Irontom performs "Be Bold Like Elijah."
Rogue Sailor: The Captain of a US Naval Ship at Sea has absolute authority and ultimate responsibility for what happens on their ship. As I stated previously, upon conclusion of the various Investigations the Navy will hold the Captains, XO’s, Department Heads and culpable crew members fully accountable. That is now being done, Bravo Zulu Navy. Additional other significant numerous issues are at play, the following are arguably the most substantial and must be addressed by SecDef, SecNav and our Senate/House!. 1. The Navy Fleet and its sailors are stretched too thin to meet the operational demands. As the Navy has shrunk from 316 ships in 2001 to 277 ships today, it has maintained approximately 95-100 ships continuously deployed around the world. This has required longer deployments (from nine months to eleven months, or longer), deferred maintenance, and increased equipment failures, placing even greater strain on the available ships. Ultimately, the amount of time available for training (and often sleep) has suffered as operations and maintenance have taken priority. This means that not only are today’s sailors not as well trained, but they are often extremely fatigued, which further degrades their performance. Substantial changes to the surface warfare community’s training and professional development over the past 14 years have left little time for intensive navigation and mariner skills training for junior officers and sailors. In the training time available, the focus is on learning to use modern electronic navigation aids such as GPS, digital charts, and radars in addition to Congress mandated PC training sessions. With approximately one-third of a ship’s crew rotating out each year, it is a struggle just to train and qualify these new sailors to stand watch and operate the ship, let alone make them expert mariners. 2. The extremely high operational demands on these forward-deployed ships, and the lack of a formal training and deployment certification process, has left little time to train and evaluate their proficiency. These forward-deployed ships are often tasked with performing missions based on availability, not mission certification. These missions often occur during regularly scheduled training and maintenance periods, rather than during scheduled deployments with their carrier strike group. By contrast, the other non-forward deployed Fleets are able to established and maintain requirements and procedures for pre-deployment certification of its assigned ships. 3. Eight years of continuing resolutions and the Budget Control Act (or “sequestration”) have taken a heavy toll. In striving to meet the reduced funding limits imposed by these legislative actions, Navy leadership was often forced to cut near-term operations and maintenance funding. This further compounded the maintenance backlog and reduced non-mission-essential ship underway days, resulting in less operational ships and even less time for training. Although the Navy has recognized the readiness problem and has prioritized operations and maintenance in its fiscal year 2018 budget, another looming continuing resolution for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 would at a minimum delay these efforts, as well as any additional corrective actions that may result from the comprehensive review of surface fleet operations. Navy leadership, as well as Congress, must prioritize surface ship seamanship and navigation proficiency and provide its commanders and sailors with the time, funding, and additional manpower to properly train and assess the proficiency in these most basic and critical seamanship skills. CWO USN (Retired)