Reference News Network reported on Dec. 21 that after two serious collisions occurred in the 7th Fleet of the US Navy last year, the Navy carried out a number of corrective measures in order to prevent similar accidents from happening again. At the institutional level, the Pacific fleet has established a new Western Pacific Surface Ship Combat Group to strengthen the management and control of naval vessels in the Western Pacific region. At the management level, the United States Navy has summarized the causes of personnel rotation system defects and inadequate training, and has taken measures to improve the turnover of combatants. At the personnel level, the Navy will catch up the Pacific Fleet Commander, the 7th Fleet Commander and the officers and soldiers responsible for the accident, trying to save the 7th Fleets decline through high-level exchange of blood. So, more than a year after the collision, has the 7th Fleet changed its condition?
According to the Review Department of the U.S. government, the multifaceted efforts of the U.S. Navy are likely to be in vain. According to a report issued by the US Government Accountability Office, cited by the US Defense News, although the US military has made efforts to rectify the surface naval forces, some of the hidden dangers that led to the accident still exist in the 7th Fleet. According to the U.S. Navys summary report on two ship collision accidents, the shortage of command and technical operators, the overload of front-line officers and soldiers, the delay and neglect of crew training and ship maintenance support are all important reasons for the tragedy. Especially in the night, the officers and soldiers responsible for watching and driving are overtired, which directly leads to the operational errors of US destroyers when they meet with cargo ships.
Although the US Navy vowed to improve these problems afterwards. But a survey by the US Government Accountability Office shows that the navys efforts are lacking. In November this year, an investigation team organized by the Government Accountability Office went to the 7th Fleet to investigate the views of Frontier deployed officers and soldiers on naval consolidation operations. John Pendleton, an analyst at the Government Accountability Office who participated in the survey, said that the officers and soldiers interviewed generally reflected that the workload of naval forces had not decreased since before the collision. It is extremely challenging for front-line personnel to conscientiously complete all the workload and ensure adequate sleep. In his statement to the Senate, Pendleton pointed out that the 7th Fleet was badly understaffed and that most ships lacked enough officers and men to match their missions. Front-line sailors have to work more than 100 hours a week (an average of more than 14 hours a day). Sleeping well is still an unattainable luxury for them.
The picture shows the destroyer Fitzgerald after being hit.
The U.S. Navy believes that the lack of training and maintenance has played a boost role in the accident. On this issue, the U.S. Navys action is far more active than the sleep-toning of the supply marines. Since November 2017, the 7th Fleet fleet has rapidly begun to make-up training, reducing the proportion of unqualified ships to single digits. However, this action makes the front-line officers and soldiers who are already under pressure even more exhausted. Pendleton believes that although the improvement of warship readiness is encouraging, the number of combatants does not increase synchronously with the increase of mission size, these exhausted front-line officers and soldiers may still increase the operational risks of the U.S. military in the Western Pacific region.
So, what are the causes of these difficulties? The US Government Accountability Office report also provides an explanation. First of all, the responsibility for the lack of awareness of American sailors is the big power competition line currently implemented by the U.S. Navy. Hearings held by the US Senate on naval readiness show that the US Navy today is facing many challenges, such as adjusting and reorganizing its operational readiness from the state of war against terrorism, preparing for future conventional operations at sea, participating in actions against extremist organizations such as the Islamic State, protecting NATO allies, and maintaining global order, and developing the next generation of weapons and equipment. Especially for the 7th Fleet, which is in the front line of monitoring China and Russia and facing a large number of uncertain risks in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, the daily combat readiness cruise mission has already overwhelmed the fleet, and other overweight projects are forced to sacrifice the rest time of grass-roots officers and soldiers. Driven by the baton of strategic transformation at the top of the U.S. military, the exhausted U.S. officers and soldiers can probably only sleep a little less and a little less.
At the same time, due to the need to change the mode of education and training cycle, according to the existing program, the U.S. Navy will not enjoy the dividends of personnel and education policy adjustment until 2021 at the earliest. In addition, due to differences in culture and living habits, the 7th Fleet has always been a cold-door force that U.S. Navy officers and soldiers do not want to serve. This makes the 7th Fleet, which was already suffering from the shortage of personnel, even worse. More than a year after the collision, the U.S. Navy deployed in the Western Pacific region is still in serious danger. If we do not make major adjustments in the over-extended strategic objectives and manpower policies, we are afraid that various difficulties will perplex the U.S. Army for a long time. (Wen/Vernon)
Two Berk-class destroyers of the U.S. Navy, both disabled by collision, met at sea in semi-submarines.
Source: Responsible Editor of Reference Message Network: Zou Yuan_NBJS7274