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Firing Line: Corzine's Lack of Honor

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I believe trading is combat.

I only wish that the men and women in command of financial institutions in our country felt the same way. They don't.

On the night of April 26, 1952, the aircraft carrier USS Wasp was conducting flight operations approximately 700 miles west of the Azores.

Escorting the Wasp as part of the carrier group was the USS Hobson, a small destroyer-minesweeper. The escort ship was there for rescue purposes in the event of a crash or a man overboard. The Wasp turned into the wind to recover her aircraft from night operations.

It was dark, and the ships were running with minimum lights. This was protocol for a carrier at night back then for two reasons. The Cold War was just underway, and Soviet subs were doing their best to keep track of our carriers. Sailing with minimum lights made it harder to track the ships. Lights also distorted the vision of the flight deck crew and aviators, so less was better.

Though not in this case.

The commanding officer of the Hobson mistakenly ordered his ship across the carrier's bow, and the Wasp struck the vessel amidships. The force of the tremendous collision rolled the destroyer-minesweeper, breaking her in two. She went to the bottom in four minutes with 176 of her crew, including her commanding officer.

The incident was the subject of an intense investigation, and the Naval Court of Inquiry determined that one person, the captain of the Hobson, was solely responsible for the disaster. Yes, others were blameworthy, but ultimate responsibility rested with the commanding officer. In an article about the mishap shortly thereafter, The Wall Street Journal wrote the following:

"On the sea, there is a tradition older than the country itself -- it is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with both goes accountability...

"It is cruel, this accountability of good and well-intentioned men. But the choice is that, or an end to responsibility, and finally, as the cruel sea has taught, an end to the confidence and trust in the men who lead.

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