Thursday, November 19, 2015

Those that management likes are eccentric, those they don't are fired for their goat

Credit: Navy Times (MC3 Diana Quinlan/Navy)
From Navy Times's David Larter, the story of an an odd U.S. Navy captain: 
On the cruiser Lake Erie, investigators found a grueling schedule with arbitrary weekend workdays; a supply officer so offensive that he was ordered not to speak to any E-6 or below; a crew that spent hours repeatedly cleaning the same places just to look busy; work done and redone because of miscommunication with the shipyard. 
And the pièce de résistance: a seafaring pygmy goat named Master Chief Charlie. 
Under commanding officer Capt. John Banigan, Master Chief Charlie was more than a mascot — he was a shipmate. Charlie sailed on the ship's homeport shift from Hawaii to San Diego in 2014, tied up on the aft missile deck where crewmembers fed him and policed his droppings. 
And he was a fixture at command events. He hobnobbed with distinguished visitors, including the Navy's top officer and, allegedly, the strike group boss, and served as the ring bearer at a junior officer's wedding aboard the ship. 
But the Navy's most adorable master chief would also end up costing Banigan his command....
The story isn't just about the goat, it's mostly about the poor treatment of the sailors and the poor morale. That said, the story would not be nearly as eye-catching without the goat. (It's a funny thing, the goat. If Captain Banigan were a great motivator and well-loved, I sense that even the legal troubles with the goat could not possibly interfere with his career.)

I've worked for some pretty odd ducks in my time, but I've yet to meet a pet goat. Readers, got any good stories? 


  1. My post-doc advisor was this 65 year old man who made plenty of offensive, off-color comments, took naps in his office, worked a 4 day week, and had a long history of chasing and dating grad students. He eventually married one. His reputation had spread to nearby schools.

    Did the institution do anything about it? No. Why? Possibly, in part, he brought in three RO1's. Which were largely written by a Research Associate professor that worked for him.

    Like the ACS: want to understand how an organization works? Follow the money.

  2. Odd story about goats here in Italy too: an Admiral of the Italian Navy was angry for the grass growing high in many bases he had been inspecting but was told there was no money for maintenance works. He joked: "Well, let's buy some goats". This was misinterpreted as an order and at least two bases were equipped with goats. Many problems followed, mainly about the animals' health and the Person Responsible for Health in the Navy wrote a letter on the subject to his Commander suggesting to send the goats back. After a few days, he got punished because "he has revealed military secrets". You can read the whole story here, but unfortunately is in Italian:

  3. Captain Banigan may be an inspiration to the 21st-century Joseph Heller. He may also be an example of the Peter Principle at work (

  4. Totally worth it for "the Navy's most adorable master chief"! I should start writing a spec script based on this, sort of a Francis the Talking Mule meets Air Bud.

  5. You mean 'THE' Zapp Banigan!?

  6. Hilarious!
    I like the Navy blue kerchief the goat is wearing.

  7. Plenty of good stories. Most are best shared over adult beverages and not for polite company.

  8. There's actually a long history of Navy vessels keeping goats (and sheep) onboard. The use of the term "goat locker" to refer to the chief petty officers' mess dates to when that space housed sea-going livestock. So it's not as random as it might seem for the CPO-selectees to take on the care and keeping of a goat as a mascot during their evaluation period. It's also worth noting that the flag authority made a point of specifically banning the keeping of livestock within their squadron; there's nothing in NavRegs as a whole explicitly banning the practice. As far as the transport from Pearl to San Diego, the inspection can't be too secret or onerous. That transfer is rather common in navy circles. CJ is probably right that it was just the most expedient way of relieving a captain who was in over his head (without giving him a pair of ball bearings and waiting for a typhoon). FWIW: the mascots at Navy and Chapel Hill also are part of this tradition of seafaring livestock.


  9. You know I'm full of crazy stories, CJ! ;P