Image by Boch. Base image via US Navy.
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What happens when your ship’s armorer can’t even install a scope in the right direction for a photo op with the ship’s commanding officer? Well, you embarrass not only your commanding officer but the entire US Navy. Imagine all of the US Navy personnel reading this post about a ship commander who doesn’t even recognize when his scope is installed backwards? That doesn’t bode well for his competency in other areas.

Zero Hedge has the story of the US ship “captain” who doesn’t even know when he’s portrayed as a fool.

Cmdr. Cameron Yaste, the Commanding Officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), was recently photographed shooting a 5.56×45mm M4 carbine with the optics installed backward.

The now-deleted image and press release on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website featured Yaste shooting the M4 with the Trijicon VCOG scope installed backward while pointed at a giant target balloon.

Here’s what the press release said before it was deleted:

Cmdr. Cameron Yaste, the Commanding Officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), fires at the “killer tomato” during a gun shoot. The ship is in US 7th Fleet conducting routine operations. 7th Fleet is the US Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.

Top men indeed. Why didn’t Commander Yaste raise his hand and say, “Whoa Nelly. Who put this scope on backwards?” before allowing a “Mass Communications Specialist” with a camera to capture the moment?

Is it because he’s better at commanding a ship than shooting a rifle? Given that chicken wing, I’m voting for “he’s better at commanding a ship than shooting a rifle.” Who knows?

Here’s what the internet had to say:


He could benefit from some rudimentary marksmanship training, no doubt.  Maybe even an Appleseed class instead of a DEI refresher.

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  1. At least they had a safety officer supporting him against the brutal recoil of the M4.

  2. I am going to give the guy some slack. If you have never used a given piece of equipment, I could see where he did not know better.
    Also be willing to bet someone was playing a joke on him, thinking he would recognize it and they all would have a good laugh.
    Then again, he could give an order and destroy something some 1,500 miles away with a Tomahawk cruise missile.
    Still, not a good look for the Navy.

    • Yessir. A ships captain should never have to touch small arms. By the time a man has advanced that far in the navy the taxpayer has spent way too much time and money to waste him as a grunt.

      He’s got buttons.

    • This.

      He got played by some guys in the ship’s armory who knew this was a photo op and that the Commander didn’t have a clue.

      The idea that an O5 is turning torx or hex wrenches to install is own optics or foregrip (which is also stupidly installed).

      Dude probably didn’t even look through the optic.

      • That is my thinking. Probably put the rifle up and then realized it, and the picture was taken. I bet he could not care less about it as he as by far better things to do. Photo done, now go and do something actually productive.

    • If the Navy had wrecked fewer ships in recent years (see: USS John McCain, USS Fitgerald, USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Connecticut), I’d be inclined to cut some slack. As it is, I have my doubts that our “top men” are much better at commanding ships than shooting rifles. We are going to pay for this at some point.

    • Sadly, this is no longer Ching Lee’s Navy.

      The glory days of naval gunnery are over.

      • Never thought I’d agree with Miner on anything, but he’s 200% right on this.
        I wonder how many folks here even know about Lee’s Olympic records.
        Knew ballastics and knew more about radar than the operators. One of the REAL Greats.

  3. That optic has a 1x magnification setting so it would be pretty hard to tell if you were unfamiliar with the system that it was backwards in that mode. Eye relief and the reticle might be odd but it would work.

    This is the commanding orificer of this Arleigh Burke missile destroyer.(The USS John McCain -lolz) You can tell by the scrambled egg on his command ball cap and a command patch just visible under his arm. Nobody tells the Old Man nothin’ on His boat. He wants to shoot you hand him a rifle.

    Someone was playing a prank before they handed that rifle to him though. They knew exactly what they were doing although I bet they didn’t realize the photo would go viral. I bet they are going to have a very uncomfortable cruise if they get found out.

    LOL at the Navy and their silly YMCA village people games. All that backdoor every time they cross the equator

    • Probably several somebodys will be in for uncomfortable conversations all the way down the chain of command, starting with the XO and whoever has the additional duty as PIO. There is a certain stuff that “rolls downhill” getting bigger and faster as it rolls. That ball of stuff is going to land on some MAA who will have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

      But one good thing out of this. I will bet that every rifle in the weapons locker on the McCain is thoroughly clean, inspected, and properly assembled by now.

  4. The grip is too close to the receiver and the scope is backwards…no telling what else is wacky wrong.

    • The Village People did it more accurately. We want you as a new recruit…in the Navy! Chase your neighbor up the passage and hide the missile in the silo.

    • On second view the scope mount elevates considerably at the front which indicates the mount is in the right direction. There may be more here than what meets the eye.

      • Wrong !! Scope mounts are either “flat” or 0 MOA, or they are canted “DOWNWARD”, as a 20 MOA mount would look like. Canting upward might be useful in outer space where gravity hardly exists, but the Navy definitely operates under terrestrial physics.

      • Do you try to be a contrarian no matter the subject? The scope is clearly mounted backwards and the handguard is not installed correctly.

