Home » women in combat » women in the military » women in the navy » women at sea » CAPTAIN DONALD J. O’SHEA (1936-2006): THE FINAL EVALUATION


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Chief Slanderer and Paperwork Lyncher

I knew Capt. O’Shea while he commanded the USS Point Loma, a non-combatant (no weapons systems) surface ship in the 1980s. Since 1981, I served as the Communications division officer under the previous CO, who then moved me up to Operations Officer in 1982. I was one of several female officers here, most of us Lieutenants serving our first tour at sea (approx. 50% of this ship). The navy’s women at sea program was still a new concept, since the Women at Sea program began in 1979.

According to Ancestry.com family tree records, O’Shea’s triple whammy cause of death at age 70 was identified as: hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, and pancreatic cancer. This could have been attributed to a lifetime of cigarette smoking, too many tattoos with dirty needles, and alcohol abuse. Seems like it could have been preventable. He had five biological children that he never spoke to us about, and two adopted children from his most recent marriage. One of his granddaughters said she only met him once, and her mother only saw him a handful of times.

Whatever good works O’Shea may have done in past assignments, it seemed to all fall apart for him on the USS Point Loma. He came to the ship as a burnout, after serving virtually all of his career in the submarine navy on diesel boats that the navy was phasing out of service. He had little experience on surface ships and working with women prior to this tour. In my opinion, the submarine navy had no respect for the surface navy, because senior submarine officers were allowed to award Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) qualification pins automatically to each other. This meant that their knowledge was not tested prior to award, because it was assumed that they knew it all. These senior officers were of no help to junior officers attempting to qualify SWO.

It was rumored that O’Shea made a deal with his seniors to give him command of the Point Loma (knowing that women were part of the crew) if he would agree to get married to erase his previous reputation as a “womanizer” and “party guy”. In May/June 1982, O’Shea arrived with his new fiancée, whom he met about 6 weeks before while enroute from his previous assignment. All of the ship’s officers attended his wedding soon after the change of command ceremony. Approximately three months after the wedding, O’Shea announced he was filing for divorce. Coincidence? Maybe the wife was in on the deal. Considering how he used and discarded women and subordinates at such a dizzying pace, I’m sure his honor and integrity was boundless. Leave it to the navy to make a mockery of marriage for the sake of a job.

Who was the moron who taught O’Shea that it was OK to make enemies out of subordinates? Or did he think of that one all by himself? Good leaders will teach, motivate and provide encouragement, and O’Shea did none of this. Any leader who believes they need to fire someone needs to have good cause, and it does not need to be done with malice. No one ”deserves” to be abused and slandered to achieve that end. Most people want to believe that the workplace is always just, and if someone is abused, they must have done something to bring it on. If anyone reading this believes that, I’d like to hear from you, and so would every sexual assault/harassment/workplace bullying targets out there. I’m sure it will go over great with the MeToo crowd. So go ahead, give it your best shot.

The facts below are from my personal, first hand observations and experiences. Written evidence is available and much of it has already been made public record. Remember, it’s not slander if it’s true.


A TOXIC WORK CLIMATE: misogynistic, rampant, undisciplined sexual misconduct and harassment abounded. Slander, backstabbing, mob-like behavior among officers who viewed each other as competitors to be eliminated. Extremely low morale and trust. This climate began under the previous CO, and became progressively worse under O’Shea.

SURFACE WARFARE (SWO) QUALIFICATIONS WERE FAKE AND THE PROCESS WAS CORRUPT: No organized training, no consistent standards. O’Shea and XO were apathetic and uninvolved, delegated too much to an inexperienced lieutenant with conflicts of interest against the peers she was allowed to evaluate. Oral boards consisted only of peers evaluating peers. These boards were used punitively to ruin competitors’ careers. Seniors provided no oversight to ensure integrity. O’Shea and XO did not attend qualification boards as a rule. Politics generated awards.

INCOMPETENCE: accidents, collisions, loss of classified material, loss of ship’s anchor and chain at sea, loss of ship’s store funds & inventory. Either no accountability, or the wrong people were scapegoated with removal. O’Shea himself was awarded a Punitive Letter of Admonition for negligent hazarding of a vessel after a collision that occurred in 1983 at Port Hueneme harbor.

LACK OF GOOD ORDER AND DISCIPLINE: Serious improper fraternizations, known by O’Shea. In one case, the Command Master Chief was removed. Other guilty subordinates were rewarded with warfare qualifications and promotions. Numerous pregnancies, high drug abuse rates and numerous firings resulted in high crew turnover, and contributed to a lack of unit cohesion

HIGHEST DRUG ABUSE RATES IN SUBPAC (SUBMARINE FORCE PACIFIC FLEET) 1983: Random urinalysis drug tests identified USS Point Loma with highest “positive” drug test results of all vessels/commands in SUBPAC. SUBPAC initiated an unofficial investigation, discovering that the ship’s non-combatant mission and limited underway schedule contributed to crew boredom and increased opportunity for misconduct and drug abuse. About 40 naval ships were designated “non-combatant” with similar limited missions & underway schedules, yet none achieved this dubious distinction.

ABUSE OF POWER AND PERSECUTION OF SUBORDINATES: O’Shea preferred to delegate counseling of subordinates to the Executive Officer, who was frequently derelict and ineffective. O’Shea acted on the slander of subordinates, failing to recognize their agendas to eliminate peer competition. He removed the targets of this slander, believing that the targets were the problem. SWO oral boards were used punitively to reprimand those who allegedly did not achieve arbitrary and changing criteria for qualification. He targeted subordinates in “paperwork lynchings”, such as Removal for Cause, Revocation of Officer of the Deck qualification, and denial of SWO qualification. He relied on female evaluations of female targets to keep his hands clean of gender discrimination complaints, while ignoring clear conflicts of interest. Peers have no business evaluating peers because the competitiveness of evaluations corrupts the process. Documents that O’Shea submitted to SUBPAC included slanderous accusations and opinions, unsupported by fact, laced with profanities and irrational emotional statements. When O’Shea didn’t have evidence, he simply made it up with deliberate misstatements of fact. Reviewers were unimpressed, and returned them for “reconsideration”. O’Shea had no intention of reconsidering and found other ways to remove the target with the aid of the Commodore’s staff.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS WERE DISMISSED WITHOUT PROPER INVESTIGATIONS: In 1984, a written complaint of quid pro quo sexual harassment and discrimination was submitted against one of the ship’s male officers, and one male officer on the Commodore’s staff. O’Shea assigned the ship’s XO to do the investigation. Incomplete results prompted the accuser to insist on a fair and proper investigation. After a non-Point Loma officer was assigned, another sham investigation resulted. The investigator never contacted the accuser. Other female officers provided unsworn statements, but no one knows what questions were asked. Female officers were allowed to say anything they wanted, taking cheap shots at the accuser’s job performance, designed to discredit. These officers knew about the ship’s history of undisciplined sexual misconduct, harassment, and negative work climate, yet said nothing about it. Two unsworn statements from the accused officer were obtained, and each statement told a different story. The complaint was then dismissed as “uncorroborated”.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT CONTINUED DESPITE COMPLAINTS: O’Shea himself was reported to have made sexual advances (allegedly) to two female subordinates between 1984-1985, one officer and one enlisted. No known complaints were filed, but the females in question allegedly told other crew members.

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Based on personal observation, public court records: Collins v. U.S. (see footnote reference), Navy JAG Manual investigative reports, and previously published information: Military Magazine Article (Sept. 1998), USS Point Loma Website, posted online in 2000.

USS Point Loma (1982)

Military Magazine Article

USS Point Loma Website (year 2000)

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