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Navy removes admiral, captain following string of accidents

20 September 2017

"It is simply unacceptable for U.S. Navy ships to run aground or collide with other ships - and to have four such incidents in the span of seven months is truly alarming", McCain said in opening remarks during a committee hearing to address four ship accidents this year.

Military chiefs are examining the factors behind a series of deadly accidents involving members of the armed services, which the chief of USA naval operations has blamed on budget cuts.

Richardson said some of the blame was on Congress saying that lawmakers provide "constrained funding levels and budget uncertainty", while still demanding a high operational tempo, forcing Navy leaders to skimp on training.

They also come as Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson is set to testify before Congress today, where he's expected to face hard questions about the string of mishaps.

Many family members whose relatives were among the 17 sailors killed were in attendance as honored guests of the hearing, and McCain read aloud the names of the deceased.

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The highly-publicized incident came after seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald, also a guided-missile destroyer, and a container ship collided off the coast of Japan in June, along with two other non-deadly collisions involving the Navy vessels also this year.

The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided in Southeast Asia last month, leaving 10 US sailors dead and five injured.

"We believe that, until the Navy makes the needed changes, its ships may not have the right number and skill mix of sailors to maintain readiness and prevent overworking its sailors", the GAO report concluded. Both reliefs were due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command. John McCain and Navy officials thanked the parents of the victims for their children's sacrifices and assured them that they would do everything in their power to prevent future collisions.

The John S. McCain's sister ship, the Fitzgerald, nearly sank off the coast of Japan after colliding with a Philippine container ship on June 17.

"Make no mistake sir, though these factors may exert a negative force on the challenges we face, at the core of this issue is about leadership".

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The USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer named after his father and grandfather, was one of the vessels involved in accidents.

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, and John Pendleton, Director of Defense Force Structure and Readiness Issues at the Government Accountability Office all testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"One of the immediate actions following these incidences particularly in heavily trafficked areas, we are just going to turn it on", Richardson said.

But Richardson also acknowledged commanders at every level share responsibility. "That is the way we are brought up, routinely, and in combat, that is exactly what you do even at the risk of your troops and equipment and all". "I own this problem".

"We're nearly hard-wired to say 'can-do, '" Mr. Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, responding to a question about whether military commanders should be saying no more often.

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Navy removes admiral, captain following string of accidents