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US Navy suffers third ship collision this year

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Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

They are going about it the right way.

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Happy

Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

Um, think it's the US Navy getting in the way of others. The last two collisions the US boats were hit in the side. Of course they may have learnt how to do handbrake turns with a destroyer to scam Lloyd's List.

Seems that the Mark One Eyeball and a pair of binoculars are no longer a part of the "watch" requirement.

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Mushroom

Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

I hope there will be fewer casualties when Kim J and Donald J declare war on each other.

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

"Um, think it's the US Navy getting in the way of others. The last two collisions the US boats were hit in the side."

All three of the collisions (Lake Champlain, Fitzgerald, John S McCain) were because something hit the US ship. Lake Champlain was hit by a South Korean fishing boat; the bridge crew on Lake Champlain saw the fishing boat coming and screamed at it on radio, but it didn't have a radio, and no-one on the boat noticed a 10,000 ton guided missile cruiser right in front of them. (insert joke about Asians and glasses here.) Fitzgerald was turning away, too late, from the containership when the collision occurred. No-one on the bridge thought to wake the captain, or perhaps the containership wasn't seen in time. In any case, the captain was asleep in his cabin and found out when part of said cabin landed on him, injuring him. The captain, the executive officer, and the senior petty officer ('boatswain', in the RN) are all on the beach now. I suspect that others will follow. John S McCain was hit aft, and seems to have almost made it out of the way. There also seems to have been a problem with the steering mechanisms, which are part of the systems controlled by... Windows for Warships. No, I don't know if there was a bluescreen, but if there was...

The last incident was when Antietam, a sister ship to Lake Champlain, ran aground in Tokyo harbor, in an incident remarkably similar to HMS Indomitable running aground while coming into Kingston, Jamaica, harbor in November 1941.

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

While it is true that other ships hit the USN ships on some of these occasions they were hit in the starboard side. It is standard maritime practice to give way to vessels approaching from your starboard side, rather than remaining ignorant of them until they hit you.

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

With the Fitzgerald, the container ship was deliberately trying to ram them. Check the traces of the two ships movements - they passed, the container ship did a big loop and adjusted course several times before striking the USN ship... I can't see how that could be anything other than deliberate and as such, it's unlikely anything short of a missile would've prevented the collision.

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

With the FItzgerald, the radar track actually shows the freighter doing all its course changes *after* the collision. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/18/world/asia/path-ship-hit-uss-fitzgerald.html?mcubz=1

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

Further news: say bye-bye to the commander of US 7th Fleet as a direct result of theses incidents. http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/22/politics/uss-mccain-7th-fleet-commander-dismissal/index.html

And it does seem that something was seriously broken with McCain's steering. Not in the article, but notable, is that there was recently a huge scandal about shipyard kickbacks and bribes in that region https://www.stripes.com/news/us/another-navy-officer-pleads-guilty-to-taking-bribes-from-fat-leonard-1.483576 and there were concerns about how far up the problems went, and about the effect on operations. If McCain was one of the ships involved, and the reason for the steering problem was that inadequate or improper repairs or maintenance was carried out, then there's going to be a lot of senior officers getting a lot of serious prison time.

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

SOLAS might say that if you're "on the right, you're in the right" (McCain was hit on the port side, so was in the right), it's not relevant if one vessel is constrained by draft or manoeuvrability. Also, avoiding collisions is the most important rule.

If the destroyer had steering issues then it suggests a very unfortunately timed accident (for it happen ahead of a large vessel).

It was suggested that Fitzgerald was under EMCON when she was hit, so it's possible McCain was in a similar situation. I also wonder if the US navy isn't keen on informing general traffic that they're having technical issues - it's a bit embarrassing to admit that to the Chinese, North Koreans, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

no they weren't the latest incident the USS John S McCain was hit on her port side so rule 15 of the rules of the road applies

15. Crossing situations

When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way and avoid crossing ahead of her.[11][page needed] The saying is "If to starboard red appear, 'tis your duty to keep clear".[18] "...Act as judgement says is proper: port or starboard, back or stop her."

Now in maritime law blame gets apportioned and its very rare for 100% blame to be given to just one party, but on the face of it the Tanker was more at fault.

