On Hartford

So, the HARTFORD JAGMAN is out. In typical fashion, NavyTimes gets a little sensational with its cherry-picking of phrases. “The Navigator was listening to his iPod during a critical evolution.”


The fact that he wasn’t in control during the crossing notwithstanding, he was in the wardroom…so listening to his iPod isn’t that far out of the norm.

I’m not going to go into the report and pass any judgements on the reported actions of the ship. Are there things that could have been done differently? Should have been done differently? Probably. But these things don’t occur in a vacuum, although they are evaluated in one.

I take it as a reminder that submarining is a hard business. Hyper-vigilence is the order of the day and the second you relax is the second it bites you. But you also have to remember that hyper-vigilence is useless if it is not focused on the right things. Take the time to step back and think about the big flick.

All that said, there is this little tidbit in the article that I find very interesting…

The collision illustrates the force’s larger problem with contact management. An internal message sent by Submarine Force Pacific commander Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny less than a month after the collision urged commanders and commodores to boost crews’ ability to track surface contacts.

“Over several months” prior to the incident, hundreds of watchstanders were tested in their ability to understand how to analyze the movement of surface contacts. The exams yielded results of 10 percent to 15 percent passing grades among enlisted watchstanders and 60 percent of officers.

“Given the attention I have personally placed on submerged contact management in briefing the waterfronts, this is unacceptable,” McAneny wrote in the message obtained by Navy Times.

Unacceptable? Most definitely. The question is…why?

I would offer this…the way we conduct contact management has changed greatly since I was a wee ensign. And I wouldn’t say it’s for the better. We constantly evaluate for the worst case scenario, and pay little mind to the most probable scenario.

Ask a newly minted contact coordinator, “Who is the contact of concern right now?” He’ll probably default to the closest guy, because the contact might turn directly at you and run at full speed.

Or the contact might not. In fact, it probably won’t.

Chances are the real contact of interest is the huge ass merchant 20k yards away who is coming directly at you at 20+ knots. But he’s not an interest right now. Why? Because he’s 10 miles away.

Somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten that the main goal is to not get run over. We get all wrapped up in mental gym and calculations and stop watches and “Look how awesome I am because I can do calculations in my head!” and we forget to just look around and see who’s going to hit us.

Gotta keep the big flick.

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9 Responses to On Hartford

  1. Niall says:

    This is a question I’ve always had about submarines. How do you actually keep track of surface ships without giving away your own position?

  2. fastnav says:

    sonar….and looking out of the scope.

    • Alexandr says:

      That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. In every state where hemelt law has been repealed, the death by head injury rate has skyrocketed.Why don’t we repeal seat belt laws? How about allowing drinking while driving?How about repealing drivers licenses?See better, hear better without a hemelt? are you kidding. All modern cars are sound proof, and difficult to see past blind spots. Recently a bus driver killed several pedestrians and blames blind spots.What are these guys smoking?Lets get those oppressive hemelts off football players and hockey players, just imagine how much fun it would be to see the result on Monday night tele

  3. Niall says:

    Passive or active sonar?

    • SMS_Mike says:

      Passive. Active may not necessarily give away position, but sure as hell screams there’s a US warship out there.

      • Lazaro says:

        Ene odoo biebert duurgi yum bol yugaa hiij bieber ntriin talaar medee unshij tsagaa urdeg bnaa. Yaaj ch bodson minii huvid bieber nasni ene bandias 100% iluu. One directioniihan hefiiger avyastai tsarailag huvguud ch gsn buh talaara bieberiin hemjeend hureh bologuil sanagddin.

  4. Niall says:

    Thanks, SMS. I’m fascinated by this subject, and it’s always great to get an insider’s perspective.

    • Smash says:

      Sorry can’t get excited about newapspers closing. Must be something about having worked for another dying Connecticut industry…Aerospace.Considering how much the newapspers have contributed to the decline of business in Connecticut by virtually never calling the state to task for the highest taxes in the country and making Ct a virtual economic desert, CT will be much better off with out them.Just got to wonder, who’s going to do the cheerleading for the Dems in the house and senate now?Economic justice, reaping what they sowed. How much was Bristol hurt by Hamilton Sundstrand closing down Bld 4 on New Britain ave? Probably a 10$Million hit to the local economy. And you know what? That was their BEST building in terms of quality, delivery, and absenteeism. If that Building couldn’t make it in Ct none will.Good riddance to the Hartford Courant and all their ilk.

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