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COVERING UP?

It is now over two weeks since the collision between the USS Porter DDG 78 and the MT Otawasan in the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz. 

So far there is not even an Official Initial Comment to indicate what happened much less a Report.  Yes! the Commanding Officer of the USS Porter DDG 78 has been relieved of Command as is to be expected but how about the entire Bridge Watch that were on duty at the time?  It is quite likely that they were directly responsible for causing this incident in the first place.

This in and of itself is nothing new in the current United States Navy, the Navy publishes a list of both commissioned Officers and non-commissioned Officers relieved of their duties on a regular basis.  This disgraceful state of affairs would indicate to seafarers, particularly those of us who have held Command and stood Bridge Watches, in the case of NAUTICAL LOG over 100,000 hours, that there is a serious problem in the training of and selection of Officers and non-commissioned Officers for Command positions.  Indeed it might well indicate a serious problem in the advancement to Flag Rank of Officers who make these selections - all told a spreading malaise.

Reading the various Navy and maritime blogs also reveals a complete lack of knowledge of VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) tanker operations and their maneuvering characteristics.  In one blog there was a discussion that the tanker which is 333 metres in length could have preformed a "crazy ivan" which "confused the DDG Bridge Watch Team" now the only reason NAUTICAL LOG knows anything about a "crazy ivan" is from being a fan of the Tom Clancy novels.

Comments like that boggle the mind and of course go beyond being laughable to being sadly pathetic showing an appalling lack of seamanship knowledge.  How a 333 metre vessel with a draft of nearly 20 metres moving ahead at 12 knots could execute such a maneuver, never to mind the why, is indeed mind boggling.

Besides the USS Porter DDG 78 was hit on its starboard side which indicates she was crossing from port to starboard thus under RULE 15 is the giving way vessel.  It does not matter what the VLCC was doing the Naval vessel must stay clear of her and since the USS Porter DDG 78 has three times the speed with virtually instant ability to maneuver clear it appears she is entirely at fault.

Maybe that is why there is no Report from the United States Navy because once again in general and in this region of the World in particular the USN has screwed up adding to its list of incidents and Command reliefs.  Amongst our regular visitors are the NNIC at its various locations and USNA Midshipmen who seem equally un-informed as to an Official Initial Comment on the collision from their own Navy and look to NAUTICAL LOG for information.  One should perhaps take that as a compliment!!

Update August 31, 2012:  As NAUTICAL LOG was reviewing some data on Bridge Watch Teams we counted the persons on the Bridge in that Post below.  There are 14 or 15 persons, as some are hidden behind others.  When commanding a container ship operating from the East Cost U.S. and Canada to the West Coast of Africa (8 to12 Ports of call) and up the Congo River to Matadi we were 11 total crew.  Now the question is are the USN Bridge Teams too big and the duties too divided thus the OOW does not have the complete picture of what is happening or that orders given have been correctly carried out.  It just might be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth!

Good Watch.

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