Admirals vow not to force undermanned, untrained sailors to deploy following deadly collisions

news
The 7th Fleet Has A Major Mishap Problem

Facing a shortfall of roughly 6,200 sailors at sea, top Navy commanders promised lawmakers that they won't force undermanned and undertrained crews to deploy.

In 2017, the destroyers USS FItzgerald and USS John S. McCain were involved in separate collisions in the Pacific that claimed the lives of 17 sailors. Since then, the Navy has tackled the underlying causes of the deadly collisions by increasing the size of destroyers' crews and adding training for surface warfare officers. But the Navy still does not have enough sailors at sea.


Adm. John Aquilino, commander of Pacific Fleet, and Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of Fleet Forces Command, testified on Tuesday that the Navy still has about 6,200 billets at sea that need to be filled. If Congress passes spending bills on time, they estimate the Navy will be fully manned by 2024.

Navy officials could not specify which at sea billets the service needs to fill. Both admirals told the House Armed Services Committee that they will not send ships with crews that are not properly manned, trained, or equipped on deployments.

"It is, I believe, both fleet standards that no one deploys without the full complement of people," Grady said. "We do not ask a ship nor direct a ship to go on mission if they are not certified to do the job. Indeed there have been several occasions where I have said: 'That ship is not ready. We will need more time.' We know what the requirement is and if they're not ready, they're not going."

Aquilino said he had cancelled two ships' deployments because he did not feel the crews had enough training for the missions. One ship was supposed to join the Coast Guard as part of the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative to protect fisheries and the other was supposed to join the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise, he said.

In both cases, Adm. Phil Davidson, head of Pacific Command, approved Aquilino's recommendations not to deploy the ships. Davidson also allowed Aquilino to reduce the time a carrier strike group needed to be available to surge by about three months so it could prepare for maintenance.

However, ProPublica reported on Tuesday that Davidson told skippers in November 2017 that they would be deployed even if they did not feel their ships or crews were ready.

"If you can't take your ships to sea and accomplish the mission with the resources you have then we'll find someone who will," ProPublica quoted Davidson as saying.

Asked about Davidson's reported comments on Tuesday, Aquilino said he was not at the meeting cited in the story so he could not say if the article was accurate.

"What I can tell you is the deeds that he's implemented match the guidance that he's given me," Aquilino said. "So by him reducing some of the operational demands in the Pacific, to me that's a pretty strong example of someone who understood the concerns when the [collisions] report was written and doing his part to ensure that it doesn't happen again as well."

All ships deploying in the Pacific must have at least 95 percent of their crew, of which 92 percent of the sailors must be "the right person with the right skills in the right job," he said.

Aquilino told lawmakers that he is briefed several times a week about readiness and maintenance issues for deployed ships as well as ships getting ready to deploy. If he sees any indications that a ship's crew is not properly manned, trained, or equipped — or any other reason why the ship is unsafe — he will terminate the deployment.

"As you know, the world gets a vote, so depending on what's going on we have had very frank conversations," Aquilino said. "Again, in the instances I have identified, Adm. Davidson concurred with my recommendations and we did not deploy those ships."

SEE ALSO: Navy Admiral on ship collisions: Those were tragedies, but what about the other 280 ships that didn't collide?

WATCH NEXT: 7th Fleet Admiral Praises 'Heroic Efforts' Of USS Fitzgerald Crew

New London — Retired four-star general John Kelly said that as President Donald Trump's chief of staff, he pushed back against the proposal to deploy U.S. troops to the southern border, arguing at the time that active-duty U.S. military personnel typically don't deploy or operate domestically.

"We don't like it," Kelly said in remarks at the Coast Guard Academy on Thursday night. "We see that as someone else's job meaning law enforcement."

Read More Show Less
Photo: Iran

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Yemen's Houthi rebel group, part of a regional network of militants backed by Iran, claims to be behind the drone strikes on two Saudi oil facilities that have the potential to disrupt global oil supplies.

A report from the United Nations Security Council published in January suggests that Houthi forces have obtained more powerful drone weaponry than what was previously available to them, and that the newer drones have the capability to travel greater distances and inflict more harm.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Air Force has selected two companies to make an extreme cold-weather boot for pilots as part of a long-term effort to better protect aviators from frostbite in emergencies.

In August the service awarded a contract worth up to $4.75 million to be split between Propel LLC and the Belleville Boot Company for boots designed keep pilots' feet warm in temperatures as low as -20 Fahrenheit without the bulk of existing extreme cold weather boots, according to Debra McLean, acquisition program manager for Clothing & Textiles Domain at Air Force Life Cycle Management Command's Agile Combat Support/Human Systems Division.

Read More Show Less

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran rejected accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting world energy supplies and warned on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles.

Yemen's Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output or more than 5% of global supply, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the assault was the work of Iran, a Houthi ally.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

Nearly a decade after he allegedly murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian during a 2010 deployment, the case of Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is finally going to trial.

Read More Show Less