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May 15, 2013


On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom. It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them both goes accountability."

"This accountability is not for the intentions but for the deed. The captain of a ship, like the captain of a state, is given honor and privileges and trust beyond other men. But let him set the wrong course, let him touch ground, let him bring disaster to his ship or to his men, and he must answer for what he has done. He cannot escape...."

"It is cruel, this accountability of good and well-intentioned men. But the choice is that or an end of responsibility and finally as the cruel scene has taught, an end to the confidence and trust in the men who lead, for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do."

"And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts."

From a 1952 editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Cassandra at May 15, 2013 06:53 AM

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The ship of State lists to port; the captain tacks to death.

Posted by: William 'The Navigator' Bligh at May 15, 2013 10:30 AM

I believe the editorial was about a collision at sea featuring a USN Destroyer.

"The ship of state is the only ship which leaks from the top".


Posted by: CAPT Mongo at May 15, 2013 11:25 AM

My Dad was a destroyer man. He sent me the article :)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2013 11:45 AM

So odd, this confusion about the difference between direct, personal accountability and accountability of leadership. It used to be pretty obvious, didn't it? Or am I just showing my age?

Posted by: Texan99 at May 15, 2013 12:04 PM


Been there and done that--escaped by the hair of my chinney chin chin. Sorry Sara almost claimed another victim that night. Burnt into my memory forever.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at May 15, 2013 09:26 PM

Howdy Cass: Brilliant post!

OK CAPT Mongo,
You are obviously senior, and have piqued my curiousity w/ ref to 'Sorry Sara.' I know my career was not well rounded; sort of a given for a bubblehead, but I don't understand the nickname. It's obviously about the Saratoga, and appears quite likely to refer to a collision, but a quick google search was not helpful.
The famous collision (Belnap) I first learned of in bootcamp was later taught to me as an OOD U/I as:
1. *ALWAYS* know where the aircraft is. AWAYS.
2. Every Sailor is a firefighter. no excuses.

Know I'm new around here, but for those of you that enjoy mocking 'airheads,' this site helpfully recounts an old joke:

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 15, 2013 10:26 PM