Projection of Power(skirts)

A few commenters on here have raised the question as to whether the US Navy’s infatuation with diversity and political correctness might be behind their recent spate of warship collisions. Via Twitter Kevin Michael Grace I came across this very long article detailing the circumstances around the 2017 collision between the destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a large cargo ship. Not that I wish to extrapolate too much from this, but it makes for grim reading:

Sarah Coppock, lieutenant junior grade, was the officer of the deck, responsible for the safety and navigation of the ship while Benson slept.

Coppock did not trust some of her team that night.

Still, Coppock, naturally self-assured, took the bridge undeterred.

Her conning officer was Eric Uhden. Like Woodley, he was an experienced sailor who served years at sea as an enlisted man before becoming an officer.

Uhden alerted Coppock to the potential danger. At first, she dismissed his concern. But a moment later, Uhden said that Coppock seemed to realize her miscalculation.

Uhden memorialized the incident in an understated note scribbled in his private journal: “Fishing vessel got close on watch.” But nobody else knew about it. Coppock never told the captain, as she was supposed to do.

Coppock may not have ensured that the radar on the bridge was properly adjusted to obtain a finer-grained picture. A post-crash reconstruction showed that Coppock lost sight of one of the ships due to clutter on the “improperly adjusted” SPS-73 screen.

But the 5-foot-4-inch Coppock was used to giving what she got in the Ashland’s wardroom, where the ship’s officers gathered to eat and talk. “You could sit there and scream at each other for hours and it was just to get stuff done. We really didn’t care. It wasn’t personal,” she said. “We’d go out and drink afterwards.”

It was a different story on the Fitzgerald.

Coppock stopped dining with her fellow officers in the Fitzgerald’s wardroom. By long Navy tradition, attendance at such meals was considered necessary to forge the esprit de corps needed to run a ship. Not eating with them was akin to snubbing family.

Fellow Fitzgerald sailors noted her absence. To some, Coppock appeared disconnected. Other shipmates went so far as to call her “lazy” or “abrasive and unapproachable.”

Coppock said she stayed away from the officers’ mess because of criticism from fellow junior officers. She blamed their hostility on her singular focus on getting the job done. Mission came first, she said.

Coppock had displayed her skills in the weeks after Benson took command. She and her enlisted assistant, Alexander Vaughan, had stayed up almost 48 hours in the successful pursuit of a Chinese submarine off the coast of Japan. The achievement sealed Coppock’s reputation as a hell of a sailor.

It also boosted her self-assurance. She considered herself one of the better officers on the ship.

Parker alerted Coppock. Coppock told Parker not to worry — she was tracking the ship. She said it would pass 1,500 yards behind the Fitzgerald.

“We gotta slow down,” Parker told Coppock.

No, Coppock told her again. “We can’t slow down because it’ll make the situation worse.” Coppock worried that slowing down might bring her into the path of the ship that was supposed to pass behind them.

Coppock disobeyed Benson’s standing orders. Rather than call Benson for help, she decided to continue on her own. Coppock didn’t call down to the combat room to ask for help, either.

Coppock decided that she was not going to clear the Crystal by going toward the right. Such a turn would put her on a possible collision with the Wan Hai 266.

“Oh shit, I’m so fucked! I’m so fucked!” she screamed.

Instead, Coppock ordered a move that disregarded the very basics of her training.

Coppock did not sound the collision alarm to warn sailors of the impending risk.

“I just got so wrapped up in trying to do anything that I had to just drop the ball on everything else that I needed to do,” she said.

Babbitt was trying to save his sailors. The five crew members trapped in sonar were rescued early on. Womack appeared in a daze. Coppock was inconsolable, sobbing and berating herself.

The Navy’s investigators concluded that sailors bore the primary blame for the collision. Benson, Coppock and the bridge and combat information center watch teams had failed to use basic seamanship skills to escape an “avoidable” accident. They had been “excessively fatigued” and had not taken steps to rest. Coppock had ignored basic rules of the road and the captain’s orders.

