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The jury verdict came Wednesday after a two-week federal trial. A Carnival spokesman said jurors awarded $16 million in damages for eight counts of fraud and $8 million for breach of repair warranties.

Carnival contended that the Mermaid propulsion system installed by Rolls on the Queen Mary 2 was defective, suffered breakdowns and had to be serviced more often than advertised.

You can read the rest at ABC (not that there’s much more).

There’s something about this that seems relevant…but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Navy | No Comments

While Navy get lots, and lots, and lots of press when Commanding Officers get fired accountability doesn’t always extend as high as some believe it should.

But, it appears that the Air Force, of all places, has taken recent high-level woodshed visits to heart.

“The bad marks are piling up for generals. Thirteen Air Force general officers — from four-star commanders to brigadiers in staff assignments — have been handed letters of admonishment since Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley took over in the summer of 2008. One lieutenant general received a letter of reprimand.

“This is unprecedented,” said Charles Dunlap, who retired in June as a major general and deputy judge advocate of the Air Force. “It certainly seems that the Air Force is applying a tougher standard than anyone else in the Department of Defense.”

With the investigation continuing into “who knew what and when” in regards to “XO Movie Night” it will be interesting to see if any action is taken towards senior officers – and to what degree juniors will be held accountable for participating in the foibles of their leaders.

Well, of course they can. I’m not even sure how that became the question. The real question, which I hope the Navy’s study and pilot program will show, is should they and, if they do so, what the long term impact is to the rest of the fleet.

There is an interesting study worth locating written by the Center for Naval Analyses – “Applying Civilian Manning Practice to USN Ships”.

Here are some salient points from the Executive Summary:

“No evidence that the smaller crews on MSC ships resulted in degraded performance. In fact, for all metrics examined (replenishment quantities and rates, readiness, injuries, collisions, fires, grounding, and oil spills), MSC civilian crew performance was equal to or better than that of USN military crews.”

“MSC Seagoing workforce is older and more experienced. Its members have more time at sea than USN military officers and enlisted personnel with comparable years of service.”

“…more focused education and practical training of civilian mariners.”

“If the Navy were to decrease its crew turnover by as little as 10 percent on all ships, we estimate that crew sizes could be reduced by about 1.4 percent without affecting readiness.”

“We observed that the Navy, unlike the private sector, assigns menial gallery and laundry tasks to technically trained enlisted personnel for as many as 3 to 4 months after their first arrival aboard ship…we estimate that the cost to the Navy of diverting skilled sailors to menial tasks on surface ships is in excess of $30 million annually.”

“…such programs as the Optimum Manning Experiment and Smart Ship have helped reduce the number of watchstanders and enlisted billets aboard USN ships, but more can be done to reduce crew sizes and improve the quality of USN ship operation and maintenance overall.”

Recommend changes:

  1. Stop assigning insufficiently trained officers t engineering departments aboard ship.
  2. Implement a two-track career path for SWOs (engineering and command/deck).
  3. Shift the USN SWO culture to expect hands on participation of officers in ship engineering departments.
  4. Increase emphasis on lateral entry and workforce pyramid reduction to achieve a more optimal workforce profile.
  5. End the practice of assigning technically trained enlisted personnel to menial tasks aboard ship for laundry and galley duty.
  6. Minimize frequent watchstanding rotations, to allow adequate periods of uninterrupted sleep for watchstanders.
  7. Increase at-sea tours of key personnel, such as Commanding Officer and Chief Engineer, and other careerists with 10 to 20 years’ service to gain maximum benefit from their service.
  8. Consider changing ship requirements documentation to require manning suitable to “fight or save the ship” rather than “fight and save the ship”.

“Before adopting these changes, the Navy should initiate one or two pilot programs, as described in detail in appendices F and G.”

 The overall report is an interesting read, but fraught with unsupported opinions, improperly used facts, and is obviously slanted in its approach and conclusions. None of which are what I want to write about today.

 Now, did I mention that the report was written in 2005?

Yep. FIVE years ago.

So, here is a report, five years old, that Navy paid for, has 170 pages of detailed (if flawed) study of steam, diesel, and gas turbine engineering plants operated by Military Sealift Command. Yet, we are only now looking at implementing a pilot program – and doing so for a class of ship that was not reviewed in the study. Why?

Because someone without practical and relevant experience thinks that a diesel engine is a diesel engine, and convinced CNO of the same idea…and either ignores, or is ignorant of, a study that laid out in detail (40pages!) a pilot program that used FFGs and DDGs to implement MSC crewing and manning practice.

YN2 Gauthier eloquently addresses the cultural impacts and other issues of this move, and any Naval Officer worth his salt will also recognize that simply painting a blue and gold strip on the stacks and crewing a ship with civilians – no matter if they are older or more narrowly trained – will solve the Navy’s maintenance and readiness problems. At best they will just move the peanut under another shell.

At its core, the pilot program that Navy leadership has proposed has little to do with readiness, and far more to do with a culture that ignores both operational realities and changed strategic landscape in favor of protecting and nurturing the idea that we will one day face fleet combat. While we may do so, we cannot, and should not, continue divesting ourselves of the capabilities that are used over and over again in peacetime.

As a final note, if there is any one thing that the Balisle Report showed it was the inability of the Surface Navy leadership to do holistic and strategic planning. Perhaps with a five year old study, and almost two years worth of internal review and debate on the operations of the Navy’s amphibs we can see a plan that makes sense and actually addresses the root causes of failure, rather than just another attempt at budgetary theater.

It’s not a great stretch to see books like “Lincoln on Leadership” being appropriate for Naval officers. Or “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” or “Leadership Lessons from Star Trek”…but, children? Seriously?

Take a look at this list of 13 things that author and designer Garr Reynolds has learned from his seven month old daughter.

Be completely present in the moment.

Allow for spontaneity.

Move your body!

Play and be playful.

Make mistakes.

Do not concern yourself with impressing people.

Show your enthusiasm.

Remain open to possibilities and “crazy” ideas.

Be insanely curious, ask loads of questions.

Know that you are a creative being.

Smile, laugh, enjoy.

Slow down.

Encourage others.

Garr’s point is that “missing for many of us in our professional and personal lives is freedom, naturalness, and spontaneity, the three things that young children have in abundance. Whether we use multimedia or not, what is missing too often from presentations in the modern era is that human-to-human connection that exists where naturalness is allowed to breathe.”

But, wait, that’s just about presentations…and <gasp> power point. I need to pay attention to what my boss wants – and what interests my boss fascinates me. And if he wants 10 font and lots of pictures – that’s what he gets!

Seriously, though, every interaction of every day is just another presentation. So, for those of you from Rio Linda, let me pull this a little more together for you.

Be completely present in the moment. A few years ago I had the good fortune of being drug along with the rest of the staff when my boss was promoted. The presiding officer was, and is, a Naval officer of high stature and rank. As he walked down the line of the staff and shook our hands rather than look at the person who’s hand he was reaching out for, he was looking at the next person down the line. He’d lost the moment and was already moving on. And, in the process he lost me. Just one more thing that told me any peronal approach to his leadership style was either forced, or faked. Be with the people you are talking to – not in the next moment, or week, or on the next task.

Allow for spontaneity. Play and be playful. “Hey Ops, watch this!” Those words from a CO are sure to strike fear into the hearts of even the most grounded of officers. Even more chilling is when those words come from the pilot-in-command! But, all too often the spontaneous gets lost in the now. Ship got up at 0400 for an UNREP, knocked off at 1130 – nothing else scheduled for the rest of the day…why not ropeyarn and a flight deck movie that night? Short notice steel beach picnic? Sure, you will lose something in the way of “work”…but you will gain something more important in spirit.

Move your body! Show your enthusiasm. In the increasing world of “staff direction and leadership via keyboard” it is more and more important to get out, walk around, visit new and interesting places that even your Sailors don’t get to often enough. Open that broom closet, look in that “empty” locker. It’s amazing what you learn and find (but you better be prepared for that too!). PT. Get your command to PT – organized or not. Get your division, department, work center to PT – even if it’s just a group walk that gets some of the trash up off the pier when you have a couple of minutes…or make those minutes.

Make mistakes. Do not concern yourself with impressing people. Oh, sure. You gotta be careful here…but seriously…take a few risks. Take the chance that the ship’s doctor and can drive the ship for an UNREP (supervised!). That the kid who had the DUI won’t do it again and you can suspend some of that punishment. That the new CPO really can run the division and the senior CPO can go work on some special project. We don’t have to be perfect (something that “Chance Second Chances” alluded to). Build in some safeguards, but take the risk.

Show your enthusiasm. Remain open to possibilities and “crazy” ideas. Smile, laugh, enjoy. Listen to your Sailors. Be energetic when you lead. Show that you like being the boss, that you are enthusiastic about the job you and your Sailors are doing. Look for inspiration from odd places and apply that inspiration to getting the job done, efficiently.

Be insanely curious, ask loads of questions. This is an early leadership lesson that some folks forget about the time they hit E6 or O3. It’s always important to ask – otherwise, how do you learn?

Know that you are a creative being. This one is probably the toughest one for the Navy – we tend to eradicate creativity, either through active or most often, passive, behavior. But, we come from a long line of creative individuals. Do you think someone without imagination, who was comfortable with the status quo, was the first one to get a log on a river so he could get across without swimming? Don’t lose sight of that lineage.

Slow down. We insist on a frenetic pace. Most of us would be easily bored in some other line of work that didn’t have every minute of every day filled with activity, or the promise of activity. But, we also tend to miss out on the things going past us. Especially once done with the watch schedule. Sunrise. Sunset. Photoluminescent wake. Moon rise or set. Jupiter’s moons. Birds. Dolphins. Whales. Our kids. Your Sailors’ kids. Your Sailors’ accomplishments – great or small.

Encourage others. About the most basic of all leadership tenets – and something we tend to forget. Every one junior to you is essentially your relief. Encourage them to push things a little farther, a little higher, make things better than you did – and encourage them to encourage others.

Garr runs a great blog – head over there every now and then. He has some interesting ideas – and can also help you keep that mandatory powerpoint presentation from being nothing more than “death”.

Tougher than it has been in a while. Malibu at New York Naval Recruiting has the details.

A month into the new fiscal year and:

As you can see a vast majority of the designators already have their number for the year or are at least very close. In addition if you view the column entitled “Goal” it is easy to see how competitive these programs currently are at this time. 

Head over to his place to see more, and the actual numbers…but bottom line – unless you want to be a SWO Information Warfare option, Special Warfare, Pilot, PAO, Oceanographer, Supply, Civil Engineer, or Cyber-warrior…it’s not likely to be this year.

So, what’s the relevance? Well, in 2007 Navy was looking for 1,571 new active duty officers. In 2008 -1,962. 2009 – 2, 202. 2010 – 2, 403.

Of last year’s 2,403 accessions, 1,536 were line officers – the ones on Malibu’s spreadsheet.

Total active duty line officer goal for 2011? 990.

Which means a roughly 1/3 reduction in active duty line officer accessions through Recruiting Command this year.

So, with today’s percentage based promotion system, 20 years from now we should be hearing about a shortage of Commanders and Captains.

Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Navy | 6 Comments

Before I get too far, I want to thank the folks at USNI for allowing me this venue to express my ideas, my thoughts, and my (hopefully not too reckless, feckless, or foul) opinions. This is august company that I have been brought into and I hope to at least keep the quality average up, rather than bring it down.


One of the things I am repeatedly struck by is the constant revolution (as in “turning around”) of the idea wheel. It’s less of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” and more of the “All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.” Which then brings on a healthy recitation of the Serenity Prayer.

While working on my command philosophy a few years back I reread an article that is a classic of Naval leadership. Without giving the whole thing away, I’ll just open with the fact that the author is a well respected Naval Officer who wrote his missive in 1950. Each time I read this article I am surprised to see how much of what he wrote then still resonates sixty years later.

I’ve encapsulated a few snippets below for your reading enjoyment. At the end I’ll tell you who wrote it, and link to the source. If you are one of those folks who can’t stand to read the murder mystery without skipping to the end, well, it’s there.

A well disciplined organization is one whose members work with enthusiasm, willingness, and zest as individuals and as a group to fulfill the mission of the organization with expectation of success.

Good definition and timeless start. He follows, in the classic manner of writing an essay, with the four items this esteemed Naval Officer intends to discuss. (My emphasis in bold)

In every case of breakdown of discipline the following four major factors have been present: (1) Lack of information–subordinates were not kept informed of problems or of reasons why the organization was required to take the action it did take. (2) Lack of interest–seniors had little interest in or knowledge of the problems of their juniors or if they did the juniors were left unaware that they did; (3) Slackness in command; (4) Instability. Senseless transfers of personnel, changes in operating schedules or in daily routine. The organization as a whole and as individuals felt insecure and uncertain of the future.

He further addresses why exit surveys for departing Sailors are important:

These men leaving the Navy have complained that their officers did not make adequate use of their skills and training. Officers were not aware of the men’s capabilities and potentialities, what contributions they could make to the Navy or to their ship. They felt that the officers made no effort to identify their men with their ship or with the Navy.

And an early comment on perception = reality:

That is an indictment whether the men were right or not. That’s the way they felt — and that’s wrong.

