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Stalwart
08-09-2014, 05:01 AM
The redacted copy of the investigation into the COWPENS readiness and leadership is out:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/235869122/Cowpens-Gombert-Combined-Min

It is long (64 pages), as these usually are. It seems the chain of events goes:

1. XO was detached early, CHENG filled in as acting XO.

2. COWPENS deployed

3. CO got ill, was in his cabin for a week.

4. CO got more ill, was in his cabin for between 6 - 8 weeks.

5. Perception of an improper relationship between CO and Acting XO developed:
a. In port overseas CO and Acting XO were in town (at hospital) holding hands and sighted by ship's personnel.
b. CO and XO went on overnight liberty together.
c. Acting XO was personally preparing CO's meals in the CO's pantry.
d. CO once answered door in his boxers and Acting XO was in the cabin with him.

6. COWPENS RTHP and shortly thereafter fails an inspection, which when looked into started down the road that led to the investigation & relief. The CMC was relieved as well for not reporting the goings on to the ISIC.

7. Perception also developed that CO was purposefully delaying the reporting aboard of the P/XO.

So, the ship successfully completed deployment in spite of a largely removed CO and an Acting XO (not command qualified) was largely running the ship. CO routinely skipped Navigation briefs, Sea and Anchor details, qualification boards (OOD, SWO, TAO), stopped performing spot checks -- all as required by Naval Regulations.

One of the most damning lines from the report: "...he failed to properly supervise the safe navigation and seamanship of his command; he failed to report damage to ship’s equipment; he failed to enforce good order and discipline; ..."

I wonder why at some point the CO did not request a temporary relief to allow the duties of his role to get fulfilled properly? Also, when Officers and Chiefs approached the Acting XO to discuss perceptions and were rebuffed, why they did not at that point inform their Acting XO & CO that they were taking their concerns (as required by Naval Regulations) outside the lifelines of the ship?

Overall, my personal opinion is that by and large this appears that many people let go of their responsibility to the ‘institution’ out of either:

1. An overt sense of loyalty to an individual.

or

2. A self-preserving desire to not rock the boat.

USN - Retired
08-09-2014, 06:17 AM
Also, when Officers and Chiefs approached the Acting XO to discuss perceptions and were rebuffed, why they did not at that point inform their Acting XO & CO that they were taking their concerns (as required by Naval Regulations) outside the lifelines of the ship?


Because they didn't want to get a bad fitrep (and yes, I am serious).

Stalwart
08-09-2014, 11:38 PM
Because they didn't want to get a bad fitrep (and yes, I am serious).

Oh, I have no doubt that is the crux of it, which takes me back to:


2. A self-preserving desire to not rock the boat.

Call me old-fashioned, or overly idealistic or whatever ... but I earnestly believe one of the reasons that we have Commissioned Officers and Senior Enlisted is to make sure the system works the way it is supposed to and not worry about negative repercussions on our careers.

efmbman
08-10-2014, 12:39 AM
I wonder why at some point the CO did not request a temporary relief to allow the duties of his role to get fulfilled properly?

Good question. By requesting temporary relief, wouldn't that serve to absolve him of the responsibility and accountability during that time? Not sure how much absolving would be granted.

Stalwart
08-10-2014, 01:08 AM
Good question. By requesting temporary relief, wouldn't that serve to absolve him of the responsibility and accountability during that time? Not sure how much absolving would be granted.

Yes and no. Requesting a relief would not absolve him of anything he did wrong before requesting the relief , but it would have prevented the maintenance issues that resulted in an inspection failure which prompted the investigation that led to the relief.

Big thing was he not performing his duties (as required by Naval Regulations) as the Commanding Officer:

1. Attending Navigation briefs for special details.
2. He missed about 1/3 of the special evolutions such as the vessel navigating near shoal/shallow water or conducting underway replenishment (steaming within about 150 feet of another vessel) etc.
3. Conducting required maintenance spot checks of ships equipment / systems.
4. Chairing qualification boards for key positions on the ship (he is the qualifier for someone trying to be an Officer of the Deck or a Tactical Action Officer -- no one else can qualify someone to take the Deck or release weapons other than the CO.)

Some of these things cannot be delegated; just like his responsibility as the CO of a warship is absolute. While it is good that nothing did happen, it wasn't through diligent leadership or action by the CO; in some cases the fact that the ship avoided a major incident is testament to the ability of the crew (and the Acting XO) to get things done, in other cases it was luck.

As far as the inappropriate relationship (which he and the CHENG / Acting XO were also NJP'd for) I don't know when that started, and relief or not he likely would be relieved for that no matter when it happened once evidence (or a preponderance of evidence) turned up.

Vrake
08-10-2014, 12:54 PM
Oh, I have no doubt that is the crux of it, which takes me back to:



Call me old-fashioned, or overly idealistic or whatever ... but I earnestly believe one of the reasons that we have Commissioned Officers and Senior Enlisted is to make sure the system works the way it is supposed to and not worry about negative repercussions on our careers.

Old Fashioned! idealistic!! :) I like your believes but IMHO that is getting farther from reality IMHO.

The zero defect/corporate mentality that is taking over. Leaders know they can get fired for anything their subordinates do even if they don't know about it. I know thats no excuse but some of the firings have been over petty shit that is more driven by the Navy wanting to be more politically correct rather then a fighting force. Things 10 years ago that were a laugh and a "don't do it again stupid" now make the news like some huge scandal.

