Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Women of the Class of 2006 continue to make their mark.

The torch has been passed to a new gender and a new generation at the Coast Guard Academy. By extension, that torch has also been passed to the Coast Guard. That has consequences for America and the world.
Women in the Academy Class of 2006 conspired with Captain Doug Wisniewski to frame Cadet Webster Smith. Webster Smith was convicted and sent to jail. He is cooling his heels in the Navy Brig at Goose Creek, SC while some of his classmates were sent to cool their heels in the frozen Arctic aboard Coast Guard icebreakers.
Webster Smith was in the Class of 2006. So were Kristen Nicholson, Shelly Raudenbush and Cynthia Travers. Ensign Travers was assigned to the CGC Healy, an icebreaker stationed in Seattle, Washington. She joined three other female officers onboard the CGC Healy. Ensign Elizabeth Newton, Class of 2005 was onboard when Travers reported for duty. The Marine Science Officer and the Diving Officer was Lieutenant Jessica Hill. She was also the Morale Officer. Captain Doug Russell’s ward room had a large percentage of junior female officers.
After riding a desk at Coast Guard Headquarters, Captain Doug Russell, CGA Class of 1982, was chosen to command the CGC Healy. Rather than sail on the ship from Seattle, Washington, he chose to fly to the Arctic and take command of the Coast Guard’s newest and largest icebreaker. On 5 June 2006 at Dutch Harbor, Alaska Captain Doug Russell relieved Captain Dan Oliver, CGA Class of 1979, who had served 3 years as commanding officer. It would appear to be a bit unusual for a captain to take command in the middle of a patrol.
On or about 1 August Ensign Cynthia Travers qualified as a Junior Officer of the Deck and was certified by Captain Russell. On or about 17 August Lieutenant Jessica Hill and BM2 Steve Duque were killed in a routine diving operation.
Initially, the Coast Guard reported that the two entered the water to examine the ship's rudder, a common procedure as the ship operates in Arctic ice.

In a statement on the ship's Web site two days afterward, Russell said the accident occurred during a short break in operations:
"In taking advantage of our first real stop in ice in a month-plus of operations, we capitalized on the opportunity to conduct a dive operation," he wrote. "The dive took place at the bow of the ship in a small area of open water. The dive operation was going pretty much as planned when something happened under the water while Lt. Hill and BM2 Duque were underwater together.
Was this a recreational dive or a serious operational dive? Was it for the purpose of affording the crew a break in the drudgery of the daily routine?
What could have happened under water? Did they suffer a lack of oxygen? Were they using Navy Hardhat suits or scuba diving wetsuits with air tanks? The Navy Hardhat suit would require a lifeline and an air line connection between the diver and the ship. They would be able to talk and signal the second something dangerous or unusual occurred.
It seems unlikely that they were crushed between the ice and the ship or that they were mauled by polar bears, because such injuries cannot be improved by the type of medical attention that is available onboard the ship. Ship’s personnel tried emergency medical attention for over an hour.
The Captain further stated that "When a problem was detected by the personnel supporting the dive operation, the divers were retrieved from the water. Immediate medical attention was provided and they were evacuated to the ship quickly where revival efforts continued for over an hour through the superlative efforts of many." What kind of problem could he have been referring to? How was the problem detected? Was it detected right away? Was the onboard support team on the forecastle alert and attentive at all times? Did anyone leave their post for a moment to use the toilette or to attend to a personal matter?
Were Lt. Jessica Hill and BM2 Duque neglected for the briefest of time, but time enough for them to suffer a lack of oxygen or a loss of body heat? Those are the two most likely scenarios based on what has been divulged so far. Were their wetsuits and diving gear in peek condition?
If they were diving from the ship, then they would not have had to be evacuated to the ship. The message posted on the ship's website seems to imply that they were not diving from the ship. Nor were they tethered to the ship with any type of safety line or harness. When they entered the water, was it from a small boat or from a little bergie bit?
Other areas of inquiry would be who was on watch on the Bridge and in the Engine Room? Who had control of the ship’s engines? Was the ship moving forward or aft or drifting laterally in any way?