*Past life before getting in to IT I worked in the shipping industry and did Maritime law at Uni

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

s/SOLAS/COLREGS/

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Unhappy

Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

"they may have learnt how to do handbrake turns with a destroyer to scam Lloyd's List."

back full port, ahead full starboard. similar idea to a handbrake turn.

If the ship has multiple screws, even if the rudder is immobilized due to a mechanical problem, you can still attempt to steer it with the engines [though the effect isn't quite as good].

Methinks they need to run more drills on operation casualties *like* loss of steeering, work out the bugs, and get some kinds of procedures in place to avoid situations like that one.

Normally a collision is due to a mistake on the part of the officer of the deck. But with "that much information" in play in a busy channel, maybe it's just not humanly possible for one person to keep track of it all...

(holy @#$% it's a big fat tanker, how the hell did we NOT see that coming?)

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Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

"the container ship was deliberately trying to ram them. Check the traces of the two ships movements". There was this confusion at first as Fitzgerald, for some odd reason, reported the wrong time for the collision, a later time. What the container ship did was to turn around after the collision to offer assistance, as they should. This has all been cleared up.

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Anonymous Coward

Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=174

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

How the fudge do you drive a lighthouse into a ship?

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Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

You don't it's an urban myth.

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Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

How can it be an "urban" myth when it concerns events on the high seas?

Anyway in this case is wasn't a myth; it was a direct hit.

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Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

Haven't you ever heard of "The City in the Sea"?

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Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

Tere's the story about the South African yachtsman, Bruce Dalling, sailing single-handed a little wooden 25' Vertue from Hong Kong to South Africa. He was asleep and woke to the noise of engines, to find himself surrounded by ships and being buzzed by helicopters. He switched on the radio to found his boat had sailed right into a US Indian Ocean fleet (or vice versa). He was told somewhat arrogantly "Identify yourself" on the radio, and famously replied "Vertue Carina, single handed skipper onboard, bound for Durban. Will not attack unless severely provoked."

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Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

Other apocryphal naval story:

UK and US navy doing joint manoeuvres somewhere, after the exercise finished, the ships sailed away in opposing directions. The semaphore office on the USA ship messaged "Thanks for that guys, oh, by the way, how does it feel to be the second biggest naval contingent in the world"?

The British replied "Yes, thank you for the training exercises and it feels fine, but tell us, how does it feel to be second best"?

Badum Tish.

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Coat

Re: Good job it wasn't a lighthouse

You don't it's an urban myth.

But it's on the Internet, it must be true.

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Worth a read

If you want an idea of how easy it is to end up in a near collision situation with another ship:

http://taskandpurpose.com/fitzgeralds-watch-team-mine/amp/

I've been in a similar situation where after first spotting a small cabin cruiser at around 5NM we ended up stopped in the water with someone leaning over the bow asking if they'd decided which way they were going yet.

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Re: Worth a read

I didn't know the sea was so, well, not exactly lawless, but wild. Surely there's some kind of penalty for the merchant ship for not responding / not turning right? Road laws work, and the average person I'd assume is a lot less experienced / qualified than a sea captain.

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Re: Worth a read

To be honest, if there isn't an actual collision there's not a lot of comeback. Theoretically the country the vessel is flagged to could take action, or the country who's waters they were in if they were within 12nm of land, but I've never heard of anything happening.

Obviously if there is a collision it's a whole different story.

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Re: Worth a read

"I've been in a similar situation..."

Yeah, so have I. Just off Harwich, in the shipping lanes. A container vessel would have rammed my 24 foot yacht and turned it into matchwood if we hadn't gybed. We were the stand-on vessel. Either the officer on watch was in the head or he was asleep on the deck because at two in the morning my 1000 lumen spotlight lit up their unmanned bridge like daylight.

IRPCS Rule 5:

"Every vessel shall at all times..."

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Anonymous Coward

"I've been in a similar situation..."

Me too, it was back in 2006 Lanzarote, I took the lilo out on the high seas and had a near miss with a pedalo.

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Unhappy

"'ve been in a similar situation where after first spotting a small cabin cruiser at around 5NM "

A fair point but I don't think either of these craft could be described as "cabin cruiser" sized.

And I don't think any of the other ships th USN has bumped into in the last 8 months were either

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Re: Worth a read

Is that not covered by the most important navigational rule of all for yachts:

"Plastic (or wood) gives way to steel"...?

