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Tonight, I’m going to forego the normal format for The Drift and I want to talk about the accident on the Fitzgerald that claimed the lives of seven sailors.
Most of you know I am a former sailor, but you may not know that I was an Operations Specialist 2nd Class, a surface watch supervisor and performed the job where some of the most crucial breakdowns on Fitzgerald occurred. I sat on the headset with the bridge, trading contact information, making contact reports and course and speed recommendations, and generally tried to keep surface trackers on task with mixed results
I wasn’t perfect – if you can dig up Operations Specialist Senior Chief (Ret.) Glenroy Walkes he will certainly attest to the fact that I had my shortcomings – but having this in my background gives me some insight into the events on Fitzgerald that evening.
This week, ProPublica released two stories on the Fitzgerald: one about the accident, and one about the aftermath and the years of warnings about the condition of the surface fleet that preceded them. The reports are worth reading and, particularly the second article, has some very intriguing insights from key players from the past decade.
There is a danger, however, of coming away from the reports with a narrative that the material condition of the ship and its radar systems caused the accident, and the material degradation was the fault of a higher command that made readiness secondary to other priorities. It is my belief that the Admirals and civilian leadership failed the Fitzgerald and her sister ship McCain, but tonight I want to focus on something much less comfortable than blaming bungling flags: I want to talk about how the Fitz watchstanders failed their shipmates.
I hope you will bear with me, I think this is important.
The Fort Report
About two months ago I got an email from my friend and colleague Geoff Ziezulewicz that caused my heart to sink: he had the Fort Report, the investigation into the Fitzgerald collision conducted by Rear Adm. Brian Fort. I didn’t really want to read it, I hated the idea of stirring up the anger and sorrow this accident causes me every time I think about it, but I read it. Front to back.
It’s the same report ProPublica used for much of the narrative in its story, but I think there is some value in me going through it to single out the things that jumped out to me about why this accident happened based on my professional training as an OS and as a journalist.
According to the Fort Report, the 2200-0200 on the bridge of the Fitzgerald was close to coming to an end when the Fitzgerald got into a crossing situation with the ACX Crystal. Fitz was the give-way vessel, which means that Fitz was crossing the Crystal’s bow and, under the international rules of the road, Fitz was required to maneuver to avoid a collision. By the time the officer of the deck on Fitzgerald, Lt. JG Sarah Coppock, was fully aware of the danger she was in, it was too late to save the ship.
Two minutes before the collision, Coppock began swearing that she was “going to get fucked for this.” Still, despite knowing the danger, she neglected to sound the collision alarm, a crucial warning that the sailors sleeping below deck were denied. The first warning sailors below deck received that they were in mortal danger was the collision. Some not wakened by the crash were roused out of bed by water coming into their racks.
The actions leading up to that tragic moment are inexcusable.
The combat information center (CIC) is tasked with monitoring all sensor inputs to create a cohesive surface picture of all the ships detected in the area. Sensors and systems include surface search radar, Automatic Identification System and a tool called the Digital Dead Reckoning Trace that allows a watch stander to trace the ship’s movement through the water and plot with a ruler the bearing and range of any surface ships in the area. The final result on the DDRT ends up being a bunch of lines and connected dots on a large white sheet of rolled paper that gives you a fairly accurate idea of the course, speed, bearing and range of any ships in the area.
Both the CIC and bridge are required to plot any surface contacts with a closest point of approach within some number of miles of the ship on what is known as a maneuvering board, or “moboard.” On the moboard, you take three or more fixes of bearing and range to a contact from your own ship, thereby establishing a track, a course, speed and closest point of approach (CPA), as well as time to CPA.
Any ships that could pose a danger, CIC is supposed report to bridge, along with a course and speed recommendation to avoid the oncoming ship. The bridge is also required to track all surface contacts and work their own solutions, using CIC to compare notes. Redundancy is the Navy way.
On watch in CIC, there would have been: a very junior OS in charge of tracking surface contacts, making sure that everything around the ship has a good track in the combat system; a slightly less junior Surface Watch Supervisor (SWS) in charge of the junior OS watchstanders on the surface side; a Surface Warfare Commander (SUWC) who is the senior-most watchstander on the surface side of CIC, as well as a CIC watch supervisor (typically an First Class OS).
