Home » Budget Industry » 7th Fleet Overworked, Suffered Manning Shortage Ahead of Fatal Collisions, Says Former CO Aucoin


7th Fleet Overworked, Suffered Manning Shortage Ahead of Fatal Collisions, Says Former CO Aucoin

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin speaks to members of the press about the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) which was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel on June 18, 2017.

This post was updated to correct circumstances of a Jan. 31, 2017 incident involving the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54). The ship suffered a grounding, not a collision.

U.S. warships in the Western Pacific were overtasked and starved for manpower ahead of two fatal collisions that killed 17 sailors, the former commander of Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet wrote in his first public comments since being removed from his position last year.

Recently retired Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin laid out a case that problems found in the Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan (FNDF-J) that surrounded the collisions of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) were systemic across the entire Navy.

“In some quarters, these collisions are viewed and characterized as a ‘local’—Japan only—problem. There certainly were pressures on the fleet in Japan, but there are also indications of problems elsewhere. While the investigations in the aftermath of the loss of 17 sailors addressed many of the issues that may have led to the collisions, there were other factors,” Aucoin wrote in U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings Today.
“Without a full understanding of what happened, we will be limited in our ability to address the root causes and ensure this does not happen again.”

Sailors under his command were worked hard over years of unplanned taskings from U.S. Pacific Fleet, he wrote, and his command’s manning needs were ranked below U.S.-based ships that fell under U.S. Fleet Forces’ Optimized Fleet Response Plan.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) is loading onto the heavy lift transport vessel MV Transshelf. US Navy Photo

Aucoin also wrote that the subsequent investigations into the problems in the U.S. surface fleet – the Comprehensive Review led by Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Phil Davidson and the Strategic Readiness Review directed by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer – left out key information in understanding the manning, training and maintenance problems in 7th Fleet. Aucoin said he was not interviewed as part of the Davidson or SECNAV investigations after he was removed from command shortly after the McCain collision in August.

Aucoin declined to comment further when reached by USNI News on Thursday.

In the piece, Aucoin said the Fleet Forces-created OFRP manning concept that was designed to create a predictable deployment schedule for U.S.-based carrier strike groups took away qualified sailors from FDNF-J and forced the units in 7th Fleet to trade qualified sailors between ships – also known as cross-decking.

“This short-sighted mandate would enable CONUS-based units to be fully manned to their fit/fill thresholds starting from the beginning of their 36-month cycle, but the negative consequence was that non-OFRP units, such as the FDNF, would bear the brunt of the shortfall,” he wrote.
“It was frustrating to hear that some San Diego ships were overmanned, as I expressed during one PACFLT meeting after hearing a West Coast ship was so over-manned it left 30 people on the pier. At the time, we were having to cross-deck 49 sailors in FDNF-J to fill gaps on our ships.”

The bridge crew on watch on McCain when it collided with a merchant chemical tanker off Singapore in August was cross-decked from cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54), which was laid up after a grounding earlier in the year, though the subsequent investigations found the sailors weren’t qualified to stand watch on the bridge of McCain.

A spokesman for U.S. Fleet Forces acknowledged a Thursday afternoon USNI News request for comment but did not immediately respond to questions.

As 7th Fleet manning decreased, Aucoin wrote, demands for surface forces from U.S Pacific Fleet increased.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) departs Subic Bay, Philippines aboard heavy-lift transport vessel MV Treasure, Nov. 28. Treasure will transport McCain to Fleet Activities Yokosuka to undergo repairs. US Navy photo

He routinely pushed back against orders to send ships on missions instead of allowing them to carry out their required training. The response he received from his Pacific Fleet, led by Adm. Scott Swift, and Fleet Forces, was to provide more information on why a mission should be delayed, before ultimately being ordered to carry on with the mission, he said

“Such responses always were required to be accompanied with a by-name identified ship to be used if we were ‘forced to source’ the mission, as well as an estimated impact statement of what cost and risks would be incurred if we were to task that ship with the mission. The impact statements routinely highlighted to higher headquarters that sourcing these missions would come at the cost of training and readiness. More often than not, we would be directed to fill and execute the mission through a follow-on task order or voice order directing the by-name identified ship to execute the mission. In a few cases, we were able to argue for changes that allowed ships to complete training or maintenance. In many other cases, our arguments and recommendations were either overruled or ignored,” Aucoin writes.

