THINKING ABOUT THE USS JOHN S. McCAIN.

I remember, back in 1979, watching as our ship took out the last 32’ of the pier at the Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba.

Short, easy story: When we arrived, we were told that there would be a three hour wait for a tug boat. The young, wealthy (His car, house and family told that story) Lt. Cmdr., on his first Command Assignment, responded, “Dammit, I’ll park it myself!” You cannot “park” a single screw, DEG (Rebaptized “FFG”) yourself… Lessons learned.

Attitude will kill you.

I was not there, on the USS McCain, but I can imagine the scene on the Bridge… I will talk about that in a minute…

I heard a story, a long time ago, about a Navy Captain, who saw a light in the distance. He promptly picked up the Radio and demanded that the other ship change course. “No Sir!” came the reply. “I am the Captain of a U. S. Navy Battleship and I am telling you to change course!!!” The reply came, “I am Seaman Jones, and this is the Lighthouse at Deadman’s Point!”

The Captain changed course and avoided disaster at the last minute…

The Captain of the USS John S. McCain, was not so fortunate.

No one on the McCain knew that this was an act of terror and that the tanker was targeting them on purpose… but it was.

Again, I was not there. The Sailors who were on that Bridge and in the Combat Information Center, below, are forbidden to talk… even with their spouses and families. The Navy will protect its own. In the lack of their Testimony, let me give an educated guess…

The Destroyer was running blacked out, no outside lights. They saw the tanker but it appeared, on radar, that it would pass clear of them. The Captain of the Tanker, with malicious intention, changed course. The man on the Radar called the Bridge and announced the change… “CBDR” he called… (Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range…) The Boatswain’s mate on the Bridge, called out his agreement. That means, “If we don’t take some kind of evasive action, they are going to hit us…”

They could have turned on the lights… perhaps they did, I don’t know. They could have changed speed or heading and evaded the collision. A Navy Destroyer is many times faster and more maneuverable than a tanker… That I know. If I was told that the Destroyer could not have evaded that collision, I would have to conclude that I was being told a lie.

The only conclusion that I can reach… and the one I will believe until or unless I am proven wrong, is that the same attitude that took out the pier at Guantanamo and the same attitude demonstrated by the Captain in that old war story, came into play here. “I have the right of way and I’ll be damned if I am going to change course.” Oh, yes, I am certain that there was desperate maneuvering in the final moments, but it was too late.

The fact that the Captain was relieved tells me that I am right. The Fact that the Admiral was relieved (and that this has happened four times in a year) tell me that the Captain was acting under ignorant and Machismo based orders…

David…

Author: davidrice1951

I am a vile sinner. I have been a soldier and a sailor. I have been a student and a teacher. I taught English in Mexico. I started and taught in a Bible College in Venezuela. I am married to Cathy, a beautiful lady from Guyana. We have two children, Christopher and Amanda. I am saved by Grace, washed in the Blood and filled with the Spirit. I love Jesus, my wife, my kids and you...

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