And, over all, the tactical action officer (TAO). The TAO is the Captain’s representative in combat: the only person who has authorization to fire weapons in defense of the ship without the captain’s permission and the ultimate authority in CIC on any given watch.
Before Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitz’s commanding officer, hit the rack for a few hours of sleep, he left what’s known as “night orders.” Night orders are contained in a binder to be reviewed and obeyed by watchstanders while he was getting some rest. On the night in questions, the orders included:
The CO shall be notified of any contact with a CPA of 6000 yards or less. This report should be made at 10000 yards (5nm) or 20 minutes prior to a calculated CPA (whichever occurs earliest).
The Officer of the Deck shall maintain a maneuvering board plot on all contacts with a CPA of 10000 yards (5nm) or less.
Maneuvering boards shall be used on the Bridge and CIC for surface tracks with a CPA of 10000 yards or less. The DDRT shall also be used for such contacts.
The OOD is required to call the Commanding Officer when in doubt.
Between 2200 and the collision at 1:30, the bridge and the combat information center shared no surface contact information with each other.
The radar operators reported getting lots of junk returns around their own ship, known as “sea clutter,” which was the result of the radar being in a configuration that is normally reserved for steaming in the open ocean. In those conditions you want to focus on contacts that are far away from the ship to plot ways to avoid them well in advance. When you are close to land with lots of traffic around the surface radar should be in short pulse, which gives watchstanders a higher-fidelity view of what’s closer to the ship.
When investigators examined the equipment, they found that the switch that toggle that changed the radar from short to long pulse on was inoperable on the console in CIC, and was in long pulse because it had been set that way in the local control radar room outside of CIC. It’s likely it had not been in short pulse all year, the investigation found. This is a shortfall in understanding radar fundamentals, which is standard in-rate knowledge for operations specialists.
The surface watch team also didn’t use the DDRT as per the CO’s night orders.
An hour before the accident, the OOD made a contact report to the CO about four vessels on their port side, but at no point did the bridge contact CIC, nor did CIC contact the bridge, concerning the contacts.
The OOD made no other calls during her watch, although over the next hour, FTZ would pass at least five other contacts with CPAs meeting the CO's Standing Orders criteria for a contact report to him. One of these unreported contacts passed down FTZ's starboard side at approximately 650 yards at just 22 minutes before the fatal accident.
Neither CIC nor the bridge made contact reports or made moboard solutions for any of the contacts. It’s worth noting that CIC did not have a track on any of those contacts, likely due to the radar being in the wrong configuration, something the OOD might have discerned if she had asked the SUWC or the SWS what they had on them. She did not.
The SUWC had an Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) display next to his console, but at no point did he seem to match the AIS picture with the picture on his screen. At no point did he seem to wonder why things that were appearing on AIS were not on his radar scope or input into the combat system.
In fact, during the entirety of the SUWC’s watch, he doesn’t seem to have done much of anything because he made precisely zero contact reports or recommendations.
The TAO sits in front of large displays that synthesize all the sensor data in such a way so the watchstander can simply click on an individual contact to get the history, identification (if any), course, speed and CPA. But at no point in the watch did the TAO click on a single track, according to the investigation, and investigators found it was likely that she was doing paperwork instead.
Both the CIC Watch Supervisor and the SUWC left for 10-minute bathroom breaks during the crucial half hour before the collision.
Ten minutes prior to the collision, the junior officer of the deck looked out of the starboard bridge wing and recommended to the officer of the deck that she slow the Fitz to address an increasingly tenuous situation developing with a group of contacts, including the ACX Crystal. The OOD disagreed, saying that slowing would complicate the picture, but its unclear how she would know that because it does not appear the watchstanders had done any of the work to figure out what course and speed would best avoid the close CPAs.
Despite the apparent doubt and the order from the CO to call in cases where they had questions, they did not alert the captain.
At no point prior to the collision did Benson, the commanding officer, have a chance to effect the outcome of the disaster in the works that evening because neither the OOD nor the TAO called him to alert him to the danger.
