Poorly Trained US Navy sailors have another accident

The USS Benfold sustained slight damage when a Japanese tug drifted into the guided-missile destroyer during a towing exercise off central Japan on Saturday, the U.S. Navy said.

“No one was injured on either vessel and Benfold sustained minimal damage, including scrapes on its side, pending a full damage assessment,” a statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet said.

“Benfold remains at sea under her own power. The Japanese commercial tug is being towed by another vessel to a port in Yokosuka. The incident will be investigated,” it said, referring to the fleet’s base in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The U.S. Navy announced a series of reforms this month aimed at restoring basic naval skills and alertness at sea after a review of deadly ship collisions in the Asia-Pacific region showed sailors were undertrained and overworked.

Seventeen U.S. sailors have been killed this year in two collisions with commercial vessels involving guided-missile destroyers: the USS Fitzgerald in June off Kanagawa Prefecture, and then the USS John S. McCain in August as it approached Singapore.

Navy study revealed poorly trained sailers

A 72 page unclassified report has been issued by the US Navy on the collisions involving the destroyers USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain. It was not hacking but incompetence and inability to perform basic navigation and this problem was not just those two ships and not just the seventh fleet but is an endemic problem throughout the US Navy.

* Lookouts were looking in the wrong direction on the USS Fitzgerald.

FITZGERALD officers possessed an unsatisfactory level of knowledge of the International Rules of the Nautical Road. Watch team members were not familiar with basic radar fundamentals, impeding effective use.

The Officer of the Deck and bridge team failed to comply with the International Rules of the Nautical Road. Specifically:
FITZGERALD was not operated at a safe speed appropriate to the number of other ships in the immediate vicinity.
FITZGERALD failed to maneuver early as required with risk of collision present.

FITZGERALD failed to notify other ships of danger and to take proper action in extremis.

Watch team members responsible for radar operations failed to properly tune and adjust radars to maintain an accurate picture of other ships in the area.

Watchstanders performing physical look out duties did so only on FITZGERALD’s left (port) side, not on the right (starboard) side where the three ships were present with risk of collision.

Key supervisors responsible for maintaining the navigation track and position of other ships:
Were unaware of existing traffic separation schemes and the expected flow of traffic. Did not utilize the Automated Identification System. This system provides real time updates of commercial ship positions through use of the Global Positioning System.

* The bridge crew – including the commander – didn’t know how the helm worked on the USS McCain.

13 thoughts on “Poorly Trained US Navy sailors have another accident”

    • We had the tax hikes under Obama
      ..and he gutted the Navy funding anyway.

      So we might as well have the tax cuts too.

      • Both sides of the aisle had a hand in those cuts and the taxes in question were to fund specific things.

        If your are OK with seeing our Navy “sink” into incompetence so corporations can hang onto more of their profits (which will probably just go to cash reserves, higher bonuses for the executives, more stock buy backs or bigger dividends) then that that’s your choice. But I’d like to see a military that is at least functional again.

        By the way that +1 was me pushing the wrong button. 😉

  1. Only two things need to be done:

    A) Adopt sane sleep/work time schedules in the surface fleet as has already been done in submarines.

    B) Have the few old-salts still in the Navy who know how give a few hours instruction on how to keep a watch.

    • “as has already been done in submarines” – got a reference for this?
      As an “old salt”, I seriously doubt that subs on a spec-op are standing 1 in 4 (6 hr) watches. My first deployment to the Med had me standing port & stbd for two months as Engineering Officer of the Watch. My second spec-op deployment had two months of standing 15 hours out of 24 (EOOW, JOOD & 3 hours of ‘reconstruction).
      I doubt that’s changed much.

  2. Great reporting, “poorly trained sailors. the author obviously has absolutely no idea how ship driving works. All reports are that the tug lost power and drifted into BENFOLD. a DDG is not an 18ft pleasure craft, she doesn’t stop and maneuver on a dime. If your driving through an intersection and someone.runs a red light and t-bones you does that make you a poorly trained driver. Get some facts and do a little research before making up headlines that show your ignorance on a topic.

    • Its what people do. If something happens once it then becomes ALL that happens. Basically, people assume because its a shortcut

    • I knew the author had a bias, but christ I didnt realize it was this bad. Between the terrible commenting system, and shitty articles, i’m done here..

      • I can feel for you, the author definitely is anti-China, and has a pro West not just pro Washington bias. He always trolls American technology years behind China as the innovation of the American.

      • Warranttheaoe, you have a choice, either learn the truth and make remedies now or you learn the truth after the 7th fleet becomes Davy Jones’ Locker. Brian is sacrificing himself being a devil’s advocate, don’t be ungrateful.

    • Brian, someone driving through a red light happens in a split second. The tug boat drifting didn’t sail 60 miles an hour. with all the sensors and radars, the DDG should have enough time to avoid the collusion.

    • Brian, Benfold needs a tugboat because it was in an area it cannot maneuver safely by itself. The tugboat was towing Benfold; but the USN said the tugboat drifted into Benfold and lost power. You should know the tugboat was moving forward, its momentum was forward, not drifting backwards into Benfold, so the USN’s report is a lie covering up that somebody on Benfold suddenly engaged the engine and drove Benfold ahead and knocked the towing tugboat out of power. It is a typical mishap due to poor quality of seamanship.

      All tugboats have rubber fenders all around of them, if the tugboat drifted into Benfold the rubber fenders of the tugboat should cushion the drift. If a drift causing the tugboat losing power, it was a violent collision, not a drift.

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