This is the big question, can too many female officers in strategic assignments on a vessel render the ship UNSEAWORTHY for 7 days out of 30? It would appear that it is quite possible because of the McClintock Effect. Women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of their menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level. If every female officer on the ship is experiencing the same symptoms at the same time, the ship would be rendered unseaworthy. The lives of every member of the crew would be in danger.

Given the number of female officers onboard the Healy, could this possibly be a contributing factor to the deaths of the two divers? A look at the Chain of Command will show how the female officers were critically assigned. This does not show their special duty stations during special operations, such as diving operations.

The McClintock effect (also known as "Menstrual Synchrony") is the observed phenomenon that the menstrual cycles of women who live together (such as in prisons, convents, bordellos, dormitories, military academies etc.) will tend to become synchronized over time. The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is the smallest U.S. military academy with an enrollment of about 950 cadets. Women represent about 30 percent of Coast Guard Academy cadets, compared with less than 20 percent at the Air Force and Naval Academies and about 15 percent at West Point.

The phenomenon, sometimes referred to as the "social regulation of ovulation," was first formally studied by psychologist Martha McClintock, who reported her findings in Nature in 1971. It has also been noted in small animals such as mice and guinea pigs. Females affected will tend to follow the 'lead' of the alpha female.
Since the research on the McClintock effect is inconclusive, many important questions remain, such as why it evolved and how much pheromones and Jacobson's organ play a role. One possible explanation on why it evolved is: because it allows more males to mate and pass their genes. If only one female of the group was ready to mate at a time, the most probable outcome would be that only the more dominant male would have access to her.
It is apparent from research that some women at least synchronize after living together for a time. Yet others, in virtually identical living conditions, do not.
McClintock, Martha K., Menstrual Synchrony and Suppression. Nature. 229: 244-45, 1971.
Let me attempt to answer a question asked by Gloria Steinam of Ms. Magazine, If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the
beginning of our menstrual cycle, when the female hormone is at its
lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that in those few days
women... (are not fully capable of performing the duties of a ship’s officer in a dangerous situation with a very small margin for error?)
A look at the chain of command on the CGC Healy will show where female officers were strategically placed on the United States’ largest and most expensive icebreaking and scientific research vessel.
THE COMMANDING OFFICER – Captain Douglas Russell
HEALY’s Commanding Officer (or CO) is completely responsible for the overall safety of the ship and crew, as well as the successful completion of HEALY's assigned missions.
A Chief Scientist will coordinate science activities during a science cruise and act as the spokesperson for all science parties aboard. The Senior Scientists are your primary link with the Captain and should be kept informed of your progress and future requirements.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER – Commander Jeff Jackson
The Executive Officer (or XO) is second in command and is directly responsible to the CO for the day to day internal operations of the vessel.
The Operations Officer (OPS) is responsible to the XO/CO for the safe navigation of the vessel and coordination of all operations. Their areas of responsibility include supervising navigation, communications and all science operations.
MARINE SCIENCE OFFICER – Lt. Jessica Hill, also The Diving Officer, and the Morale Officer.
The Marine Science Officer (MSO) is the direct supervisor of the Marine Science Technicians (MST). To that end, they serves as a point of contact for handling needs/concerns regarding the efforts of the MSTs.
DWO- Deck Watch Officers, Ensign Cynthia Travers and Ensign Elizabeth Newton.
Also in the Ward Room, Chief Warrant Officer Maria Kirby.
How many more deaths will it take before we stop assigning officers according to political correctness? Buoy tenders and harbor patrol vessels are less dangerous than icebreakers.
Was the death of Lt. Jessica Hill and BM2 Duque a wake-up call? Icebreakers and high endurance cutters deploy for long periods of time. They travel to remote and hostile environments. The margins for error in judgment and performance are very small. The risk of fatality is much greater.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

Deaths cut Coast Guard cutter mission short
Somber crew brings Healy to home port

Monday, September 4, 2006

The Coast Guard cutter Healy returned to its Seattle home port Sunday, weeks early, and things will not be the same.

