White House Puts Price Tag On Deadly Naval Collisions

REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The Trump administration is requesting hundreds of millions of dollars to repair damaged naval vessels, according to a budget request sent to Congress Monday.

Both the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain were severely damaged in collisions with merchant vessels in the Asia-Pacific region. Not only were 17 sailors killed in these accidents — which a Navy investigation deemed “avoidable” — but the administration is also requesting $700 million to repair the vessels.

“The request includes costs necessary to repair damage to and restore the operational readiness of the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald,” Trump wrote in the request, adding, “These ships provide critical naval presence and additional ballistic missile defense capabilities in the Asia-Pacific theater.”

The president asked Congress to consider approving “$0.7 billion to repair damage to U.S. Navy ships.”

The container ship ACX Crystal slammed into the side of the USS Fitzgerald in June, killing seven, and the oil tanker Alnic MC collided with the USS John McCain in August, ending the lives of 10 sailors.

“The collision between Fitzgerald and Crystal was avoidable and resulted from an accumulation of smaller errors over time, ultimately resulting in a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices,” the Navy concluded. “The collision between John S. McCain and Alnic MC was also avoidable and resulted primarily from complacency, over-confidence and lack of procedural compliance,” the investigation also revealed.

Decreases in the number of ships coupled with an increased operational tempo over the last few years impacted both training and seamanship, making the accidents not only possible, but also more likely.

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