Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Career-Limiting Move

Running your ship aground. According to this story, the USS Port Royal went aground in "about 20 feet of water."

The Tico cruisers draw about 34 feet of water
, so depending on the slope of the bottom, something seriously went wrong. I can't imagine that the charts around Pearl Harbor are inaccurate, so it seems that somebody lost the bubble on the navigation picture. Executive Officers were designated as the ship's navigator, so the XO's career is toast, as is the career of the OOD (probably the only one who doesn't have enough time in to gracefuly retire).

Running aground is almost always career suicide. There was a real up-and-coming officer in the late `70s and early `80s; he deep-selected for both lieutenant commander and commander. Less than two months into his command tour on a Spru-can, the ship ran aground while on an in-shore acoustics range somewhere off Florida. Rumor was that he said something along the lines of "XO, I think we're turning the wrong way" just before the ship grounded. That was the end of his career.

I worked on one grounding investigation of a smallish research craft commanded by a lieutenant and the result was the same, as it almost always is. Unlike rivers, much of the ocean bottom doesn't move that much and unless either the chart is wrong or there was an unavoidable event, touching bottom means the captain and a bunch of other folks get sent ashore for good.


Jimh. said...

I thought that when I saw the story on Saturday! Wow! He's not gonna promote...Sucks to be him.

PhysioProf said...

These sorts of events must involve an unfortunate coincidence of multiple decision-making failures by multiple individuals, as I would assume that there are all sorts of decision-making procedures designed to make ship navigation as fault-tolerant as possible.

Comrade EBM, have you posted before on the decision-making processes of ship navigation? If not, PLEEZ DO IT!!!!

Pinto bean said...

Well, that CO is gonna be in command of a desk for a long time. And since I was in the navy I think alot to do with the grounding is the quality of the new recruits they bring into the fleet these days, do not know anything from A or C schools and and do not care on knowing their rate. Before I left the navy I noticed that was a big problem with the people we were getting. Rather spend all day on an X box than learn the rate.