This morning’s military article comes to us with news that the sailor who had been accused of burning down a baby carrier has been cleared of any wrongdoing. The article actually points out two problems that have plagued the Navy for decades.

The first is that the US Navy has a long history of finding scapegoats upon whom to place blame for institutional failures. In this case, you have a ship that is poorly maintained and cluttered with junk. A sailor warns his division officer that the place is a fire hazard and is ignored. A fire is started by some unknown source. Sailors can’t put it out because they and their officers have no idea how to perform even basic damage control. Instead of blaming the command for poor training, maintenance, and housekeeping, blame the sailor who tried to warn you. The Navy saves face, and who cares about those stupid enlisted men? They are there to be destroyed for the sake of officer careers.

That is reminiscent of the Iowa explosion. In the case of the Iowa battleships, there was a flaw in the firing system. The silk making up the 50 pound bags that the gunpowder comes in were famous for leaving embers behind in the chamber of the 16 inch guns. Ramming them into the breech too quickly while those embers were still there was a recipe for explosions. They had been known to cause mishaps in those guns for decades.

However, those cannons were a huge PR point for the Navy, providing tons of photo ops and bragging rights for recruiting commercials. So when the Iowa had an explosion, instead of blaming a faulty process in a 50 year old weapons system and hurting their recruiting tool, they blamed a sailor who they alleged was a jilted gay lover.

That brings us to the second issue exposed by the above article. The Navy has had recruiting issues for decades. The smarter and nerdier recruits all want to go to the Air Force, which is seen as more technical and cerebral. A lot of the muscle-head jocks want to prove their masculinity and join the Marines. Many other kids want to be able to play with machine guns and blow shit up, so join the Army. What does the Navy have? The Navy has historically solved that problem by trying to project this image that everyone in the Navy is a fighter pilot, a SEAL, a computer technician, or an officer. You will note that no one in Navy movies except Steven Seagal is ever a cook, and even then, Seagal was a Navy SEAL cook. Assigned to a battleship. Not everyone can have those awesome jobs. In fact, most Navy jobs are tedious jobs more akin to janitorial work than to anything cool or technical. There are more people cleaning toilets and doing officers’ laundry than there are SEALS in the Navy. (There are as many Admirals as there are ships– someone has to be their orderlies.)

So the Navy convinces everyone that they can be a SEAL, or a Rescue Swimmer, or a nuclear power plant operator. The recruiters make the pitch and convince you that your job is going to be AWESOME, and will come with all sorts of promotions and large cash bonuses. What they don’t tell you, or at least gloss over, is that the washout rates are on the order of 80 percent or more for some programs. Sometimes they wash you out for nebulous reasons, like “possesses traits undesirable in this career field” because the kid got caught with a beer while under 21 years old. Starry eyed high school kids join the military to be SEALS, washout before training even starts, and find themselves cleaning toilets and chipping paint with a hammer for the next four years.

The Navy knows that those jobs suck, but they have you under contract for the next four years, so they don’t care if the sailor is happy or not. As evidenced by the statement from the Navy prosecutor:

Prosecutors said Mays was angry and vengeful about failing to become a Navy SEAL and being assigned to deck duty, prompting him to ignite cardboard boxes on July 12, 2020…Mays thought he would be jumping out of helicopters on missions with the SEALs, but instead he was chipping paint on the deck of a ship, and he hated the Navy for that, Jones said.

This is a common story. The reality of the Navy is far different from the image it portrays in the movies. The Captain of the ship doesn’t listen to some E-4 Petty Officer with grudging respect for the knowledge he possesses. The Captain is more likely to be a career ticket puncher who is desperately trying to become one of the Navy’s 265 Admirals, and will destroy that E4’s life to do so. I can’t speak for the other branches, but that is life on the big, gray boat.

Categories: Military


Big Ruckus D · October 1, 2022 at 9:26 am

Well, they did have the village people to help with recruiting, once upon a time. In this age of 24/7 wall to wall technicolor faggotry, maybe they can get someone like lizzo to do a cover of their greatest hit. You know, to freshen it up a bit and make it relevant to a new young audience in 2022. Throw in a flute solo and some undulating, gelatinous booty shaking for good measure. The kids will love it. And of they don’t, we’ll genitally mutilate them for their unenlightened lack of faggot worship.

You know who they won’t scapegoat? Affirmative action bitches who crash the ship they are piloting because of a sorority house spat over stupid bullshit. Brings a whole new meaning to petty officer.

