US tax payers will have to pay approximately $600 million for the repairs of two US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and a cruiser, senator John McCain said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing titled ‘Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea’.
During the hearing, US Navy officials gave their testimonies and answered questions about a series of US Navy collisions in the Atlantic.
US warships were involved in a total of four collisions this year while incidents involving destroyers USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain took the lives of 17 sailors.
The navy has relieved two commanding officers, a commander, and a captain. It has issued 20 reprimands to other officers and enlisted sailors. Since August 23rd, the squadron, two-star strike group, and a three-star fleet commander have all been relieved.
As senator McCain said in his opening remarks, unexpected deployments for other ships to meet operational requirements of the sidelined ships will add to the current estimated cost repairs.
McCain also pressed navy secretary Richard V. Spencer and chief of naval operations Admiral John M. Richardson on the issue of expired training certifications for U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers based in Japan. According to reports, the USS John S. McCain had expired training certifications in six out of the 10 key warfare mission areas while USS Fitzgerald certifications had expired in all 10 mission areas.
Responding to the questions, Admiral Richardson said the US Navy has started readiness for sea assessments (RFSA) for all ships assigned to Japan, aimed at inspecting and assessing watchstander proficiency and material readiness to ensure ships are able to safely navigate, communicate and operate.
Additionally, the navy is standing up Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (NSGWP), a body which will consolidate authorities to oversee the training and certification of forward-deployed ships based in Japan.
The issue of sleep deprivation is also being addressed according to Richardson who said that measures are now being taken to ensure sailors get sufficient sleep in all shipboard routines to address fatigue concerns.
Another major change in operations, according to Richardson and Spencer is that US Navy ships will now be broadcasting automatic identification system (AIS) data while they are transiting high traffic regions.