To this day, fifty years after I left the service, I continue to regard my time in the Navy as the best and most useful years of my life. I would not trade that experience for everything else that I have done before or since, and I have held the US Navy in the highest possible regard for all the years since I had the honor and privilege to serve.
What I have read the past few years of its ships and its men today almost brings me to tears. The ships of today’s Navy are barely seaworthy, are certainly not battle worthy, and social engineering has so degraded the manning of the Navy that high quality ships would be wasted in any case.
I read that the Captain of a ship is in a bar on shore during liberty drinking with the enlisted crew of his ship. How can good order and discipline be maintained under such circumstances, and how can a Captain’s subordinates possibly maintain a proper respect for a “drinking buddy?”
The crew of another ship forgets to replace the lubricating oil in the ship’s main propulsion reducing gear box, rendering the ship inoperative and requiring shipyard repair. In addition to the appalling carelessness of the crew, what kind of ship is rendered useless by the loss of one set of propulsion gears?
When the bridge crew of an Arleigh Burke class destroyer causes a collision with a civilian ship ten times its size and one engine room is flooded, the ship is disabled and has to be towed to port. What kind of warship becomes a stationary target due to the loss of a single engine room?
The initial cause of that collision turns out to be that a watchstander is seen to be “struggling to cope with handling both helm and engine orders.” I have stood that watch, and anyone incapable of dealing with helm and engine orders after a couple of days of training does not belong in the Navy in any capacity. He probably does not belong outside of his parents’ care.
The Arleigh Burke class did, at least, mark a return to all-steel construction. From Wikipedia, “An earlier generation had combined a steel hull with an innovative superstructure made of lighter aluminum to reduce top weight, but the lighter metal proved vulnerable to cracking. Aluminum is also less fire-resistant than steel; a 1975 fire aboard USS Belknap gutted her aluminum superstructure. Battle damage to Royal Navy ships exacerbated by their aluminum superstructures during the 1982 Falklands War supported the decision to use steel.”
That policy didn’t last. What does the Navy decide to do in building its new Littoral Combat Ships? Use all-aluminum construction, including the hull. How stupid can we be?