|CNO Adm. John Richardson (Image: Wiki Commons)|
By: David B. Larter
The Navy’s top officer is eyeing U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, after four accidents in one year have resulted in three collisions, a grounding, seven sailors dead and 10 missing as of Monday afternoon.
The fleet, which is led by Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, is now under direct scrutiny after Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson directed his four-star fleet boss, Adm. Phil Davidson, to determine if 7th Fleet ships are ready to do the basics of their jobs.
"[The collision is] the last in a series of incidents in the Pacific Fleet in particular, and that gives great cause for concern that there is something out there that we’re not getting at," Richardson told a group of reporters Monday afternoon. "So I’ve conferred with senior leadership in the Navy and in the department. We are taking a much more aggressive stance at this point to get to that level of understanding."
Richardson, who ordered a vague ”operational pause” earlier in the day, said he was directing Fleet Forces Command head Davidson to look at training of sailors in 7th Fleet while they are forward deployed.
“There’s the longer-term review that I’ve asked Adm. Davidson, down in fleet forces command, to undertake,” Richardson said.
“This will be a broader effort, looking at a number of things. One being, what is the situation out in Japan with our forward deployed naval forces out there, how are they executing their business? I just want to understand that more deeply in terms of training, generating that readiness that we’ve asked them to achieve, and then certifying that readiness.”
The scrutiny comes on the heels of the second major at-sea disaster since June, which has crippled two of the Navy’s ballistic missile defense ships at a time when the threat from the Nuclear-armed Kim regime in North Korea is rapidly increasing.
John S. McCain collided with the Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC just east of the Singapore Strait entering the Strait of Malacca at 5:24 a.m. local time. The Alnic, which is three times the size of McCain, is an oil and chemical tanker.
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