Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ignorant "Strategy Page" Story on San Fran

Originally posted 2020 30 March:

Here's another article in a semi-major web publication that really torques me off. (It doesn't torque me as much as the idiotic articles at sftt.org by Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret), which I discussed here and here; he never did respond to me, btw.) Here's some of what James Dunnigan at Strategy Page has to say about the San Francisco grounding in an article outrageously titled "USS San Francisco Heros (sic) and Villians":

"...The lack of courts martial indicates that the navy didn’t feel it had strong enough evidence for that approach, which is more like a jury trial, and demands more compelling evidence. The non-judicial punishment hurts, but does not destroy, the career of a submariner. This is because the navy has a hard time recruiting qualified people for this kind of work. The accused sailors could have asked for a court martial, but apparently all were convinced that taking the non-judicial punishment would get the matter behind them with a minimum of fuss and penalty. The charges in the non-judicial hearings were of the “you should have seen this coming” and “been more cautious” variety. Anyone who knows anything about nuclear submarines, and their crews, knows that these are the most cautious and deliberate sailors in the fleet..."

Other than the asshattedness of the title, I'm surprised that someone who purports to know about the military would make such an obvious mis-statement of fact in saying that the Sailors could have asked for a court martial. From Art. 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

(a) Under such regulations as the President may prescribe, and under such additional regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary concerned, limitations may be placed on the powers granted by this article with respect to the kind and amount of punishment authorized, the categories of commanding officers and warrant officers exercising command authorized to exercise those powers, the applicability of this article to an accused who demands trial by court-martial, and the kinds of courts-martial to which the case may be referred upon such a demand. However, except in the case of a member attached to or embarked in a vessel, punishment may not be imposed upon any member of the armed forces under this article if the member has, before the imposition of such punishment, demanded trial by court-martial in lieu of such punishment.

The San Francisco crewmen were all attached to a vessel, and therefore were not eligible to request a court martial; even if they had, I'm sure the Navy would have denied it. Also, the claim that "the non-judicial punishment hurts, but does not destroy, the career of a submariner." Bullshit! Part of the NJP for the ANAV was apparently the removal of his NEC, which effectively removes him from submarines, and the NJP essentially keeps anyone from getting promoted within the Chief ranks for five years. For the officers, any black mark is enough to keep you from screening for the next level of responsibility, and with the "up or out" policies, this essentially ends their submarine career. I suppose that they could have a career in the Navy outside of submarines, though...

If you'd like, you can comment on Dunnigan's story here...

Staying at PD...

Update 1952 31 March: They've removed the portion of the article about the Sailors being able to request court martial, so the article is now factually more accurate.

Update 2149 31 March: Submandave shares the E-mail he sent to the author of the piece linked above.


Post a Comment

<< Home