The US Navy has been investigating the potential causes of two Navy destroyers crashing into commercial ships this summer.
According to CNN, the incidents were attributed to a lack of proper training and failure to meet training certifications. The Government Accountability Office revealed that this is due to Defense budget cuts by Congress under Obama’s rule, and it cost the lives of 17 sailors.
Both the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain collided with commercial ships in June and August — seemingly without reason — resulting in the deaths of two sailors. After the GAO began their investigation, they learned that both ships were behind on their training records.
The USS John S McCain had six of its 10 mission area certifications lapse, while the USS Fitzgerald had a stunning 10 out of 10 lapses. Both ships are far below the average number of certification lapses for ships in the pacific.
What the GAO discovered, however, was that Navy ships across the board serving in the Pacific are struggling to maintain training certification, and have seen many key certifications expire due to lack of proper training and resources.
The investigation into the USS Fitzgerald crash revealed that the crew not only failed to anticipate and acknowledge the approaching cargo ship, but also failed to respond quickly enough and take the necessary actions to avoid a collision.
The collision, and the subsequent discovery of poor training, have resulted in the dismissal of the USS Fitzgerald’s Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Senior Non-commissioned Officer. Both collisions resulted in the dismissal of Joseph Aucoin, Fleet Commander Vice Admiral for the Navy’s 7th Fleet.
Lieutenant Commander Nicole Schwegman stated that the Navy would do a thorough review of their ships, claiming that, “This will include, but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, material, maintenance, and equipment. It also will include a review of how we train and certify our surface warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency.”
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), said he was “deeply concerned” by the findings, according to The Hill. In a statement, he criticized Congress, who under Obama, slashed funding, thus resulting in many training certifications expiring. The Navy struggles to continue operations with minimal funding.
He stated, “While there is plenty of responsibility to go around, we cannot ignore Congress’s role – years of budget cuts have forced our military to try to do too much with too little.”
McCain pointed out that these budget cuts put our Navy at risk — not only during wartime, but also in times of peace, stating, “Now it is clear that we are not only gambling our ability to fight and win at war, we are also damaging our ability to operate safely during peacetime… We must all do better.”
Considering the hostility coming out of North Korea with the increasing threat of nuclear missile attacks, having these ships combat ready is essential for the safety of the US and its allies. If budget cuts have resulted in the degradation of training to the point that sailors are unable to avoid ship collisions, it’s apparent that we need to put a little more money back into Defense.
We need these ships ready in the event Kim Jong-un decides to declare war on the US.