At 1:30:34, the disaster struck.
Rear Adm. Fort found four main causes of the collision.
The Fitz OOD demonstrated poor seamanship contrary to the International Rules of the Road.
The Fitz Bridge and CIC Watchteams, jointly and individually, failed at the basic principles of Bridge Resource Management – a term that means using all resources available to CIC and the bridge to safely navigate the ship.
The Fitz commanding officer abdicated his responsibility for safe navigation during the outbound transit from Sagami Wan to the OOD.
CRYSTAL's Second Officer demonstrated poor seamanship contrary to the International Rules of the Road.
The failings of the OOD, the watchstander most responsible for the safe navigation of the ship, are apparent on their face. But the less remarked upon failings of CIC are worth quoting in detail:
Excerpt: The Tactical Action Officer (TAO), LT Combs, and her watchteam failed as completely as the OOD and her watchteam. As a TAO, the FTZ Operations Officer, and the most senior person on watch during the collision, her performance was significantly below standards. She was derelict in the performance of her duties by failing in her duty as a primary advisor, supervisor, and mentor to the OOD.
Given that FTZ was too close to land to radiate the SPY-lD radar, the TAO was free to dedicate her complete focus and attention on supporting the Bridge watchteam as it negotiated a night time transit out of Sagami Wan in moderately dense traffic. Based on her complete Jack of situational awareness, her complete lack of interaction with the OOD and her watchteam, and the volume of paperwork discovered in the vicinity of the TAO seat following the collision, she was most likely consumed and distracted by a review of Operations Department paperwork for the three and a half hours of her watch prior to collision vice standing a professional, vigilant watch.
The Surface Warfare Coordinator LT Woodley, and Surface Watch Supervisor, OS2 Stawecki, were derelict in the performance of their duties in leading the Surface Watch Team in that they failed to maintain an accurate surface contact picture.
The SUWC demonstrated no situational awareness for the expected navigation track …, had no navigational understanding of the expected flow of traffic, and made no effective use of AIS to support his situational awareness. Both the SUWC and SWS simply accepted the challenges that the clutter on the SPS-67 radar return presented them and accepted that manual tracking was the norm because of a concern that using the auto-tracking feature would crash the system. Fundamentally, the Surface Watch Team allowed FTZ to effectively navigate in the blind from CIC, and CIC leadership passively accepted that "it was a quiet night."
The Combat Information Center Watch Officer (CICWO), LTJG Moncravie, and the Combat Information Center Watch Supervisor (CICWS), OSl Graham, were derelict in the performance of their duties to properly supervise subordinate watchstations in CIC, specifically the Surface Watch Team. The CICWO and CICWS contributed nothing to the safe navigation of FTZ other than recording the ship's position every 15 minutes. Further, the CICWO and CICWS failed to forcefully back up the TAO or Surface Watch Team or demonstrate a questioning attitude with respect to the number and close range of SPS-73 contacts being tracked by the OOD on the Bridge (and being displayed on VMS in CIC) compared to contacts being tracked by the CIC Surface Watch Team.
The Comprehensive Review triggered by the accident first on Fitzgerald then on McCain, led by a command that escaped major scrutiny around its potential role in some of the underlying readiness issues in the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet, uncovered a culture of systemic corner-cutting and relaxed standards in service of meeting operational tasking.
Ships were routinely being given waivers for major certifications and ships, such as the Fitzgerald, that were in serious need of corrective maintenance for a whole host of issues were being pushed beyond what was safe. And in that climate, its small wonder that laxity and declining standards began showing up on the deckplates of ships in 7th Fleet.
Many officers paid for these accidents with their careers. Others escaped scrutiny but will have to deal with their role on their own terms.
But tonight, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’ve been talking about watchstanders and their responsibility.
When you assume a watch, in the words of the general orders of a sentry, you take charge of your post and quit only when you are properly relieved. There will always be headwinds to doing your job in the Navy or in any organization, but it’s just not an option to use those headwinds as an excuse to not do your job.
