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Author Topic: US Officer spent 5 days onboard an Indian Navy warship, INS Delhi  (Read 38808 times)
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« on: February 19, 2012, 10:55:08 pm »

US Naval Officer spent 5 days onboard an Indian Navy warship, INS Delhi

Here is an interesting AMA from a US Naval Officer who spent 5 days on Indian Navy warship, INS Delhi. AMA means AskMeAnything where a person is asked questions which he answers.

IAmA US Naval Officer who spent 5 days onboard an Indian Navy warship, INS Delhi. AMA. : IAmA

I am posting questions and answers below. The US Navy officer is anonymous.

I see a lot of disappointments/shock in your comments. Were there any positives? Did they have good food?
Actually, their food was excellent. They also made really good tea, too. I drank nothing but hot milk tea my entire 5 days there because I was afraid of drinking the water (I saw their reverse osmosis units, dear god).

How bad was it?
15+ years old and they looked like nobody had done any maintenance in the last 5+ years. Their ROs were in such poor shape that despite having a greater fresh water production capacity than my ship by several thousand gallons, they were still on water hours.

How do they runs things differently then the USN?
Their engineering practices were abysmal. No undershirts, no steel-toed boots - they wore sandals - no hearing protection in their engineering spaces. No lagging (sound dampening material) in any space. No electrical safety whatsoever. No operational risk management. No concept of safety of navigation. Absolutely did not adhere to rules of the road. They more or less did not have any hard-copy written procedures for any exercise or event, at all. They had no concept of the coded fleet tactical system that US coalition forces and allies utilize (they literally made it up as they went along, and when I tried to interject and explain to them how it worked, they ignored me). When I arrived onboard they thought I was a midshipman and treated me as such. I had to be frank and explain that I was a commissioned officer and that yes, I stood officer on the deck onboard my ship and was a qualified surface warfare officer. They don't entrust their people with any responsibility until they are very senior Lieutenants (O-3s) and junior Lieutenant Commanders (O-4s). At this point in the US Navy there are literally guys commanding ships, and these guys couldn't even be trusted to handle a radio circuit.

How knowledgeable did you find the officers to be?
Well, their captain was driving the ship when it came within 50ft of the stern of a USNS replenishment ship and at any given time there were multiple officers on the bridge screaming at each other. They were generally clueless and had almost zero seamanship skills. I found their enlisted guys to be far more competent than their officers on the bridge.

Why do you think they're so incompetent and have such crappy operations?
Well, coming within 50ft of another ship at sea is never a good sign. But, afterwards, the general consensus/excuse that they came up with during their mini-debrief was "oh well, rough seas, better luck next time" not "holy ******* ****, we parted a tensioned wire cable made of braided steel under hundreds of thousands of pounds of tension".
And wearing sandals during replenishment/helo ops/boat ops/in engineering spaces pretty much says it all. They legitimately didn't understand why I was wearing steel-toed flight deck boots.
Things like these aren't cultural differences, they are golden exhibitions of their sheer lack of common sense and seamanship.

1. Are you breaking any US Navy rules by telling us all this?
2. How did they do in the exercise? Did they get "sunk" five times or what?
3. Were there equivalent Indian Navy personnel on a US Navy ship and do you happen to know their assessment? Were they disappointed by the lack of slaves?
4. Let's say **** hits the fan. India and Pakistan (or any other country. Take your pick) are at war and the ship you were on is sent into action. Would they be an effective fighting force or are they on the bottom of the ocean before the first day of shooting?
Great AMA btw!
1. I'm not breaking any rules in telling you this.
2. It wasn't a wargame-type exercise. It was basically one big five-day photo op.
3. I only have second-hand information about the Indian equivalent that came onboard my ship, but from what I understand he was impressed by the cleanliness of the ship and amazed that we had hot running water all day...
4. Truthfully - bottom of the ocean. I would be surprised if most of their gear worked. The stuff I saw (I got a pretty extensive tour) looked like it fell straight out of the 60s and 70s and I would be genuinely flabbergasted if they got any rounds off. They could barely avoid hitting other ships in the middle of the Pacific, I doubt they'd be popping off any rounds with any amount of accuracy.

