Navy Returns To Its Roots To Prevent Future Deadly Collisions

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karen Blankenship/Released)

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The U.S. Navy is implementing older safety protocols to prevent future collisions at sea after a series of mishaps in the Asia Pacific, The New York Times reports.

The protocols include compasses and pencil or paper to track hazards as the warships move through busy shipping lanes. Both the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John McCain collided with shipping containers in the Asia Pacific region at night. A U.S. Navy review of protocol revealed sailors seldom slept, worked 100-hour work weeks, and received little safety training. Both collisions collectively cost the lives of over a dozen sailors and nearly 600 million taxpayer dollars in maintenance.

Some of the additional protocol changes will include turning on an electronic identifier while moving through busy shipping lanes so other sea captains are aware of U.S. warships’ presence, and forcing crews to report major safety lapses to higher levels of command.

Newer protocols are only likely to be a stopgap as the Navy attempts to catch up with its training and readiness concerns. Both the Fitzgerland the John McCain had critical lapses in training certifications which may have contributed to collisions.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in recent testimony that “just about every ship has some element of their warfare certification expired. Is it irresponsible? Yes, but we’ll get this right. If that certification has meaning, we’ll do the damn certification.”

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