When investigators assign blame for an accident, they look first for the main factors then list the factors that may have also contributed. And in this case, it is difficult to say the main factors that caused the collision between Fitzgerald and the ACX Crystal are anything but clear: Watchstanders on the bridge and in CIC did not stand a proper watch.
According to the investigation, the TAO was likely doing paperwork on watch. The SUWC was profoundly disengaged, not making a single contact report to the bridge for the duration of the watch. The SWS was working hard but failed to ask why he might not be getting the best radar returns on his scope. The CIC Watch Sup, an experienced First Class OS, didn’t ask those questions either.
It is difficult to believe that the 7th Fleet Commander or some Four-Star back in Norfolk made them fall short of their duty. I also strikes me as possible to acknowledge the failings of the higher command and also acknowledge that sailors, on a lower level, also failed to live up to their responsibilities.
This article reveals the 30 invited speakers confirmed for PV CellTech 2019, with just a couple more to be added between now and the event on 12-13 March 2019 in Penang.
The PV CellTech 2019 meeting takes place in Penang, Malaysia on 12-13 March 2019. Going into its fourth year, PV CellTech has firmly become the key event for all CTOs and heads-of-R&D.
The line-up of speakers for March 2019 is by far the most impressive grouping yet to feature at a PV CellTech meeting, including all the c-Si companies making up the new Solar Module Super League (SMSL) for 2019, as explained in an article on PV-Tech just last week.
This article reveals the 30 confirmed speakers for PV CellTech 2019, with just a couple more to be added between now and the event on 12-13 March 2019 in Penang.
As a follow-up also to a recent blog on PV-Tech covering some of the topics for Day 1 of the event, the full list of sessions is revealed also in this blog (Day 1 and Day 2, on 12 and 13 March).
Past CellTech events have been sold-out, so please book soon to attend through the tabs on the event website here.
All silicon-based SMSL companies confirmed as keynote speakers
Last week, we revealed the nine companies now making up the new SMSL for 2019, with eight c-Si module suppliers and one thin-film (First Solar).
We can now reveal that all c-Si SMSL companies will be speaking at PV CellTech 2019, with opening talks on Day 1 from the two cell makers that have led cell production rankings in recent years: JA Solar and Hanwha Q CELLS.
Interestingly, several of the SMSL companies have chosen to present new results from n-type cell lines; a key theme this year at PV CellTech. The full list of speakers is as follows:
• JA Solar, Wei Shan, CTO• JinkoSolar, Qi Wang, Chief Scientist• Hanwha Q CELLS Jörg Müller, Head of Department, R&D Wafer & Cells• Trina Solar, Yifeng Chen, Vice Director - High Efficiency Cells R&D• LONGi Solar (Cell/Module), Hongbin Fang, Director of Technical Marketing• Canadian Solar, Guoqiang Xing, Senior VP & CTO• GCL System Integration, Wei Wang, Solar Cell R&D Senior Manager• Risen Energy, Huang Qiang, Technical VP
GCL-Poly and LONGi Solar to explain wafer supply in 2019
Key to mono adoption, n-type growth and the ongoing competitiveness between mono and multi modules, is wafer supply to the industry today. Once again at PV CellTech, talks will be given from the two leading wafer suppliers to the industry in the past few years for mono and multi: LONGi Solar and GCL-Poly.
Also featuring at PV CellTech for the first time will be an invited talk from advanced wafering specialist 1366 Technologies. Speakers from these companies are listed below now:
• LONGi Solar (Ingot/Wafer) Xie Tian, Director of Wafer Quality Management• GCL Poly, Yuepeng Wan, CTO• 1366 Technologies, Adam Lorenz, CTO
Special session on MWT to explain the current interest in wrap-through
For the first time at PV CellTech, we will have a dedicated session on metal wrap-through (MWT). Having been dormant for some time, there has been a strong uptick in capex from various global cell/module makers in the past couple of years.
The session contributors form the perfect package, to explain what the efficiency/cost benefits are when implementing MWT within advanced n-type and p-type structures. This includes the leading technology-transfer R&D institute for MWT (ECN, part of TNO), the dominant cell producer (Sunport Power), and the equipment company enabling many of the MWT module assembly factories worldwide (Eurotron).
