Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NAVY TIMES reporting on this unusual story from June 2014

This is how the Navy reported this in JUNE:

USS Cowpens Commanding Officer, Command Master Chief Relieved 

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The commanding officer of USS Cowpens (CG 63), Capt. Gregory W. Gombert, and the ship's command master chief, Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel J. Keeton, were relieved by Rear Adm. Michael Smith, Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3, on June 10, due to loss of confidence in Gombert's and Keeton's ability to effectively lead and carry out their assigned duties. 

The loss of confidence stems from the results of a series of inspections following the ship's return from deployment. An investigation is underway. Gombert and Keeton have been temporarily re-assigned to CSG 3 and Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet staffs, respectively. 

Capt. Robert B. Chadwick II will assume temporary duties as CO, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Putnam will temporarily assume duties as CMC. Cowpens is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser homeported in San Diego, and recently returned from a Western Pacific deployment. NAVY TIMES expands on the story considerably HERE.

So many mistakes were made by the TRIAD.  Yet, the COWPENS' Sailors (officers, white hats and CPOs) brought her home safely despite all of the challenges.

17 comments:

Former Cruiser CO said...

If you can find it, the report of investigation is a good one. They always go back to NAVY REGS and the various instructions that outline the roles of all the players. Then they map actual behavior to that of the instructions.

The TRAID concept in the Navy is a mess. The CO is responsible for everything that happens on that ship. (That's a period at the end of that sentence).

The CMC apparently has the responsibility to tell the ISIC that the CO is not doing his job. Take note CMCs - if the CO is not doing his/her job - report it immediately to the ISIC or you risk losing your job.

HMS Defiant said...

What evidence Cruiser CO, was there that the skipper was NOT DOING HIS JOB?

Triad is a total joke. It's like going out with the zampolit's daughter. Screw that.

Total leadership quality losers built this one.

Anonymous said...

HMS

Read the report. It's in there.

James Hammersla said...

If anyone is curious to read a redacted version of the report:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/235869122/Cowpens-Gombert-Combined-Min

"...he failed to properly supervise the safe navigation and seamanship of his command; he failed to report damage to ship’s equipment; he failed to enforce good order and discipline; ..."

Anonymous said...

Scary reading

http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2014/08/cowpens-to-help-produce-movie-for.html

HMS Defiant said...

James,
Thanks for the link and I will read it but 64 pages of time I do not have right now. I'd invite your attention to the opening paragraph though and then ask you what you think he could have done differently? In my experience, when a ship shows up on the strike list all non-essential to safety repairs are simply defunded by the Type Commander. Somehow, COWPENS made it home in spite of that.

Read the Introduction and the second paragraph. They completed the missions in spite of the failure of anyone in the chain of command above them to take any positive pro-active steps to assist the command with little things like fix a 3 month gapped XO billet on a deployed cruiser.

The second paragraph is equally clear. The Command completed all missions assigned, did so safely and returned to homeport pretty much in spite of the admirals and the staffs for which that ship worked.

I'll read the report but at this point I stand by what I wrote earlier. You know what else dries up almost instantly when a ship's name appears on the strike list? BUPERS turns off the personnel spigot and you don't get any new personnel at all. You go to sea to fight and steam with what you have and I knew very few commands that tried to execute opholds on any but the most critical personnel. Mostly because BUPERS sole incentive is to turn down such requests.

When I was a JO I only rarely saw the skipper of first or second ship unless they were on the bridge during my watches (AGF3, DD986). I knew for a fact that the first ship skipper roamed the ship every day at sea on permanent forward deployment and when we did chat it was to have him suggest that I needed to visit all my spaces at least once a day, in addition to my other duties. I had 75 compartments on that ship.

I tend to let the facts speak for themselves though. I will eat my words if after reading the full report, I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the movie. Lifetime is making a movie about this incident.

My kids' Mom said...

Interesting, It seems as if there has been a lot of strange things going on with the USS Cowpens crew and CO's more than once.

W/R

Anneli

Wolfpack said...

HMS, You really need to read the report. Taking what the report said, he totally ignored his command responsibilities. Few of the events of which he did were do to being on the strike list. First and foremost, he did not notify his ISIC that he was incapable of doing the most basic tenets of his assignment. Not to mention indications of an undue relationship with a subordinate. Look forward to your comments after you read the report.

Wolfpack said...

