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Ex-commanders face negligent homicide charges over deadly Navy collisions - CNNPolitics

I'm going to dog this topic. To even allege that their conduct rises to a criminal level is astonishing. One of my mantras when I was in uniform was, the more stripes you wear the less likely you are to make a small mistake. But to even suggest a vice-admiral (O-9) is culpable for the omissions of a ship's CO (O-5) strains the limits of my credibility. First, there's at least two Navy captains (O-6) next in the chain-of-command, as well as the battle group commander (O-7 or O-8). The prosecution would have to prove, first, that the bridge crew was not competent to perform their duties. Then they would have to directly link those deficiencies to the CO. I do not disagree, administratively the CO is responsible for his command. That's why he gets the "big bucks" (responsibility pay, used to be about $50.00 a month back when I was in and the ships were mostly wooden). And if relieved the reporting senior would say it was because he had "lost confidence". This is criminal. Whole different level of proof. Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the CO knew they weren't qualified to perform their duties.

This is an emotional issue for me so please excuse me for ranting. I was stationed in Oceana (near Norfolk VA) when senior sailors in the Naval Supply Center Norfolk were selling F-14 parts to Iran. That they still draw air is abhorrent to me. I also know of an E-9 who was allowed to retire as E-8 but was selling dope. According to the Force MCPO (who also happened to be my rabbi) the NCIS messed up the investigation and they weren't sure of a conviction. There's an Intruder reunion in Virginia Beach this spring and I will be looking for him. Last seen in Lakehurst.

What I am trying to say is that when trust is betrayed all bets are off. While the people being charged by the Navy may be culpable for their conduct I do not believe it rises to the level of criminality. But I approach it with an open mind. If the evidence proves their conduct was contrary to their training then I say hang 'em. But I'm holding that bar pretty high.
 

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I know that when I was in you better be able to CYA if anything happened because someone was going to take the blame ! They made the Navy look bad, men died and that is something that you just do not walk away from. The CO is responsible for everything that happens on that ship and the good ones would rather have men under them who would stand up to them and tell it like it is instead of blowing smoke at them. That very well may have been what happened to these 2 CO's. The men below them may have been telling them that all was working great even though it was not !
 

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They are the CO of their ship, they are ultimately responsible for their ship, and crew. There is a reason they don't just "hands the keys over" to anyone.
 

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It may go further...

"Court-martial proceedings will be convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against several members of the USS Fitzgerald, according to the service.

Navy ships in deadly collisions had lengthy training lapses


"The members' ranks include one commander (the commanding officer), two lieutenants, and one lieutenant junior grade. The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide," the Navy said.



Sounds like they are throwing the book at them. We'll have to see what sticks. Hard to believe there wasn't some massive failure of multiple procedures by multiple people. It seems like if it had been Somali pirates we would have had to pay a ransom to get our boat and sailors back. How a U.S. Navy destroyer gets hit by a container ship
at sea is beyond me. Serioulsy? Nobody saw that thing coming? Sailors died. I'm pissed about that. They ain't never coming back.
 

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The prosecution would have to prove, first, that the bridge crew was not competent to perform their duties.
I think when you run your boat into another boat, you're pretty much not competent to drive boats. I know that sounds simplified, but this is the US military, the Catch 22 rule applies.

Had they rammed a pier or ran aground with no injuries, the duty officer, maybe the captain would likely be in trouble. When you hit another boat with deaths involved, the guys with flowers on their hats, have talk to Senators. All bets are off.
 

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Yes, the CO is administratively responsible, but in the end he/she is completely powerless over individual choice. While I would agree that they would take some of the blame here, the CO cannot physically go and hold Seaman Timmy's hand and make sure he's keeping a good lookout. What I am saying is that the way the Navy operates, the Seaman Timmies don't worry about life because the worse that can happen to them is they stand in front of the CO and get yelled at, have some money taken away, do some restriction and at worst, lose some rank. They won't go to jail or ever have to actually make up for anything. In today's society, Seaman Timmy has a diploma, probably some college, about six months of school after bootcamp (on average) and is pretty well compensated for his time. Seaman Timmy is capable of responsibility and needs to know that if he doesn't spot a ship in the horizon that he could end up in jail on negligence charges, not that his CO will get fired for him messing up. Hold the CO accountable, sure, but do the same on down the line.

IMO COs should almost never get relieved following incidents. Make them clean up their messes (and in many cases, these are actually the messes of previous commanders). In one of these recent cases, I believe the CO had been onboard a month.

I agree with the OP though. It'll be really tough to prove criminal charges.
 

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According to a PBS radio interview of ex sailors, (if you can believe them) the Navy currently has a severe problem of sailors on sea duty pulling double or triple shifts, due to positions not being filled. One guy said that many sailors use some kind of stimulants, even the illegal ones. Another sailor said that when he was on bridge duty one night, he was hallucinating, and that his experience wasn't unique.
 

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Being a Navy vet it's quite clear to me basic seamanship has taken leave. If you look at the fatalities in surface Navy as well as Navair the crap needs to stop. But the corrections needs to keep going, the last deployment over in the Korean theater the Navy had to rob 90 FA-18 to equip the three carriers. The military is a shell of it's former self. Its been going downhill since the end of Reagan's last term. Its not going to be an easy fix.
 
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Being a Navy vet it's quite clear to me basic seamanship has taken leave. If you look at the fatalities in surface Navy as well as Navair the crap needs to stop. But the corrections needs to keep going, the last deployment over in the Korean theater the Navy had to rob 90 FA-18 to equip the three carriers. The military is a shell of it's former self. Its been going downhill since the end of Reagan's last term. Its not going to be an easy fix.
I think the skippers as well as others should be charged. Their boats, their watch.
 
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Ex-commanders face negligent homicide charges over deadly Navy collisions - CNNPolitics

I'm going to dog this topic. To even allege that their conduct rises to a criminal level is astonishing. One of my mantras when I was in uniform was, the more stripes you wear the less likely you are to make a small mistake. But to even suggest a vice-admiral (O-9) is culpable for the omissions of a ship's CO (O-5) strains the limits of my credibility. First, there's at least two Navy captains (O-6) next in the chain-of-command, as well as the battle group commander (O-7 or O-8).
As I understand it, Master Chief, the officers facing negligent homicide charges are those who were in command of the vessels, not their superiors. Given the widespread problems, I'm not surprised higher echelons are retiring earlier than they anticipated.

The prosecution would have to prove, first, that the bridge crew was not competent to perform their duties. Then they would have to directly link those deficiencies to the CO. I do not disagree, administratively the CO is responsible for his command. That's why he gets the "big bucks" (responsibility pay, used to be about $50.00 a month back when I was in and the ships were mostly wooden). And if relieved the reporting senior would say it was because he had "lost confidence". This is criminal. Whole different level of proof. Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the CO knew they weren't qualified to perform their duties.
I suspect that's provable by the training records and duty rosters.

And remember that the court-martial panel can select lesser charges during deliberation, if they believe those are proven but the major charges are not.
 
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Speaking to my nephew who is career Navy, he thinks this was most likely caused by procedures that were not proper for the area but the approved procedure nevertheless.

He said that certain countries do not let them run certain radars close to their waters.

He said they were always nervous going in or out of Japan and others.

I hope these guys get a fair trial and they are not just scapegoats.



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