To be honest, I don’t think this episode makes the case that women are useless sailors. Under a different regime, women could probably perform very well on a warship. The trouble is, the same politicised, ultra-progressive, bureaucratic, management system which places high value on diversity is also responsible for standards plummeting across the board. The captain was a man named Bryce Benson, and he didn’t seem up to the job either. It’s not difficult to imagine that the behaviours and characteristics which get you recognised and promoted in the modern US Navy (and most modern organisations) are not those which are valuable in a crisis. This snippet is illuminating:

Coppock had displayed her skills in the weeks after Benson took command. She and her enlisted assistant, Alexander Vaughan, had stayed up almost 48 hours in the successful pursuit of a Chinese submarine off the coast of Japan. The achievement sealed Coppock’s reputation as a hell of a sailor.

I expect there were many such instances of Coppock’s reputation soaring as her career progressed, only when it really mattered it was abundantly clear it was undeserved. This is depressingly common: I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen slavish dedication to senior management form the basis of someone’s stellar reputation, even as everything falls apart around them. The outlook’s not too gloomy for her, though:

Coppock was charged with dereliction of duty and pleaded guilty. She remains in the Navy and is expected to be a witness against Benson and Combs in their trials. Navy investigators have praised her candor and cooperation. She has a tattoo on her left wrist with seven shamrocks. It features the coordinates of the crash.

I’m slightly surprised she didn’t get a medal.

(I’d be interested in Jason Lynch’s comments on this story.)

Liked it? Take a second to support Tim Newman on Patreon!
Share

20 thoughts on “Projection of Power(skirts)

  1. I don’t know about the USN but I did hear that the USCG suffer from overstuffed and constipated bureaucratic command structure – to the extent that it impacts on routine operational decision taking. It’s a few years back
    but AIUI one case in Alaska required the dragging out of retirement of a captain and helicoptering him out to the icebreaker vessel where they couldn’t decide what to do…..

  2. Lots of interesting points here and I can see this is going to be a runner… declaring up front I’ll accept the writeup as “not grossly wrong” unless otherwise stated.

    From an immediately legalistic point of view, the Fitzgerald was the “give way” vessel. From the Rules of the Road:-

    “Rule 15, Crossing Situation
    When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.”

    So it was her job to avoid the Crystal, not vice versa. No getting away from the fact that it was the Fitzgerald’s job to “not hit anyone”.

    Skimming quickly through, on top of the litany of hardware failings and inexperienced crew, one point jumped out – they weren’t broadcasting on AIS, citing “security”. This means they’re not visible to others on what’s become a primary sensor for mariners. I’m not aware of USN rules and regs, but – remembering I’m not an OOW and never will be – one mitigation for “our surface radars are playing up, it’s night and the waters are crowded” is to go live on AIS. Doesn’t have to be “USS FITZGERALD”, just needs to be “US WARSHIP” or even a non-specific “MERCHANT”. (Merchantmen off Somalia used to use “NATO WARSHIP” on AIS to try to deter pirates from investigating them). AIS doesn’t seem to have been monitored much, either – okay, their nav system is old and poor, but that’s a reason to spend more time checking across sensors since it’s not integrating the picture for you.

    (An aside is that this is describing a ship with a very poor Recognised Maritime Picture, which seems to have just been accepted as par for the course)

    A key point made about the OOD (US version of OOW) – “She’d started her day almost 22 hours before and had managed to rest for one hour before taking over on the bridge.” So she’s taking control of the ship and she’s starting her shift sleep-deprived. One of the issues that even the short reservist course at Dartmouth hammers into you is how your performance and judgement drop off with lack of sleep: you’re thrashed around the course and you see the way the scores for your tasks go from “not too bad” through “marginal” to “abysmal” as sleep deprivation piles up.

    But, there’s clearly a massive cultural issue where “pushing yourself” is celebrated. “She and her enlisted assistant, Alexander Vaughan, had stayed up almost 48 hours in the successful pursuit of a Chinese submarine off the coast of Japan. The achievement sealed Coppock’s reputation as a hell of a sailor.”

    Reading through, it’s a depressing litany of partial failures being patched up, worked around or ignored, because “we’re still achieving the mission”. The textbook example is the Space Shuttle Challenger, where “never launch in really cold weather” gradually morphed through “we did once for a vital Keyhole mission and got away with it” to “actually, it’s not that bad, we’ve done it a few times and it’s been fine”.

    As one of the crew claimed to have said, “Sir, we have a serious problem on the ship,and the only way for things to get better here is for us to have a serious accident or someone to die.”

