Notes from around the Human Experience…
RIP, SHIPMATES: No matter what the investigation into the crash of the USS Fitzgerald with a Philippine-flagged container ship ends up showing, it will show that seven US Navy sailors died needlessly.
This Is Definitely A Violation Of Regulations: No other conclusion is possible, because if everyone on the two ships were doing their jobs with the respect and diligence attendant with navigating a ship in crowded waters demands, the two ships would not have ended up occupying the same place in the same ocean at the same time.
A Warm, Personal Remembrance: We have some moderate experience in these matters, serving as a Quartermaster (QM) on the USS Blueback (SS 581), an old diesel submarine, many years ago. Navigation isn’t that hard. Regardless of the era, 80 percent of it is paying attention to what you are doing. The rests is doing what you were taught to do.
FunFact: QM’s on a navy ship are the enlisted members of the navigation department. In other branches of the service, like the infernal US Army, they work in the supply department.
Standard Internet Disclaimer: Admittedly, we have zero first-hand experience in running aground or colliding with another ship. We followed procedures on the USS Blueback and were never in danger of doing either one. Our only experience was training we received, after-action reports on why a ship ran aground or two ships collided.
Every single time it was because one or, more likely, several procedures were not followed and warning signs were ignored and you don’t have to be John Paul Jones to know this is what will happen here.
Back On Message: Back in the mid-80’s, Blueback spent most of its at sea time doing ops off the San Diego coast and, as I recall, we did everything we could to keep other ships at least one nautical mile away from us, unless operational commitments dictated otherwise. Contacts less than a mile away had everyone’s attention, and were kept as far away as possible.
Dry, Technical Matter: One nautical mile is a bit more than a land mile, checking in at 6,076 feet and one inch. It is exactly one minute of latitude on your nautical chart and is commonly referred to as two thousand yards at sea.
Please Pass The Guilt: There will be enough blame to go around. The Fitzgerald was t-boned by the container ship, so the container ship wasn’t even looking dead ahead of itself, probably a violation of company policy. The Fitzgerald cut right in front if it, a tactic hardly out of the Command at Sea Manual, so they were probably having a spades tournament on the bridge or something.
The Bottom Line: And seven sailors are dead because of it.
PLAY BALL: The first baseball game, played under rules that would evolve into today’s game, is played in Hoboken, New Jersey, on this date in 1846. The New York Nine defeated the New York Knickerbockers 23-1, or 21-1, depending on which source you believe.
More Play Ball: Jack Scott of the Philadelphia Phillies becomes the last person to pitch two complete games in one day on this date in 1927.
Pitching in Cincinnati against the Reds, Scott wins the opener 3-1, but gets no support in the second game, losing 3-0. He would finish the season leading the National League in a variety of categories, including Games Pitched (48) and Losses (21), for a Phillies team that finished last, nine games out of seventh place and 43 games behind the pennant winning Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Old Style Beer: It was a different game back then, as both games took a combined three hours and one minute to complete, a few minutes less than the average time of a major league game today. The crowd for the Sunday doubleheader was listed at 17,293, not too bad for two teams battling it out for last place.
Great Moments In The Death Penalty: Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel are executed on this date in 1953, condemned for selling nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. They had been convicted in March, 1951 and sentenced to die the following month.
Brother, Can You Spare An Electric Chair: The only problem was the federal government didn’t operate a death house at the time, so the Rosenberg’s were killed at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York.
Live, You Are There Coverage: A United Press International account of the executions said Julius died in two minutes, while Ethel required an extra jolt and took five minutes to die.
Oh Yeah: The UPI account also states both Rosenbergs wore loafers to their death. No final words were recorded for either of them, and they appear to have been denied a final meal because officials wanted to get the killings in before sundown and the start of the Jewish Sabbath.
Family Affair: Their children, Michael and Robert, ages ten and six, were unwanted by other family members and were ultimately adopted by a family not related to them. Micahel found out his parents were going to be executed later that day while watching a baseball game on TV, though he declined to tell his younger brother.
Thought For The Day: ...as if the deepest springs of pleasure in his body were trembling under the caress of exhilarating winds.– William McGivern, Choice of Assassins
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The last countries the United States Congress declared war against were Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, on June 5, 1942.
Today’s Stumper: Where does the federal government now conduct its executions? – Answer next time!