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 23 through 29, 2017

Joe Girardi Will Not Return To The Yankees

David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 and NBC Sports Chicago reports that Yankees manager Joe Girardi will not return for the 2018 season.  It was the team’s decision to part ways. Girardi guided a youthful Yankees core to this year’s American League Championship Series, but there had been growing chatter that a change might be coming both before and at various points during that impressive postseason run. Girardi finishes up his 10-year tenure in New York with a 910-710 managerial record and one World Series championship (2009). He’ll be a hot name on the open market if he wants to jump right back into managing somewhere else. There are a few managerial candidates out there.  The Boston Red Sox hired the Houston Astros’ bench coach, Alex Cora, to be their manager on Sunday.  The Red Sox announced the hire a day after the Astros eliminated the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. With two days off before Houston opened the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston had a chance to hire Cora without running afoul of Major League Baseball’s ban on major moves during the Series.  He may end up being a good manager, but he has no managerial experience.  While there are some people who speculate he should have been a leading candidate for the job, I disagree.  You can’t come to the Yankees with no experience.  I like Don Mattingly for the job, but the Yankees will have to hire him away from the total rebuilding effort planned for Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins.   Mattingly served as captain of the Yankees from 1991 through 1995.  Returning to the Yankees as a coach in 2004 for manager Joe Torre, he followed Torre to the Dodgers in 2008, and succeeded him as the Dodgers’ manager in 2011. The Dodgers and Mattingly mutually parted ways after the 2015 season, and he became manager of the Miami Marlins.  “Donnie Baseball” – where would you rather be – Yankees of Marlins?

 

 

World Series – Games 2, 3 and 4

A great comeback in the second game of the World Series on October 25th.by the Houston Astros to win the game in Los Angeles tying the Series

at one game apiece.  The great Vin Scully was in the audience and  I was reminded of another great World Series game finish in 1986, when  with one strike from defeat, the Mets tie the game on a wild pitch and then, thanks to Red Sox’s Bill Buckner’s error (let the ball go through his legs) (below right), win Game 6, knotted the Fall Classic at three games apiece. This event was selected as one of baseball’s 30 most baseball memorable moments.  “If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words, but more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.” – Vin Scully, describing the aftermath of the play after a long silence.  And of course the Mets went on to beat the Red Sox.  Game three showed the value once again of home field.  A good back and forth game with the Astros prevailing.  Game 4 was moving along with some really good pitching as you would expect until the eighth inning and then the train came off the tracks.  The Dodger’s first baseman Cody Bellinger‘s struggled through the first three games of the World Series. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game 3, which ran his hitless streak up to 11 at-bats in the Fall Classic. Bellinger turned his fortune around in Game 4, helping the Dodgers even the World Series at two games apiece with a 6-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.  And we’re tied at two games apiece going into tonight’s game at publishing time.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 23 through 29, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 27 through 30, 2017

Friends of FOD

Some additions to previous stories and some new FOD to pick up. Comments appreciated.

 

USNS Comfort (T-AH20) Proceeding To Puerto Rico and Other Puerto Rico Events/Opinions

USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) is proceeding toward Puerto Rico to aid in relief efforts on the storm damaged island.  The USNS prefix identifies the Comfort as a non-commissioned ship owned by the U.S. Navy and operationally crewed by civilians from the Military Sealift Command (MSC). A uniformed naval hospital staff and naval support staff is embarked when Comfort is deployed, said staffs consisting primarily of naval officers from the Navy’s Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, Nurse Corps and Chaplain Corps, and naval enlisted personnel from the Hospital Corpsman rating and various administrative and technical support ratings (e.g., Yeoman, Personnel Specialist, Information Systems Technician, Religious Program Specialist, etc.).  Criticism has surfaced in the last few days implying Comfort should have already been positioned there.  Former Senator Hilary Clinton sought headlines and attempted to crush some additional sour grapes into whine on the issue.  The facts are the Federal Emergency Management Agency was responsible for coordinating efforts of all participating agencies as part of that agency’s charter and the agency provides state and local government support for disaster relief, until September 28, when the US  Army has appointed BGen Richard Kim to oversee every facet of the massive mission and coordinate the National Guard, FEMA and Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s office.  Generally it is FEMS’s responsibility to request DoD and other assets as necessitated by the events.  Since then, the US military is conducting round-the-clock missions to send aircraft, troops, food, water, medical supplies and communications equipment and power generation equipment to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  The humanitarian and rescue efforts must necessarily precede the rebuilding efforts and emphasis is being given to search and rescue efforts, distribution of supplies and bringing power back to hospitals, airports, ports and other such facilities.  The totality of the destruction on Puerto Rico is so vast as to have limited any analysis of what’s needed and where.  The power grid and hence everything run by electrical power generators; cell phone sites, gas station pumps, water pumps, etc. are all out.  Puerto Rico has traditionally been hampered by inefficient and corrupt local and territorial government officials and organizational apparatus that now finds itself incapable of handling the immense efforts required to both evaluate and distribute aid on a large scale.  It’s like New Orleans post Katrina times 1000.  On September 28, Congress and the President, at the request of Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló have temporarily waived the Jones Merchant Marine Act allowing foreign ships to deliver items to the island.  The Fireball opinion is this is a finger pointing exercise regarding relief supplies and is a familiar argument used by Puerto Rico officials to draw attention away from the island’s debt crisis.  I see the news coverage shows thousands of containers of relief supplies and other commodities already off loaded on San Juan docks.  Power at the docks is being supplied by diesel generators.  But drivers aren’t available because they don’t have the fuel for their personal vehicles and/or the communication chain to get them to work coupled with the lack of fuel for the truck needs to move and/or refrigerate their contents.  Drivers and security personnel are now being flown in.  If you’re a store, it’s hard to take delivery of goods when your store has no roof, no power for cash registers and your employees can’t get to work.  Without electricity the banking system is paralyzed as well.  According to the latest from Washington on 29 September, President Trump is making no specific promise to rebuild what was already a much antiquated infrastructure (including the electrical grid).  Later Friday, during a speech on tax policy, Trump said, “Ultimately, the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort…will be funded.” Trump said the effort “will end up being one of the biggest ever” and noted that Puerto Rico already had “a tremendous amount of debt.”  Fine, but let’s help our American citizens who are critical need of water, food and medical support.  Currently only 5% of the islands electrical service has been restored a full 10 days after Hurricane Maria.  We should be doing better.  Alec Baldwin did a great Trump on the kickoff of ‘SNL.’  As an aside, the Jones Act regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. Section 27 of the Jones Act deals with cabotage and requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.  It has been instrumental in maintaining a merchant marine capable of supporting our national defense and our national security despite what Arizona Sen. John McCain says with regard to the law.  It has sustained a ship building critical to our nation and decreases the adverse consequences of exposing ports and waterways to foreign seafarers.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 27 through 30, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 19 through 21 August 2017

A Great Solar Eclipse

Friends of FOD – How did you observe the solar eclipse?  All the best photos are on the internet, but I enjoyed seeing the solar eclipse in Boise, ID, thanks to Friends of FOD Roger and Glorie.  Thanks to both of you!  And I also got to do some fishing on the Boise River.  Notice I said fishing and not catching.  But a good time was had by all. Good stories appreciated.

 

 

 

Another Collision At Sea

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of MalaccaTen sailors were missing and five were injured following the collision, which happened at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time (5:24 p.m. ET Sunday), according to the Navy’s latest update issued around nine-and-a-half hours later. And the search continues as of August 21st.  After the collision the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to return to port under her own power. According to United States Navy press release, the breach “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms.  Initial casualty reports indicate ten sailors missing and five sailors injured.  Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations (below left) has ordered an “operational pause” or safety stand down for a day to “include,

but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”

120212-N-AT895-703 WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2012) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson, the 31st CNO. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released to archive)

The Strait of Malacca is one of the most heavily transited bodies of water in the world, with more than 80,000 vessels moving through it annually, roughly one third of all oceanic transits.  US Naval vessels usually have their best bridge team on duty for the transit.  I noted in the 11 through 15 August edition of FOD that a military band is standard for that all important change of command.  I would venture to say the yet unannounced, change of command for the McCain and perhaps even Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will not need a band.  As you’ll recall, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in the June 17 with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, a container ship, off the coast of Japan resulted in the death of seven sailors.  Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief have been relieved of their duties aboard Fitzgerald.  I’m thinking the commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 15, CAPT Jeffrey A. Bennett II might be looking for another job.

  Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 19 through 21 August 2017”