VPOD #15.17. Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-1)

Congressman Rob Wittman is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. In this podcast, we talk about the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) which cost the lives of 17 American Sailors, his trip to South Korea and Japan where he toured the DMZ at the 38th Parallel, and the state of Navy readiness. We also discussed recent North Korean aggression and their missile launches and the state of US Navy shipbuilding, including the plan to increase ship construction, with a specific interest in adding carriers and submarines to the fleet. Finally, we dive into the budget discussions coming up this September.

“[The House] passed a responsible and necessary Defense appropriations bill,” said Wittman. “I do think these appropriations passed out of the House do reflect a responsible effort to address the deficit and debt.”

Congressman Wittman will be leading hearings on the collisions beginning Sept. 7 with testimony from Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, who oversees Navy readiness. You can watch the testimony on C-SPAN.

Upcoming Events of Note:

Sept. 7. Virginia Union University Gubernatorial Candidates Forum sponsored by the NAACP.
Sept. 16. Congressman Dave Brat and Congressman Rob Wittman at a Hanover County picnic with Republican candidates Ed Gillespie and Jill Vogel.
Sept. 19. Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and George Mason University gubernatorial debate at Capital One headquarters in Tysons. Moderated by NBC journalist Chuck Todd, who hosts “Meet the Press.”

News Discussed:

Wittman Releases:

  • old_redneck

    Rob Wittman?

    Rob Wittman?

    The name sounds familiar.

    Oh, wait . . . now I remember. He was once the representative from VA-01. I live in VA-01.

    There was a time years ago when we would see him around the District but now he’s ensconced in DC, traveling mainly to meet his constituents in Pascagoula.

    He only occasionally visits the district and then only to go to places such as the Sili plantation in Caroline County . . . you know, places where he will be on a pedestal before admiring (small, wealthy) crowds. Hmmm. Oh, yes, he did slip, unannounced, into a fund raiser at Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club near Kilmarnock.

  • Jim Portugul

    Thanks Mr. Hoeft. Finally somebody (you) stands up and brings attention to this problem.

    I thought about writing a page on this. But, I’ll just say that I suspect that the hearing on Thursday will be flipped into a Navy fund raiser. Money isn’t the answer. And, Wittman himself voted for sequestration.

    Until we can fix the problem, why on earth would we want more ships? Who is going to command them? As far as on time and on budget? Where was Wittman when the USS Ford was about 100% over budget? What good does it do to talk about it now?

    That Admiral that was fired. He was planning to retire in less than 30 days. Firing him is not good enough. The problem is much larger.

    Again, many thanks Mr. Hoeft.

  • CPC3Dad

    This is the first time I have listened to one of these podcasts but I was drawn to it because I am anxious to hear as much substantive information as I can about these horrible tragedies. The loss of life grieves me terribly but almost as bad is the loss of these assets at this critical time in the Pacific. The host Jim Hoeft correctly states that regardless of the circumstances, the ship’s crews bear responsibility for not preventing these collisions. Even in the case of the McCain which was hit on the port side suggesting that the merchant vessel violated the rules of the road, the crew of the McCain stills had ultimate responsibility for preventing the collision and damage to the ship. I accept this but there are so many things about these incidents that make absolutely no sense. Let me mention just 2 aspects of the Fitzgerald incident. The Navy has released a report on some of the findings that have been made so far. According to the report, at the time of the incident, the Fitzgerald was outbound heading towards Singapore steering a course of 230 degrees at 20 knots. There is a diagram in the report showing the relative orientation of each vessel as they collided. If this diagram is accurate then the merchant vessel was steering a course of about 205 degrees at the time of the collision. But this makes no sense because it’s destination was in a northeasterly direction. What was it doing headed practically south at 0130 in the morning in crowded shipping lanes with commercial traffic all around it going in the opposite direction of its destination? Finally I have sailed all my life and I have seen boats collide – it is always messy and this hit is way too clean. In a press conference just days after the incident, the captain of the merchant vessel said they saw the Fitzgerald and flashed their lights trying to prevent a collision. Again, if the diagram of the collision in the Navy report is accurate, then the bow of the merchant vessel when it struck the destroyer ahead of amidships would have thrown the bow of the destroyer violently to port and the stern violently to starboard – the opposite would have happened to the merchant vessel. It’s bow would have gone to starboard and it stern to port. Significant damage would have occurred all along the sides of each vessel but that plainly did not happen. The only thing that would have physically prevented the sterns of these vessels from colliding with each other after a hit like this (remember, they each were supposed to be going 20 knots) is one or both of them was in an established hard rudder turn toward the other. But the Navy is claiming its crew never saw the merchant vessel headed toward the destroyer and they were steering a steady course to Singapore. On the other hand, the merchant vessel claims to have been watching the destroyer for a full 20 minutes before the collision so they had the time to establish the kind of turning momentum that would done maximum damage to the destroyer and minimum damage to their own vessel. As preposterous as it sounds, I am convinced that these two merchant vessels involved in these two incidents were weaponized – they were used to remove these assets from the seventh fleet. I presumed they were hijacked by very sophisticated people who knew how to track the destroyer and how to deceive the Navy crewman tracking the vessels around them. In so doing they murdered 17 Navy crewman and committed acts of war. The congressman calls for transparency in the ireporting on these incidents. I certainly support that. I would love to be proven all wrong. But really – two “clean” hits in a matter of weeks on two critical assets which removed them from the theatre? I will be listening to the hearings on September 7th. I am going to be so disappointed – reallly I will be heartbroken- if they do not reveal more about these two issues and the many, many more issues around these events that make no sense at all. There is much more at work here than over-worked Navy crew members. They were deceived, critically wounded and left for dead. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen at these hearings.

