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McCain calls for 'forceful action' in wake of destroyer collisions

August 21, 2017 |
Justin Katz
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Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said today "more forceful action is urgently needed to identify and correct the causes" of two recent Navy ship collisions.

"I expect full transparency and accountability from the Navy leaders as they conduct the associated investigations and reviews," McCain said in a statement, referring to the worldwide operational pause ordered by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.

The pause follows a collision between the destroyer John S. McCain (DDG-56) and merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21 at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time. The collision, which has left at least 10 sailors missing and five injured, was the second such accident in three months. On June 17, the destroyer Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with a cargo tanker off the coast of Japan, resulting in the deaths of seven sailors.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) tweeted Aug. 21 that the Senate Armed Services Committee "must hold a hearing to get answers on why these collisions are happening."

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) in a statement said: "While I support the Chief of Naval Operations operational safety standown of the fleet, I believe that there are even more basic causes for this systematic operational failure of our fleet to include a demanding operational tempo, limited training opportunities and inadequate funding to support basic needs. I look forward to conducting a detailed review of ongoing Navy operations to ensure the basic safety of our sailors and sufficient forces for our national security."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) noted in a statement that the McCain collision was "the fourth serious Naval accident this year. We ask a lot of our men and women in the Navy. The time they spend at sea is increasing, while their ships age and their funding gets cut. These are just the conditions that can lead to an increase in the kinds of accidents we are witnessing. At a time of increasing threats, two military services have now had to take a knee to review safety and training procedures. That is unprecedented, and no way to protect America. Congress has a duty to provide our Sailors with the additional resources they so clearly need, and to do so immediately. To do any less, while these Sailors are doing so much for us, would be immoral."

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