23 thoughts on “The Navy Mess”

  1. I remember when the Enterprise video-tape scandal occurred that cost the new Big E skipper his job. It was clear the responsibility for that episode didn’t just lie with the skipper who, when the tapes were made was the Big E’s XO. But with his chain of command. Interestingly when I posted this opine in the WSJ comments to the article I saw that a retired CMC agreed with me. To the Navy’s credit a year or so later both the former CO, now a three-star admiral and even his superior, both either directly or indirectly involved were gone.

    Given that, I’ve always wondered if maybe we rely to much on the college boy brass careerists and not enough on the Master Chiefs who know WTF is really going on and aren’t afraid of not knowing how to earn a living in civvies.

    1. But Professor, I’m confused as to why the video-tape was a scandal.

      You know, the bit about the rest of us sleep peacefully in our beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence to public decorum on our behalf.

      In the Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe hinted about differences among the Original 7 astronauts with respect to their branch of military service, with the Army having a tradition of foul language whereas the Navy had is “officer and a gentleman” standards. We have all heard the saying, “Curse like a sailor”, but “sailor” refers to the enlisted ranks whereas officers in the Navy are supposed to be of a higher social stratum. This Army/Navy difference in culture is more directly addressed in the fictional “Forever War” by Joe Haldeman, which was a thinly disguised allegory for Viet Nam.

      Was the Video-tape Scandal a scandal because of wokeness? Do you think it was a scandal for non-woke, traditional reasons such as foul language is OK from a CPO dressing down his charges for doing something against their orders or training but is not OK for officers, especially has high ranking an officer as the XO of a nuclear carrier?

      The foul-mouthed CPO is a meme, but are you saying that in this day and age and with a gender-integrated Navy that a CPO should not talk this way either, that this is unprofessional where we need a high degree of professionalism in our highly technical modern military?

      That it went against a command principle that an officer is not a friend or a “buddy” of members of the enlisted ranks and should maintain this separation for to uphold respect for the officer ranks?

      1. Yes I believe ‘wokeness’ had a large part in the scandal. It also had a lot to do with the image the Navy was trying to project at the time as a gender integrated service.

        IIRC the video tape, which surfaced a year or more after it was made also hit during the #MeToo era. According to what my memory recalls, a shore-side newspaper reporter, working for a city paper where a major naval base is (Norfolk?) and disgruntled with the Navy for reasons that escape me at the moment, got his hands on a video tape that featured a female Navy enlisted wearing only a towel outside the ship’s showers. The tape was made by the then XO as a comedy skit as a morale booster for those aboard. Supposedly it served that purpose. But in civilian hands, outside the Navy, you can imagine it took on the dimensions of Tailhook II. His CO, IIRC although calling in his XO for crossing the line at the time, (short of a formal reprimand) failed to order the destruction of the video, thus also failing to protect his XO’s six. The video came to light just after the XO was promoted to command the Big E. As a result as a newly promoted Navy Captain he got to watch CVN-65 set sail from Norfolk, with what would have otherwise been his first command, without him.

        That Enterprise was decommissioned on Feb. 3, 2017 and has a new namesake, the Gerald R. Ford class USS Enterprise CVN-80.

        That it went against a command principle that an officer is not a friend or a “buddy” of members of the enlisted ranks and should maintain this separation for to uphold respect for the officer ranks?

        There was definitely some of that as well…
        However, in the 35,000+ comments on a FB page set up to support the cashiered Captain, you’d be hard pressed to find any of those who served aboard the Big E during the XO’s tour that wouldn’t have been proud to have him as their skipper.

        1. That video was one of an ongoing series of videos intended as morale boosters and was a staple on the Big E for awhile. It was called “XO’s Friday Night” (as opposed to SNL) or something to that effect.

        2. Sorry I think that was 35,000+ “likes” on that page. But the comments IIRC must have been over a thousand, nearly all favorable to the Captain, esp. among those who had served under him as XO.

        3. Now, they just select a crew member and give them a chocolate chip cookie to eat while sitting in the captain’s chair.

  2. To me it seems much worse. People talked during the war and afterward about relatively minor problems like early P-51s not having bubble canopies and M3 tanks having the main gun in the hull because suitable turrets had not been developed.

