CORRECTIONS TO POST ON SHOOTING ABOARD USS MAHAN

 

1200px-USSMahanDDG-72

At sea with USS Mahan, Sept. 27, 2002 — USS Mahan (DDG 72) steams in company with USS George Washington (CVN 73) in the Atlantic Ocean.  U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Rex Nelson)

 

One of my sharp-eyed regular readers, who also happens to be knowledgeable on current military and naval matters, kindly and respectfully informed me that I was wrong in a number of statements I made in my recent post about the shooting and subsequent death of US Navy sailor aboard the USS Mahan in the Norfolk Naval Base.

That post appears in its entirety at the end of these corrections. I made the following statements in my post :

Asks Charles McCain: “How does an un-armed civilian get aboard an operational US Navy warship in the heavily guarded Norfolk Naval Base, grab a pistol from a US Navy security guard, then shoot a sailor to death before US Navy security guards kill the perp?”

According to my correspondent, there are a numerous  layers of security before one can simply board a ship. Following are the complete quotes from his email which I have not changed in any way. His quotes are in blue:

“As far as MAHAN shooting, my knowledge on this matter is limited to open source news articles, so I am looking forward to reading (in the news) what the NCIS  investigation uncovers. There are a number of disturbing questions that this shooting has brought up. The NCIS and the base commander already announced that there was no reason for that civilian trucker to have been allowed access with his truck.”    (Charles McCain adds  “NCIS is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service”)

“As for your question about getting on the ship, there were numerous layers of security this person had to pass through. My initial inclination is that a number of people (mostly junior and some of them civilian security contractors) will be under significant scrutiny for what they did (or did not do) when allowing this person past their checkpoints. The security policies, set by more senior personnel, will also be scrutinized.

“The Navy is generally pretty good about reporting on these things and holding personnel accountable. The follow-up to big issues like this in the military usually flies under the radar screen of the major news publications, but you usually read about it in places like NAVY TIMES which are better about tracking the follow-up. Redactions that are made in any reports issued are usually required by federal law (for privacy concerns) and anything they reveal about tactics, techniques, and procedures.”

In the post on the USS Mahan Charles McCain wrote: I presume this will end like the case of Bradly Manning, a Private First Class, blamed for downloading super secret files from the Dept of Defense and the US Department of State, for which he did not work, or have access to in anyway and which isn’t connected to the military in some common computer system.

Nonetheless this one PFC managed to do this and his corporal, sergeant, lieutenant didn’t notice on odd thing. Really? I presume in this instance with the murder aboard the USS Mahan, some low-ranking person will be thrown to the wolves and that person’s division officer or supervising petty officer will continue with their naval careers.

Responds my knowledgeable reader:

“Chelsea Manning did have access to all the SECRET and below files you mention because there is a common computer network for SECRET material called the SIPRNet. Fifteen of her supervisors, including her supervising NCO, were disciplined (2 years before she was convicted) for their inadequate supervision and failure to restrict her access when it was clear from an early period that she was suffering from a number of issues that should have precluded her access to classified materials.”

So I was wrong in a number of things I said and I hope this post corrects all of my errors. Thanks to my knowledgeable reader for taking the time to write me and point out my errors of fact.

Charles

Here is my original uncorrected post:

From the New York Times

25 March 2014

2 Killed in Shooting Aboard Destroyer at Norfolk Naval Base

by 

By Emmarie Huettemanmarch

 

WASHINGTON — Navy officials on Tuesday were investigating a shooting on a guided-missile destroyer docked in Norfolk, Va., that left a sailor dead along with a civilian believed to be the gunman.

The shooting occurred about 11:20 p.m. on Monday at Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, prompting a lockdown that lasted about 45 minutes.

Naval security struggled with the suspect, a civilian, on an upper deck of the Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, according to a statement posted on the base’s Facebook page. The suspect, who did not have a weapon, was able to disarm an officer and shoot a sailor who was responding to the confrontation. Security personnel then killed the suspect.

You can read the rest of the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/us/2-killed-in-shooting-aboard-destroyer-at-norfolk-naval-base.html?hpw&rref=us

Asks Charles McCain: “How does an un-armed civilian get aboard an operational US Navy warship in the heavily guarded Norfolk Naval Base, grab a pistol from a US Navy security guard, then shoot a sailor to death before US Navy security guards kill the perp?”

Photo released by LCDR Joel Stewart, SPAO for Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1). Contact at: stewartjo@ddg72.navy.mil or 757-443-8659

guided missile destroyer USS Mahan  DDG72

(and named for the Mahan you are thinking of. This is an official US Navy photograph)

While the military is always sensitive about criticism from civilians, such as I, as a taxpayer I would like to know how a sailor on one of our warships was murdered in cold blood?

My prediction: we will get nothing but BS from the Navy as the Admiral’s Mutual Protection Society gets into high gear. “Impossible to prevent this act,” they will say. “No one’s fault.”  Citizens will be promised a thorough investigation. “We will get to the bottom of this,”Admiral Blowhard will say. “Will issue a full report to the public. No cover-up.”  Half the report will be redacted.

Have there been a series of security glitches like this in Norfolk before? I will bet you a dollar to a doughnut there have been, some of which were probably in the report just released by the SecDef on 18 March 2014  about the shooting in the Washington Navy Yard.

That report, an independent panel to a degree, said the danger to military personnel is more from other military personnel than people from outside. I think most of us probably figured that out a long time ago.

Will there be an independent panel to investigate this incident or will the US Navy do it? If so, we will only see that report if the lawyers representing the family of the sailor shot to death pry it out of the military. I presume this will end like the case of Bradly Manning, a Private First Class, blamed for downloading super secret files from the Dept of Defense and the US Department of State, for which he did not work, or have access to in anyway and which isn’t connected to the military in some common computer system.

Nonetheless this one PFC managed to do this and his corporal, sergeant, lieutenant didn’t notice on odd thing. Really? I presume in this instance with the murder aboard the USS Mahan, some low-ranking person will be thrown to the wolves and  that person’s division officer or supervising petty officer will continue with their naval careers.

And all the Admirals will be found to have done an outstanding job. Meanwhile, civilians like me are thinking:   you can just walk up the gangplank of a US Navy warship? I had no idea. Cruise ships have gates on their gangplanks. At the entrance on the dock. Not our US Navy.

Did the Captain of the ship and the executive officer and the senior petty officer aboard all do what they were supposed to do when posting security guards and overseeing their work? Were the young sailors assigned, probably at random, to act as security guards properly trained? Were they qualified through the formal process the military has to use the weapons they were carrying? If so, how did the perp get the pistol from the sailor?

Maybe we should hire Wackenhut to guard our ships if the US Navy, one of the armed forces, can’t manage to do it. As a taxpayer I am astonished at this and sad for this young man who died. An innocent young sailor is killed because someone (who had to produce at least one form of ID to get on the base says the Navy!!) walked up the gangplank of the USS Mahan and shot him? Is this the best we can do to protect these young men and women who are serving? If so, it is a sad day.

Note to US Navy spokeswoman, Beth Baker, who was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “Civilians who enter the base must show at least one form of identification…”

Ms. Baker, if you read the newspapers, you will learn that almost anyone can get a fake official I.D. of some sort including a drivers license, at least 10% of which are forged already. And, once again from what I have read in the Washington Post and New York Times, it isn’t even difficult or expensive.

 

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/