    Gender’s relatively irrelevant here (I’m unfussed about it, partly because a friend of mine did a good job driving HMS Duncan). The wider problem is acceptance of poor standards: broken kit, lack of maintenance, inadequate training, not enough qualified bodies (and some of the ones they had inexperienced or marginal, from their described performance). That’s a very dangerous mix when combined with “crack-on-itis” of “just achieve the mission” – it has its place in wartime, but if you run your Navy like that all the time, how do you go extra distance in combat if you’ve already stretched the elastic to its limit in peace?

    There’s also a macho culture evident of improvisation and brute courage, which is fine except that there are (or should be) better ways to jack open a jammed hatch than battering it with sledgehammers or exercise equipment, and sailors shouldn’t need to be restrained from breaching a flooding boundary to go retrieve dead comrades. (No mention at all in there of alerting HQ1 or the US equivalent DCC that “we’re opening a hatch to a flooded area”…)

    Lt(jg) Breau seems to have done a lot better on damage control, though – it seems she was on top the risk of lolling from the start (major problem, nearly lost us Glamorgan in 1982) and was avoiding the “counterflood to fix the list” trap (with free surface, the water can move; sometimes you have to fully flood the damaged compartment, to stabilise the ship)

    There’s been a fair bit of discussion in USN professional forums about the overload of “mandatory courses” and the sheer workload imposed, especially on junior officers (the knee-jerk reaction was of course to immediately order more compulsory training…) and the shortage of SQEP at junior and middle levels: people burn out or get fed up, leave, and open gaps which accelerates manpower churn.

    The Royal Navy was heading for a similar situation a few years ago: the rumour (reasonably well-confirmed) was that the then 1SL, George Zambellas, invoked his right of access to meet with the Prime Minister, and presented him with an ultimatum to reduce RN tasking, to stem the lethally high Voluntary Outflow numbers and stabilise manning. Allegedlly, voices were raised, teddies were thrown out of prams, but there were two results: the Navy reduced its tasking, and Zambellas was shuffled out with almost indecent haste.

    Until the USN finds a CNO or similar who’s willing to lay down his career for the good of the Service, they’re unlikely to change this culture. They’ve conducted some ritual sacrifices, but until an admiral stands their ground and says “you cannot redeploy that ship until her systems are fixed and her crew trained” the can-do approach will continue and seniors will hope they get away with it until they hand over.

    Could it happen to us? Yes, there’s a real “there but for the grace of God…” feeling, though – admittedly biased – we have more safeguards in place. I know of one ship (some years ago) whose entire command and Ops Room team were sacked and replaced during Operational Sea Training, blowing a huge hole in the Fleet Operating Schedule while they retrained and recovered – but the RN seems more able and willing to say “this ship is not yet fit for the role she’s going to”.

    Doubtless there’ll be supplementals… 🙂

  3. On the broader subject of women in the armed forces, Lt Col Tom Kratman is the only person I’ve read who’s given serious thought to how to actually make it work.

    He a pretty damn good writer of military fiction too.

  4. That article is an astonishingly thorough write-up of the incident. What strikes me immediately, as a fairly experienced sailor, is the lack of a proper visual watch being maintained onboard the Fitzgerald.

    Rule 5 of the International Collision Regulations:
    Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.

    The Fitzgerald appears to have failed in this most basic duty, which certainly greatly contributed to the collision, particularly given the known unreliability of the ships other detection systems – radar and AIS. It’s difficult to believe that with a crew of almost 300 a single sailor could not be found to hold a watch on the other side of the ship for dangerous shipping.

    I have no particular feeling for the comparative competence of women as sailors or Navy officers – I’ve voyaged with many fine women sailors, as well as those not-so-capable, but I can’t help feeling that the rush to enforce diversity has taken priority away from ensuring that the diversees, whoever they are, are competently trained and assessed.

    There also appears to be a deliberate refusal to consider any possible consequences of mixed-sex crews on capabilities or performance. The default position being an assumption that there can be no adverse consequences and no changes to existing structures or processes will be required to accommodate them.

  5. Just add my two-pennneth as a leisure sailor to Jason and Karl’s excellent comments.

    Col Regs are quite explicit that the stand on boat also has a duty to avoid a collision (which it appears to have been doing, see below). I don’t know if the various navies teach this but when I was doing my theory courses this was banged on about regularly:

    Here lies the body of Michael O’Day.
    He died defending his right of way.
    He was right, dead right, as he sailed along,
    But just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

    And this was so wrong:

    The Fitzgerald steamed south at 20 knots. The larger Crystal headed east by northeast at 18 knots. At the last minute, the destroyer tried to dodge. It revved its engines to full power and turned sharply left.

