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Early reports indicate Navy collisions were preventable

After recent maritime accidents involving U.S. Navy destroyers and cargo vessels, many New Yorkers may be wondering how ships on an expanse of ocean could collide. According to The New York Times, investigators believe that the vessel collisions that claimed the lives of several men were, in fact, completely preventable.

U.S. Navy commanders describe high-stress conditions that servicemembers face in the waters around Japan, where the largest of the U.S. Navy fleet is located. In part due to unstable relations between the U.S. and North Korea, ships are sent out frequently, and those aboard receive few opportunities to rest.

Although The New York Times notes that the investigations are still not complete, some speculation about the results may be justified. For example, the Navy has already begun the implementation of new orders regarding how its vessels are operated. These include the following:

  • Positions of ships will be broadcast when in crowded waters
  • Workweeks of 100 hours are banned
  • Crews must receive more sleep

In addition, ships must not leave port with crews lacking essential seamanship certifications. 

Another insight into the possible investigation results comes from the outcomes for many prominent officers. Two officers serving aboard the destroyer John S. McCain have been relieved of duties, and the stated reasons include poor training leadership, poor judgment and a loss of confidence. Others have also been removed or have decided to retire early. In a preview of the inquiry results, the chief of naval operations points to a lack of guidance, accountability, responsibility and authority among junior leadership.

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