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Re: Worth a read

Also worth a read

https://www.amazon.com/Avoid-Huge-Ships-John-Trimmer/dp/0870334336

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Re: Worth a read

Is that not covered by the most important navigational rule of all for yachts:

"Plastic (or wood) gives way to steel"...?

Something along those lines.

Or in other words "Leisure gives way to Business".

The old "power gives way to sail" in Southampton Water will simply land you in hot water when you get back to land (assuming you haven't been run over in the cold water). Interfere in commercial port operations at your peril.

I've likewise been on the back of a Research Boat - we were on station near shore, instruments in the water, displaying the correct flags when a regatta came ploughing around us. A couple of the dinghies apparently did not see us, or assumed that the powered vessel would move for them, not understanding that a working vessel on station with £120k worth of instrumentation hanging off the back does not care about such things. There were some angry shouts when they bumped into us, but the skipper's tannoy was louder as he delivered a lecture on flag signals.

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Re: Worth a read

You're in the shipping lanes at night in a 24 footer near a busy port, and expect that you are somehow the stand-on vessel to a container ship - and you continued to believe this to the point where you had to gybe out of the way? The laws of physics trump COLREGs. Just stay out of the damn way, you'll live longer.

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Re: Worth a read

I've been in a situation crossing the Southampton MTZ. I was clearing well ahead +1NM) when the guard vessel drastically changed course towards me. I was over half way across to Calshot when he got to me and all the pilot did was shout "do you know where you are". My replies were "yes, where do you want me to go?", which he completely ignored. After a minute of being shouted at I did an about turn and he motored off.

He had no interest in giving me instructions, just shouting an incredibly unhelpful question at me. It was left to me to read his mind. All he had to do was shout "reverse your course".

* The Moving Traffic Zone is an area of the Solent where you have to stay clear (1km ahead, 100m abeam) of large vessels. A guard vessel often motors ahead to ensure it's not encroached.

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Re: Worth a read

If you were in a yacht in a' shipping lane' off Harwich it was your duty to keep clear. Law regarding large vessels navigating in restricted waters (includes designated 'shipping lanes'): the vessel with 'unrestricted' manoeuvrability keeps clear, regardless of port/starboard rules, etc.

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Happy

Re: Worth a read

Yes, it's worth remembering that when sailing ships where given this "right of way" those ships were often big square rigged ships and tacking them was something totally different than turning the wheel on a ship with a motor. I bet those guys did not think of pleasure yachts under sail at all, then long ago.

My advice and experience under sail is to keep away, if possible, not only to stay safe but also in order not to behave like a dick.

The good, if perhaps unwritten law, is that pleasure ships give way to commercial ships (and the navy).

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What do they all do?

There's billions of sailors* on one of those tubs. The tanker will have had 12 men and a dog. How come tankers don't keep driving into things?

I realise someone must press the big red "Fire" button, but that doesn't seem to taxing. I assume the other 275 spend their time polishing missiles.

*276 I asked wikipedia

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Re: What do they all do?

Technically, as the tanker hit the side of the McCain, it was the tanker that was doing the driving into. It's worth reading the link I posted above, essentially it boils down to one of the parties involved not doing what's expected in accordance with the rules of the road*. You then have to decide how to avoid the impending collision and rely on the other party not changing their mind. Several times. Possibly because there was no one awake on the bridge when you first gained sight of them. And it all happens in painful slow motion.

For fairness here's an RN example with a link through to the board of inquiry report:

http://www.3peaks.org.uk/Nautical/HMS%20Southampton/HMSSouthamptonpage.htm

* International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs), the RN makes ship drivers memorise them word for word, the USN less so.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What do they all do?

Well it is hard and full of Seamen

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Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

From the grossly-simplified understanding I have of the laws of maritime navigation say that where there's a danger of collision, isn't it always the vessel that can get out of the way fastest that must change course to avoid the collision?

In that case, wouldn't it be the destroyer that had to move? Tankers aren't known for turning quickly.

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Re: What do they all do?

