If you’ve arrived from the USNI Blog (or not…), welcome and please take some time to look around.  At the top you’ll find some of the major topics we cover here — Flightdeck Friday, which focuses on the lesser known aspects of all matters related to naval aviation, Reflections – which is an ongoing recollection of a flying and naval career, 9/11 Remembered – memories of that day and shipmates lost in the attack on the Pentagon.  Scroll down the right margin for a tags list, search function and more.  Welcome aboard and hope to see more of you! – SJS


  1. SJS,
    We appreciate the chance to introduce the new USNI Blog to your audience. We’re going to learn a lot from you and our guest bloggers, and we’ll do our best to add to the discussion, but you’re in charge of the agenda.
    Bill Miller, Publisher at USNI

  2. Steeljawscribe

    Thanks and am very much looking forward to see how it all evolves – though a quote from a turn of the century preacher does come to mind…
    – SJS

  3. SJS,
    I’m afraid those quotes are rotating so I can’t be sure which one you liked, but they probably all apply. We’re ready for a little self-examination.

  4. Steeljawscribe


    to wit – “Civilization today reminds me of an ape with a blowtorch playing in a room full of dynamite. It looks like the monkeys are about to operate the zoo, and the inmates are taking over the asylum.” –Vance Havner

  5. Bill

    I thought that might be the one. We’ve been saying the forum’s open for 135 years, so now we’ve really opened the doors. We’re glad you agreed to come in and stir things up.

  6. The USS Port Royal( CG 73) a 567 foot guided missile cruiser joined the ranks of the distinguished “I found the bottom club” a short distance from the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The 9600 ton displacement modern warship capable of 32 knots with 80,000 horse power driven by two gas turbines was reported undergoing trials after a period of maintenance and dry docking in the Pearl Harbor Naval ship yard. With a normal draft of 30 feet she ran aground Thursday night about half a mile off the Honolulu International Airport; by Saturday she was still aground after several attempts to free her had failed. A study of Chart 19369 edition shows a 3 fathom spot east and slightly north of buoy #2. Although charted, experienced Pearl Harbor sailors are not acquainted with this shallow. There is a small marked channel that leads north. Sources relate that damages to PORT ROYAL may be more than anticipated as it is rumored the vessel was “hard aground” on a rock and that maneuvering to free may have exasperated the damage.

    Relevant,is the recently published article in the Pacific Maritime Magazine (Feb, 2009) on groundings and the failure of “the person(s) directing the navigation” to be aware of shoal water.It will be some time before the facts are known as it is under investigation. However lets examine what ” the person directing the navigation” should be doing when transferring personnel to a boat while in the proximity of hazards.

    Maritime law and regulations provide considerable clarification for “the person directing the navigation” and I have explained it in many previous writings. A Master, Captain, Commanding Officer, Operator i.e., the person in charge of any vessel is primarily the Chief Safety Officer. During evolutions, he or she should assume a role that permit the most effective supervision and control over operations, the vessel and crew. That total responsibility is beyond human capability, therefore it is appropriate and feasible that specific functions i.e., navigation, piloting, communications etc., be delegated to competent assistants, but in so doing ,those so entrusted should be guided in their responsibility.

    Specifically, in the above case, the Captain planned to disembark personnel at a point near the channel entrance to the Naval Station: a unique situation, specially at night. The bridge watch (team) should be informed of the plan and procedure, including the specific transfer point. The assistant(s) assigned for the safe navigation (Bridge & CIC) should scan for hazards and acceptability (tides &currents) and determine set and drift. The transfer evolution is secondary to safe navigation and therefore the Captain must verify the safe navigation before being involved in any other function. A simple procedure is to order an assistant(s) to “Advise me if we approach less than X number of yards from point A” or, “inform me if we have less than X number feet of water under the keel” In darkness safety bearings of fixed aids will suffice. He is now able to be involved in other functions with safe guards established.

    A probable scenario in this case, that I have observed in similar operations is:
    the Captain directed the vessel to an unspecified position and then stopped the engines. Depending on the propulsion arrangement, four or at least two of the gas turbines would continue in operation while the controllable-reversible propellers were rotated to zero pitch. Without specific orders the Captain remains the “person directing the navigation.” The disembarking of personnel commanded his attention and the bridge team, functioning without orders stood- by while the vessel grounded. Several factors may have assisted in the grounding: the propellers may not have been in zero pitch in their counter- rotating mode, there by adding headway; current and or wind was setting on shore, or the vessel was not in fact DIW but still had headway and or, the actual position of the vessel was not known, or a combination all these.

    Hopefully the facts will be promulgated so that all mariners may learn the importance of using all resources available whether crewed by 300 people or only an operator and a deck hand. The message is: accident are mostly caused by people that do not follow procedures. Captain means chief of a team. A team that has been selected and trained to support the leader and the mission.

  7. The China Two-Step

    By John G.Denham

    In a way it is like children playing in the street taking chances and being provocative. except it is more serious. Maybe it is time the U.S, stopped pushing the envelope and began considering our status in the world. Unquestionably we, as a sovereign nation dedicated to freedom with principles of peace have every right to free transit on the oceans of the world with out interruption or harassment. That is clearly provided by international law, but there is an old axiom: Being right is not always enough!

    We seems to be in the habit of getting involved in situations where our government vessels both naval and military are involved in proving our right to conduct secret operations near other nation’s shore without consequence. Two past situations have had serious consequences without benefit: the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and the USS PUEBLA. The evidence produced indicated our rights and not be harassed, but the end result proved nothing at great expense.

    One glance at the USNS Impeccable and one must wonder what in hell is it and what is it doing. If it is looking for submarines, then whose and why? The PRC has declared that area an Exclusive Economic Zone. A recognized international gimmick to increase one’s area of influence, maybe to protect a fishery or a suspected oil deposit or just aggrandizement. We do not recognize it, nor does most of the world. We are involved with several other similar situations in other parts of the world. Therefore there is a dichotomy.

    We inform China we don’t agree and start a dialogue that will possibly go on for years, or have a confrontation. We have apparently chosen the latter and therefore are involved in a distasteful situation that can easily turn ugly and who knows what it will lead to? International law in this type of situation is a hodge-podge of interpretations, conferences, customs, servitudes, legal definitions and conclusion that resolve nothing. The only common factor is the International Rules of the Road which appears to be have disregarded .

    National defense, is a prime consideration of all nations, second is protection of sovereign territory followed closely by protection of natural resources. Them’s fighting word! Stephen Decatur’s in 1816 spoke: “Our country: in her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country , right or wrong.” In 1872, in different times, ” Our country right or wrong. When right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.” echoed in the U.S. Senate. The big stick of the twenty first century may well be a softer voice spoken with clarity and determination. JGD

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