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 500NASCAR 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).
OK I got busy and haven’t published in more than a few days. What can I say? Maybe I’m suffering from Solar Eclipse Overload Syndrome. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many folks who have lost their homes and personal possessions as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
US Navy 7th Fleet Relieved
Following a collision between the Seventh Fleet destroyer USS John S. McCain with the merchant ship Alnic MC in the the Strait of Malacca in the South China Sea, which left 10 navy sailors missing and five sailors injured on August 21, 2017, off the coast of Singapore it was confirmed the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet has been relieved of command. Vice AdmiralJoseph P. Aucoin (below right) was relieved of his command on 23 August 2017 due to “loss of confidence in his ability to command.” He was just weeks away from retirement. The Wall Street Journal first reported the planned move Tuesday. RADM Phillip G. Sawyer has now assumed command of Seventh Fleet. While I was a bit glib in earlier editions of FOD regarding the need for a band, etc. it is unfortunate to see the careers of fine officers ended in such a manner. That being said, the Navy reposes special trust and responsibility for the safety and well-being of the ship and those who sail within her and thus commanding officers are held to the highest standards of accountability. The U.S. Navy announced on 24 August 2017 that it would be suspending search-and-rescue efforts to focus on recovery efforts of the missing sailors. Divers have recovered the bodies of all 10 sailors missing. The Navy previously identified eight crew members who were missing as Charles Nathan Findley, Abraham Lopez, Kevin Sayer Bushell, Jacob Daniel Drake, Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., Corey George Ingram, John Henry Hoagland III and Logan Stephen Palmer. The bodies of Kenneth Aaron Smith and Dustin Louis Doyon were previously recovered. There has been at least a rumor out there McCain may have suffered a steering causality or a loss of steering control shortly before the accident, but that doesn’t add much to the discussion at this point. My experience aboard aircraft carriers was that after-steering (the manual backup steering control room) and all other steering backup systems were always fully manned during a transit of the Strait of Malacca.
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-classdestroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca. Ten 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.”
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.
It’s Take Your Daughter to Work Day at the G-20 Summit
The Washington Post and other news outlets are reporting Ivanka Trump was deputized to fill in for her father at a table of world leaders at the Group of 20 summit on Saturday, reigniting questions about the unorthodox mixing of family and government in President Trump’s White House. The moment, captured in a pixelated photo by a member of Russia’s delegation, seemed to perfectly capture the scope of the first daughter’s expansive influence in Trump’s administration. But it drew sharp criticism by some who say that the move demonstrates Trump’s flouting of democratic norms against such familial arrangements as well as established diplomatic protocols. Some critics compared Ivanka Trump’s presence at the table to a “banana republic” and argued that she is both “unelected” and “unqualified” to step into a role usually filled by officials with policy expertise and those authorized and/or approved by Congress to engage in and/or make policy decisions for the United States.
US and NATO Negotiating More Troops for Afghanistan
The Associated Press is reporting, at a meeting in Brussels, NATO agreed to send more forces in response to commanders’ requests for as many as 3,000 troops to train and work alongside Afghan security forces. That number does not include an expected contribution of almost 4,000 American forces, divided between the NATO mission and America’s counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said 15 countries “have already pledged additional contributions.” He expected more commitments to come, but confusion about America’s plans may have held back some countries. European nations and Canada have been waiting to hear what U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right) will offer or seek from them. U.S. leaders haven’t publicly discussed troop numbers yet as they complete a broader, updated military and diplomatic strategy for the war. In essence, NATO countries are waiting to hear what number of troops and in what mission specific areas the US is intending to provide and then they well make their decisions.