had a lot of stuff goin’ on!

 

How About Those Yankees!

I wrote and then rewrote Yankee win stories three times this week, because I didn’t get around to publishing the next edition of FOD.  Home field has diffidently had its place in this year’s American League Championship Series, as every game was won by the home team.

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 17: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees celebrates after scoring on a Gary Sanchez #24 double with Todd Frazier #29 and Jacoby Ellsbury #22 during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 17, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Yanks certainly had opportunities along the way to win another game, but that’s baseball.  At the beginning of spring training no one imagined Aaron Judge would have the success he and the Yankees enjoyed.  In fact he didn’t make the team until the last few days.  Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird contributed mightily down the stretch and we had good pitching.  The team has excellent prospects in their minor league system and likely we’ll see new names and new faces next spring.  Until then there’s a good World Series to watch and comment on.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 1st and 2nd 2017

Happy Labor Day

Well here it is Labor Day already.  The long weekend holiday is the unofficial end of summer (hate that thought), the beginning of school (hated that), the time for expansion of the baseball rosters (hate that – 40 man rosters change the game too much going into the playoffs), and it’s time to save 50% or more on your next mattress set with no payments for at least two years (don’t need a new mattress).  But it is also the beginning of college football (Go Navy), the start of professional football (that’s good, but they only play once a week), a great weekend to grill some steaks (love that), International Bacon Day (love that – you can look it up), catch some of those Atlantic salmon that made good their escape and now need to be caught (love that), NASCAR’s  Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015 (like it as it’s usually a good short track race), ride your bike (gotta love that), at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association holds their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals (some great names and cars show up for this one), and of course it’s the last day it’s considered acceptable to wear white or  seersucker (who knew – OK fashion folk like Friend of FOD Mr. Fuzzy have this marked on their calendars to go along with the opening day of elk season).  Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.  Photo below right shows first Labor Day Parade in NYC in 1882.  I was pretty much against labor unions until I joined Northwest Airlines.  There was a snap back clause in the contract under which I was hired providing for a pay raise of the lesser of 3% or the average pay increase of the seven major airlines in business at the time.  The math clearly pointed to the 3% option as all those airlines had received increased wages as airlines were making money.  Imagine then our surprise when our paychecks in mid-September only included a 1.4% pay increase.  When management was queried as to this decision, the reply was, “we think that’s what it should be.”  Eight months later and utilizing binding arbitration, it took less than fifteen minutes for the pilot’s to prevail.  The back pay was returned over a two month period and we each received a note from management in our company mailbox stating, that as the company didn’t have to pay back interest on the monies withheld over that time period, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal matter as it was only a prudent company business decision.  They had an eight month interest free $84M loan paid for by the pilots.  That’s why pilots have unions (but I’m not bitter – well just a little – no a lot – OK, I’ll let it go – someday).

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 11 through 15 August 2017

What Our President Did and Didn’t Say

While many in President Trump’s administration have since spoken out against the hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, during the events in Chancellorsville, Virginia this past weekend, it is what President Trump did not say that is concerning.  These extremist hate groups have no place in the American debate and by not condemning them, you allow them a voice.  The President needed to condemn those groups.  As Dante Alighieri said in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”  I am encouraged by President Trump’s statement on the morning of 14 August 2017 where he did call racism evil and where he did explicitly denounce KKK and neo-Nazis organizations and stated they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda is the operative line here.   As a consequence of the President’s comments, the African-American CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Kenneth

Frazier (below right) resigned from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council Monday after Mr. Trump failed to condemn white nationalists for deadly violence at a weekend rally in Charlottesville, Va.  “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, faces, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement announcing his departure from the council.  “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier added.  Less than an hour after Merck released Frazier’s statement, Trump slammed the exec in a tweet.  I don’t see where alienating this individual adds positive value to the discourse.  In a similar manner I don’t see how lashing out at his own party’s Majority Leader of the United States Senate Mitch McConnell (left) benefits the President’s agenda on issues such as increasing the debt ceiling, tax reform, infrastructure improvements, and of course health care reform and gets worse with every tweet. Hey, there are daunting budget related deadlines coming with the end of the fiscal year, September 30th.  Comments appreciated!

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 11 through 15 August 2017”