I read 'Indian Navy' and I immediately pictured a ridiculously crowded boat, with everyone living(?) in squalor. Is that at all the case?
Actually, yes. Before I came onboard I was told to bring my own roll of toilet paper, if that alludes to the conditions that they live in at all. There was actually toilet paper aboard their ship. It was thinner than one-ply, if that's possible. I might as well have been wiping my *** with my bare hand.

After a particularly wet small boat ride over to their ship, I was dying to get out of my sea water-drenched uniform and into a fresh one (unfortunately, my entire bag was completely soaked to include my shirts, underwear, spare uniform, phone, camera, and my roll of toilet paper)...
I walked into their "officer's head" (their are extremely, extremely hierarchical and classist, even from a military standpoint) and there was a good 2" of ****-water sloshing around back and forth across the deck and an obscure, probably live wire with it's end wrapped in electrical tape non-surreptitiously protruding from the wall.
They have an entire "class" of civilians onboard. I still don't know what to make of them. I think they were some sort of cheap labor, but everybody onboard referred to them as slaves. As in, they used the word "slave". Anyways, the quarters those guys lived in was awful, it was basically a big open space partitioned with a sheet. They slept on a steel deck with a simple blanket and a pillow. Good times.
Their enlisted guys didn't have it much better. Their berthing was infested with rats (a guy from my ship swore up and down that he saw a rat that was no-**** the length of his arm) and another US sailor from another ship came back covered in bed-bug sores. Dude looked like he had ******* chicken pocks.

Awesome AMA so far. I'm former US navy as well, so I can appreciate your shock and dismay at their abysmal practices.
1. What was your single biggest 'are you ******* kidding me' moment?
2. What was your biggest priority when you got back to your ship?
3. At any point did you consider trying to assume OOD for your own safety?
4. Will anyone important listen to your assessment of their battle-readiness?

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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2012, 10:55:53 pm »

Thanks in advance!
1. Have you ever seen a US ship do an unrep at sea? When we pull along side and shoot the shotline across (basically a thick piece of yarn for those who don't know) there's a nice soft tennis ball affixed to the end of it so that it'll bounce of the deck and someone can go retrieve it... the Indians shot a spear. A motherfucking spear. Like, a 16" long piece of metal with a point on the end....

2. Biggest priority was showering. I hadn't showered properly in almost 5 days, and all of my
uniforms reeked of seawater.

3. I wouldn't dare try and assume the deck like that. Even on a US ship that would be extremely, extremely out of line. On a foreign Navy ship? **** it, I can swim... Honestly though, when they passed under (50 feet from) the replenishment ship, I was generally afraid they were going to collide. 50ft at sea is extremely, extremely close. I had to leave the bridge after that ****, I just couldn't stomach it anymore.

4. And yes, I wrote up a full-debrief afterwards that was read by my CO/XO and presumably ISIC.

On an arbitrary scale from 1-10, 1 being full retard and ten being space marine quality training and efficiency, how would you rate their sailors quality?
3, at best. They had some marginally competent folks, but for every one person who was half-competent, there were 4 other guys just standing around looking clueless.

Why do you think this is? Are those guys not trained? Are their ships "overstaffed"?
I have staff in India and find that there is a tendency to do nothing when they are unsure of something, instead of coming to me and asking for an explanation.
They were great at doing the same things over and over again, but when I simply asked for an outcome and expected them to figure out HOW to do it, they were stumped.
Well, considering how undermanned US ships are at the moment (our CRUDES - crusiers/destroyers) are, on average, missing about 20-30 people give or take - destroyers more so.... I would say that it's a fault in their training, because they have more than enough people running around not doing anything of particular use.
And I agree. These guys were having issues breaking/generating a fairly widely used NATO standard fleet tactical code system that we use among allied nations and I was trying (in vain) to show them how to say what they wanted to say. I literally wrote out word for word what they needed to pass over the rt circuit and they still refused to believe that I was correct...and continued passing incomprehensible gibberish over the airwaves..

NROTC Midshipman here. I didn't know CRUDES were undermanned – why is that? Also, what rank are you? Ship? How do I not suck as an officer?
CRUDES are very undermanned. USS LASTSHIP (flight I DDG) was at 262 when I left. The ships were built for about 315. Cruisers weren't quite as bad, but they're still lacking people as well.
I'm a LTJG. Won't tell you what ship I was on, just know that it's a DDG out of Yoko.
As for how to not suck as an officer? LISTEN TO YOUR CHIEF, YOUR FIRST CLASS, AND YOUR ****-HOT SECOND CLASSES. Always trust your people until they give you a reason not to.