    The basic rule is that power vessels pass port-to-port, looking at the positioning at 1:29am and the graphics the Fitzgerald should have turned right, to starboard, anticipating that the Crystal would turn also turn to starboard to avoid a collision, which it was doing.

    Again that’s basic stuff taught to us leisure sailors, if you’re stand on boat and need to take avoiding action assume the other boat will do the right thing when they realise they need to take avoiding action.

    The other point is that there is a very simple way to check if you are on collision course and either don’t trust or have failed equipment and it doesn’t take long:

    At sea, take a bearing of the vessel in question every 2 minutes, if the bearing stays the same you are on a collision course, or

    If you can see land in the background and the position of the vessel in question stays the same against the background you are on collision course.

    Maybe not at easy at night but doable nonetheless because those boats are lit up like Christmas trees.

    Basic seamanship skills.

  6. Ref Lt Col Kratzman’s essay:

    “Okay. Well, in any case, you are the first and, so far, the only woman officer I have found to be worthy of commission, in any branch. I don’t think most men holding a commission are worthy, either. For whatever that may be worth to you.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    On the whole, though, and more because of the baleful influence of radical egalitarian feminism and its demands for appearances over reality and form over substance, he thought introducing large numbers of women soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines had been a mistake. Miller was an illustration of what perhaps could be, not what was.

    I’ve just read and reviewed Battleworn, memoir of a combat medic in Afghanistan by Chantelle Taylor. For those who aren’t aware she was the first female soldier to kill a Taliban fighter in close combat.

    Her response to this question is to go out and find the Millers.

    The Col’s lament is more about the lowering of standards to allow more women (and men) rather than women can’t do the job. I have sympathy but I suspect its not just a gender equality thing driven by feminists but also a required to fix a recruitment problem.

    Things have moved on since he wrote that and I think more people will be aware that recruitment standards shouldn’t be reduced for political convenience. Having said that, these idiots don’t understand what war really means: https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/01/the-real-worlds-war-on-sexism-could-learn-a-thing-or-two-from-sas-who-dares-wins-8418833/

    The British Army has a current recruitment problem, more women is likely to be the fix: https://www.forces.net/news/military-retention-be-investigated-after-thousands-leave-service-each-year#.XFurXXG2djU.twitter

  7. So me and my current and future offspring are forking over the largest fortunes in world history to fund the world’s most lavish military and our unbelievably expensive warships – arguably the only portion of the military actually defending taxpayer interests – have shit gear.

    FFS at least give all those diversity hires decent equipment to mishandle.

    What is it that Glenn Reynolds says? Something about paying a lot for our government and getting a lot less?

  8. @Bloke in North Dorset:

    As you say – a lack of basic seamanship skills. I suppose there is much more going on aboard a naval destroyer than mere seamanship, but you skimp on the basics at your peril.

    My own (small) yacht has no fitted AIS or radar systems, so my lookout is essentially visual, but when skippering better equipped boats I’ve always encouraged a constant dialogue between the screen man and the lookout to identify and match both their observations and maintain a running catalogue of all potential dangers:
    Lookout – I have a radar target, 3 miles, bearing 060, can you visually identify?” etc.
    I also carry a small notebook for jotting down the bearings of suspect vessels so I can monitor how they’re changing. As you point out – a constant bearing may indicate a collision course.

    However, that static-background transit trick only works for objects that are fixed (to the earth), and won’t tell you if you are about to collide with another moving ship.

  9. @Bloke in North Dorset:

    Oooh, I’ve had another think about the static background situation and I believe I can say something even stronger: If you’re on a boat moving on a fixed course NOT directly towards some point on the background, then if another vessel stays fixed against that point, you are NOT on a collision course!

    Here’s my thinking:
    Suppose your point on the background is a lighthouse – draw a line between you and the lighthouse on which is another vessel, and they are always in transit (on that sweeping line). Take a snapshot of the line at any time. Both you and the vessel are moving with the same angular speed around the lighthouse (keeping the transit), so if there is some component of your velocity perpendicular to this line, the inner vessel also has a corresponding but smaller component in this same direction (because your sweeping line radius is larger than his). So both vessels have a different speed in this direction. If they both hold their current speed and course, they must therefore pass each other (since at any time later they will be at different distances from this snap line and cannot collide).