Other multi-GW cell producers confirmed at PV CellTech 2019
In addition to the SMSL players, and other leading GW-plus cell producers, PV CellTech routinely features other cell producers that are having a significant impact on technology trends or non-China production channels.
This year, Boviet Solar will return, in which has become a great opportunity not simply to understand the multi-GW, multi-relationship-based cell/module capacity levels of Boviet, but also the emerging Vietnam landscape for both cell and module capacities, technologies and productivity.
A range of n-type focused cell makers will be featured at PV CellTech 2019, with Jinergy and Jolywood speakers shown below here. Others are expected to be added, helping the audience to understand more about the n-PERT, passivated contacting and HJT expansions underway within China (and elsewhere) today.
• Boviet Solar, Chung-Han Wu, CTO• Jinneng Clean Energy Technology (Jinergy), Liyou Yang, CEO• Jolywood, Zhifeng Liu, COO & R&D Director
Leading equipment and materials suppliers
Each year at PV CellTech, leading equipment and materials suppliers have been a key source of information, in particular for current upgrades and new-tool capex being deployed by the industry.Again this year, almost all the established equipment and materials suppliers will be speaking about how they are pivotal to high-efficiency and low-cost operation of advanced cell production. The group of companies/speakers is shown below now:
• Meyer Burger, Gunter Erfurt, CTO• Heraeus Photovoltaics, Weiming Zhang, Executive VP & CTO• SCHMID Group, Christian Buchner, Vice President - Business Unit PV• DuPont Photovoltaic & Advanced Materials, Guangyao Jin, Chief Scientist• Von Ardenne, Eric Schneiderlöchner, Director - Crystalline Photovoltaics• INDEOTec, Omid Shojaei, CEO• Semco, Raymond de Munnik, VP Business Development• Aurora Solar Technologies, Gordon Deans, CEO• VITRONIC, Richard Moreth, Head of PV Sales
Research analysts, R&D institutes, and the 2019 ITRPV roadmap revealed!
The final grouping that will be speaking at PV CellTech 2019 includes other research bodies that have been explaining, forecasting and driving technology change within the PV industry over the past few decades.
As PV CellTech has gained traction in the PV industry since its launch four years ago, it has increasingly fulfilled the role of being the definitive technology roadmap event for the industry, including having the first disclosure of the new ITRPV roadmap each year in March.
This year, we are expanding the technology-roadmap session of PV CellTech, as shown below in this article.
Speakers from UNSW, Fraunhofer-ISE and SERIS will complement the afore-mentioned ECN representations at PV CellTech this year.
• ITRPV Steering Committee, Markus Fischer, Co-Chair• University of New South Wales (UNSW), Alison Ciesla, Project Leader – Industry Collaborations, ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics & Photonics• Fraunhofer ISE, Jochen Rentsch, Head of Department - Production Technology: Surfaces & Interfaces• Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), Shubham Duttagupta, Head of Monocrystalline Silicon Wafer Solar Cell Group• PV-Tech & Solar Media Ltd.: Finlay Colville, Head of Research & Conference Chair of PV CellTech
Full Day 1 and Day 2 session topics
Previously, I explained fully the sessions and scope of Day 1 at PV CellTech 2019, in an article here. The Day 2 content is shown below, in the fully-outlined event agenda update now.Day 1 (12 March 2019):
• Morning Session 1: The cell production landscape in 2019: which technologies are really in mass production today?• Morning Session 2: Keeping both multi and mono p-type cells competitive in the market• Afternoon Session 1: New metal wrap through (MWT) developments to enhance advanced cell efficiencies in mass production• Afternoon Session 2: Passivated contacts: what is needed for this process flow to become a mainstream offering in the PV industry?• Afternoon Session 3: Heterojunction cell expansions: is 2019 to be a breakthrough year for HJT in multi-GW mass-production?