Two members of the ship's diving team, Lt. Jessica Hill, 31, of St. Augustine, Fla., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Duque, 22, of Miami, died during a training dive Aug. 17. An investigation into the deaths is under way.

Jim Bryant / P-I
Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Harris holds daughter Rhiana after the Coast Guard cutter Healy and its crew returned Sunday to Seattle from a mission in the Arctic Ocean.
A new commander is taking over, at least temporarily, now that the ship's captain at the time has been relieved in the wake of the deaths.

Two of the ship's scientific missions were scrubbed because of the deaths, and the vessel returned to its Pier 36 berth two months earlier than expected, with the crew not completely over the loss of their shipmates.

Morale "hasn't been the highest, but they're trying to cope," navigator Tim Sullivan said of the crew.

The six-year-old ship was on a scientific mission, investigating the Arctic water and ocean floor as part of research into global warming, when the deaths cut short their work.

The Coast Guard said the deaths occurred after "a shallow water Arctic familiarization dive" that was part of the divers' training. The incident occurred 500 miles northwest of Barrow, Alaska.

At one point, "somebody mentioned that they wanted to bring the divers up," said Sullivan, who said he was on the ice nearby when the trouble occurred. He said the two were brought aboard ship and given emergency medical aid, but could not be revived.

The then-commander, Capt. Douglas Russell, announced the divers' deaths more than an hour after shipmates began the unsuccessful resuscitation, calling the incident "a tragic dive accident."

The two divers' bodies were airlifted from the Healy, returned to Seattle for autopsies and then returned home to Florida to their families.

Surviving crew members were offered counseling by a team of professionals who were flown to Alaska to meet the ship. The ship made an unscheduled four-day stop in Kodiak to give crew members a break, but the lost divers were still on their minds.

Russell, who had taken over command of the ship in June, was relieved of his post pending the investigation. The Coast Guard's Pacific operations commander, Vice Adm. Charles Wurster, said he had a "loss of confidence in (Russell's) ability to command."

Crew members "have been through a lot," said the acting commander, Capt. Daniel Oliver. Oliver, who had skippered the Healy until June, was sent to guide the Healy back to Seattle. The ship's executive officer, Jeff Jackson, will take over the ship until a permanent commander is named.

In addition to the loss of Hill and Duque, the deaths cut short testing of a small submarine and the mapping of the bottom of the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.

Little was being said about the deaths and the investigation Sunday after the ship docked. Crew members' relatives said they'd heard little and were glad their own family members on the boat made it back safely.

"It's just good to have him back and hug him and be able to connect with him after the tragic loss they had on board," said Carole Bark, whose son Jon Loftis serves as a diesel mechanic on the crew. "We'll have some kind of celebration. He didn't say anything" about the deaths.

It was a time to remember some good things about the two lost divers: about how Hill and four other dark-haired junior officers confused other crew members by donning dark glasses and the same style coat, or how Duque trained other crew members in using a rifle to ward off polar bears.

Coast Guard Capt. Daniel Oliver was sent to guide the Healy back to Seattle after the ship's captain was relieved of his post when two members of the ship's diving team were killed during a training dive Aug. 17.
"It was kind of fun, shooting at blocks of ice," said Ensign Stephen Elliott, the ship's marine science officer.

The Coast Guard said there were no developments to announce explaining Hill's and Duque's deaths. Crew members said they didn't know details or felt constrained talking about it. Sullivan, the navigator, said he couldn't discuss everything he knew about the case to a reporter during an interview, because of the ongoing investigation.

