Thursday, November 08, 2007

Made CDR FITREP ranking easy

Oh my.
When Cmdr. John Pinckney took command of the destroyer Halsey on May 18, 2006, in San Diego, he assumed the lead of a state-of-the-art American warship yet to make its maiden deployment and, with it, a crew crackling with energy.

Under its previous commander, the Halsey set a record for getting a ship certified to deploy, doing so within 200 days of commissioning. The plank-owners began training while still in the shipyard, and within months of arriving in home port, it was surge-ready.

But after Pinckney showed up, there were problems.
I'll say.
During this time, it wasn’t what Pinckney did, but what he failed to do that sparked his downfall: He stayed in his stateroom during and after the fire, leaving the situation to his crew. “I never go to the scene of a casualty,” he explained.

While Pinckney stayed put, the Navy investigation concluded, the efforts to fight the fire got off to a poor start. Some sailors were too drunk to get into their firefighting gear. A few months later, the same area caught fire after the ship returned home to San Diego. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.

Pinckney acknowledged a simmering “discord” between him and his wardroom. He said the other officers didn’t support what he wanted to do. But one chief saw a CO who prized keeping junior sailors happy, a priority not wholly shared by his wardroom and mess.
Ungh. Oh....just ungh.
It revealed that during and after the reception for Japanese dignitaries on Nov. 2, Pinckney repeatedly encouraged on-duty sailors to drink alcohol.

One on-duty officer told the executive officer she was just holding a beer “to placate the CO,” according to the executive officer’s statement to investigators. The XO told investigators, “I took alcohol away from one duty section member ... who got upset and indicated that the CO said it was OK.”
You know by this time word had to be filtering up the Chain of Command. Methinks C-dore 14 might have had a few suggestions for "intrusive leadership." Just uncomfortable to read. Let's peek some more.
..he didn’t dispute staying in his cabin while the crew reacted to the emergency. Asked to respond to accusations by the crew that he ignored repeated calls and knocks on his cabin hatch, Pinckney said he could not hear the alarm bells, or the knocking on his door from the passageway. Besides, he added, it was his policy to leave casualty response to others.

“I never go to the scene of a casualty. That’s why we have all these people who are trained. I let them do their job, I get the report, then I act,” Pinckney said.
Ship on fire? Oh, just brief me in the morning.....
When they rung for the fire they only rung that on enlisted circuits,” he said. “They did not ring that throughout the ship. I live in officers’ country. I did not hear any bells.”

However, the investigation report quotes an officer who told investigators that Pinckney called down to tell that officer to stop using the 1MC to provide updates as the crew fought the fire.

Pinckney concedes that he delayed sending a report on the fire up his chain of command until the next day, but he disagreed with the investigation report’s contention that the commander failed to mention that the fire affected the critical MRG in his official communications to the destroyer squadron and strike group commanders.
Please C-dore 14, role play for me. I'm Pickney, and I just picked up the POTS line with you on the other end. You say .... Hey, at least he was on-board with the LIFE/WORK initiative..
“He was very much concerned with the morale and well-being of the junior sailors, and that caused some problems in the upper levels,” he said. “He’d keep the blueshirts happy, but the chiefs and the officers were trying to get some work done.”

Standards loosened, the chief said, and the skipper emphasized recreation events such as bingo nights and extra liberty chits, which weakened duty sections. Civilian garb became more common aboard the ship.

“It kind of turned into a joke after a while,” he said, referring to the lax standards.
This train sounds, well, telling.
Asked if he believes someone had it in for him, Pinckney said: “Me, personally, I do.

He admits there were problems in the wardroom. “One of the issues that was brought out was that there wasn’t a harmonious relationship between the XO, the [assistant operations officer] and myself,” he said. “There were meetings where I’d walk out and the things I’d talked about would be harshly criticized. I would hear about that through a backloop,” he said. “There would be wardroom meetings and I’d talk about the things I wanted to do, and they would strongly question those things.”
Well, no one was killed.

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