      • You’re not accounting for parallax in the camera lens that makes the stock and hand guard also appear distorted. The scope mount is part of the Trijicon VCOG scope. Its an LVPO not a long range optic

  5. The DEI navy. After the photo he changed into his dress.

    We’re going to lose a major war.

    • Didn’t we already lose a twenty+ year escapade through the desert against a bunch of goat herders in caves?

      We have an unserious military and anyone enlisting these days is either a chump or an angry little wokie.

      • I deployed a year there.
        We were hamstrung by the politicians in DC and expected to nation build.
        I dont think any wokie would ever enlist. And all those traditional conservative families with history of military service would either with Biden in charge and his DEI military leadership.
        Bring back the draft.

        • Being hamstrung by DC and politicians has been. the excuse since WWII and neither are going anywhere so a draft would just waste more lives, waste more money and continue to lose conflicts. The only difference being now the losses would be compulsory.

          If we’re going to lose, which we are, we shouldn’t be getting involved in the first place.

      • The goal is not to win.

        The goal is to continue to use taxpayer money to finance the military-industrial complex on every continent by engaging in years of simmering warfare.

        “Generals gathered in their masses
        Just like witches at black masses
        Evil minds that plot destruction
        Sorcerer of death’s construction
        In the fields, the bodies burning
        As the war machine keeps turning
        Death and hatred to mankind
        Poisoning their brainwashed minds
        Oh lord, yeah!
        Politicians hide themselves away
        They only started the war
        Why should they go out to fight?
        They leave that role to the poor, yeah”

        • ironmanminor49iq…Throughout history democRats are known for keeping folks dirt poor. Uppity democRats needed poor folks to pick plantation cotton, harvest sugarcane, etc. Don’t you think it is waaaaay past time to hold the democRat Party liable for monetary Reparations?

  6. … appears that it’s an M4A1 (std. Navy, I think) w/ S1F pattern, so he’s using full auto to maximize chances of a hit… at 10 yards. Bet whomever handed him the wep either got yardarmed or did a ” man overboard recovery drill.”

    • ….oh, and the ” front ” lens cap is NOT open, so I doubt that any of the fired rounds found their target

  7. I’m wondering if one of his people set him up, he should have known as soon as he saw the weapon system, clearly he didn’t.

  8. All jokes aside. How unbelievably sad is this? The greatest military in the world.
    Just remember who is the Commander and Chief of this tragedy.

    • So was the balloon pinned to a balcony door ? Forgot to bring a double barrel shotgun with to do a proper salute to The Greatest President Ever – Joseph Pantaloon Bribem.

    • So if Donald Trump had won, the scope would be properly installed and Navy Captains would take small arms seriously? LOL

      • achmeds…fyi moron the US Military and America runs on Morale. And with self serving democRats like Jim Crow Gun Control joe and giggles at the helm morale cannot be any lower.

        TRUMP 2024.

    • The “greatest military in the world” has been getting it’s ass beat by illiterate poors toting AKs for the last 60 years. Maybe leaving all those ARs in Trashcanistan for ISIS and Iran was actually doing the US a favor? Now we just need to equip out troops with some commie rifles and maybe we can win a war for once in my lifetime. (Oh, aside from Grenada . . . we totally kicked some ass there! WHOOO!!!)

      • Part of the issue is that the bad guys in the last two fights (Gulf II and Afghanistan) didn’t wear uniforms and hid among the civilian population, making them harder to eliminate. I understand that the ROE in Afghanistan prohibited shooting at a known bad guy unless he was shooting at us, so that all of their spotters were essentially immune. It is hard to win when you have both hands tied behind your back.

        On the other hand, American modern battlefield tactics haven’t been too successful against a Russian army intent on refighting WWI with massive mine fields and artillery barrages.

        • Why were the guys in Afghanistan the bad guys for being upset that a foreign superpower had invaded their country?

          Probably 99.999% of the Afghanis we killed knew nothing about Osama bin Laden, didn’t care at all about the US before we invaded them, and only wanted us out of their country.

          I hope American patriots would show the same tenacity if we were ever invaded.

      • Applying “modern morals” to war is one of the most stupid things ever done in history.

        But it’s been in vogue since Dresden. Going full Carthago delenda est! just ain’t acceptable any more.

        Fucking stupid people do fucking stupid things like applying peacetime morality to war, which ultimately means their side cannot win. But people can profit from it…

        “We train young men to drop fire on people but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!”

        …As long as cold beer, hot food, rock ‘n’ roll, and all the other amenities remain [the] expected norm, our conduct of the war will only gain impotence.

        Kurtz was on to something.

  9. The optic wasn’t installed backwards, the rifle was installed backwards on the optic. Although I assume you can’t install the props backwards on the boat either.

    • Tapered shaft. The prop wont physically fit on backwards. Then again 99% of US Navy props are installed by civilian contractors unless it is a small launch kept aboard a larger warship that needs some repairs underway.

      • 40-odd years ago found an aircraft with controls which operated backward, fortunately on a maintenance preflight. Examination found that design made this impossible, since the fittings were different sizes, impossible to reverse. Unless, of course, adapters were used on each side. Yup, adapters were used on each side. I never found out if anyone was hung for that.

