Monday, January 21, 2019

Now THATS the Navy I Like to See!

Now and then you see a little thing that happened and think, "I wish I were involved with that." 

Well, that happened a few days ago, and BZ to everyone involved.

In its own way, this harkens back to a great tradition in our Navy of chasing records and doing things because they are hard, can demonstrate a capability, and yes ... fun.

At the end of December, a nice record was set in the Pacific;
Two U.S. Navy Mark VI patrol boats assigned to the Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Detachment (Det.) Guam, completed the longest-ever small patrol boat transit.

The two boats completed the 500-nautical-mile transit in just two days. The objective of the mission was to test and evaluate the operational reach of the patrol craft. Special attention was given to how much fuel the patrol boat was consuming at different speeds, how it handled the different weather conditions, and how the crew was affected by the long transit.

“The transit is the longest these boats have ever made in the Pacific,” said Lieutenant Commander Greg Dusetzina, the commanding officer of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 Alpha. “It’s incredibly valuable to test the endurance of these boats, which will give the crews and leadership confidence in the platform and thereby expanding the operational reach of Mark VI to our close and valued partners in the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.”

Overall, the patrols boats cruised at an average speed of 25 knots around (around 30 miles per hour). The Mark VI is powered by two diesel MTU 16V2000 M94 and two waterjet Hamilton HM651 engines. With a length of 85 feet, the boat has a crew of five and can carry up to 16 fully-loaded troops. Regarding armament, the Mark VI is armed with an assortment of Mark 50 and Mark 38 chain-cannons and Mark 44 machine guns.
I don't know why this isn't getting more press, but we'll cover it here.

Does this make China concerned? No, not really. Does it provide a valuable benchmark for this platform? Yes. Does it make me want more smaller ships for JOs to cruise the world around to build not just presence but also experience?

It is a good to see proven platforms doing exceptional things in a sea of bad press?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fullbore Friday

A man with a job to do.
He was appointed an OBE by the Queen, and awarded the Orden de Mayo (Order of May) by Argentina for his service during the war.

Surgeon Cmdr Anthony Lambert met him several times, the first time shortly after he returned from the Falklands in 1982.

He said: "As medics, we aren't heroes, we just do our job. But he did his job incredibly well and was an inspiration to my generation".
Known as "Doc", he was the senior medical officer of Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade and ran the field hospital at Ajax Bay where about 1,000 troops were treated.

Despite the poor conditions, only three of the 580 British soldiers and Royal Marines wounded in action were to die of their wounds, and none while under his care.
He passed away this week at 71.

Surgeon Capt Rick Jolly OBE, Royal Navy.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Grow or Harvest Critical Thinkers

Some noises are being made that the military and the Navy want more critical thinkers.

Is that something you can mandate? Are critical thinkers born or made ... or do you simply need to create the environment for your latent critical thinkers to reveal themselves?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Fort Report on the FITZGERALD Collision

Navy Times reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz got hold of the internal report overseen by Rear Adm. Brian Fort, USN completed 11 days after the collision between the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) and a merchant ship on June 17, 2017.

For those who have been keeping track and suspected a systemic failure, nothing will seem out of bounds. If you were thinking this was just a string of bad luck, you're going to be shocked. From Millington to the bridge of FITZ; from C7F to the Chief's Mess; from PACFLT to the wardroom - the Fort Report brings out everything in a bit more detail.

Read the whole thing, but good googly moogly. As Geoff says in his article, it is even worse than you thought;
...routine, almost casual, violations of standing orders on a Fitz bridge that often lacked skippers and executive officers, even during potentially dangerous voyages at night through busy waterways.

The probe exposes how personal distrust led the officer of the deck, Lt. j.g. Sarah Coppock, to avoid communicating with the destroyer’s electronic nerve center — the combat information center, or CIC — while the Fitzgerald tried to cross a shipping superhighway.
I would like more details on this nugget from a human factors point of view. What was the beef with LT Natalie Combs? How many knew of this personal conflict?

