Has Navy readiness in the Pacific improved after recent mishaps?

Posted at 11:23 AM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 17:48:11-05

WASHINGTON - The commander of Naval Surface Forces in the Pacific Fleet says there is reason for "optimism" that readiness has improved after a series of mishaps in the region in recent years.

The most notable of those mishaps were two separate deadly collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain in the summer of 2017 that killed 17 Sailors.

Vice Admiral Richard Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, testified about readiness before a joint hearing of two House Armed Services subcommittees last week.

"Our manning, training and equipping are unambiguous. We only deploy ships that have the required manning, are fully certified and have the necessary materiel readiness," Brown told lawmakers.

Brown said increasing safety and reducing accidents has been a priority, and added the Navy is also working to balance maintenance needs.

"While not declaring mission complete, over the last two years the pace of enhancements and their initial results are a cause for optimism," he testified.

Not everyone is convinced, though.

Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, local Congresswoman Elaine Luria, questioned Brown about a February 2019 report from the Readiness Council that described the surface Navy as only "safe to operate."

Brown responded that training measures continue to be implemented in the Pacific, with special emphasis on ensuring that Sailors are prepared for a variety of scenarios.