Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Imaginative Ensigns

So there was a ship in the Med, a Garcia-class FF. Its SPS-10 surface search radar was out of commission (before the navy began installing LN-66 radars on ships). That meant that the Officer of the Deck had to eyeball the closest point of approach (CPA) for surface contacts. He wasn't terribly comfortable with that and he was probably a bit annoyed that the guys in CIC basically got to do nothing all watch.

So he came up with the idea of using the gunfire radar to ping the range of contacts. A sailor from 2nd Division was installed up in the director. He would train the radar on a visual contact and get the range. With the range input from the radar and the bearing information from the lookouts (or maybe from the radar, as well), CIC could then compute things such as the course and speed of the contact and the CPA for each contact.

That worked well. Until it didn't.

It stopped being a good idea when one of the surface contacts was a Soviet AGI.

Under the 1972 Prevention of Incidents at Sea Treaty between the USA and the USSR, one of the things that was prohibited was "simulating attacks" on the other party's ships. For all the gibbering by the various politicians of how the Russians never honor agreements, the Soviet navy was pretty goddamn scrupulous about honoring that one. Officers of ships deploying overseas were exhorted to have a firm understanding of the provisions of the treaty, because the Russians did.

The Soviets took a dim view of "painting" their ships with fire-control radar; they viewed that as a simulated attack. The Soviet ship's captain (or someone who spoke English) got on the "Bridge-to-Bridge" radio circuit and complained about the alleged treaty violation. Then he reported the incident. A few days later, the frigate's captain had to do a "rug dance" by radio teletype message, about why his command was so cavalier about obeying the provisions of the treaty.

And you know the direction that shit flows.

The OOD was "counseled" to run all of his future "good ideas" by the Senior Watch Officer or the XO for approval before implementing them.