WASHINGTON --- The majority of ships operating in the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, where two destroyers have been involved in fatal collisions since June, weren’t certified to conduct basic operations at sea related to war-fighting, according to U.S. Navy records.
As of late June, eight of the 11 cruisers and destroyers in the Seventh Fleet, and their crew members, weren’t certified by the U.S. Navy to conduct “mobility seamanship,” or basic steering of the ship, according to U.S. Navy records provided to two House Armed Services subcommittees. The Navy also said that seven of those ships had expired training certification in the areas of cruise missile defense and surface warfare, which test a crew’s ability to defend a ship or to conduct attacks.
The USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged vessel on June 17, killing seven crew members. The USS John McCain collided with a Liberian-flagged vessel Aug. 21, killing 10 sailors. Neither the Fitzgerald nor the McCain were certified for the majority of the mission operation requirements that the Navy periodically evaluates.
The Seventh Fleet’s destroyers and cruisers generally met certification in other areas such as maintenance, communications, navigation, explosive safely and search and rescue.
It is unclear what role the lack of proper certification played in the collisions, and Pentagon investigations are under way both into the collisions and into larger questions of naval operations.
But the certification reports suggest that the U.S. Navy may have knowingly sent ships to sea that weren’t fully certified for the missions they were conducting, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. (end of excerpt)
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