  10. Boat queer? They do everything backwards.
    What you think they are doing with the Tomahawks?

  11. Navy Seaman: “The scope is on backwards.”
    Photographer: “Don’t worry. Nobody will notice.”

  12. funny. In his defense if he needs to pick up a rifle to do his job something has gone terribly wrong.

  13. At one time, most navy ships carried a set of shotguns on board. Usually at least six or perhaps a dozen. Depending on the size of the ship’s crew.

    They’re used not just for training but for morale support. Skeet shooting competitions were conducted regularly at sea. Everyone got some trigger time. It was valuable opportunity training time.

    Even civilian cruise ships carried shotguns as well for the same reason. For their passengers and guests to enjoy while at sea.

    Of course , they don’t do any of this anymore in the g:a:y navy.

    • My Navy career stretched from Reagan to Obama, not once did any ship I was stationed on shoot skeet. I didn’t even get a beer day until 2010. We did prefer shotguns for ship’s defense, easier to handle in the tight spaces than the old M14s we often had. We were also the last service to transition from the 1911.

      • I know that the gun turret crews used to compete against each other. And the sailors and the marines would compete against each other, in the guns that they manned.

        Of course this was the days before the guided missile cruisers.

        The shotguns were used similarly for morale building as well. My understanding is that this type of shooting competition stopped in the 1970s.

        • Yep. I shot skeet on a country music cruise back in the ’90s. I didn’t last too long, but a well-known country singer and an African American Army sergeant were the last two left. After many rounds, the sergeant finally missed one and the singer won. Truth.

  14. The mere fact that he even shot it in that configuration and not being able to see shit out of that scope speaks volumes indeed.

  15. Looking closer, that photo stinks more than AntiFani Willis’ minge. There are no scope rings on that scope, there is something that looks like it might be a red dot on the rail under the eyepiece end of the scope, and the rear non-ring mount is sitting directly under the turrets. There’s some WTF going on there.

      The need for conventional ring mounts is eliminated with the integrated mounting adapter that provides quick and easy mounting to any rail system. Compatible with many rails in the marketplace designed to fit the Trijicon ACOG®.

  16. It’s an Upside Down Rifle: $2000 class scope on a sub-$700 class rifle. Like a big variable Swarovski on a 10-22…

    Joke is you hand Cap’n or Lab Rat a rifle and he shoots himself in the shoulder.

    • PSA had a Sig Sauer Tango MSR LPVO 1-8x scope today as a daily deal for $299. Pretty similar to what was on that the pic.

      • My Marlin Model 60 has a Leopold on it, got it at a Walmart close out for $90 marked down from $299. Just lucky I got there first.

  17. The Captain of a Navy Ship has no business shooting an M4. He has plenty of trained personnel to handle that if he doesn’t screw up the employment of all the other fancy weapons he has on the ship.

    • BS!! If I am the Captain and guns are being fired on my ship, I am going to be shooting. Even if the guns are NOT select fire and the ammo free.

  18. News Flash! . . . Why not just FIX the problem? He may have been shooting for demonstration purposes ONLY out in open ocean using his GOOD eye. He MIGHT even be able to outshoot others like this. But, fixing this is the BEST option especially for a public shooting demonstration photo op.

  19. He knows it’s just a photo shoot so maybe he is thinking just wing it and handle it in private d. He might be a great Captain but shooting a rifle is not a prerequisite to commanding a ship.
    That’s why God gave his ship a detachment of Marines.

  20. Come on, guys. He was just trying to give the bad guys a chance. Making them look 1000 yards away instead of 250.

    Go Navy!

  21. I am surprised this image is accepted as real. Brass flying, bolt closed, trigger not depressed, no smoke or flame around muzzle or breach…

    If someone handed me a rifle with a backwards scope and asked me to shoot it, l would prop it on my shoulder and look down the side of the barrel. Most realistic part of this canard.

    • It was apparently released as is by the US Navy. If it was photoshopped it was Photoshopped by someone in the Navy.

  22. 2 years in the ” Princess Navy “, on AS-33, look her up, only weapon I picked up was a broken beer bottle. Next 2 years was in the Seabees. Got issued an M-16, a real one, got trained how to use it, armory no. 367 which coincidentally was my Boot Co. no. at Great Lakes. Fired Expert with it, still got the ribbon. Wasn’t an expert then or now but even I could tell if optics ain’t right. Some smartass Gunners Mate showed the Old Man whats what. Good for him.

    • I know this reply is very late, but I just saw your comment. Just recently found some pics on the internet, and the last few days I’ve been reminiscing about the couple months I spent attached TAD to the Slimy Snake, after 2 years and 4 patrols on the 630 Boat, USS John C. Calhoun. Back in the early 80s, during the Cold War.

      Lots of memories from such a short period of my life… way out of proportion to the years since then. Entered the Delayed Entry Program at 16 1/2, boot canp at 17 plus 1 month, then turned 18 yo submerged at a depth of one five zero feet… on my SECOND patrol, not my first! Ah, memories…

  23. It’s been a featured article for two weeks now, can we give it a rest and move on?

    Seriously, I think everyone has seen it by now.

    Keeping it up seems sad……….for the Navy and for TTAG.

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