Aucoin said manning shortages diminished his command’s ability to adequately carry out missions, but he wrote that he repeatedly informed his superiors of the problem well before the 2017 collisions.

When contacted by USNI News, a spokesman for Pacific Fleet said the command didn’t have any additional information to add beyond that contained in numerous investigations into the collisions.

“There have been several investigations and reviews into the circumstances leading up to the collisions last year,” Capt. Charlie Brown with Pacific Fleet told USNI News on Tuesday.
“There also have been investigations into the collisions by organizations outside the U.S. Navy. We do not have anything to add to these numerous reviews and investigation.”

Aucoin’s concerns about manning were also reported in a Navy Inspector General report, which was based on a series of interviews with leadership in Japan and site visits to Japan between March 13 and 31, 2017. The report was released June 16, 2017. USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with a container ship before dawn on June 17.

The Inspector General report found, “Sailors are routinely cross-decked amongst ships within the Strike Group or placed on operational holds (OPHOLDs). While cross-decking fixes the immediate problem, it masks underlying causes such as overseas screening challenges and manning shortages of experienced sailors with the requisite skillsets. This places the burden on existing Sailors already enduring a high OPTEMPO environment during peacetime. Moreover, current detailing processes routinely issues orders with short lead times; this compounds OPHOLD and cross-decking challenges as units attempt to mitigate billet gaps when prospective gains with near-term arrival dates fail to meet overseas screening requirements.”

  • John Nash

    “Cross Decking”! What the hell is that? A ship’s crew is built on unity and teamwork. Cross decking works against that and is highly detrimental to the individuals who have to be cross decked. Terrible management by the Navy and its senior leadership–Shame!

  • Kim Chul Soo

    I think there is much, much more to this story than appears here. Hopefully, one day we will learn the real facts.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Sam & Ben, I think your second photo may have wrong ship attributed. The Fitz was t-boned on the starboard side, yet this photo shows no damage.

    • That’s not the Fitz in the background.

      • publius_maximus_III

        Caption says it is. Sorry, my original comment said 1st photo. I meant 2nd.

        • Rgr. It is the Fitzgerald. If you look closely you’ll see the starboard superstructure is covered by metal panels and there’s a hull patch where the bulbous bow of ACX Crystal pierced the hull amidship. They are tough to see since they’re painted haze gray.

  • David C

    Here’s a question: How could the review conducted by Adm Davidson be considered comprehensive when he never talked to the guy who ran 7th Fleet?

    Adm Davidson’s Comprehensive/Readiness Review “left out key information in understanding the manning, training and maintenance problems in 7th Fleet…” Something really sinks here! Vice Adm Aucoin had pointed out the manning issues to Pac Flt. Presumably the CNO and SecNav also knew, Big Navy had institutionalized manning shortages. What could possibly go wrong?

    Just like Captain Renault was shocked to find gambling at Rick’s, I’m shocked that Big Navy would roll the dice. They will likely never be blamed when sailors lost their lives in part because of stupid policy. Many cheered when some heavies got fired over the 7th Fleet fiascoes. But were the right guys fired? A short list to consider include Davidson, Pac Fleet & the CNO. What has happened to my Navy?

    • D. Jones

      Aucoin: “the buck stops anywhere but on my desk”

      Assignment & promotion timelines of flags are often useful for insight.

      • David C

        There is likely a lot of gold-shoulder-board blame to go around, but I don’t think that is what is happening with Vice adm Aucoin. He told his boss what was happening regarding manning, the boss ignored it. Then, Davidson’s reviewers never spoke to the ex-7th Fleet commander.

  • proudrino

    “The bridge crew on watch on McCain when it collided with a merchant chemical tanker off Singapore in August was cross-decked from cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54), which was laid up after its own collision earlier thin the year, though the subsequent investigations found the sailors weren’t qualified to stand watch on the bridge of McCain.”

    USS Antietam was not involved in a collision. The Antietam grounded itself in a spectacular example of a crew unfit for the responsibility of professional seamanship and safe operations. Much of the blame should be attributed to the bad stewardship of senior Naval officers including VADM Aucoin. He, and others, should have been held to account instead of being allowed to retire.

    • Ed L

      Groundings I can understand, it’s either stupidity or charts are not always accurate, but sometimes they are in meters instead of fathoms or feet. That can be confusing which can be fixed by using only one fix unit of measure. Myself I perfer standard not metric. Collisions are different. Having been in 4 collisions, one required yard work the others were minor, mostly paintwork. Collisions in my opinion are the result of the inability to process information and project either on a plot or in their mind. Spatial awareness which is the ability to mentally manipulate 2 or 3 dimensional figures. which can be measure by cognitive tests

  • Duane

    Interesting that Aucoin was not interviewed during the multiple investigations, but likely was interviewed in the prior IG investigation. It would seem as a minimum every issue documented in the IG report, which was based on the freshest pre-accident analysis available, should have been addressed in the accident investigations.

    Sounds like the bureaucracy has struck again. Surely there is no good reason for protecting Navy detailing practices from review and oversight … the detailers are hardly worthy of sacred cow status … that is, unless some senior admirals are worried they might be retaliated against by chastened detailers (which is rather unlikely!).

  • M Yates

    This is interesting, but I think mostly a CYA article by the Admiral that mostly justifies him getting fired. I remember back in the 80’s a AO (oiler) in Norfolk C-4’d for manning so they didn’t get underway for a 6th Fleet deployment. They crossdecked to man the ship but it caused a significant ruckus and brought manning issues at the time to the forefront. In my opinion, C-4 a few Japan ships for manning and forcing the issue by not having available qualified crossdecks available would have done the same.

    I really don’t know what goes on in the flag ranks, but just see the results. The results of this are an Admiral that wouldn’t put his job on the line for what he knew was a significant problem, and ends up getting fired anyway.

    • stephen king

      I remember that. BZ to that CO.

    • Ed L

      I remember that happening in Norfolk. Was on an AOE and deck department gave a dozen trained deck seaman including 2 Petty Officers to an AO. I was supposed to have 40 sailors in 1st division but as LPO had 24. 2nd division had 20 when it was supposed to have 34. So we did back by Friday’s and Fleet exercises like that. But when our POM was started deck department got a draft of 20 new recruits. Untrained that was fun

  • Bill Hicks

    An aviator Admiral with no time on a DD/CG trying to deal with training and manning issues was out of his element and the results are tragic. If he was so concerned, why not C-4 for manning, or did he really not understand the significance of the personnel shortages his staff was telling him about? Readiness and safety are more than numbers. Was he equipped to understand the situation?

  • proudrino

    “The response he received from his Pacific Fleet, led by Adm. Scott Swift, and Fleet Forces, was to provide more information on why a mission should be delayed, before ultimately being ordered to carry on with the mission, he said”

    So by “push back” on orders was essentially to express concern and then move ahead with the mission when told to do so by higher authority. It must not have been much of a push back. For example, it is clear that the 7th fleet had a problem with basic certifications needed for being mission capable. Why didn’t the commander go to PACFLT and FFC and say that NONE of the ships were mission capable due to manning, training and maintenance problems (with the follow-on about how these problems should be addressed)?

    This reads more as blame-shifting than anything else.

  • Curtis Conway

    “Without a full understanding of what happened, we will be limited in our ability to address the root causes and ensure this does not happen again.”
    Well let’s see . . . that ‘Peace Dividend’ and draw down of forces didn’t work out so well did it?
    The Unified Combatant Commander tasking didn’t diminish did it (?), and HA/DR operations increased in frequency and intensity?
    The most successful go-to platform for ‘Presence’ and ‘Show the Flag’ operations (FFG-7 OHP) with its replacement NOT able to fill those shoes, or meet the same missions sets, delayed in development, and busted the budget to boot, was delayed . . . AND . . . even though an OHP was not considered an Arctic Capable Vessel it performed the mission more than once, and did ok, although I am glad I was not on board (Thank You LORD!).
    Couple all this with the fact that the US Navy Chain of Command and SWO Community were more concerned with and overwhelmed by their individual tasks, they forgot their First Responsibility . . . see to the SAFETY of ALL HANDS, for without them you cannot Accomplish Your Mission. How a serving Qualified US Navy Surface Warfare Officer can watch another ship punch through the hull of ‘own ship’ resulting in TONS OF SEAWATER being introduced into a BERTHING COMPARTMENT, and that jolt, noise, and ingressing seawater be the FIRST CLUE that there was a collision . . . is beyond me. THIS is NOT OK, and as I was taught in the US Navy . . . there is NO EXCUSE for this activity.
    “It was frustrating to hear that some San Diego ships were overmanned, as I expressed during one PACFLT meeting after hearing a West Coast ship was so over-manned it left 30 people on the pier. At the time, we were having to cross-deck 49 sailors in FDNF-J to fill gaps on our ships.”
    This is a direct result of Lack of Leadership, planning, budgeting, and execution of the Ships SORM requirements, and the FITREPS of those responsible should reflect same. More importantly, the Combat Team was busted up just before deployment with Strangers. Fundamentals aren’t even addressed here . . . like TEAM BUILDS along with Qualifications. Remember that TEAM BUILD thing? That is what REFTRA was all about!

    Resurect GITMO Refresher Training (REFTRA) or equivalent / Captain (should be RADM) Daly’s DESRON Rosetta Stone should be made SOP to get the fleet back on track.

    It all boils down to:
    – Too few ships
    – Too much tasking
    – Not enough training
    Just my 2ȼ

    • Murray

      Birthing compartment? Since when were ABs designated as maternity wards? Correct spelling is “berthing compartment”. There’s more than enough issues relating to these fatal collisions without adding to the confusion.

      • Curtis Conway

        Thanks for the correction. Fingers have minds of their own. Of course you are correct, and spell check is not going to adjust for context. My comment stands with the corrected spelling.

        • Donald Carey

          If the social engineers have their way, ships WILL have birthing compartments.

      • publius_maximus_III

        I do think in the future, priority should be given on surface vessels to placing -all- berthing spaces above the waterline, and placing equipment or storage spaces as necessary below the waterline instead. Sure it might be expensive to have electronics, machinery, or stores knocked out by a flooding compartment. But who can put a price on a serviceman’s life?

        • PolicyWonk

          But who can put a price on a serviceman’s life?
          =========================================
          The USN.

          We have ships deployed without sufficient sailors to man them; ships leaving sailors behind in San Diego; and we have a bunch of LCS’s tied up to the pier (apparently, their natural state) taking up resources when active duty ships are insufficiently manned (let alone, building them to commercial as opposed to military standards – while deceitfully selling them as “small surface combatants”), crews exhausted, and overtasked.

  • J Bar

    The manning and training deficiencies were, of course, known all the way up through the Navy. To blame it on C7F is incredible. Manning, assets, schedules, and new tasking does not happen in a vacuum. The data is there and readily available.

  • Jffourquet

    Over tasked, poorly trained undermined ships force to accept missions they are not ready for: who is really responsponsible for the consequences? The ship commanders or the command that made the decision to deploy ships not ready for the mission?

  • USNVO

    I am not really surprised. After awhile, large organizations start excepting things as normal that only in retrospect are serious issues. The C7F staff as well as Pacific Fleet and PACOM had probably been dealing with similiar issues for decades. Every time something bad didn’t happen, they were trained that nothing bad would happen. It is tragic, but it is not unexpected.

  • stephen king

    Same shell game for the last 30 years.

    • Ed L

      I remember seeing this happen in the late 70’s. I crossdeck to two different ships for two Med deployments before I made back to conus

      • stephen king

        Remember when sub engineers would get off deployment, get some off time, and go back out? Glad I was not in subs.

  • Secundius

    US Army is expecting a Manpower Short Fall of ~90,000 troops through 2025. With No “Draft” and/or “Compulsory Service”, I suspect that number will grow even higher. Though the US Army “Claims” a 81% in Reenlistment, I’m rather dubious of the claim. With Deportations of Foreign Born (i.e. Aliens) serving and Triple Enlistment Times the New Norm of those already serving. I suspect Reenlistment Rates to Drop…

    • Curtis Conway

      With the ever changing and advancement in technology in combat equipment, retaining trained and familiar troops/sailors/airmen/Coastguardsman & Marines in these systems is more important than ever. Stop the attrition programs (move up or move out) and start retaining our talent. Grow the manpower budget and ‘retain the trained.’ This is not that hard until some people make it so.

      • Secundius

        The Roman Empire under Augustus had an Empire of over 25-Million People, and yet had a Standing Army of ~60 Legions and an Active Reserve of ~40 Legions. And “Still” had no problem with more 2nd Class Citizens Signing-Up to serve…

        • Curtis Conway

          Lead in the water notwithstanding.

          • Secundius

            The Roman Army under Augustus compossed ~1% of the Roman Empire, and in 2018 the US Armed Forces compose less then ~0.04% of the Population of the United States. And seems to get Smaller EVERY year…

          • Curtis Conway

            This is a testament to OUR Classless society and the focus and efficiency of an All Volunteer Armed Forces vs Conscripts. Fewer atrocities, more professionalism, and can be trusted with better equipment, mission focus and accomplishment.

          • Secundius

            The Roman Army had Both Conscripts and Enlisted. And as far as “Atrocities”, how does it differ from that of the 20th and 21st Centuries AD. The Roman Army didn’t go Out of It’s Way to Slaughter People in Battle. As Army’s did in the 10th, 11th, 12th, 20th and 21st Centuries AD…

          • Curtis Conway

            When you consider the entire nature of US Armed Forces, and the development of our weapons systems, and their specific capabilities and use, one easily sees a huge difference. If we gave credence to your model, then we would never develop small smart weapons systems like the GBU-39/53 SDB that are precise in nature, we would just make more GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast and Mark 80 series of weapons. Rules of Engagement are significantly different for our forces as compared to many around the planet, and certainly different that those of Antiquity. The authority of the Chain of Command, and discretion provided to those in the field are very different. Every member of the US Armed Service has a responsibility to determine if the order given them was a Lawful Order. Shooting innocent civilians does not fall in that category. Those very smart weapons previously described provide the ability to avoid Collateral Damage.

          • Secundius

            The Roman Army worked with the Technology available at the time, the SAME as We (i.e. the United States) do in 2018…

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Smaller, yet more expensive for less..

          • Secundius

            The last time that anyone in the US.Hse.of Rep. introduced a New “Draft Bill” was in November 2017. It Died a Quick Death! A provision in the Draft Bill, made it more difficult to get a Deferment, especially a Medical Deferment. Considering ~10% of the US Congress actually Served in the Military and NO ONE in the US Congress is willing going to Press Military Service upon their Children. The ONLY Option was to KILL the Draft Bill…

  • tim

    Blame goes around as far as the eye can see. I blame every one topside that did not see what is coming to sound the alarm … just a couple minutes may have saved lives. I blame those at the radar not paying attention. Yes – there is blame for higher ranks for all the other reasons covered, but it is eyeballs and common sense that were absent! The crew should be ashamed! Yes – plenty of good stuff from a few after the incident – but Geez

  • Ed L

    Then the 7th Fleet needs to establish Repo Depot and fill it with a number of selected specialist in addition to a large number of non rated.

    • USNVO

      So what ships (or other sea commands) do you short billets in order to provide such a Replacement Depot? I mean it is not like there is a huge stash of bodies available somewhere, so if you want a replacement pool, you have to pay for it. So, the only option there is involves taking sea duty billets and sailors from someone else, so who is it? Bell that Cat!

      • Ed L

        Raid the Squadon, Group and Headquarter Staff if necessary

        • Secundius

          17 July 1944, the Port Chicago disaster (i.e. Port Chicago Mutiny, i.e. Port Chicago 50)…

        • USNVO

          Yeah, the cat is still terrorizing the mice.

          Staffs, by their nature are great places to raid if you want really senior NCs, YNs, PSs, etc. Even post DH/XO/CO officers (which is why that is always were they pull short fuze replacements from) but you are not going to find many GMs, FCs, QMs, BMs, GSM, or GSEs. Beyond that, if you take away the handful of guys from the sea going squadrons, groups, and other staffs that might actually help those ships, you also take away the training and readiness guys who are actually trying to, you know, help the ships. There are virtually no junior personnel at all. You need to raid billets of the appropriate type to actually help you.

          • Ed L

            and Stop the Up or Out program. Nothing wrong with a 2nd or 3rd class petty officer with 10 to 12 years experience or even 15 years bring back professional pay. On my first ship we had a Seaman with 4 hash marks on his sleeve. He liked being a Seaman, so he would get permoted to 3rd and even make 2nd. When the crap got too deep he would get busted for insubordination. He left the service at 20 years as a Seaman. Best Boat Coxswain I ever saw. During my time in I knew guys that were Drunks and misfits but excel at doing their duty. They go ashore get drunk, fight get arrested. Then go in front of the old man and get busted down and fine. Six months later they have their rank back. Then the cycle would repeat itself all over again. Then the Navy started to kick guys like that out. I remember getting drunk in Spain one time and turned around an the X.O was looking at me. Asked me if I was drunk. I said two bags full SIR! He laughed and proceed to let me vent about stupid junior officers, insubordinate enlisted men I wasn’t allow to lay hands when they got out of line. The X.O. said we were dinosaurs that the public despised and with all the p.c. starting to show up in the fleet it was time to go. He retired next year. I followed 3 years later. turn down a promotion too.

          • USNVO

            Sorry, not that easy.

            Even if HYT is a negative thing in some circumstance (which it is, but for every example you want to bring up I can bring up 5 where sailors really needed to go home at HYT (preferably before) for the good of the service), it doesn’t solve your problem. It doesn’t matter if the SN has 10 years in the Navy or is straight out of bootcamp, there is still the same number of them. So in order to get bodies for a replacement pool, you have to take billets away from someone else. And, they have to be in the paygrade and rating that is required for the jobs they have to fill.

            Mice are still traumatized.

  • vincedc

    Every admiral in the Navy is always screaming for more resources. Eventually, people stop listening to them, because they can’t tell the legitimate requests from the ones that are just trying to inflate a command.

    • Curtis Conway

      Ask the Unified Combatant Commanders! They know what they need, and rarely get.

      • USNVO

        The Unified and Combat Commanders are like little kids, they know what they want, not what they need. And yes, they rarely get what the want, just like little kids rarely get what they want, because they are in no way responsible for paying for it. And much like little kids, the answer to the Unified and Combat Commanders is for SECDEF to tell them they get what they get and they don’t get upset. Part of the problem with 7th Fleet/Pacific Fleet is that they they try to always give PACOM what they want, not what is achievable or in the best interest of the Nation. Where do you think all the taskers came from in the first place?

        • Curtis Conway

          1st – The Unified Combatant Commanders are more than just grown adults, with huge responsibilities that are determined by their mission sets and AOR, and typically done the best they could in the past given resources provided. Over the last 20-30 years those resources have been dwindling, and the tasking has not given relief. It cost significant resources to operate a DDG-51 in the waters of any ocean. Compare that to the operational cost of an Oliver Hazard Perry Frigate, of which all 53 were retired.
          2nd – SECDEF is given the responsibility to ration resources and cover many bases. Supplying Unified Combatant Commanders is a Proactive Responsibility that prevents the necessity of using Reactive measures, and that is always a calculation. Reacting with armed forces is called kinetic warfare (mostly).
          3rd – Any ‘Children’ participating in this discussion are those in the previous administration(s) and Chains of Command that facilitated the removal of these preventative resources from those AORs, and permitting EVIL to rear its ugly head again . . . and also those who decide that all this activity is normal and acceptable have a child’s mindset. I wonder how much money was made from this little endeavor.
          4th – The Pacific Theater is a very large place, encompassing many countries, societies, and types of ethos. The United States decided the planet was safe after the Berlin Wall fell, and pulled many of our forces back from all AORs, even the Pacific . . . then Evil rose. The Pacific Pivot was born, and we have been catching up ever since.

          Preventative ‘Proactive Presence’ and ‘Show the Flag’ missions are like changing the oil in your car. Warfare is like having to replace an engine that was never serviced with an oil change. Reaction typically costs many times more the Proactive measures, and that capital investment is usually made in Blood. One ship performing Show the Flag prevents having to send the fleet, unless the ship is the LCS. This will be the mission for the FFG(X).

          Provide the Unified Combatant Commanders with proactive resources they require so we DON’T have to go to war. Artificial [South China Sea] islands are not built with that we are present. Wonder who allowed that absence to happen ? . . and what personal benefit they now enjoy because they did?

          • USNVO

            All that may be true but it doesn’t change the fact that if you add up all the resources that the various commanders say they have to have, the Navy would need to be 3 times larger and even then, it would probably not be big enough. So yes, they are just like children, they say I want, I want, I want. The SECDEF and various service secretaries are the ones who have to balance wants against resources. And that is how it should be.

            And just a side note, what exactly do you think anyone could do about the Chinese artificial islands? Did China do anything illegal? No, no they didn’t. Artificial islands are perfectly legal in international waters, even in another country’s EEZ. They don’t confer any territorial seas or EEZs, hence why the US drives around the faux islands in the SCS, but absent going to war without provocation, you couldn’t stop them if you had a 1000 ships patrolling the SCS.

          • Curtis Conway

            The point IS . . . we didn’t even try. In fact PACFLT vessels were not in the region very much at all during the corresponding period. Even those of us who put out the intel couldn’t get a rise out of the last administration. It is as if they were deliberately blind. Chinese Coast Guard harassment of Philippine (and other nations) fishing vessels were chased out of, and forced from their own EEZs. THAT is covered in the UNCLOS. The International Court received a case from the Philippines, and won. China to this day will not acknowledge that fact. ANYONE who chooses the Chinese side of the argument, in this case, is suspect, for they deliberately ignore, or do not understand the fundamental issues, and the damage has already be done . . . Fait accompli. ANYONE who has served in the Navy of the United States recognizes this equation well, for we exercise against this very symptom of ‘Harassment of the Underdog by the Bully’ all the time.

  • Eyes open

    While this may be a CYA item, the one truth that does resound is the low number of personnel and the lack of retention. So when will the nation realize that we need a system similar to Israel where your basic education is 14 years and after you graduate, you serve your country for two years. Any military branch or the peace corps but it is mandatory. Who knows, maybe the retention rate will climb once we get more mean and women into the services. While the service isn’t for everybody, it might just be the ticket for many.

    • Mr. Speaker

      You would have to have a Fat Camp before Boot Camp due to the preponderance of obesity in the U.S.. It IS having an impact on recruiting.

  • Ed L

    So what’s the chief of Naval personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke take on the shortage of sailors. Nov 6 last year Nearly 9,000 chiefs facing mandatory retirement

    • wilkinak

      The Navy will be better off with many of them retired. Navy chiefs aren’t what they used to be.

      • Ed L

        That’s why I left the service after 21 years got too political.

  • Ed L

    A mariner without Spatial awareness can not be a good ship driver. That goes double for Aviators

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    All these collisions and allisions by the USN can be clearly seen by maritime professionals as a outstanding lack of seamanship. This is no surprise, as the USN has been KNOWN well before these accidents to be a scary vessel to cross paths withs as their actions were always in trepidation and dangerous… Just listen to them on the bridge to bridge! This extends beyond COLREGS, and can be observed clearly in every evolution involving seamanship the USN conducts, such as small boat operations, anchoring, moorings, engineering casualties, etc. Operating the ship part of the ship is a collateral to being a warrior or something like that in the USN, and that is a problem. . . . . .

  • Isa Akhbar

    This is what happens every time the U.S. has drawn down its military forces as part of some mythical “peace dividend” ever since 1918…Polyanna-ish stupidity overtakes the American public and politicians, and we are repeatedly left without adequate military resources to immediately deal with the inevitable next armed conflict. This incident was not the Navy’s fault…it is America’s fault for believing that the world just wants to be at peace, like we do. Wrong answer.