Another factor - all vessels over 300 tonnes have an Automatic Identification System (AIS) - a system explicitly designed to prevent collisions by providing tracking information to any vessel in a 10-20 mile range. This data is also passed up to satellites and can be used for longer ranges, and can be integrated into automatic pilot systems. It's also widely used by oceanic yachts and small passenger craft, and is basically the marine equivalent of the aeroplane ADS-B which all the flight tracking apps use.

The US navy turns theirs off, because they don't want Johnny Foreigner knowing where they are.

In a time of war ... sure, this makes sense. In peacetime?

Turn your bloody lights back on and maybe people will stop hitting you.

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Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

'isn't it always the vessel that can get out of the way fastest that must change course to avoid the collision?'

You may be thinking of -steam gives way to sail, sail gives way to rowing boats. But that doesn't help when you've got two powered vessels. Gross gross over-simplification of the rules:

In a crossing situation the vessel with the other on her right is the give way vessel (handily this means the vessel with the right of way sees the other vessels green navigation light)

In an overtaking situation the overtaking vessel is the give way vessel until well past and clear (ie you can't try and turn it into a crossing situation after you get just in front)

When approaching head on alter course to starboard (Our nav instructor said if you ever find yourself thinking of altering course to port to avoid collision, go out on the bridge wing and have a stiff word with yourself)

Notwithstanding all that, and a plethora of other regulations where some vessels do have priority, e.g. carriers operating aircraft, vessels constrained by their draft, there's a general get out saying

'In construing and complying with these rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these rules necessary to avoid immediate danger'

So basically you're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

So basically you're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't...

Indeed. But unless there was (as suggested) a mechanical failure, then the rules mean the crew certainly should be damned. Being hit by one of the sea's biggest, slowest vessels, when you're riding one of the world's fastest, most maneuverable, most electronically advanced vessels?

I am 100% certain SkippyBing doesn't need to look, but for the rest of us there's some nice vids on Youtube of an Arleigh Burke vessel doing a high speed turn, and its worth watching to see how quickly these things can go and how fast they can turn (noting as well that the vessel is probably not at full emergency power). Bruce Ordway's comment may have hit the nail on the head, because the USN 7th Fleet appears to be having some severe problems. Also worth noting that the "suspension of operations" couldn't come at a worse time, when the US and Norks are having a face-off.

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Re: What do they all do?

Actually, what's worse... if *you* switch your AIS off, it's *your* responsibility to make sure you track other ships and stay the hell out of their way, especially if it's something rather sizeable like a VLCC that doesn't stop on a dime (compared to your puny ass that's probably much more maneuverable).

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Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

Also worth noting that the "suspension of operations" couldn't come at a worse time, when the US and Norks are having a face-off.

Or ... maybe the perfect time. Give the excess testosterone some time to clear?

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Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

Given sailboats are subject to wind, it might make them faster but a damn sight less... maneuverable. Hence it's cruisers (motorised craft) giving way to rowing boats, and rowing boats giving way to sailboats. :-)

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Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

' Hence it's cruisers (motorised craft) giving way to rowing boats, and rowing boats giving way to sailboats'

That may be right, I can't actually find a reference to rowing boats in the Rules of the Road apart from concerning lighting but I don't trust the wikipedia entry 100% and I can't find another version on-line at the moment that gets through the work firewall. I mean why you'd try either method of transport eludes me, they just seem to be uncomfortable ways of going slowly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What do they all do?

one of the parties involved not doing what's expected in accordance with the rules of the road

The USN don't obey any rules but their own.

They expect every other ship including the Russians, Chinese and Norks to get out of their way sharpish.

Apparently they copied this behaviour from the RN...

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Re: What do they all do?

'Apparently they copied this behaviour from the RN...'

What the RN which religiously examines it's officer's of the watch on the rules of the road? Which have to be learnt verbatim? Yeah you're talking bollocks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What do they all do?

The US Navy turns their AIS off!?!

Crikey, can you imagine the outcry if the RN did the same thing? How many people have been following Queen Liz on MarineTraffic since she slipped out of Rosyth a while back?

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Re: What do they all do? @SkippyBang

"You may be thinking of -steam gives way to sail, sail gives way to rowing boats."

This does not, of course, help on a river when someone in a canoe turns suddenly into the path of 25 tonnes of narrowboat. Because they think they have automatic right of way. Though the desire to get out a loudhailer and shout the rules at the idiot is strong, it is also impracticable.

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