    This assumes, as does the static bearing situation, that both vessels hold their speed and course. And that your vessel is actually moving perpendicularly to the lighthouse direction, and not just towards or away from it.

    I have more detailed files. Am I overthinking this?

  10. Ref Lt Col Kratzman’s essay:

    “Okay. Well, in any case, you are the first and, so far, the only woman officer I have found to be worthy of commission, in any branch. I don’t think most men holding a commission are worthy, either. For whatever that may be worth to you.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    On the whole, though, and more because of the baleful influence of radical egalitarian feminism and its demands for appearances over reality and form over substance, he thought introducing large numbers of women soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines had been a mistake. Miller was an illustration of what perhaps could be, not what was.

    I’ve just read and reviewed Battleworn, memoir of a combat medic in Afghanistan by Chantelle Taylor. For those who aren’t aware she was the first female soldier to kill a Taliban fighter in close combat.

    Her response to this question is to go out and find the Millers.

    The Col’s lament is more about the lowering of standards to allow more women (and men) rather than women can’t do the job. I have sympathy but I suspect its not just a gender equality thing driven by feminists but also a required to fix a recruitment problem.

    Things have moved on since he wrote that and I think more people will be aware that recruitment standards shouldn’t be reduced for political convenience. Having said that, this idiot doesn’t understand what war really means.

    The British Army has a current recruitment problem, more women is likely to be the fix:

  11. Karl,

    We (well, I’ve done it in the simulators at Collingwood, enough to be sure that ‘this is really hard, now you know that just because you’re wearing a blue suit at weekends doesn’t qualify you to drive…’) don’t take bearings against the landscape (if any), because there may be none, it may lack clear features, parallax might confuse, and so on.

    We use the pelorus to get a (magnetic) compass bearing – but if that isn’t changing, you need to think urgently about whether that vessel is approaching or receding and start looking at “Rules of the Road for Dummies”.

    And the simulator does throw up moments like a RNR subbie looking for a buoy for a night harbour entry… there it is, single steady red… no, wait, it was there but now there’s a green one… now it’s amber… now it’s red again… now it’s red above amber… I’m using a Southsea traffic light as a headmark, aren’t I? (Not me that time, thankfully…)

    What’s weird is that compared to RN ships, the US absolutely rams its bridges with warm bodies; as here, they’ll have a dozen or more where we’ll have just three or four on a quiet night, more if it’s getting busy.

    But, they don’t seem to multi-task or flex their sailors: everyone seems to have a specific role and they can’t deviate or multi-task, nor call up gash hands to cover perceived gaps: yet they’ve got an officer hanging around whose job is apparently just to relay “what the OOW says” to the QM on the helm? Who can’t double up as a lookout, if they’re not needed to merely repeat orders?

    I’ve picked up a buzz – can’t confirm it – that it’s a cultural issue. For us, if you’re going to act as OOW, you’ll get thrashed on it, in the simulators in Endeavour Building and then at sea, and you won’t progress until you demonstrate a sustained satisfactory standard.

    It seems for the USN that seamanship is merely one of a number of qualifications to clock up in parallel, and pressure piles up to “get that box ticked so you can concentrate on…” which, if true, may have some bearing on incidents like this.

  12. But, they don’t seem to multi-task or flex their sailors: everyone seems to have a specific role and they can’t deviate or multi-task, nor call up gash hands to cover perceived gaps: yet they’ve got an officer hanging around whose job is apparently just to relay “what the OOW says” to the QM on the helm? Who can’t double up as a lookout, if they’re not needed to merely repeat orders?

    That training for a specific role and nothing else was my experience dealing with their Army in the ’80s in Germany. We had a specific piece of their equipment so that we could communicate with their forces under certain situations.

    I was responsible for the system but only at the “black box” level. When it failed I had to drive down to Karlsruhe from Celle to get them to fix it. When I got there they would bring on a series of technicians, one for the transmitter, one for the receiver, one for the crypto unit, one amazingly one for the cabling inside the box it was all mounted in. Absolutely no flexibility at all.

    In a similar situation I would have been responsible for the whole thing.

    This may have been a factor in the accident, that report says they only had 270 of the 300+ complement. If the’re flexible that may well be doable but worrying given the need to operate in war having lost a number of the crew either injured or dead.

