The Navy formally elevated the Naval Safety Center to become the Naval Safety Command (NAVSAFECOM) during a ceremony on Feb. 4 at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va.

The service said this new command will serve as the naval enterprise lead for non-nuclear safety standards, expertise and oversight of the Navy and Marine Corps Safety Management System (SMS). It will operate with authority and responsibility to establish an SMS “that provides defense-in-depth and ensures the naval enterprise is both safe to operate and operating safely,” the Navy said in a statement.

Last month, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday

explained the importance of this change is to help redesign organizational structures so the fleet “can refocus on learning and supporting the sailors.” The command is expected to evaluate how the whole Navy manages safety and risk and grade how effectively commands self-assess performance (Defense Daily, Jan. 13).

Gilday said the Naval Safety Command will be headed by a two-star admiral who will report directly to him and that it will take the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey as a model for how the organization will perform.

NAVSAFECOM is led by Rear Adm. F.R. Luchtman, the commander of the previous iteration, the Naval Safety Center. Luchtman assumed the position in April 2020.

“The Naval Safety Command will provide transparency into emerging risk trends and the current safety status of all commands through enhanced risk identification, communication, and accountability, as well as data collection, management, and product dissemination, which will protect our most important resource, our Sailors, Marines, and civilians whose lives we value above all else.” Luchtman said at the ceremony

“Ultimately, the Naval Safety Command will serve as a force multiplier of a just culture that incorporates risk management and accountability by all individuals, regardless of rank and position,” he added.

A fire continues to be fought into the evening on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
A fire continued to be fought into the evening on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12, 2020. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Navy said by elevating the safety center to a command it “now has the authority to establish Echelon I safety and risk management policy and the ability to conduct formal, independent assurance functions from Echelon II through unit-level commands to evaluate risk control systems and continuous self-improvement.”

Gilday presided over the establishment ceremony and said the significance of it is summarized as “a vital change to the way our Navy conducts its vital mission, a mission that is growing in importance every single day. Naval Safety Command will enhance our ability to safely operate across the globe, and in turn help accelerate America’s advantage at sea.”

Transitioning the safety center to a safety command was the first recommendation from the Major Fires Review report that came out of the investigation of the Bonhomme Richard fire. The report argued this command would provide a layer of defense-in-depth for safety oversight and enforcements to ensure a single individual at the echelon 1 level with overall responsibility for damage control and fire safety.