Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The WESTPAC Four of 2017

I had a great conversation with Hope Hodge Seck earlier this week on the challenges we are having in WESTPAC. 

I'm in good company with others in her article, and you really should read the whole thing.

Here are a few of my comments;
"I'm disappointed in a few people who are using this as as a reason that we need a bigger Navy; that's tertiary," said another retired Navy officer and popular military blogger who goes by the pen name CDR Salamander. "We have a high op-tempo, but that's no excuse. This is a Vince Lombardi Navy: 'See that ship? Don't let another ship hit it.'" Lombardi was a famous football player and coach.
Salamander recalled the 2007 incident when the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke ran aground at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay in daylight because the navigational system had an input error and no one had looked out the window to confirm the ship's position.

"There's no bad computer bad radar that's going to substitute for you not looking out the bloody window," he said.
In addition to the challenge of green crews, Salamander said he believes "perverse career incentives" to get command tours elsewhere can result in fewer and shorter at-sea periods for surface warfare officers.

And while Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has said the Navy's new review of practices will include external input from other military services and industry, Salamander suggested looking to the navies of other nations, including the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which also sail around the globe but appear to maintain lower major mishap rates than the U.S. Navy does.

Internationally, he said, some ships give a wide berth to U.S. Navy vessels, which are developing a reputation for sloppy sailing that is only validated by recent mishaps.

"This would require a culture change, a career change, a training change," Salamander said. "It would require us to take a deep breath and say, 'We may be the world's largest Navy, but we are not the best Navy.'"
The last part is hard to say, but I've spent way too much time over way too many beers with officers from other navies having blunt conversations - not to mention what I've seen myself - not to say it.

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