Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy testify on recent Navy incidents at sea

Posted at 10:21 AM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 22:15:16-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  The Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy testified Tuesday about recent high-profile incidents involving Navy ships at sea.

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, and John Pendleton, Director of Defense Force Structure and Readiness Issues at the Government Accountability Office all testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

There have been four high profile incidents involving U.S. Navy ships at sea this year.

In January, the USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan. The incident damaged the ship's propellers.

In May, the USS Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel in international waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Then in June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven Sailors were killed in the collision.

Ten Sailors were killed in August when the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Singapore.

During the hearing, both the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations pledged to address the issues.

"We have a problem in the Navy and we are going to fix it," Secretary Spencer noted.

"At the core this issue is about leadership," noted Admiral Richardson.

The impact of sequestration and continuing budget resolutions were a consistent theme during the hearing and the impact they have had on the readiness of the Navy.

"It’s very disturbing," noted Secretary Spencer.

Admiral Richardson added, "It makes everything harder. Everything."

A repeated concern by senators Tuesday was an estimate that some Sailors are working 100 hour plus work weeks and that many certifications on ships forward deployed to Japan have expired.

Both were issues that Secretary Spencer and Admiral Richardson said will be addressed.

Present for the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee were family members of Sailors who were killed on both the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain.

Admiral Richardson noted that his comprehensive review of the incidents and overall readiness for the Navy should be complete by the middle of October, while a separate comprehensive review by the Secretary of the Navy should be finished about 30 days later.

However, Admiral Richardson stressed that they are already taking actions to improve the situation, including such things as turning on the Automatic Identification System to be more visible to other ships.