    The military industrial complex of today might have produced P-51Ds and M4s by the mid-1950s.

    1. Well, the Mark 14 torpedo scandal would not seem to qualify as “minor!” We lost a number of good sub crews because of that; and it took way too long to fix, thanks to some excessively stubborn senior Navy officers.

  3. I cannot recall when the Navy (especially, but not uniquely) hasn’t been screwed up. The A-12? The DDG-1000? The LCS?

    The Air Force is unfortunately tied to Boeing and their incompetence for big-wing aircraft: The KC-46 fiasco (still not fully MiCap), the T7 trainer, the production issues on smaller production run aircraft (E8, etc)…

    The Army, of course has the Excalibur mess

    1. I’m out of touch….was unaware of the T-7. I retired from USAF in ’13…..back in ’98, I was the fuels officer at McConnell AFB in Wichita KS, and we drove refuelers to the Raytheon plant in Wichita for fuel system testing for the new T-6 Texan II, replacement for the T-37 Tweet. But I had no idea the USAF was replacing the T-38 until right now. And my first duty station was Reese AFB, TX (now closed), and it was a pilot training base with Tweets and T-38s

      1. How about that. I was the BFO at Vandenberg in 81..rated sup, recovering from a mid air.

        Got out, went to medical school, spent another 18 years in guard/reserves

        The T7 is to laugh…..Boeing cannot even build an EXISTING DESIGN (from SAAB).

  4. This carping about broken procurement and gold-plated weapon systems reminds me of Tom Clancy’s take on the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

    Clancy explained that this hopelessly behind schedule and failing to function weapon relied on enormous numbers of lines of software that had to be bug free, and that once “the software got healthy”, the AMRAAM amazed our pilots with its effectiveness in combat, where Clancy quotes them as saying that air-to-air combat with this weapon is as one-sided as “clubbing baby seals.”

    My take is that all the hoopla about “giving Ukraine the F-16” is not about this plane being of superior maneuverability to the best Russian planes, or at least maneuverability in air-show demonstrations, but about the AMRAAM carried by the F-16, which moots maneuverability of the aircraft armed with it.

    Other examples include the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, once describe by critics as a death trap and credited in Ukrainian deployment as saving its crews, or at least offering much better protection than comparable Russian armored vehicles. Also on this list could be the F-35 as a replacement for the A-10 “Warthog”, subject to much ridicule on the Web but also the source of strong counter arguments. Even the F-16 itself could be on this list, because its current implementation is counter to the “lightweight, agile fighter” and “not a pound for air-to-ground” doctrines that were part of its origin story.

  5. Immediately after Perez delivered the report, he received a call from Bynum, a former rear admiral who at the time worked for Ferguson. Bynum told Perez to classify the report secret.

    “That was absolutely my recommendation,” Bynum said in an interview with ProPublica. The report, he said, included a “host of vulnerabilities that didn’t need to be shared in the open press.”

    Classification. The first refuge of a scandal.

  6. Speaking of Navy messes and/or Army messes, we now have orders to build a pier in Gaza. Cdr. Salamander points out that regardless of what Dementia Joe says, to build such will require boots on the ground in Gaza, at least along the shore. Maybe the IDF will provide security during its construction so our guys can be safe until the IDF can safely blow it up after we leave.

    I’m reminded of the Steel Pier from the stick-on game board replacements in the Monopoly Cheating Kit. It essentially gave you a deed to the Luxury Tax space between Boardwalk and Park Place.

    1. IDF are constructing the shore side infrastructure and are supposed o provide a security bubble to protect whoever we send over to build the pier and distribute food.

      The whole thing is dumb as the issue with supplying food is that Hamas and company take it all. Anything done to prevent that could be done at any of the existing crossings.

      But Biden needs the anti-American commie and jihadi vote to get reelected.

  7. Might not be a bad idea to start over. Stop using existing contractors. Create competitions to find new ones. After we have some, let the corrupt old bastards back in the game if they can compete.

  8. I’ve never been a fan of John McCain, but credit to him for listening to the Navy officers and crew who came to him to warn of the LCS’s problems, and actually acted on it.

    Sadly, we are still struggling to put this white elephant out of its misery.

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