I use a news aggregator called IG Home, which allows me to create pages with links to stories, arranged by subject. It works very well-especially since I am the one who sets it up allowing me to see a cross-section of news and events.
So imagine my surprise when I scanned this little gem:
I now hate my ship’: Surveys reveal disastrous morale on cruiser Shiloh
“It’s only a matter of time before something horrible happens,” one shipmate warned.
“Our sailors do not trust the CO,” another noted.
It’s a “floating prison,” one said.
“I just pray we never have to shoot down a missile from North Korea,” a distraught sailor lamented, “because then our ineffectiveness will really show.”
These comments come from three command climate surveys taken on the cruiser Shiloh during Capt. Adam M. Aycock’s recently-completed 26-month command. The Japan-based ship is a vital cog in U.S. ballistic missile defense and the 7th Fleet’s West Pacific mission to deter North Korea and counter ascendant Chinese and Russian navies.
These comments are not unique. Each survey runs hundreds of pages, with crew members writing anonymously of dysfunction from the top, suicidal thoughts, exhaustion, despair and concern that the Shiloh was being pushed underway while vital repairs remained incomplete.
Frequently in focus is the commanding officer’s micromanagement and a neutered chiefs mess. Aycock was widely feared among sailors who said minor on-the-job mistakes often led to time in the brig, where they would be fed only bread and water.
The rest of the article can be found here.
Now since the article is published in Navy Times, one has to be on guard for the tendency to engage in muck-raking. But I suspect if one had contacts in Yokosuka, one could verify this story quickly enough.
And it appears not to be a good story.
The surveys suggest the Navy has learned nothing from prior toxic commands, said Jan van Tol, a retired captain who commanded several warships during his Navy career, including two from the Japan-based Forward Deployed Naval Forces of 7th Fleet.
He compared Aycock’s leadership to the notorious cruiser Cowpens’ CO, Capt. Holly Graf, who was relieved of command in 2010 for cruelty and maltreatment of her crew.
“If the Survey results, in fact, are accurate…it must raise serious questions of why no one in the ship’s external chains of command, including the administrative chain of command leading back to (Naval Surface Force Pacific), was aware of it,” van Tol said in an email. “Or if they were, why no one senior chose to take any remedial action. Neither of those alternatives is explicable.”
Navy officials would not comment on the survey remarks.
There is a lot to unpack in this story, but I ask you to consider two things:
The pressure that the “zero defect” Navy is putting on today’s generation of CO’s. Especially since they are held responsible for everything, including who is f^&king who off the ship.
And second, consider the punishing OPTEMPO of the recent years. Especially for a BMD ship-and a BMD cruiser no less. As I have pointed out before, this train wreck was created back in 2003.
Now all that said, it seems as if this CO took the adage, “SWO’s eat their young” more than a little too far. Read the statements at the end of the article. This was one sucky place to work and be at sea.
One November survey comment encapsulates the long hours on the Shiloh, a prevalent issue in 7th Fleet after the Fitzgerald and John S. McCain collisions.
“Members, especially leaders, are so worn out, beat down, and overworked, that they are almost incapable of being effective,” the sailor wrote.
Department heads did nothing, but it wasn’t their fault, the sailor continued.
“The incessant meetings, combined with 3-section watch, combined with all the cumbersome administrative processes onboard has made it almost impossible to accomplish the mission,” the sailor wrote.
Division officers “have to do all of the work that is pushed down from Department Heads, since they cannot complete anything because of their schedules. Leaders do not have time to take care of themselves, and it greatly impacts their ability, or lack thereof, to take care of their Sailors.”
The sailor suggested “major schedule and watch rotation changes.”
“We are all people,” the sailor wrote. “Not machines.”
“We are suffering,” another wrote. “We are so disrespected, beat down and unable to do our jobs.”
It’s hard sometimes for an individual CO to see the effects of his actions. That is a lesson I learned later in life. But you have to ask what it took to get someone to say this:
“If we went to war I felt like we would have been killed easily and there are ppl [sic] on board who wanted it to happen so we could just get it over with,” one sailor wrote.
Keep an eye out, you have not heard the last of this story.