  13. Following up, a wider and long-standing USN problem is that they do “up or out”. Unlike the RN, where those not selected for promotion can serve on at their career ceiling, US officers (not just Navy) who don’t promote within their “window” get hoofed out.

    So, there’s intense pressure to make sure you get that glowing report, tick every box, achieve every goal, and are the top thirty per cent who get selected for the next rank up. This manifests as a viciously zero-defects mentality (never, ever, make a mistake where your boss can see, and above all never do anything that makes the boss – under the same or worse pressures – look bad) leading to both backstabbing savagery, and ruthless micromanagement.

    I saw this for myself in Iraq, where it took a team of three officers (a lieutenant-colonel, a major and a captain) to do full-time what one British major/lieutenant-commander helped by a competent NCO could have done in a day or two of each week.

    Working with the UK’s 14 Brigade, their chief of staff pointed me at the major responsible for an issue, who introduced me to the corporal or sergeant actually doing the work, and the NCO and I got on with fixing their problem, calling the boss in as required and keeping COS informed; with the US liaison team, we were only allowed to speak to the captain (a genuinely nice and bright guy, deeply frustrated by his situation) who had to brief the major, who summarised the points for the LTC, who made every decision… which was briefed back down and we got the filtered words of decision eventually.

    Lots and lots of Powerpoint slides delivered to a strictly controlled format and template (aboard one US carrier I heard that the two-star admiral embarked, had been handing out ‘Article 15’ non-judicial punishments for using the wrong font – we’re not talking Comic Sans or other horrors, just not changing from the default Calibri Light to whatever Admiral Gormley deemed ‘the required standard’ – think it was Tahoma?) but very little actual liaison or exchange of information on any formal basis. (So we routinely invited the captain to our Saturday pizza & movie night, where we got more done on an informal basis…)

    One manifestation of this is fitness reports. Basically, a US officer’s performance report reading “This is an OUTSTANDING leader and warfighter who INSPIRES all around them to GREATNESS and MUST be PROMOTED AT ONCE. I recommend that Lt(jg) Stumblebum be IMMEDIATELY advanced to either Chief of Naval Operations, President of the US, or Pope!” is a “mediocre” – they’re only being written up for one top job? Obviously not a serious performer… but that’s the sort of ‘grade inflation’ they’ve had at least since WW2 (Herman Wouk covered it in ‘The Caine Mutiny’ and it’s got worse since)

    If I were US Navy Reserve instead of RNR, I’d probably have been hoofed a year or three ago (albeit you’ve only got my word for it that keeping me around is a net gain for Britain). The US Navy hasn’t had beloved (yet admired, respected and effective) eccentrics like the only-recently-retired Commodore Jamie Miller for… a very very long time.

    More to the point, you do not get ahead in the USN by asking why the Emperor is naked this cold winter morning.

  14. BiND,

    The other issue – tied in with lack of flexibility – is that they need so many more bodies than we do, at least at sea. An Arleigh Burke needs 300 crew, a Type 45 – similar size, same mission – manages with a nominal 185. Why? Because we expect Jack and Jill to adapt and flex and be able to cover more than a single job each, and – in general – they don’t disappoint us. We still get better people, than you might suggest we deserve, volunteering for Her Majesty’s Forces.

    And yes, it’s a massive issue – even the useless RNR sublieutenant, along for his two weeks’ sea time, still has a duty role at Action Stations (admittedly it’s “wait here, then go where you’re told, carry what you’re given, take it where the Able Seaman tells you, and do it at the rush”) but you’re expected to adapt to the circumstances.

    But then to tie back to current events, Ellie Stack looked after me back when I was a clueless ‘acting sublieutenant’, when she was AWO on Dauntless – then I worked for her in my civvie role when she was SO1 AAW in NCHQ, then she got Duncan to drive with a TV crew aboard. She’s good at what she does – and part of that was wanting to know “are we good enough? if not, how do we fix it?” and being willing to say “we need more time to sort this out”.

  15. To be honest, I don’t think this episode makes the case that women are useless sailors.

    The problem with real socialism is that it’s never been tried.

  16. Just to complete the picture, I got that feeling of insane overspecialisation work with USAF as well.

    The RAF identified the can do attitude taken to ridiculous extremes mentioned upthread as one of the contributing factors to the loss of the Nimrod over Afghanistan. As a response it launched an internal campaign “Can Do, Safely” to try to remind people of the balance needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *