Home » Budget Industry » SECNAV Spencer: Five Maritime, Defense Companies to Assist with Surface Collision Review


SECNAV Spencer: Five Maritime, Defense Companies to Assist with Surface Collision Review

Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Richard V. Spencer delivers remarks during the christening ceremony for the littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) on Aug. 26, 2017. US Navy Photo

ARLINGTON, Va. — Five companies in the maritime and defense business have been asked to assist with the Secretary of the Navy-directed investigation into underlying causes of the spate of collisions that have cost the lives of 17 sailors and hundreds and millions of dollars in damage.

SECNAV Richard V. Spencer has reached out to at least five companies that have gone through institutional restructuring following “meaningful events” in their history to be part of a larger strategic examination of root causes behind three collisions and a grounding of U.S. Navy surface ships in the Western Pacific this year.

“The review that I have asked to stand up will be chaired by a civilian and a uniform but we have reached out to industries that have gone through various, different meaningful events and have come out through the other side,” Spencer said in brief remarks at the Defense News Conference on Wednesday.
“BP North America with Deepwater Horizon; Crowley Marine, that has created a very admirable safety program called ‘the road to zero,’ turning around their safety record. Maersk has offered to put forth people to help us with operational and safety standards they’ve created. Boeing, Sandia Labs [are also involved].”

Spencer’s review, announced late Friday, will run parallel with a separate review overseen by U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. Phil Davidson.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Bill Moran directed Davidson, “to lead a Comprehensive Review of surface fleet operations and incidents at sea that have occurred over the past decade with emphasis on SEVENTH Fleet operational employment to inform improvements Navy-wide.”

Davidson’s 60-day review will include, “detailed recommendations with respect to corrective actions necessary to ensure the safety of our people, safe operations at sea, and the readiness of our forces,” read the Aug. 24 memo.

Spencer said on Wednesday his review would share information with the Davidson review but work toward a larger strategic goal.

“For those of you who might think it’s redundant, it’s not at all. What we intend to do here is have the review that Adm. Davidson is heading up be a tactical review as to operations and safety and how we actually operate within the fleet,” Spencer said.
“We have reached out to industry that have gone through industry various, different meaningful events and have come out through the other side…
We’re going to approach this as best practices for people who come out the other side and we really do expect this to be a learning experience going forward.”

A Navy official familiar told USNI News retired Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board Michael Joseph Bayer will be part of the Spencer review.

The investigations into the Navy’s Western Pacific surface operations are running in parallel to several individual investigations into the collisions between USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and merchant ships.

Early results from the look into the June 17 Fitzgerald collision, resulted in the removal of the command triad of the ship. Following the Aug. 21 collision between McCain, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was removed from command of U.S. 7th Fleet.

Whether or not more in the Navy will be punished is still to be determined Spencer said.

“We’re going to hold those accountable where it’s called for,” he said.
“But more importantly, we’re going to learn from these events.”

  • Marc Apter

    I’ll bet most of the defense company workers involved are retired Navy, hopefully all surface ship drivers.

  • Mike Mulligan

    “New evidence of dismal readiness among Navy’s Japan-based ships”
    Now I know why you have censored me, my so called predictions unbelievably have come true. I know, everyone hates my guts. I accurately captured the scale or magnitude of it with our military problems. Even got it in NYTs comment section. More stop gap military funding issues today. It just goes on and on without end as the military collision wreckage piles up at your feet. I know, I get a lot of Russian clicks on my blog. It dismays to no end. They and our adversaries are listening to us right now.
    We got to go up to the next level with the scale and scope of our national problems. It is going to be very, very painful. One only hopes you can perceive this, you got a sliver of conscience left to feel suffering, pain, sorrows and tremendous regret left in your head. I have seen this repeated pattern across many institutions and organizations. It’s about the good people of the USA, those that go to church and volunteer throughout our nation. It is about you!
    Our political system severely damaged something in your head. To the one, we are all severely damaged goods.
    And to our adversaries, you are no better than us.

    • John Locke

      You’re right and what we’re seeing is an adverse effect of budget controls that started in 1985 with the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Act which, through a series of other incarnations, morphed into the Budget Control Act of 2011.

      “It’s time to undo them [sequestration spending cuts],” he said. “If we don’t, then we will have to fund our economic and national security priorities in 2016 at the same levels that we did in 2006.” – Obama, Oct 2015

    • GoNavy

      Sadly USNI has lost credibility as they target any comment that singles out senior officers who should be held accountable and have them deleted… such as mine that ask for Admiral Harry Harris to be relieved of command. Currently Harry Harris is USPACOM commander in Japan, since 2015.

      Also during his watch is the Fat Leonard scandal and the failure of training certificates to be maintained for Seamanship that expired causing accidents like these.

  • RobM1981

    I was about to ask “where is the Coast Guard?”

    Spot on. They are tasked with being the finest sea keepers in the world. If they can’t get to the bottom of this, then we have deeper problems than first thought.

    No private agency should be superior to the US Coast Guard.

    And any issues of rivalry? Those will only ensure that a thorough analysis is done. The fact that the USCG enjoys it doesn’t change the fact that it would be thorough.

    Let’s see if the USN is professional enough to use the USCG properly.

  • publius_maximus_III

    BP, Crowley Marine, and Maersk all have unique expertise overcoming the dangers of maritime operations. Sandia Labs and Boeing will provide great technical input.

    Sounds like more of a high level strategic review of the USN’s culture and policies from a civilian perspective, trying to get outside the influence of military rigor and chain-of-command. The parallel and on-going “tactical” JAG investigation will surely get to the bottom of the nuts and bolts of what happened, and who or what was responsible, but this one will determine the bigger picture.

  • FromTheMirror

    Sounds like the SecNav already has a verdict in his pocket but needs a suitable gang of know-it-alls to say it for him (for “credibility” ya know)

  • Mike Mulligan

    Yea, well, who is going to fix the problem of nobody following the Navy’s Code of Ethics or Code Honor document. If everyone obeyed or enforced this document to the letter of its intent, we wouldn’t be here.
    “Department of the Navy Core Values Charter”
    It is nothing but a show document for public consumption.

    • John Locke

      What specifically from those documents would have prevented the McCain and Fitz collisions?

  • incredulous1

    We need 5 commercial entities and all the blue ribbon BS to determine what happened? Sounds like a cover up operation to me. Govt often does blue ribbon nonsense to sanctify results they want to put out for public consumption. The important thing is that they quickly find the root cause and deal with it internally regardless of this show.

    • GoNavy

      Coverup??? Remember it was Admiral John McCain that helped cover up the USS Liberty incident. I wonder how the sailors on board this ship feel about it.

      Thankfully, USN JAG Capt. Ward Boston assigned to the USS Liberty incident investigation testified to the cover up before his death in a signed affidavit.

      Sadly too few of us know of this history.

  • GoNavy

    Admiral Harry Harris, is responsible as the commander of USPACOM since May 27, 2015, and needs to be relieved of command. Too often after such tragedies our senior officers are immune to their dereliction of duty.

    After 17 dead sailors it is enough but with the Fat Leonard scandal also during Harry Harris watch he needs to go.

    Furthermore, GAO reports today that 37% of the warfare and seafaring certifications for our sailors under USPACOM are expired. Meaning crews are overworked and under trained.

    Their are no excuses – and Admiral Harry Harris needs to be held accountable for his actions.

  • Mike Mulligan

    Yea, the navy cares about its sailors. It’s the censored message I sent you before. So there are 5 ships left out of 7. It’s the cascade accident. So the remaining ships have been stressed to the breaking point: maintenance, sailor exhaustion,manning, warfare, starved funding and training. Now these barely capable remaining ships are going to pick up the load of the two wounded ship. The capabilities of the remaining ships are going to decline precipitously. This program is called suicide to me. Your system is extraordinary fragile and brittle. The judgement of all the senior officers are impaired and in question.

  • Dave Hunter

    What will this do for adherence to watch standards and the training and qualification of the CIC Watch Officers, CIC Surface Supervisors, OOD, JOOD, lookouts and the communications between ALCON while underway? Because for the McCain and Fitzgerald those things appear to be the proximate issue.