Monday, February 16, 2009

Routine But Inherently Dangerous

The USS GONZALEZ blog is different from many of the excellent blogs on the web. As Commanding Officer of an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer, this is my personal blog and an avenue for me to reach out to the family and friends of GONZALEZ Sailors and give them an insight into the good things their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and shipmates are doing. I do not view it as an appropriate venue for me to comment on the goods and others related to my own training, maintenance, or operations for instance. For that type of commentary there are many excellent Navy sponsored and Navy-centric blogs such as:
The U.S. Naval Institute's Blog:
US Southern Command's Blog:
Observations of an Armchair Admiral:

Of course, there are many others, but the above are three that sprang to mind as I started writing this post.

But for this post, I am going to offer something a bit different. Over the last two weeks the Navy has endured two tragedies I felt compelled to comment on for GONZALEZ family and friends. Earlier this month, a Sailor onboard USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) died at sea during an accident which occured while lowering a small boat. Less than a week later, USS PORT ROYAL (CG 73) grounded off the coast of Oahu while conducting a small boat transfer at night. Both of these events hit very close to home for me. The Commanding Officer of SAN ANTONIO is a very good shipmate of mine, and I am a former Executive Officer of PORT ROYAL. Particularly after the grounding of PORT ROYAL, I received many questions from Sailors onboard my own ship and from my own family and friends asking how these events could have happened? First, I do not have any personal insight into either event, and it would be inappropriate to speculate as to the circumstances of either event otherwise. In fact, what I told my Sailors and family and friends is that speculation is exactly what is not needed at times like these. What is needed is thoughts and prayers for the Sailors and families involved. The Sailors involved in both tragedies are shipmates and what they need is our support. At the end of the day, the Navy will conduct an investigation into both events, and we as professional mariners will learn from any mistakes made. What we do every day at sea, whether forward deployed or in home waters, is often routine, but always inherently dangerous. All Navy men and women are professionals who serve their country with honor, courage, and commitment, but even in the most professional organizations and services, tragedies occur. Until the investigations are complete, our continued thoughts and prayers are what the Sailors and families of SAN ANTONIO and PORT ROYAL need more than speculation.


Anonymous said...

Sir, you have an excellent blog, I wish that more commands would blog.

As a former SWO, I can relate to the ships activities, although each of the ships I served on in the '80's were over 25 years old, and did not have all the computerization of your ship.

Fair Winds, and Following Seas.

Rubber Ducky said...

The PORT ROYAL incident cries out for a review of surface ship navigation practices and training. There are two excellent threads on the topic, at and Anyone with responsibilities in piloting waters would benefit from reading through these.

bigsoxfan said...

Hyperlink the homepage to your namesake's award and I won't have a single thing to say about your story, which isn't positive. Congratulations to you, your ship, and crew. You exemplify, the Scotman's quote of; "...give me a fast ship, as I intend to go in harm's way. From all appearances, The Gonzalez is such a ship.

blunoz said...

Captain, I enjoyed reading your blog and your command philosophy. I couldn't agree with you more about not second guessing or speculating on tragic accidents. I have been through two such events myself - a collision on one boat and a man-overboard resulting in two deaths on another boat. The events themselves were traumatic experiences for the whole crew, and the investigations that followed were emotionally draining and heart-wrenching.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the lost sailor and the crew members of both ships who must endure the ordeal of the investigation.

Iowa61 said...

My interest in Naval matters and the study of leadership brought me to your blog. You clearly "get it." I do not understand how so many managers, be they civilian or military do not understand the simple concepts of respect and enabling. Human beings are inherently imperfect. Each has his or her unique set of strengths and weaknesses. A leader's job is to enable the successful expression of those strengths and the successful management of those weaknesses. Congratulations to you. I know that the vast majority of your crew not only appreciate your leadership now, but that affection will only grow over time.

And on behalf of my family, thank you to you and your crew for your service.

All the best!

Iowa61 said...

My interest in naval matters and leadership brought me to your site. You clearly "get it." I remain amazed at how many managers both in and out of the military fail to understand the simple concepts of "respect" and "enabling."

All human beings are comprised of a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. A leader's first job is to enable the successful expression of those strengths and management of those weaknesses.

There's no doubt the majority of your crew appreciate your leadership and that appreciation will only grow with time.

On behalf of my family, thank you to you and your crew for your service.

All my best!