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Old August 5th, 2017, 06:03 PM   #1
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Worst Decisions of Navy Captains

In 1842 Captain Mackenzie of the USS Somers had a midshipman and 2 sailors hanged for mutiny. The midshipman, Philip Spencer, was the son of the Secretary of War, and apparently a brat whose father had prevented him from being dismissed from the Navy.

In 1861, Captain Wilkes of the USS San Jacinto had a British ship boarded and seized the Confederate envoys to Britain and France. This was beyond awful politically.

Ships captains had a great deal of leeway, as it wasn't possible to get orders from superiors before radio and so on. Are there other examples of big screw ups?
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Old August 5th, 2017, 06:30 PM   #2
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US Navy captains only?

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Old August 5th, 2017, 06:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by comtedeloach View Post
US Navy captains only?
I know those two stories. Any captains are fine.
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Old August 5th, 2017, 07:20 PM   #4
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All the British captains who decided raiding US ships for sailors was a-OK. https://www.marinersmuseum.org/sites...avy/08/08a.htm

- Chapter Section Navigation
Impressment of American Sailors
The Chesapeake Affair of 1807
American Reaction to the Chesapeake Affair
Entanglement in World Affairs

Impressment of American Sailors

Of all the causes for the War of 1812, the impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy was the most important for many Americans. The British practice of manning naval ships with "pressed" men, who were forcibly placed into service, was a common one in English history, dating back to medieval times.

Sailors being pressed. From the collections of The Mariners' Museum. Under British law, the navy had the right, during time of war, to sweep through the streets of Great Britain, essentially arresting men and placing them in the Royal Navy.
Naval press gangs operated throughout England in organized districts overseen by naval captains. When there was a need for new recruits the gangs would move through the waterfront districts searching for "Roderick Random," as they called the men they pressed. Under law, the press gangs could take almost anyone they happened to find. However, some individuals were protected from the press: apprentices already indentured to a master, seamen with less than two years' experience at sea, fishermen, and others associated with maritime trade and industry such as riggers, shipwrights, and sailmakers. These men were essential to the economic well-being of the empire and were not to be conscripted by press gangs. However, simply identifying oneself as a member of a protected segment of British society was not enough to guarantee one's freedom. Each "protected man" was required to carry with him a document called a protection that identified him and his trade. If he could not produce his protection on demand by the press gang, he could be pressed without further question.

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Old August 5th, 2017, 07:56 PM   #5
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Yeh, the Chesapeake Affair. I thought that might have been policy rather than a captain. The British fired on and boarded a US Navy ship. They were looking for one deserter, who they hanged. The also took off some other suspected deserters.
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Old August 5th, 2017, 10:54 PM   #6

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Yes. Britain would often violate the rights of foriegn ships if they thought they might have British sailors on them. American ships often DID have British sailors on them. Who would be taken back, also British subjects on foriegn ships were not considered to be safe. They could be pressganged into navy service. This included Irish men and Englishmen who may have left GB to start a new life but were still considered British. American ships didn't help matters though by harbouring British deserters and hiring seamen and giving them falsified documents (rendering legitimate documents suspicious).

And only 50 years later a US ship boarded a British postal ship and abducted CSA diplomats . It wasn't but recently that the US was abducting foriegn citizens from other countries. And it's own citizens from foriegn militaries.

It was arrogant, but as THE ranking power at sea it was basically the right of the strong.
It was also I believe a policy that captains were expected to persue. And in most cases they could usually get away with it. The war it caused was mostly successful for GB, US blockaded, US Navy holed up, US privateers destroyed, capital city burned down, Canada defended.

Rodgers and Bingham both made bad moves in the little belt affair.
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Old August 6th, 2017, 12:05 AM   #7

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The lighthouse and naval vessel describes an encounter between a large naval ship and what at first appears to be another vessel, with which the ship is on a collision course. The naval vessel, usually identified as of the United States Navy and generally described as a battleship or aircraft carrier, requests that the other ship change course. The other party responds that the naval vessel should change course, whereupon the captain of the naval vessel reiterates the demand, identifying himself and the ship he commands and sometimes making threats. This elicits a response worded as "I'm a lighthouse. Your call. This is of course urban legend/myth/total b.s .

(Sigh) i just wish it was true.
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Old August 6th, 2017, 03:16 AM   #8

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Villeneuve, Trafalgar 1805: "Turn around!"
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Old August 6th, 2017, 04:21 AM   #9
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Do you include admirals? Nagumo at Midway. For that matter we could also include the decision to withdraw after only two strikes at Pearl Harbor.
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Old August 6th, 2017, 10:20 AM   #10

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Halsey for chasing the decoys and abandoning the landing force @ Leyte Gulf.

the little boats (Taffy 1, 2, 3) saved his bacon on that one.
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