Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The McCain Collision Was The 7th Fleet's Fourth Major Mishap Of 2017
The Navy has launched what a defense official characterized as a “broad investigation” into the Japan-based 7th Fleet’s performance following the collisions of two Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyers with commercial vessels the last two months, the Associated Press reports.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson ordered a pause in global operations in the wake of the collision, according to USA Today, reportedly directing U.S. Fleet Forces Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson to lead an investigation to “ensure there aren’t bigger problems that may be masked by the high pace of ship operations in the Pacific region,” the anonymous defense official told the Associated Press.
News of the investigation came less than 24 hours after the USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC, a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, in the waters east of the Strait of Malacca while both vessels were en route to Singapore on the morning of Aug. 21.
Ten sailors were reported missing and five injured amid significant flooding to the destroyer’s crew berthings and communications equipment. The Navy immediately launched search and rescue efforts in conjunction with Singaporean naval and coast guard vessels shortly after the collision occurred at 6:24 a.m. local time.
Damage to the port side is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017.Photo via DoD
The McCain collision occurred two months after the USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal on June 17, resulting in massive damage to the destroyer's starboard side below the waterline. Seven sailors were killed during the incident.
On Aug. 17, just days before the McCain collision, 7th Fleet it announced it had relieved the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer for his “absolute accountability” and the vessel’s executive officer and command master chief for contributing “to the lack of watchstander preparedness and readiness that was evident in the events leading up to the collision.”
The McCain and Fitzgerald incidents mark the fourth major mishap for a Navy vessel in the Pacific this year alone. On January 31, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay after being tossed from its anchorage by wind and tides. And on May 9, the Ticonderoga-class USS Lake Champlain sustained minor damage after a South Korean fishing boat ran into the cruiser’s port side.
The four incidents all came amid the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive posture towards North Korea, a response to Pyongyang’s rapidly accelerating nuclear program. In February, the USS Carl Vinson-led Carrier Strike Group 1 (including the Champlain) conducted “routine operations” in the South China Sea, before steaming to the Korean Peninsula in April to join the USS Ronald Reagan-led Carrier Strike Group 5 for an unprecedented show of force against the North. CGS-5’s fleet included the McCain and the Fitzgerald; had it not been grounded, the Antietam likely would have joined, too. On Aug. 10, weeks before its collision, the McCain had conducted a “freedom of navigation operation” near Chinese-made artificial islands near the Philippines.
With Navy vessels flooding the western Pacific and South China Sea, it appears that Richardson’s concerns over the “high pace of ship operations” are far from unfounded. As one global security expert told the Washington Post in the aftermath of the McCain collision, the Navy was "already stretched after the Fitzgerald collision, and now they’ve lost a second frontline destroyer at an acute time in the region."
Navy and Pentagon public affairs officials did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."