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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Shortly after seven sailors died aboard USS Fitzgerald when she collided with a merchant ship off Japan in 2017, I wrote that the Fitzgerald's watch team could have been mine. My ship had once had a close call with me on watch, and I had attempted to explain how such a thing could happen. "Operating ships at sea is hard, and dangerous. Stand enough watches, and you'll have close calls," I wrote at the time. "When the Fitzgerald's investigation comes out, I, for one, will likely be forgiving."
So, am I forgiving? Yes — for some.
A collision between a Coast Guard boat and a Navy vessel near Kodiak Island, Alaska on Wednesday landed six coasties and three sailors to the hospital, officials said.
2 years after the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions, the Navy has no idea if its new ship-driving training is working
Two years after a pair of deadly collisions involving Navy ships killed 17 sailors and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, the Navy still can't figure out whether its plan to improve ship-driving training has been effective.
In fact, according to senior Navy officials quoted in a recent Government Accountability Office report on Navy ship-driving, it could take nearly 16 years or more to know if the planned changes will actually have an impact.
Repairs have been completed on the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, which was involved in a collision in 2017 that left 10 sailors dead and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and the vessel is now conducting "comprehensive at-sea testing," the U.S. Navy said Monday.
In its first sea voyage since the deadly accident, the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based ship and its crew were due to perform a series of demonstrations to evaluate whether its onboard systems meet the U.S. Navy's minimum performance specifications.
The former captain of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald who was in command during a 2017 collision that killed seven sailors will appear before a board of inquiry that could determine if he will be reduced in rank and what kind of discharge he will receive, a Navy official said.
Cmdr. Bryce Benson was asleep in his stateroom when the Fitzgerald was struck by a merchant ship in the early hours of June 17, 2017. The Navy initially charged Benson with negligent homicide, but that charge was dismissed in June 2018 and all other charges against Benson were dropped in April, in part because top Navy leaders had repeatedly blamed him for the tragedy, running afoul of unlawful command influence.
Navy putting physical throttles on destroyers after touch-screen system contributed to deadly collision
The Navy will install physical throttles on destroyers that currently use touch screen systems nearly two years after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker, which investigators blamed partially on the ship's Integrated Bridge and Navigation System.
Ten sailors aboard the McCain were killed on Aug. 21, 2017, when the destroyer turned into an oil tanker in the Singapore Strait. The collision was the result of a series of errors by the McCain's crew that began when a watch stander mistakenly transferred steering to another station.
In the confusion that followed, only one of the McCain's two propellers was slowed, causing the McCain to turn faster into the oil tanker's path, the National Transportation Safety Board found in a recent report.