The U.S. Navy released a memo last Thursday evening detailing the responsibilities for the new head of the Navy’s comprehensive review following the series of ship collisions in the Pacific theater.
The Aug. 24 memo is directed to Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and comes from Adm. William Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Moran directed Davidson to lead a 60-day review of surface fleet operations and incidents at sea that occurred in the past decade, focusing on Seventh Fleet operational deployment.
This aims to inform improvements for the entire Navy. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) John Richardson, on Aug. 21 ordered an operational pause in all U.S. fleets following the latest collision and announced a comprehensive review would take place to ensure the Navy discovers all of the contributing factors and root causes of these incidents (Defense Daily, Aug. 21).
The USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer collided with a commercial vessel east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21 and in June the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with a merchant container ship near Yokosuka, Japan. Both events caused severe damage to the destroyers and the death of a number of crew members.
Other mishaps that memo noted as part of a “disturbing trend” in the Seventh Fleet include the grounding of the USS Antietam (CG-54) in January and a non-deadly collision between the USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and a South Korean fishing vessel in May.
The review is directed to specifically address six areas: individual training and professional development; unit-level training and operational performance; development and certification of deployed operational and mission standards; deployed operational employment and risk management; material readiness of electronic systems; and practical utility of current navigation equipment and combat systems.
Moran requested that as part of this effort, Davidson should include detailed recommendations for corrective actions needed to ensure the safety of personnel, safe operations at sea, and the readiness of naval forces
“In the conduct of the review, you will seek input and insights from other services, industry, and highly qualified experts outside the services in order to ensure the widest possible perspective as we drive to the heart of the underlying issues and attack the root causes for these mishaps, Moran added.
Separately, Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, the new commander of the Seventh Fleet, arrived in Yokosuka, Japan on Friday after assuming command Aug. 23. Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved the former Seventh Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, due to a loss on confidence n his ability to lead following the incidents (Defense Daily, Aug. 23).
Sawyer was already nominated in May and confirmed for the position. He was originally scheduled to start in September, with Aucoin set to retire.
Before arriving in Yokosuka, Sawyer participated in the International Maritime Security Symposium in Bali, Indonesia. He previously served as deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii and earlier was commander of U.S. Submarine Forces Pacific and commander of Submarine Group 7/Task Force 54 and 74 in Yokosuka.