HMS, You really need to read the report. Taking what the report said, he totally ignored his command responsibilities. Few of the events of which he did were do to being on the strike list. First and foremost, he did not notify his ISIC that he was incapable of doing the most basic tenets of his assignment. Not to mention indications of an undue relationship with a subordinate. Look forward to your comments after you read the report.

Anonymous said...

HMS, You really need to read the report. Taking what the report said, he totally ignored his command responsibilities. Few of the events of which he did were do to being on the strike list. First and foremost, he did not notify his ISIC that he was incapable of doing the most basic tenets of his assignment. Not to mention indications of an undue relationship with a subordinate. Look forward to your comments after you read the report.

HMS Defiant said...

Thanks Wolfpack, I read the whole thing.

Look at page 32 of the report. That's pretty much a damning indictment.....of the people that wrote the report and all the charges.

They sent a mouse to savage a lion. They killed the service of a CHENG who was clearly head and shoulders above her peers and a man who would be a better admiral than any I know and I know about 20% of them.

The Navy has one rule. We hold our captains responsible when they fail the test of leadership. But you must see, this one didn't fail the test. He succeeded beyond anyone's dreams and he had help.

It's a great pity that all those flags and their staffs only decided after the fact that he was like Honors and so discarded him and, unfortunately, a young officer that must be some kind of amazing. You know why....because she was found in the CO's cabin......wearing her clothes.

I'm out.

Wolf pack said...

hMS, I guess we can only disagree on what we think command really is and what it means. I see failure in personal accountability and inability to meet the standards. The Fact that the Cheng brought the ship back from cruise is amazing. But the fact is, the CO checked off the net for three months - he did not do his job and did not set the standard. He should be fired.

Ps- sorry about the multiple post, let's just say operator error.

James Hammersla said...

HMS,
The most important thing the CO could have done was inform his ISIC that he was no longer able to fulfill his duties as the Commanding Officer. I can’t argue that the ship met the mission (for the most part), rose to the occasion and got things done; at the same time subordinating his command authority and decision making to a Department Head for such an extended period seems to be very unusual and was the impetus for the investigation which revealed other issues that would have been avoided if he had kept his boss informed.

As great of a job as the CHENG did as acting XO, the perception of an improper relationship (her in the at sea cabin with the CO in his underwear, holding hands with the CO while ashore etc. erode good order and discipline. I don’t know what went on, but had I observed what I read in the report I would have brought it up to the chain of command.

I understand the concerns with repairs and personnel, which is why the CO, in the best interests of the ship and the crew should have removed himself if he was unable to function.

Overall, my personal opinion is that by and large this appears that many people let go of their responsibility to the ‘institution’ out of either:
1. An overt sense of loyalty to an individual.
or
2. A self-preserving desire to not rock the boat.

Wolfpack said...

HMS, I guess we have different concepts of command and what is expected. The CO should be beyond reproach and not ask this crew to do anything he/she would not do. How much of the ships ability to execute its job is based on his guidance, luck or pure gut is unknown. However, were he actually in command, it would be based on his leadership - which is absent.

HMS Defiant said...

I believe we can all differ. That's my take.

James, what would he notify his ISIC of? Already his ISIC took zero notice of his lack of an XO in a critical deployed billet on a cruiser. He did his job and by all measurement, did it very well. I didn't work for "faces". I worked for the USN. CO's used to be remote figures and we did well enough.

Wolfpack, I'm not sure what you refer to. He was beyond reproach and nothing in the casual indictment said anything other.

His leadership pervaded that ship. You can see that from the report. Leadership is all about results. Ask yourself, what was the result of this CO on his command during it's final deployment after it was placed on the "strike list"?

We will never agree and I don't know the man; never served with him or his CHENG, but for me, the ONLY penalty owed is to be laid at the feet of BUPERS, his STRIKE GROUP COMMANDER/staff, ADMIN GROUP, and COMNAVSURFPAC.

your mileage may differ.

HMS Defiant said...

James,
I've entirely given up on that, "prove you're not a robot" state and I no longer bother posting if bloggers make it painful; as you have done. I think you have worthwhile things to say. All those kinds of observations are sharpened and refined by debate. Nameless losers like phib languish in a rich broth of sycophants.

I found it rather easy to purge the robots from the text. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a robot show up in my blog responses twice and I've only used tools that make them invisible without resorting to the sort of "interpret this you worthless "prove thy self to My Server!" kind of nonsense.

Of course, you're concerned that you'll invite trolls in to your blog. I could understand that. I played in USENET smn long ago, but we ate trolls for lunch and snacked on them when we felt like it. Ah, the good old days of the internet at 2400 baud.