SWO boss calls for attention to manning, certifications following collisions

By Lee Hudson / September 20, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Following multiple collisions in U.S. 7th Fleet, Naval Surface Forces commander Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden is calling for changes in the service's focus, according to a new notice.

"It is clear that successful mission accomplishment cannot be our sole measure of effectiveness," according to the undated document, obtained by Inside Defense. "While mission accomplishment will always be the dominant success measure, we must take greater heed of the manning, maintenance, training, and certification pillars that collectively foster success. In short, the end cannot justify the means."

In the coming weeks, Rowden writes, the service will be assessing manning, material readiness, training certification accomplishment and proficiency. Additionally, the Navy will be taking steps to increase the "safety and preparedness" of units at sea and in port.

"All of these measures enhance our core competencies and our ability to operate, navigate, and communicate safely," he writes.

Additionally, Rowden calls on units to "report, evaluate and train to lessons learned from incidents and near misses."

"Formal requirements for such will be codified in near-term guidance based upon our need to identify causal factors and learning opportunities from these events," he adds.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that cruisers and destroyers operating out of Japan are lacking 37 percent of their required certifications. Certifications can include basic ship handling and navigation as well as missile defense and anti-air warfare.

"Just about every ship has some element of their certification expired. And that can be managed if it's one thing -- an advanced warfare mission for instance, they just don't assign them to that mission," he said. "Where it becomes troublesome is if it becomes too many areas, and particularly in those areas that are directly related to safe and effective operations -- the fundamentals."