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I served in the U.S. Navy during the mid-1980s. We didn't have the kind of technology today's Navy enjoys, yet we didn't have the kinds of problems they now have. In a matter of months we have yet another guided missile destroyer damaged in a collision, and as a member of the crew of the USS Chandler, DDG-996 in 1985, I can tell you, there is no excuse. Destroyers are quicker and more maneuverable than just about any ship in the Navy aside from perhaps a frigate (of which I hear are on their way out).
As a result of the second major collision in three months of one of its front-line combat ships, Admiral John Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, has called for pause in operations around the world so as to allow commanders to take immediate action to keep sailors and ships safe. Vessels in high priority regions and operations are exempt from the pause.
Richardson, who made the announcement in a video message, said the latest collision involving the USS John S. McCain had left him “devastated and heartbroken.”
On Sunday, the McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with an oil tanker east of the busy Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Ten sailors remain missing, and five were injured in the latest of four major mishaps involving ships in the Navy’s 7th Fleet.
On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald DDG-62 was badly damaged in a collision that killed seven sailors off the coast of Japan.
“We need to get to the bottom of this,” Richardson said. “So let’s get to it.”
No kidding. It was bad enough when sailors were captured in the Persian Gulf by Iranians without even mounting a fight when Obama was still in office, and instead whined and cried for the world to see, but now this?
It is all supposed to come down to training, and apparently, something is not going right. Has the training changed? Has military bearing been compromised? Is there a breakdown in the chain of command, or the military ethics of the personnel? Are they even doing their jobs as sailors?
The excuse being provided is that since 2000, the Navy’s fleet has shrunk but demand for ships at sea around the world has risen, or at least that is what Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Navy veteran and former senior civilian official at the Pentagon, said. “Each ship is working 20% more.”
When I was in the U.S. Navy, we were out to sea constantly, drilling constantly, and we still pulled off two Battle Efficiency Ribbons.
The military is a hard thing. It's not easy. I worked 4 hours on, 4 hours off, underway watches, and still got my work done regarding my rate, and various other drills and operations I was qualified for. Sometimes, we got less sleep than we wanted. Sometimes I pulled off only one meal a day, or none. Our bodies ached. It was hard work. But, we did our job, we did it efficiently, we did it properly, and we performed our tasks with the pride of being a member of the United States Military. I am wondering if Clark may simply now be voicing excuses for a softer Navy which has been decimated by not only a reduction in vessels and personnel, but the impact of social engineering which has attracted personnel who may not be as serious about their military service as they should be (or who may have just a poorer general attitude).
The damaged vessels also place more pressure on the ships still in play. The workload will increase, and it is during those times we find out who should be weeded out, and who the real sailors are.
I am guessing the evals are not as difficult, anymore, as well. We don't want to hurt any of the feelings of these people who received participation trophies all their lives, right?
Perhaps I am being harsh. I am sure the Navy, and the other armed forces, have fine individuals serving. But, I wonder, how many of them would have been wash-outs only a few decades before?
Whether the Navy ships were targeted (as the one off the coast of Japan was), or if the collision was accidental, the technology and capabilities of the ship and crew should have been good enough to avoid the incidents. But, because of the Fitzgerald (ship that collided with a vessel near Japan a little over two months ago) and the McCain DDG-56 having their mishaps, both of which are stationed out of Japan, vessels based in Hawaii and San Diego will now have longer deployments, and an even heavier work schedule.
There is no reason for any crew to lose situational awareness when out to sea. People are dying because of a relaxation of military bearing and training. There is no excuse. Back when I was in the Navy we didn't have as sophisticated navigation systems and sensors, but our crews knew what was going on around us at all times, and we were adjusting early to any potential problems. The collisions are alarming, and unacceptable.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary