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Another US Navy Ship Collision

How does this happen with today's technology, a US Naval vessel colliding with giant cargo ships in the western
pacific? This time 10 sailors missing. Make you wonder how competent the Navy would be in conflict. Condolences to the families of the missing.


  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 2,235 Captain
    Naturally I know nothing of the situation not being aboard and on the bridge where ship's movement decisions are made, but having been there for a period of time in my early Naval Career, before I became a "mustang", on the Bridge guiding the ship's movements, at first glance it looks like the McCain is not at fault in contrast to the Fitzgerald which, first glance, would have been at fault. But, in-depth analysis may show the McCain to be responsible. The modern Navy, in my opinion, relies too much on electronic data, and has put the old "Mark-1 Eyeball" intelligence gatherer in the "hurt-locker"! USE IT!

    On the open seas, and to a degree in congested waters where ships operate less than a couple of miles apart, observation-constant-of a near-by ships movements are necessary and easy. You simply take a compass bearing on a near-by ship and note the range on the radar. IF the compass bearing remains the same, and the distance is becoming smaller, then you are ON A COLLISION COURSE! An increasing distance, even with the compass bearing remaining the same, shows that you are safe from collision. All of this takes MINUTES of time! Use the Mark-1 "Eyeball" that you have available, augmented by the electronic information as to distance/course, etc, and collision will not occur---barring a sudden change by one of the vessels!
  • amada8amada8 Posts: 837 Officer
    Big oil tankers and container ships are not in the habit of making sudden changes...... j/s
  • BayBobBayBob Posts: 865 Officer
    How close to big ships come near others in busy sea lanes and how quick can a guided missile destroyer turn to avoid collision? I see the Navy is calling for a 1 day stand down in the Pacific after this incident. Mustangs made some of the best officers!
  • Grouper GeniusGrouper Genius Posts: 1,519 Captain
    I hope they weren't using Garmin....
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  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 2,235 Captain

    Things MAY have changed since I was aboard ship, (1950-60s!) but the "mechanics" of the situation have not!

    Under International Law, governing maritime movements/situations, ships MUST maintain at least one nautical mile distance from each other unless within a "port-harbor" situation and under control-notice I said "control" and not "command"- of a ship's pilot bringing her into a dock situation. He, legally, is not in command, merely is acting as an "advisor", and the ship's Skipper still is in command and responsible for the ship's actions! Until the first securing line is made fast to the dock, the "Skipper" is responsible--at this point he is relieved of responsibility of ship's movements BUT NOT OF THE SHIP!

    In an "at sea" situation, under International Law, ships must maintain one nautical mile distance of each other (barring entry to a seaport). The bridge personnel of each vessel is responsible for adhering to this Law. So, in respect to the collision of the McCain and the merchant vessel, it will be impossible to determine the true fault until all of the "position" facts are known!

    It is a very simple procedure to determine the danger of a collision at sea using the old tried and true "Mod-1 Eye-Ball Method"!
  • CranfieldCranfield Posts: 1,539 Captain
    We get quite a few minor fender benders in the English Channel, which is supposed to be one of the busiest thoroughfares in the world, the general consensus is that a lot of the foreign merchant ships (especially container carriers) operate with minimum crews, a great reliance on autopilots and consider sleeping a religion.
  • dewyafishdewyafish Posts: 5,025 Admiral
    No one wants to hear what I have to say, but my opinion is almost identical to Woodsrunner.
    I have logged MANY hours as a Lookout and a Helmsman aboard Guided Missile Frigates.
    The only way these ships should be involved in a collision is if they are at anchor or berthed at a pier and a vessel rams them when they are DIW.
    For their size they are VERY maneuverable. Should be impossible to hit one of them with a cargo or tanker vessel even on purpose.

    Request permission to strike below, sir.
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  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 2,235 Captain
    What you have largely with merchant ships (merships) is this:

    The ship is owned by a Wall Street Jewish Firm with office and place of doing business in Bermuda (dodging taxes :wink).
    The ship is registered in Panama or Liberia or the Philippines (dodging taxes :wink).
    The Capitan and 2 or 3 other officers aboard are Scandinavian.
    The crew is a mix of different 2nd. and 3rd. world nations.

    And remember---in the business world keeping costs to a minimum is the Law! So, largely most merships are staffed with a skeleton crew and are in a race against time to deliver the goods to port as fast as possible then reload and get underway quickly. All of this adds to the "sleeping a religion" scenario!
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