Navy orders review of Pacific fleet in wake of collision

By Stephen Carlson   |   Aug. 22, 2017 at 1:41 PM
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Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet Tuesday ordered a one-day pause in operations and a comprehensive review of every ship, procedure and training program in the wake of an aircraft carrier's collision with an oil tanker.

Ten sailors were missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with the tanker Monday in the straits of Malacca off Singapore. Remains of some of the sailors had been recovered Tuesday.

It was the second such accident in a month, coming on the heels of other groundings and aviation accidents.

A one-day operational pause will be completed by all U.S. Navy Pacific fleets and ships by Aug. 28, and will be followed by individual ship reviews in a second phase, Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott H. Swift said in a statement.

Initial reports indicate that the McCain suffered a steering failure leading up to the collision, though the cause is not yet known.

The operational pause will be for ships to review recent incidents and safety regulations, while the second phase involves analysis of individual ships' functions and training to be used for follow-up action.

"This second phase will be a deliberate reset for our ships, focused on a number of areas, such as navigation, ship's mechanical systems and bridge resource management," Swift said. "It will involve training and assessment by a team of experts with each ship and their watchstanders, and it will be phased in order to cover ships in port and on station at sea."

Swift gave no time frame for when the second phase is to be implemented or how long the review would take.

The Pacific Fleet has seen a rash of collisions and groundings over the last eight months. Seven sailors died in the collision of the USS Fitzgerald with a cargo ship in June. Its senior officers have been relieved of command.

Two other ships have also crashed this year. The USS Antietam ran aground in Japan in January and the USS Lake Champlain collided with a Korean fishing boat in May.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Nicholson said the issue is of extreme concern and requires a comprehensive review of all ships, procedures and training.

"This will be a broader effort, looking at a number of things, one being, OK, what is the situation out in Japan with our forward-deployed Naval forces out there," Davidson told reporters.

He said the review would take time but would be completed as soon as possible.

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