Thursday, July 09, 2009

You get what you reward

Remember what Gen. Mattis said (crossposted at USNIBlog yesterday) about you get what you reward?

Just like the VPU-1 CO - this CO was only doing what he did in order to get to where he was.

We no longer reward a lot of time at sea (ever been on a British or Dutch bridge - they sure do) or in the aircraft.

This is what you get.
A misinterpreted navigation system, a sleep-deprived skipper, faulty equipment and an inexperienced bridge team led to the grounding of the Navy guided missile cruiser Port Royal on the night of Feb. 5, according to a Navy Safety Investigation Board report.

The very visible and very embarrassing four-day grounding of the Port Royal in 14 to 22 feet of water off the Honolulu airport's reef runway caused an estimated $25 million to $40 million damage to the ship.

Capt. John Carroll, skipper of the Navy's guided missile cruiser, had only 4 1/2 hours of sleep in 24 hours, and 15 hours of sleep over three days as he pushed to get the warship under way after shipyard repairs.

Carroll was qualified for the job, but was not proficient, the report said. He was at sea in command for the first time in nearly five years.

The 9,600-ton cruiser's fathometer, which measures water depth, was broken, and both radar repeaters, or monitors, on the bridge were out of commission.

A shift in the ship's navigation system led to erroneous information on the ship's position. The switch from a Global Positioning System to a gyroscope caused a 1.5-mile discrepancy in the ship's position and set off alarm bells that were continuously disregarded.

During the transfer of personnel back to shore that night using a small boat, the operations officer took a binocular bearing to the harbor landing from the boat deck and noted a discrepancy.

He tried unsuccessfully to radio others and then headed back to the bridge, where he immediately realized the cruiser was in the wrong spot.
The officer of the deck had been qualified for only three months, and had no experience operating at night in the vicinity of the reef.

According to the internal report, the quartermaster of the watch had stood three months of watch on a deployment a year earlier, but could not plot fixes in near-shore waters, so another sailor, a navigation evaluator, took over to plot the ship's position.

The navigation evaluator subsequently lost "situational awareness," officials said.

Qualified lookouts were on board for watch duty the night of the grounding, but they were working in the mess as food service attendants and were not allowed to assume the watch.

Set and drift were not calculated, the report states.

Interesting manning challenges. Optimal? Hybrid enough for 'ya? Everyone have all their JPME and career boxes checked early? All the PORT ROYAL's front runners set up for the right job after rolling early from sea duty to take it?

Be careful blaming the CO for everything. The decision matrix puts even the best man in a tight spot .... and sometimes the luck falls against you. There are things though that Big Navy should take away from this as well as everyone who has to be on a bridge.

As for me, I need another cup of coffee. You know what it is like to have a long commute and still show up at a standard Navy time?

UPDATE: Over at USNI blog, MIDN Withington is asking about sleep. I know some of you have already commented, but if not, it is worth a spin. My $.02,

I highly recommend that everyone read the JAN 09 Proceedings article A Rude Awakening by Lieutenant Mitch McGuffie, U.S. NavyHere is a ‘lil taste.

It didn’t take me long to discover that I was not the seasoned and accomplished bridge watchkeeper I had once thought. I was now being held to a much higher standard, serving alongside Royal Navy officers who had endured years of training and had been certified by the International Maritime Organization’s Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW). My new peers could recite rules 1 through 19 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, more commonly known as “Rules of the Road,” verbatim, navigate the ship in close proximity to land with little or no supervision, and instinctively apply the Radian Rule to determine how far left or right of track they were when using a headmark or sternmark. They could also operate the ship in some of the busiest waterways in the world with little oversight from senior leadership. These were just the most junior bridge watchkeepers, each of whom had been assessed and certified by the Royal Navy’s Training Command but had not yet attended any of the notoriously difficult navigator courses.

Frankly, I was embarrassed at my lack of maritime knowledge and skills for the first few months of my exchange. My first 90-minute-long written Rules of the Road exam was a disgrace. I was accustomed to the U.S. Navy’s 50-question multiple-choice exams, and now I was being harshly critiqued on whether I mistakenly wrote a “shall” in place of a “should.” During one of my under-instruction bridge watches I made a shipping report to the captain and told him what my maneuvering intentions were. I followed by saying I was going to hail the other vessel on bridge-to-bridge radio to confirm her intentions, which is common procedure on U.S. ships.

Within 30 seconds the captain was on the bridge, and I will never forget what he told me. “In the Royal Navy we abide by the Rules [of the Road] and we assume other vessels will do the same. If you truly understand the Rules and abide by them you should only have to use the radio in an emergency situation.”

Look at how the British and Dutch do things. It can be done better, safer and more professional. On top of that, you can get a beer to decouple when off watch.

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