Day 2 (13 March 2019):
• Morning Session 1: The rise of p-mono PERC: enhanced performance from cell-cutting, bifaciality, multi-busbar/grid-interconnects, copper plating, etc.• Morning Session 2: n-PERT and variants: benchmarking with state-of-the-art p-mono PERC and HJT/IBC mass production leaders• Morning Session 3: Advanced inspection, yield optimization and cost-controlling measures; maximizing the potential of high-efficiency cell production with the lowest production costs• Afternoon Session 1: PV technology roadmap I: the views of leading cell producers and materials/equipment suppliers• Afternoon Session 2: PV technology roadmap II: forecasts from third-party trade bodies and PV-Tech
Day 2 has been structured carefully to follow through the main issue today that almost everyone wants to have answered.
First, what is the limit for p-mono PERC (with any of its add-ons, including half-cut cells, multi-wire grids and bifaciality)? This states the minimum level needed from n-type, but also represents a marker as to when any improvements in p-mono PERC efficiencies will be minimal in percentage terms.
Then, it is key for the industry to understand what can be expected when n-type variants (especially n-type with passivated contacting and HJT variants) are ramped successfully at the multi-GW level.Part of this production line optimization is based on how much automation, inspection and smart-control of cell lines is undertaken, as a means of consistently producing n-type cell efficiencies at the upper ends of distributions, while at the same time narrowing the range of efficiencies per line/fab.
As outlined previously in this article, the entire afternoon on Day 2 is afforded to the PV Technology Roadmap. This part of the event will now hear the views of various companies and market observers, likely each offering different parts of the roadmap-jigsaw.
While the roadmap has always been critical to companies setting out mid to long-term plans, or simply having the best competitive insight available, the rate of technology progress has made this now essential to companies not being left with yesterday’s technology very quickly.
How to attend PV CellTech 2019
PV CellTech has been sold-out during the past few years, so please register quickly to avoid disappointment! Use the link here to sign up to attend.
Published on January 30, 2018
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT switches up an integral piece of the series’ systems, this time categorizing all of its characters into four different classes. Each class has a specific function in battle that it focuses on, and comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. The classes are Vanguard, Assassin, Marksman, and Specialist. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT’s combat actually functions on a rock-paper-scissors system, where each class is weak to another except for Specialist, who isn’t weak against anything but is proficient against all classes if not exceptional. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT’s triangle works with Assassins being strong against Marksman, Marksman strong over Vanguard, and Vanguard being strong against Assassins.
Assassins are focused on high mobility and attack speed, Marksmen have the ability to attack from long-rang, Vanguards are focused on deliberate and powerful attacks, and Specialists each come equipped with unique battle traits.
Because of these weaknesses it’s important to try and have a well-balanced team that’s not weak to one type of class, although this can be difficult if playing random matches. Keep in mind, however, that you can still win with a class that’s weak to another, you’ll just be at a bit of a disadvantage. Here’s a list of how the characters breakdown in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT in terms of classes, so make sure to be familiar with where each one falls.
Assassins in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Noctis Lucis Caelum – Final Fantasy XV
Lightning – Final Fantasy XIII
Tidus – Final Fantasy X
Jecht – Final Fantasy X
Squall Leonhart – Final Fantasy VIII
Kuja – Final Fantasy IX
Zidane Tribal – Final Fantasy IX
Kain Highwind – Final Fantasy IV
Marksmen in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Y’shtola – Final Fantasy XIV
Shantotto – Final Fantasy XI
Ultimecia – Final Fantasy VIII
Terra Branford – Final Fantasy VI
Kefka Palazzo – Final Fantasy VI
Golbez – Final Fantasy IV
The Emperor – Final Fantasy II
Ace – Final Fantasy Type-0
Vanguards in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy VII
Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII
Firion – Final Fantasy II
Cecil Harvey – Final Fantasy IV
Garland – Final Fantasy
Warrior of Light – Final Fantasy
Cloud of Darkness – Final Fantasy III
Specialists in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Bartz Klauser – Final Fantasy V
Exdeath – Final Fantasy V
Onion Knight – Final Fantasy III
Vaan – Final Fantasy XII
Ramza Beoulve – Final Fantasy Tactics
For more on Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, be sure to check out our ever-expanding wiki.