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.
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.
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.
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.
I am on vacation this week! I’m not quite sure how that differs from my other weeks these days, but I’m calling it vacation.
Well anyway, I’m enjoying some time with a group of good friends, mostly old Navy guys. We spend a few days fishing, shooting at pumpkins filled with Tannerite, brushing up on our much unpracticed Texas Hold’em skills and sharing some great meals at The High Country Inn – Home. I’m sad to report no fish were harmed on our first day of fishing, but we’re picking up some today!
Friends should help you move. I can call on these friends to help move the bodies.
President Trump Moves To Decertify Iran Deal
As predicted in the previous edition of FOD (and some of those other media institutions) President Donald Trump is expected to put the 2015 Iran nuclear deal squarely in the hands of Congress, refusing to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal but letting lawmakers decide whether to tear it up. Congress will now have to decide if they will reimpose sanctions on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear program, or attach new conditions to the agreement. Those sanctions were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement, and reimposing them would effectively destroy the deal, known as the JCPOA. I watched his short speech announcing his actions. He focused on many actions Iran has taken over the years to destabilize nations in the region as well as their strident and continual support of terrorism around the globe. That terrorism includes state and non-state militant Moslem actions, cyber attacks, threats to freedom of navigation on the high seas coupled with their development of ballistic missiles in conjunction with their own nuclear development program. One of the big issues of concern to Tehran is how the president would treat the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the hardline military wing that had already been sanctioned for weapons proliferation under prior administrations. This is also of concern to European countries that do business with shell companies actually owned by the IRGC. According to a senior administration official, Trump intends to designate the corps as a supporter of terrorism, but will stop short of calling it a foreign terror organization. The administration is required to make the designation under legislation Trump signed in August covering sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. Although officials had until Oct. 31 to decide, they are including the designation in today’s speech of the larger Iran strategy. Those in the administration who are worried about Iran misinterpreting or overreacting are eager to emphasize the distinction between being a supporter of terrorism and an actual terrorist organization. They also emphasize that it has no practical effect because of other existing IRGC designations, but that it could enrage the Iranians.
There were a lot of screw ups by Navy in this most meaningful game against that mountain time zone trade school on Saturday. Navy looked great in the first half, but allowed five touchdowns in the second half! It was ‘keystone cops’ in Navy’s defensive backfield and AFA QB Arion Worthman threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Bennett with 1:53 remaining to put the Falcons up 45-41. But Navy QB Abey moved the Midshipmen 75 yards in 11 plays for the go-ahead score. It was an epic drive. They were at their best when their best was needed. Most significantly was a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Carmona with 15 seconds left, and the unbeaten Midshipmen defeated Air Force 48-45. The goal is always to sing second, we did! (The Alma Mater of the loser is sung first and the Alma Mater of the winner is sung last) Navy is now 5 and 0. Beat Army for the Commander and Chiefs Trophy and Beat Notre Dame. It’s always good to beat Notre Dame just because they think they deserve to beat Navy, something about they think God on their side.
Yankees Win and the Red Sox Win
Lots of parallels in both AL games today. Mookie Betts made a great catch to begin a great run by the Red Sox. And Aaron Judge makes a spectacular catch to rob Francisco Lindor of a two run home run in the sixth. Indians starter Carlos Carrasco and Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka traded zeroes in a rare — for this postseason, anyway — pitchers’ duel. Both starters were exceptional. Yankees first baseman Greg Bird proved to be the deciding factor in Sunday evening’s 1-0 victory over the Indians in Game 3 with a massive no doubter home run off Andrew Miller. Joe Girardi, who was booed at Yankee Stadium today for game two in Cleveland, then brought in Aroldis Chapman for a five-out save in the eighth. Chapman, as expected, fanned Yan Gomes and Giovanny Urshela. In the ninth, Chapman struck out Francisco Lindor, then worked around consecutive one-out singles by striking out Jay Bruce and getting Carlos Santana to fly out to left field.That staves off elimination and we move to game four. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox faced elimination today, both won in the home parks and both move to game four, another elimination game tomorrow.
In the wake of the collision between the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (below left) with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca on August 21, 2017 and the earlier collision of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) (below right) with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, the US Navy is adopting some new as well as some old technologies to improve their crew’s situational awareness. Well actually their both pretty old techniques. The Navy has at now instructed commanders to use their Automatic Identification System, or AIS, as discussed in the 28 through 31 August edition of FOD. It has been around for some 20 years and has long been required aboard all commercial vessels. It is used to share vital information among ships, including the type of vessel, its name, speed, location and whether it might be on a collision course with another ship. “It’s important for situational awareness,” says John Konrad, an author who has also captained commercial vessels. “AIS is certainly not the only means to avoid collisions at sea, but it’s an important tool.” And the other tool is perhaps the oldest one out there – get some more sleep for watchstanders. On ships at sea, officers and senior enlisted leaders have ignored the fact that a lack of sleep jeopardizes individual performance and unit readiness. That ‘tradition’ unmarred by progress has extended itself from the days of wooden sailing ships when crews served 4 on and 4 off for months at a time because that was what was required to service a sailing ship at sea. Earlier this month, Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, the commander of the U.S. Surface Fleet, issued an internal directive that ordered more predictable watch schedules and sleep periods for sailors. So it was welcome news when the Navy announced recently that the surface fleet would issue new sleep and watch schedule rules.
The NY Yankees beat the Twins in the AL Wild Card Game 8-4.
And congrats to the Arizona Diamondbacks who beat the Rockies 11-8.