Chris Mallory · October 1, 2022 at 9:55 am

I was wondering about the second issue. The kid had the ambition and apparently the scores to be selected for SEAL training, like you say more are washed out than make it. There wasn’t anyplace else the Navy could have put him other than as a Deck Ape? Nothing against the deck crew. I have worked with a couple guys who were deck apes, they were proud of the name and of doing a hard, dirty job. But in another service they would have been cooks or truck drivers.
The Navy didn’t have any slots in law enforcement, fire fighting?

    Divemedic · October 1, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    The well qualified kids all want the best jobs. The better a job is, the easier it is to fill it. Deck department is a difficult billet to fill, so the washouts frequently go there.

      Bigus Macus · October 1, 2022 at 9:36 pm

      Back in the last century in the Old Navy, if you failed Data Systems “A” school at CSTSC Mare Island your next stop was what we called the IBM program. You were transferred to an AO at Concord Naval weapons stations as an “Instant Bosuns Mate”.

Bigus Macus · October 1, 2022 at 11:20 am

BZ, spot on.

Paulb · October 1, 2022 at 12:08 pm

I currently work with two retired navy chiefs, both now tugboat captains, and both right seamen with exceptional safety records, happy boats and hellaciously good boathandling skills.
I have also worked with four ex navy SWO’s, Officers. Ship drivers, as they refer to themselves. Not a one lasted a full 4-month contract without being fired for cause.
The navy rewards surface warfare officers who get passed over by giving them a 2nd mate’s license as a merchant officer. My job used to be getting them not to crash the ship at sea, and not to blow up the ship in port, because the navy does not teach officers how to navigate, handle or manage a ship, does not teach them cargo operations, handle ship’s business, or how to access the resources to learn to improve after mistakes are made. One thing they were good at, though: blaming others.
I was in an odd spot. I was the rating of the watch, not the officer, but I was close with both the captain and the chief mate after we’d worked together for a number of years, and so I could run the cargo watch and also run the nav watch, as I was just accruing sea time to climb the hawsepipe and become a mate, and the chief mate was a natural born teacher who was pushing me to advance quickly. So 3 out of 4 times, prior to being fired, these ring-knocking trashbags tried to blame me for their mistakes, which usually were a matter of not knowing the Navigation Rules, not knowing how to use a navigation chart, or not knowing how to delegate.
The navy has chiefs and ratings to do what merchant officers do when it comes to running a ship. The naval officers, from what I can see, just have to be sure the ratings do their part so as not to hurt the officer’s chance of promotion. With that sort of structural philosophy, accountability is a 4-letter word.
Now, I’ve never been in the navy. I’d be curious to know how often and in what departments the officers are expected to be more skilled than their ratings at doing critical tasks. At least in navigation? The answer has been a solid ‘never’ from the men I’ve met.

    Porkypine · October 1, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    Operations is a big maybe. Medical is another maybe.
    Deck and Engineerig usually had the highest percentage of highly competent officers. Why? That’s where you had the highest concentration of LDOs & Warrant Officers. While I met some bad LDOs while I was in I never once met a bad warrant. As far as I’m concerned just about any Warrant sits just a step or two below Jesus in terms of respect that’s due to them. Warrants & LDOs have to come up through the enlisted ranks first, so chances are they will know your job as well as you do, or if they don’t they usually aren’t too proud to admit it.

Slow Joe Crow · October 1, 2022 at 2:40 pm

Saturday Night Live had the only truthful Navy recruiting ad

Techiedude · October 2, 2022 at 8:07 am

I know maybe three or four guys that had cool or combat jobs when they were in the service. The rest had stupid and useless jobs that they could have gotten without the hassle of enlistment.

Case in point, I had a friend that went in, did comms, radioman I think. He got out and started working for the cable tv access studio where I was working when he went in. I told him he was retarded and that I could’ve gotten him that gig years before. Hell, I knew a few guys in HS that went in, where promised to be mechanics. They wound up driving trucks.

Any dude with some intellect and drive can get a decent trades job and be far better off. Many I knew thought it would be a faster track, only to find out that you start off a grunt no matter where you are.

    Divemedic · October 2, 2022 at 10:53 am

    As far as skills that help you later in life, I view my time in the military as a waste of 6 years of my life. I used to be proud of what my family and I had done in service of this nation, but seeing what it has become, the nation squandered that effort.
    That is why I pushed my children to avoid military service.

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