    • Jim Portugul

      BS. Your comment is total absolute BS.

      • CPC3Dad

        Sorry – maybe we will learn some more in the hearings today.

        • Jim Portugul

          It’s very complex to put into just a very few words. But, the results of corruption both in government and society, which for several generations has lead to a flawed education system starting preschool, and continuing into elementary school and thru college has finally caught up with us. There is a lot more to this than can be put into a couple paragraphs. Also the ships and their equipment are apparently to complex for the majority of people to maintain and operate. The time of the jack of all trades ended years ago. Specialists for each complex system are now required, which creates many more problems.

          Corruption, poor management, and lack of discipline caused all 4 accidents this year.. Today’s young people cannot generally function in an enviroment where irresponsibility is not acceptable.

          I doubt we have the will to repair the root causes of the problem. Also, trying to be the entire worlds police force is about to end. There were no cyber issues or any conspiracy. The Navy knows exactly who screwed up and everything else about those accidents. But, they do not have a clue how to fix it. Congress is also responsible for those accidents. They simply can not manage nor govern any longer.

          • CPC3Dad

            Our local paper reported this weekend on a talk given by retired General Wesley Clark – here is what they said about the Navy destroyers,

            “Clark talked about recent collisions of Navy ships in the Pacific. He said that he understood that the commanding officers had been relieved of their duties, but he found it very surprising if they were at fault.

            “You don’t come up through the ranks of the armed forces and not know your stuff,” he said. “Especially in the United States Navy because it is the most technically demanding and difficult of all of the services.”

            Clark said he had heard behind the scenes that the lookouts on those ships had been on duty and alert.

            “There’s something very strange going on with GPS systems or internal controls of these ships,” he said.

            Of course this could be absolute and complete BS from old army general.

        • Jim Portugul
          • CPC3Dad

            Thank you for the link. I do not dispute anything in the article and I cannot comment on the issues it focuses on. Irrespective of the article I still believe the sailors on the Fitzgerald and the McCain were the victims of a premeditated attack. I am tracking the ACX Crystal and the Alnic MC on MarineTraffic.com and neither one has even gone to a yard for repairs while our ships are useless for the foreseeable future. And this happened twice within weeks? My concern is that these ships were in these crowded sea lanes by themselves because it was inconceivable to the Navy command that they could become victims of a weaponized merchant ship. Well, on November 10, 2001 no one could conceive that NYC would be the victim of a weaponized airliner. So you can pursue your agenda, I am still worried about all the things that make no sense about each of these incidents.

          • Jim Portugul

            The twin towers did not have God knows how many look outs on duty, nor did it have the most advanced radar in the world, and the ability to easily out maneuver or out run just about any ship on the planet.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.