Kate Wiltrout of the The Virginian-Pilot reports that LCDR Sean Kearns the former XO of the USS San Antonio was acquitted of negligence related charges in the death of a sailor during small boat launch ops aboard the ship. According to the story, charges alleged that LCDR Kearns failed to properly train the crew in small boat launch ops. The defense, according to the story, countered that the ship–a first in its class version of a new amphibious ship–was plagued by problems and a lack of technical manuals or procedures for the new equipment on the ship. The acquittal will likely result in the LCDR’s promotion and receipt of back pay, according to the story–though as LtCol Chessani learned, not guilty does not equal easy street.

After the death of the sailor, the Navy launched an investigation into many defects in the ship that found, among other issues, that it went to sea without 40% of its technical manuals, see here. Prior testimony reportedly showed that the San Antonio had no manual or guidelines for launching small boats.

12 Responses to “USS San Antonio XO Acquitted”

  1. BMC says:

    Really heart breaking indeed when we can’t launch a small boat safely, why does the XO need to suffer for this the BMC and his lot need to be beaten for this. The NAV needs to go back to real training ala GTMO and forGet all this computer based gun-decking they call training nowadays. Last time I visited a ship I wasn’t impressed the one thing that struck me was what, I sensed a general lack of pride. Not one seaman bragged about what their ship could do!

    Man I was disappointed, who ever heard of deck Seamen not bragging about their ship? Our navy needs to go back to more hands on training as it relates to the structure and safe operation of our ships systems period, enough of all this web based PQS. In my humble opinion nothing is more conducive to learning and safety than time spent in deck division with a salty Chief showing you the ropes and denying liberty to the second and first class because Seaman Schmuckateli here can’t tell you the difference between a chemical and collision alarm!

    Boy how times have changed however, our people are trying and I respect them for that, more hands enough computers thats all.

  2. Correction says:

    No Man, LtCol Chessani’s case never went to trial on the merits so he was never found NG. (However, a NG finding would most likely have been the outcome had it gone to a jury.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Details, details. :)

  4. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    Incorrect Correction–

    Did I say LtCol Chessani was found not guilty by a panel of members? What would you call LtCol Chessani? Acquitted, innocent? Those words would either be factually wrong or without basis in facts known to me.

    We’ve had this discussion here before that there are a world of non-punitive actions to be taken against an officer that is acquitted at a court-martial or has charges withdrawn and dismissed. I’m not saying any of those measures are appropriate here, because I don’t know all the facts, but the officer isn’t out of the woods yet, to use a different phrase.

  5. Charles Gittins says:

    The Navy used the “vessel exception” to force the CO to go to NJP. Had he not been forced to face NJP by imposition of the vessel exception, he too would have been acquitted. The GCMCA didn’t realize that the XO had been transferred when they offered him NJP and the XO stepped up and kicked the GCMCA in the junk. Well deserved. The Navy is blaming the crew when big Navy is totally responsible for sending in incomplete ship to sea. The jacked up equipment sent to sea on this ship would meet the standard for criminal negligence by the leadership if someone really looked at it closely. But, no one ever holds the flag offers responsible for their incomprehensible lack of judgment. Sheesh!

  6. Snuffy says:

    Not being a Sailor, it is important to have all yer books? Or are people supposed to know how to operate stuff, like small boats, fer instance. Many Army guys can’t read too good, so we actually spend time on training them up, but we dont get new stuff too often, so I guess it does make a difference?

  7. Anon. says:

    Maybe the AF should take note of this case before proceeding with a scheduled SpCM in Grand Forks (SNCO charged with negligent dereliction of duty related to the suicide of a subordinate–15 Nov AF Times front page story). Perhaps the real negligence is in the charging.

  8. Cheap Seats says:

    The Navy tried charging that at NAS Brunswick. MJ wouldn’t even accept the plea. Ended up at NJP.

  9. Correction says:

    No Man, you wrote “though as LtCol Chessani learned, not guilty does not equal easy street.” My reading of that quote was you were saying he was found NG at a court-martial, which was not the case. I agree with your ultimate point that the conclusion of a court-martial, in whatever form, is often not the end of the story.

  10. UCI? says:

    Interesting wrap-up article today in the Virginian Pilot. Convening Authority gave an interview post-court-martial about his reasoning in referring the case. Can’t believe they let him do that. Does this cross the line on UCI. Certainly criticizes the members while saying he’s not allowed to criticize the members!
    http://hamptonroads.com/2010/11/san-antonio-case-wont-lower-expectations-admiral-says

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