Examining the issues surrounding the collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain

Aug 22, 2017News & Announcements

In a series of posts on Facebook and in an interview with Action News Jax, Captain Rick Hoffman examines the issues surrounding the collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain.

Below are the compiled FaceBook posts, you can visit Rick Hoffman’s¬†Facebook page to view the full discussions.


Lots of conversations about high OPTEMPO in 7th Fleet. My thoughts are that high OPTEMPO should result in better bridge/CIC watch teams, more experienced lookouts and phone talkers, CO’s with more at sea time. If the bridge watch has more time as a team, the CO has more time to see where his team’s strengths and weaknesses are. So, in my opinion high OPTEMPO should be good for seamanship, bad for admin, inspections, and other BS distractions. I would be interested to hear from Gary Harrington on this opinion. He was the CO of an FDNF out of Sasebo.
Lots of my people think this is the tip of an ice burg that started when we shut down SWOS basic and eliminated the first baseline courses for new Surface Warfare officers. We are about to see that generation begin assuming XO/CO roles at sea.

We do not put a premium on being good mariners. We put a premium on being good inspection takers and admin weenies.
For all those concerned about GPS spoofing, I have these thoughts.
First, they didn’t run aground, they hit another moving object.
Second, if I am staring at my radar, nav chart, AIS, phone, other watch standers, then I am not looking out the window.
Finally, the CNO suggesting that there is a technical solution and we are looking to industry to provide a solution, I say Bullsh#t. Put a premium on being good mariners, train and maintain proficiency.

We will punish some commanders and JOs here, where is the DESRON? Who maintains the standards? Where is the senior leadership in the SWO community who have known for years that increasing the burden of ancillary training and inspections drives everyone away from the critical mission of safely going from place to place. A few years back CNSF, VADM Rowden placed an emphasis on tactics. Well, I suggest we place an emphasis on our core competancy.
Had a conversation with a former SWO JO this morning on the topic of the collisions. First, what the hell are we doing having a safety standdown after the SECOND collision? What CO didn’t stop his crew and go over the lessons learned from Fitzgerald?

We still haven’t gotten the issue of rest and sleep right in our community. Mandatory meetings after dinner at sea means people with key watches won’t get their sleep. The DESRON pushing tasking to the ships to do their job for them adds an invisible burden to the JOs. When we do go to sea, we have a huge requirement to do engineering drills, combat systems training etc, etc, which will take precedence over the need for rested and alert watch standers.
If the CO is focused on the next inspection or assessment, he is not focused on his real mission. Safely go from place to place and be prepared to deliver ordnance when required.


Action News Jax interview with Rick Hoffman

About Rick Hoffman
Captain Rick Hoffman served 28 years in the US Navy, during that time he commanded both the USS Hue City and the USS De Wert.