- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple of things struck me from this audio from the bridge of the minutes leading up to the USS Porter‘s collision with a Japanese tanker back in 2012. First, it sounds like no one is in charge. Second, when the skipper asks someone a question, it is taken as an order. Third, I wonder why during four minutes there is no attempt to contact the other ship in ways besides the horn — say, radio, flashing lights, and flares.
"Bridge communications were atrocious," commented retired Navy Capt. John Byron after listening to the audio. "A good skipper wants a quiet bridge and a good OOD insists on it."
Speaking of the Navy, here is a good story about the difficult decisions facing an F-18 pilot after a refueling mishap.