"I just felt bad over the loss of great shipmates," he said. "I think I'll grieve for a long time for both of them."
Larry Lange can be reached at 206-448-8313 or

6:35 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The U.S. Coast Guard appointed a task force Thursday to examine the climate and culture among cadets at the Coast Guard Academy.
Interactions between male and female students at the four-year military college came under close scrutiny this year as the Coast Guard investigated a black male cadet for sexually assaulting a white female classmate in the campus dormitory in 2005. He was convicted of several charges and is serving a prison sentence.
The task force, comprising senior Coast Guard officers and civilians, is expected to begin its work this month.
Retired Rear Adm. Erroll Brown, the first African-American to be promoted to flag rank in the Coast Guard, will lead the group, which includes Terri Dickerson, the service’s civil rights director; Rear Adm. Robert Parker, director of operations capability; and retired Adm. James Gracey, a former commandant of the Coast Guard.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to gain a fresh perspective on our efforts to meet the challenging issues of race and gender head-on,” said academy superintendent Rear Adm. James C. Van Sice in a news release Thursday.

6:45 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Doug Genna wrote:

> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2006 22:15:22 -0400
> From: "Doug Genna"
> Subject: Webster Smith Case
> Dear Sir,
> I recently stumbled upon your blog, and especially comments on the
> Webster Smith article. I am going to be honest with you, I hadn't
> heard this story, but I happened to google the name of Shelly
> Raudenbush, and I came across your article. Shelly and I dated in
> high school, and she was not the most faithful of girlfriends, and I
> know of other guys she dated, whom she cheated on. So I was
> wondering if she was actually the other party involved in Cadet
> Smith's trial, especially since all other articles involving Webster
> Smith fail to mention her. I assure you I am not out for any kind of
> revenge, I am more or less just curious about an old acquaintance, and
> if she is a party to all of this, and what you say is true, then I
> have great sympathy for Mr. Smith.
> Thank you for your time.
> Regards,
> Doug Genna

5:39 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

jscott90 writes: Friday, September, 22, 2006 9:13 AM
Healy Tragedy
This blog entry is a perfect case-in-point of the fact that one does NOT have to have to be one of the 'weaker sex' to claim the prize for Most Ignorant Blog.

Does the safety record of the vessel while under the supervision and control of these same females follow the pattern that you describe here, or did you endeavor to discover the safety history of this vessel and its commanding officers? I would argue that this is highly relevant to the accusations that women in places of power are prone to 'mistakes' during their cycles that you are making here.

Secondly, I would also ask if the blogger has actual evidence of any female officers experiencing their cycles during this tragedy. Perhaps he has information that the general public does not have.

Unless and until you have ALL the facts, sir, I would humbly advise that all of this is mere speculation and dishonors yourself and mars what good things I imagine came from your personal time in the Coast Guard.

Luckily for the nation and your fellow Coasties though, you weren't menstruating, or God knows what might have happened on YOUR watch.

Reply to JSCOTT90 re: Healy Tragedy.
Dear JSCOTT90,
Thank you for your comments. Pardon the slow response. I was on vacation.
You are correct. During my personal time in the Coast Guard I was not menstruating. My wife is the only one who menstruates in our home. My daughters are too young. That is one difference between men and women. There are others.
I do not take personal credit for discovering the McClintock Effect, also known as Menstrual Synchrony. Doctor Martha McClintock discovered the social regulation of ovulation in 1971. This is not my opinion. It is a scientific fact. All the perfect safety reports in the world of the vessel while under the control of female officers will not change that.
Many scientific discoveries were at first ridiculed. Galileo was branded a heretic for saying that the earth revolved around the sun. He was tried and imprisoned. Many people today still believe that the earth is flat. There are others who believe that man has never walked on the moon. They think it was all done in a Hollywood studio; much like Cecil B. DeMille’s parting of the Red Sea in the movie The Ten Commandments.
If you do not like the message, please do not ridicule the messenger.
One of the sillier notions that feminists have tried to foist off on the rest of us is that there are no major differences between boys and girls or men and women. It was goofy when Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer, and the ladies of NOW, first promoted the big fib back in the 60s and 70s, and it’s no less lame-brained today.
A Concerned Retired Officer

12:24 PM  

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