As for the senior enlisted look no farther then the last two MCPOONS putting their guidance and visions for the Chiefs mess in the Navy Times first rather then let their CMCs do it and maybe even pushback a bit if something seems out of whack. "Shut up and color" or be the next to get your picture in the paper for not being a yes man. errrr I meant loss of confidence in your ability to lead.

BURAWSKI
08-11-2014, 01:44 AM
Old Fashioned! idealistic!! :) I like your believes but IMHO that is getting farther from reality IMHO.

The zero defect/corporate mentality that is taking over. Leaders know they can get fired for anything their subordinates do even if they don't know about it. I know thats no excuse but some of the firings have been over petty shit that is more driven by the Navy wanting to be more politically correct rather then a fighting force. Things 10 years ago that were a laugh and a "don't do it again stupid" now make the news like some huge scandal.

As for the senior enlisted look no farther then the last two MCPOONS putting their guidance and visions for the Chiefs mess in the Navy Times first rather then let their CMCs do it and maybe even pushback a bit if something seems out of whack. "Shut up and color" or be the next to get your picture in the paper for not being a yes man. errrr I meant loss of confidence in your ability to lead.

Interesting comments on this one. Especially regarding the behavior of the senior enlisted. This is a case where the CPO Mess should have pushed back against the CMC, since it was obvious he was not addressing the relationship with the CHENG/AXO and the CO. Any senior enlisted aboard would have recognized the unduly familiar relationship based on the rumors, and that it was causing a disruption with regard to good order and discipline. After bringing it to the attention of the CMC and seeing nothing resolved, then any member of the CPO Mess had a duty to go outside of the chain of command for resolution. It sounds like that is what might have happened, since some type of complaint was filed, but by who is uncertain. This is the problem I experienced with the CPO Mess when you have a bunch of senior enlisted not willing to go out a limb (I call it my comfort zone) and make difficult decisions. I used to call it the "kiss ass" mentality. A big problem that really needs to be addressed. This scandal is just the tip of the iceberg and one that, fortunately, hasn't been covered up. MCPON should be providing guidance that the CPO Mess is NOT an extension of the Wardroom.

Stalwart
08-11-2014, 01:59 AM
Any senior enlisted aboard would have recognized the unduly familiar relationship based on the rumors, and that it was causing a disruption with regard to good order and discipline. After bringing it to the attention of the CMC and seeing nothing resolved, then any member of the CPO Mess had a duty to go outside of the chain of command for resolution.

Completely agree.


It sounds like that is what might have happened, since some type of complaint was filed, but by who is uncertain.

Actually no. There was a material and systems inspection that COWPENS failed, during the course of the inspection it became apparent that something was awry and an investigation was ordered. Unfortunately no one went outside the lifelines to try and right the course.



This is the problem I experienced with the CPO Mess when you have a bunch of senior enlisted not willing to go out a limb (I call it my comfort zone) and make difficult decisions. I used to call it the "kiss ass" mentality. A big problem that really needs to be addressed.

It exists in some Wardrooms too.



This scandal is just the tip of the iceberg and one that, fortunately, hasn't been covered up. MCPON should be providing guidance that the CPO Mess is NOT an extension of the Wardroom.

I agree. I would rather that my senior enlisted told the Emperor that he had no clothes.

BURAWSKI
08-11-2014, 02:24 AM
The CMC is too closely aligned with the CO, and not enough with the CPO Mess. I am unsure if it isn't as much as a training issue or a cultural issue that evolved that way. In any event, the CMC functions much like another department head, instead of acting completely independent, the position seems to have become just an another extension of the CO's mandate. I agree that the CMC should support the CO, but not when there is a clear indication that he is wrong, and what he is doing would be illegal. But there is a difference that I am painfully aware of, and that is that there are many things that although you might not agree with, are clearly not illegal, perhaps ill advised or even stupid, but not illegal. In this case, the CMC would have the duty to advise the CO as such, and once having done so, to carry on smartly without any further discussion. In this case like this, the CMC took his marching orders from the CO without question, even in the face of common sense and clear wrongdoing. And so it is this incident as an example of the problem, that the MCPON must take action to fix the CPO Mess. In a fully functioning CPO Mess this would never have happened. Sad to say I doubt if any CPO Mess is fully functioning in today's Navy. The MCPON has a real problem on his hands.

Stalwart
08-11-2014, 02:57 AM
I agree that the CMC should support the CO, but not when there is a clear indication that he is wrong, and what he is doing would be illegal. But there is a difference that I am painfully aware of, and that is that there are many things that although you might not agree with, are clearly not illegal, perhaps ill advised or even stupid, but not illegal.

I wouldn't disagree. I will say I have seen some really good CMC's who would have handled this appropriately.

As an aside, in the commands where I have seen the best CPO Messes, I have observed the best Wardrooms -- because good Chiefs train good Officers. The two (while independent of each other) work together to lead a good command. When I have observed an adversarial relationship between the Mess and the Wardroom, the command always suffers (like a V8 with a bad cylinder or two.)

In many cases, I go back to what I said above, that too many people have an overt sense of loyalty to an individual or (more and more) a self-preserving desire to not rock the boat. If you are a 'leader' and concern for your own career gives you pause when a senior is going down the wrong path, you are allowing careerism to get in the way of your oath. I am all about being 'allergic to failure' ... but rather than being 'addicted to success' I choose to be 'addicted to integrity.'

**this reminds me of an old blog I wrote ... I will try to find it.

Salty Old Dog
08-21-2014, 02:57 PM
Gee, maybe the other thought the CO and CHENG made a cute couple?? :rolleyes:

Man, this sure ain't the Navy we had 30+ years ago! Makes me glad for that fact, too!