The USS John McCain’s collision in August with a Liberian-flagged oil tanker in the coastal waters off Singapore, leaving 10 sailors missing and presumed dead, was the second deadly crash at sea for the Navy within two months. Now, the Navy has admitted it was liable for the collisions — and the reasons why will stun you.
During a congressional oversight panel on Thursday, Admiral William Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, said a combination of the hectic pace of military operations along with the military’s tight budget led to the McCain collision, as well as the crash of the USS Fitzgerald in June. The Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship off Japan in June, killing seven crew members.
Moran added that “standards have dropped,” and acknowledged the Navy is at fault. He admitted there is no excuse for the incidents — or for the 17 American fatalities that resulted.
“No matter how tough our operating environment, or how strained our budget, we shouldn’t be and cannot be colliding with other ships and running aground,” Moran told members of the House Armed Services Committee, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
“That is not about resourcing,” Moran said. “It is about safety and it is about leadership at sea.”
However, Moran added a plea to Congress to “end the practice of providing defense budgets by way of stopgap spending measures,” the Daily Mail reported.
Those stopgap bills, used during the Obama Administration, essentially froze the Pentagon’s budget in place from year to year, which effectively barred military services from starting new programs or ending old ones, according to the Daily Mail. This adds to the stress the Navy felt especially as they are deploying about 100 ships a day.
The budget constraints in turn forced the Navy to move money from their weapons modernization and training accounts in order to fund the current missions, the Daily Mail reported.
However, despite these constraints, Moran said the Navy will find a way to accomplish whatever tasks are set before it.
“Our culture is, ‘we’re going to get it done.’ That’s what the Navy is all about,” he said. “And sometimes our culture works against us.”
It is admirable and wise to admit fault where fault is due. For the Navy to admit that these tragedies were avoidable is an extremely hard blow to take, but it’s what responsibility demands. After the McCain collision, the Navy removed Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin from the command of the 7th Fleet, “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to USA Today.
Now, that’s the kind of command responsibility American serving men and women deserve — and they deserve it from the civilian political leaders, too.
These sailors risk their lives day in and day out to provide us safety, yet our own government has failed in providing the same respect back to them.
The Navy can do better, but these Obama-era measures need to go so that our men and women in the armed forces can face their service with renewed faith that our country fully supports and provides for their safety as well.
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