Thanks for the AMA. Did you or any other USNS staff point out these obvious failings to your counterparts? Or was it all just for show and you were basically told to endure.
Oh, the USNS released a full sitrep (situation report) afterwards. And I absolutely told my chain of command about all of this stuff. There is a very specific process that we go through upon returning from any foreign Navy ship. Basically, we sit down and chronicle our entire experience.

Do you think the Indian navy will take any of this advice to heart? DO they actually want to improve? Or will they just brush it off or even be offended that you are insulting their capabilities?
The latter. They pretty much wrote off every piece of advice that I humbly gave them in my time onboard.

Were there sensitive areas onboard the Indian ship you weren't allowed to enter? And vice versa, were the Indian exchange officers allowed to see the US ships in their entirety?
I saw some, but not all of their fire control spaces. I saw their "ops room" - basically their version of
the Combat Information Center. However, I would guarantee that I didn't see everything that there was to see.
And no Ally really truly ever sees every space on a US ship. There are spaces on our ships that even 99% of the ships crew isn't allowed to see. And that's all I have to say about that.

What is your opinion about their war capability?
Truthfully, after touring their ship extensively I would be very much surprised if the majority of their armament even successfully fired, let along hit anything.

How much of the poor conditions do you think can be attributed to poor funding/resources as opposed to the service not giving a ****?
90% of it was the service not giving a ****. Their wardroom (where the officers ate/hung out) was EXTREMELY nice, clean, well-decorated, had a fully-stocked bar with and nice oil pantings and other contemporary decor...but the rest of the ship was a complete and utter pigsty.

As a sailor....I'm so sorry sir! How the **** did you end up with such shitty orders though?
I bet a deployment on a big deck is looking mighty fine after this!
It's all good. I enjoyed 7th Fleet and my time on a FDNF DDG taught me a LOT. I'm not a SWO anymore (I lat transferred to IP - part of the IDC community) but I grew a lot as a person, and professionally, out in Yoko... I actually chose to go out there. I'd love to go back for shore duty, but I'd never go back to 7th Fleet for sea duty, ever.

That's a lot of acronyms. Any help for us rookies?
FDNF - Forward Deployed Naval Forces - this is how we refer to the US Navy's 7th Fleet, stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, because they are permanently forward deployed outside of the US.
DDG - The hull code for the kind of ship I was on - an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer.
SWO - Surface Warfare Officer - what I used to be.
IP - Information Professional - what I am now (basically network security/networking management).

How did the Indian officers visiting U.S. ships react?
From what I remember, they sent a Chief Petty Officer (E-7) equivalent over to our ship, an engineering type. From what everybody back on my ship told me (after I got back, of course), they guy walked through our ship and engineering spaces and was amazed at how clean everything was and, ironically, that we had hot running water all day.

How good was the curry?
Pretty much all of their food was really good, but then again, I'm a big fan of Indian cuisine. They were all actually pretty surprised that I readily ate whatever they put in front of me. I ate the **** out of whatever they served my entire time there.

How did you wind up being on board the ship? How were you rescued?
Well, I wasn't stranded or anything, so there wasn't a "rescue" per se. Basically, whenever the US does any sort of multi-naval exercise with other nations, it is pretty common that we exchange a few people from each ship as sort of a naval-cultural exchange. In this case, I was sent from a US Navy destroyer based out of Japan to the INS Delhi - the Indian Navy's flagship as part of an exercise that took place last March.
As for how I got there, we did a fairly massive passenger exchange that consisted of about 5-6 ships pulling up in basically a big circle within about 500 yards of one another and then we all dropped our small boats in the water, exchanges passengers, and that was that. It was a particularly choppy day at sea and most of us were sufficiently soaked.

Holy crap, that was their FLAGSHIP?
They had a 2-star admiral
I know nada about the Indian navy, but I thought their armed forces were pretty professional. Can you prove your identity?

Describe some of the smells?
The ship generally smelled "old". I dunno if you have every been on a ship - namely a warship - before, but this one smelled like it was ******* from the inside out. Rust, decaying paint, dirty spaces, mechanical generally smelled musty, I guess is the best way to describe it. Imagine if you farted in a vacuum and then immediately sealed the door, and then you opened said door 10 years later...that's what their ship smelled like pretty consistently.

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