Wednesday, January 13, 2016


I daresay the admirals in Norfolk and Bahrain are asking today just who approved this and what kind of risk assessment was used when generating the Frago to transit two boats from Kuwait to Bahrain. I'm equally sure that they'll want to know who was providing the adult leadership.

Only Riverine boats and sailors could get so hopelessly lost and run out of gas in Command Boats
I know these boats have satellite radios. I know it because all of our boats have satellite radios. We've been continuously operating patrol boats in that area since 2001.

What I hate the most about this inept and stupidly executed plan is that it just made doing everything all that much harder because now every level of command has to convince the level above that it is not just complying with reasonable risk management strategy, it now has to go into infinite detail about how it has analyzed every possible risk to future missions and how each risk is mitigated or avoided by active staff planning.

I used to work with these people. In fact, I used to work with these people at every level of staff and command for over 20 years and I never heard a more succinct and astute analysis of the dimwittedness of some of them who struggle every day to "Make things harder than they have to be."*

So, congratulations you f@cksticks** at CTG56, you continued a horrible tradition by making things harder than they have to be. If I recall correctly, the last time we had anything like this happen it was the Commodore himself who ordered that all truck movements had to have dismounted road guides to make sure they didn't run over anything. Yes, you guessed it, that stupid insane policy continued right up until one of the truck drivers ran over his road guide with a 5 ton truck.

In addition to the now mandatory retraining and certification of all boat OICs, we'll see requirements heaped onto every task to ensure that they are now idiot proofed through the concentrated application of staff planning, paperwork and close personal oversight. You thought Operational Risk Management paperwork was a pain in the ass? You ain't seen nothing.

No, I won't be surprised if the after action report lays the blame at the feet of someone who thought miles and kilometers were the same thing and couldn't convert or even understand the difference between miles and kilometers.

*Said all the time by my predecessor at Operations in Group ONE as we began Operation Iraqi Freedom.
**Commonly used by CDR Joe G., the first N36 I worked with when establishing Task Group 56 for our guys in '96.


OldAFSarge said...

Maybe the Air Force "helped" them.


HMS Defiant said...

Ah, I was thinking of the EU Mars probe that got all the way there and then missed because somebody at ESA used kilometers vs miles in their calculations.
I think we'll find that these guys had detailed plans and their trip was briefed up to the level of CTG56 and somebody went and screwed the pooch on the rendezvous. I won't be at all surprised to hear that they were ordered to surrender by their chain of command.

virgil xenophon said...

Amen to both the rendezvous bit AND the "orders to surrender" bit as well. As someone on another blog commented: "Hell, it looks like they were captured by nothing more than bass-boats from the pics" BTW, wonder if they even were allowed to carry ammunition? Would NOT be surprised if they were transiting with no ammo under orders from the big kids..

HMS Defiant said...

The IRGCN has a lot of those fast little well armed boats and they travel in packs. The CB90 counterparts in MESF were 34 foot aluminum boats and various people kept coming up to me and suggesting different ways to cram some armor on them in order to make them bullet proof. I kept raising the issue of meta-centric height and righting moment and they'd drift away only to come back another day with an idea for maybe kevlar armor...
I'm sure the boats had all their standard weapons and ammo load. Even the Riverine guys wouldn't get underway for a long run like that without the standard loadout. I'm sure the boats traveled together as a pair just specifically in case something happened to the one and it needed to be towed. How they screwed that up is anyone's guess but I bet they did a speed run since the seas were calm and suddenly found themselves way off course and out of gas because the mission was planned for max duration/distance and minimal speed consistent with that. The boats have a 270 mile range on their tanks and if it had been me or mine I'd have loaded one or two 55 gallon drums of diesel on the aft deck to make sure I had plenty of gas to reach Bahrain. I don't believe in leaving myself at the mercy of somebody else's schedules, priorities or intelligence unless I absolutely have to.
Since all of our boats had PRC-117F and later versions and all of our 34 footers were getting satcom antenna to work with the radio when I left, I suspect the command boat had satcom. In fact, that's probably what is in the dome atop the lattice mast on the one boat in the video. They were in touch with both the squadron in Kuwait and I'm sure with the Theater Flag Command Center in Bahrain who almost certainly ordered them to surrender without a fight.
The strutting peacocks of Riverine just got a black eye they'll never recover from. It's a shame they were stuffed into my community. survived decades of indifference from the USN but Riverine was so uniformly awful the Navy got rid of them and shopped them to the Marines who were happy to transfer all of the boats and equipment to the Navy when the Navy was tasked to support security of the Haditha Dam and relieve the poor Army guys who were doing the mission floating around in old Boston Walers.

It's a real shame.