I was surprised to read the next section. Some things are eternal. Important to remember that he’s talking about how the Greatest Generation views the Silent Generation and early Boomers…

There is much comment that the younger officers and the petty officers are inexperienced and lack ability in their divisional duties. This is true. But they will get that experience only under the direction of their seniors, and we are back at the starting point again–that the seniors don’t have the time to exercise proper supervision. Seniors could well devote more effort to delineating to juniors, especially the “J.O.’s,” exactly what is required of them. Too often these enthusiastic young men are simply told to comply with the mass of directives from the multiple “higher authorities” without adequate guidance or counsel. The lads end up confused, frustrated, overworked, and disheartened. From that position it is a gentle down-hill slide to lack of pride and loss of ambition. The situation is gradually improving, but it will not improve at a high enough rate until more emphasis is placed on the handling of men and less on the volume of paper scanned.

Most of the present mass of directives, orders, instructions, etc., from the many offices and bureaus in the Navy Department, fleet, type, and unit commanders, and other sources, ultimately fall upon this one individual (the division officer) for execution. If he is conscientiously carrying out each and every such order and directive, standing his watches, supervising his maintenance and upkeep work, making the required inspections, and otherwise carrying out his prescribed duties and responsibilities, he finds that the 24-hour day is just not long enough. The result is that some of his duties have to be performed hurriedly or not at all if he is to cover the essentials. The average division officer, under these conditions, directs most of his attention and efforts to those tasks whose results are most immediately apparent to his seniors, or, in other words, to those tasks which, if omitted or neglected, would cause immediate repercussions. In this process the supervision, guidance, knowledge, and understanding of the men of his division are often neglected.

So, Division Officers…you really are the knife and fork of the community. You make things work, you translate the directives and ensure that tasking is carried out. And have for over half a century. Quite a tradition to have to live up to, isn’t it? Well, as a good Naval officer would, this one provides some advice and direction.

The solution to this problem lies in a more proper understanding of the relative importance of the division officer’s various duties, both by his seniors in his own command and by himself. It requires proper appreciation on the part of the many officers responsible for issuance of orders, directives, instructions, etc., regarding how and by whom they ultimately will be carried out, with respect to their effect on the over-all workload of the individuals and units affected. This would confirm the necessity for a reduction in “paper work” and nonessential directives.

60 years ago…

I’ve reproduced this entire section. It stands on it’s own, without editorial comment.

Slackness in Command. All major catastrophies in the loss of discipline in all organizations have been preceded by a general slackness in the command. The old saying that a taut ship is a happy ship is still true. The reason is that on a taut ship the officers and the men know where they stand and what is expected of them. There can be complete dependence on one’s associates, for lack of reliability will be brought up with a round turn. On such ships, all men do a day’s work, not just the conscientious ones. There are no soft billets in a taut outfit. The officers and the men are on the job and require others to be on the job. Chiselers and transgressors are promptly punished while their offenses are still minor.

Sure and everybody knows that’s true too, but the majority of the separates in the same survey by BuPers stated that the little things, the seemingly minor details that go to make a happy ship or an efficient one were apparently a haphazard matter. There was a lot of “made work.” The men complained that ships were slack; they felt that the Navy was a lazy man’s way of living and working. They felt that their work had little significance, and they got no satisfaction of accomplishment. Some of this is due to lack of information, to lack of explanation, but a great deal of it must be due to general slackness also.

There are a number of contributory causes for slackness in command–inexperience or lack of interest on the part of officers, the indifference of oldtimers, both officer and enlisted, who are merely passing the time until retirement, laziness on the part of young men who want to ride and produce as little as possible in the process. All can be corrected by tautening up the units.

Tautness requires absolute fairness above all else. Commanders must distinguish between good and bad men and take action accordingly. This means that men who fail must be punished promptly at mast and that each man’s record must reflect his conduct and ability. It means that commanding officers must tackle the onerous problem of the relative fitness of officers, so that officer’s fitness reports reflect faithfully the worth of the officer. There must be a clear differentiation between the excellent and the poor, or again the conscientious man is penalized and the poor man is favored.

Slackness in command always requires eventual drastic action.

And, finally…the capstone. Some things, I guess, will be with us as long as we are going to sea in ships.

Frequent sudden changes in the operating schedules of ships after the war in the United States Navy was also one of the major sources of discontent. Even though the necessity of such changes was explained, the operating personnel could not understand why adequate planning and foresight could not have made most of the changes unnecessary.

You can read the entire piece that Arleigh Burke wrote at the Navy Library.

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