Anyway - back to the nightmare;
When Fort walked into the trash-strewn CIC in the wake of the disaster, he was hit with the acrid smell of urine. He saw kettlebells on the floor and bottles filled with pee. Some radar controls didn’t work and he soon discovered crew members who didn’t know how to use them anyway.
Since 2015, the Fitz had lacked a quartermaster chief petty officer, ...
When Fort arrived at her (LT Natalie Combs) CIC desk, he found a stack of abandoned paperwork: “She was most likely consumed and distracted by a review of Operations Department paperwork for the three and a half hours of her watch prior to the collision,” Fort wrote.
“Procedural compliance by Bridge watchstanders is not the norm onboard FTZ, as evidenced by numerous, almost routine, violations of the CO’s standing orders,” not to mention radio transmissions laced with profanity and “unprofessional humor,” Fort found.
About three weeks after the ACX Crystal disaster, Fort’s investigators sprang a rules of the road pop quiz on Fitz’s officers.

It didn’t go well. The 22 who took the test averaged a score of 59 percent, Fort wrote.

“Only 3 of 22 Officers achieved a score over 80%,” he added, with seven officers scoring below 50 percent.

The same exam was administered to the wardroom of another unnamed destroyer as a control group, and those officers scored similarly dismal marks.

The XO Babbitt, Coppock and two other officers refused to take the test, according to the report.
As always in such circumstances, we need to remember where this all led. In the end our Sailors Xavier Martin, Dakota Rigsby, Shingo Douglass, Tan Huynh, Noe Hernandez, Carlos Sibayan and Gary Rehm drowned to death.

This whole process needs more, not less, transparency.

UPDATE: Check out Part II, III, and IV.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Over the horizon, under the radar, & in your MEZ: ASCM & ASBM - on Midrats

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, we're going to focus on the things of nightmares; Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles and Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles with fellow paleo-milblogger SteelJawScribe.

In a wide ranging discussion, for the hour we'll cover ASCM history, Cold War tales, and what present day Russia and Crimea are bringing to the game.

SJS is a retired Navy Captain with multiple operational tours, including command of the VAW-122 Steeljaws, flying the E-2C Hawkeye as a Naval Flight Officer. With over 3500 hrs in type and 525 carrier arrested landings he was a designated Mission Commander, NATOPS and PMCF check flight NFO, a NATOPS qualified NFO copilot and the first CVW strike lead from the VAW community. He also was navigator on the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69).

Shore tours included time at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA where he earned a Masters (with honors)in National Security Studies (Russia) and multiple joint penance tours working operational/technical intelligence, collection management and strategy/policy. Following retirement he worked in industry, first in BMD supporting the Missile Defense Agency and then helping establish the Navy Air and Missile Defense Command in Dahlgren VA. As the Navy’s premiere center for all things associated with ballistic and fleet air defense, NAMDC became the IAMD division (Dahlgren) of the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) in 2015, where SJS works today after transitioning to govt work.

An honors graduate of the Naval War College, SJS also teaches 2of 3 JPME-1 courses as a Fleet Seminar Program professor and is a published author. Together with his wife Sharon and their fearless dachshund, Jake, they live in Chancellorsville, VA

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Those who have deployed understand the connection you have with those you served with - especially those who you know, through their actions, helped you make it home.

Those who have dogs know how complicated creatures they are; their own personalities, quirks, desires, fears and preferences. You also know how they can connect with their person in a very unique way.

For those who know what dogs have done for us in the long war - and the sacrifices known and unknown they have joyfully given, you have to be in awe of this partnership tens of thousands of years in the making.

Meet Dyngo, vis Smithsonian Magazine;
It was February 2011 when Staff Sgt. Justin Kitts boarded a helicopter with Dyngo. They were on their way to their next mission with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on a remote outpost in Afghanistan. Unlike other dogs, Dyngo didn’t shrink away from the beating wind kicked up by helicopter propellers. He bounded in alongside Kitts, hauling himself up onto the seat. As they rose over the white-dusted ridges, Dyngo pushed his nose closer to the window to take in the view. Kitts found a lot of tranquility during these rides together before a mission, just him and his dog, contemplative and still.

On the first day of March, the air was chilly, the ground damp from rain. Kitts brushed his teeth with bottled water. He fed Dyngo and outfitted him in his wide choke chain and black nylon tactical vest bearing the words “MWD Police K-9.”

The plan for the day was familiar. The platoon would make its way on foot to nearby villages, connecting with community elders to find out if Taliban operatives were moving through the area planting improvised explosive devices. The goal was to extend the safe boundary surrounding their outpost as far as possible. Kitts and Dyngo assumed their patrol position—walking in front of the others to clear the road ahead. After six months of these scouting missions, Kitts trusted that Dyngo would keep him safe.

Kitts used the retractable leash to work Dyngo into a grape field. They were a little more than a mile outside the outpost when Kitts started to see telltale changes in Dyngo’s behavior—his ears perked up, his tail stiffened, his sniffing intensified. It wasn’t a full alert, but Kitts knew Dyngo well enough to know he’d picked up the odor of an IED. He called Dyngo back to him and signaled the platoon leader. “There’s something over there, or there’s not,” Kitts said. “But my dog is showing me enough. We should not continue going that way.”

The platoon leader called in an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team. Given the inaccessible location, the team’s arrival would take some time. The other soldiers took cover where they were—along a small dirt path between two high walls in what was almost like an alleyway—while Kitts walked Dyngo to the other end of the path to clear a secure route out. Again, Kitts let Dyngo move ahead of him on the retractable leash. They’d barely gone 300 yards when Kitts saw Dyngo’s nose work faster, watching as his ears perked and his tail stopped. He was on odor again.

If Dyngo’s nose was right, there were two bombs: one obstructing each path out of the grape field. Then the gunfire started. To Kitts’ ears it sounded like small-arms fire, AK-47s. He grabbed Dyngo and pulled him down to the ground, his back against the mud wall. They couldn’t jump back over the wall the way they came—they were trapped.

The next thing Kitts heard was a whistling sound, high and fast, flying past them at close range. Then came the explosion just feet from where they were sitting, a deep thud that shook the ground. Kitts didn’t have time to indulge his own response because just next to him, Dyngo was whimpering and whining, his thick tail tucked between his legs. The rocket-propelled grenade explosion had registered to his canine ears much deeper and louder, the sensation painful. Dyngo flattened himself to the ground. Kitts, knowing he had to distract him, tore a nearby twig off a branch and pushed it toward Dyngo’s mouth. Handler and dog engaged in a manic tug of war until Dyngo’s ears relaxed and his tail raised back into its usual position.

The popping of bullets continued, so, knowing his dog was safe for the moment, Kitts dropped the branch and returned fire over the wall. He’d sent off some 30 rounds when a whir sounded overhead. The air support team laid down more fire and suppressed the enemy, bringing the fight to a standstill.

When the EOD unit arrived, it turned out that Dyngo’s nose had been spot on. There were IEDs buried in both places. The insurgents had planned to box the unit into the grape field and attack them there.

Altogether, during their nine months in Afghanistan, Kitts and Dyngo spent more than 1,000 hours executing 63 outside-the-wire missions, where they discovered more than 370 pounds of explosives. The military credited them with keeping more than 30,000 U.S., Afghan and coalition forces safe and awarded Kitts the Bronze Star.
That isn't the most impressive part of the story.

There is another Fullbore character in this story, Rebecca Frankel. The love and passion she showed to help one of our own find a forever home is, at least for me, hard to describe.

As I am in awe of Dyngo, I am also with Rebecca.

"Thank you Rebecca." That is what I see in his face below.

Thanks from me too.

Read it all