VIDEO: Warship near-miss report emerges

Written by Nick Blenkey
warship near-miss was caught on webcam

Close call: Warship near-miss was caught on webcam [Screen grab from YouTube]

Thanks to the efforts of San Diego broadcaster NBC7 a redacted version of a Navy investigation into a “near miss”encounter between two warships last year has been getting more attention than it might have. The incident occurred November 29 and involved USS Harpers Ferry (LSD49) and USS Momsen (DDG92), which came close to colliding as the Momsen was heading into San Francisco Bay and the Harpers Ferry was under way from Naval Base San Diego.

The entire incident was recorded on San Diego Web Cam and got a lot of attention on YouTube, where in some posts it was tagged as “Warship Chicken.” Of course, it wasn’t that, but it was undoubtedly an uncomfortably close call.

Meantime, the webcam that recorded the incident = located at Cabrillo National Monument — has been taken off line, reportedly under NCIS pressure — which seems a petty over reaction as the cam records only what any tourist can see. The webcam shutdown is itself creating a minor controversy.


The redacted report of the preliminary enquiry, released by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet notes that the near-miss was well documented by harbor cameras, installed navigation systems, and accounts by those involved, The vessels were able to maneuver past each other safely, and neither ship was damaged.

“This near-miss collision between warships reminds us of the inherent risk present during operations at sea. We must reduce and mitigate those risks through a diligent and focused performance during special evolutions or transits in restricted waters. This preliminary inquiry is an opportunity to critically assess processes and implement lessons learned to ensure this type of incident does not occur again,” says the report..

In summary, the investigation concluded that the near miss was a result of:

Redacted version of warship near-miss report
Some causes of the near-miss identified in the investigation have been redacted
  • failure by Momsen to adhere to procedures maintaining a proper watch on bridge-to-bridge as it pertained to the Tactical Communicator Position,
  • failure by Momsen to maintain a proper watch on bridge-to-bridge
  • failure by Harpers Ferry and Momsen to communicate via secondary communication channels
  • four other items redacted from the report and
  • failure by Harpers Ferry and Momsen Combat Information Centers (C1C) to provide forceful backup to the pilothouse.


Three major events prevented this near-miss from being a collision, says the report:

1) the decisive actions taken by the Momsen Commanding Officer (CO) to maneuver to port,

2) the Officer of the Deck (OOD) onboard Harpers Ferry assuming CONN (Conning Officer) and maneuvering to port when he felt the point of extremis was reached, and

3) the decision by both the Momsen CO and Harpers Ferry OOD to shift rudders at approximately the same time to complete a successful maneuver to safe waters.


Meantime, the incident is an uncomfortable reminder of the deadly collisions of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and the ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan on June 17, 2017, and the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and the merchant vessel Alnic MC on Aug. 21, 2017, both of which led to recommendations that the Navy reassess the training of surface warfare officers in navigational skills.


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