Accelerated Op Tempo is breaking the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet

The increased level of operations, coupled with a lack of funding and a shortage of personnel has led to an unprecedented number of deadly mishaps in the U.S. Navy’s 7th fleet, arguably the most powerful — and necessary — given its task in countering North Korea and containing an ascendant China.

The fleet underwent 160 multilateral and bilateral exercises performed this year in the area of operations it is responsible for, or about one every two days on average.

What’s more, the op-tempo isn’t slated to decrease anytime soon, despite the number of accidents the fleet suffered this year. The guided-missile destroyers, USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain, both collided with container ships off Japan and Singapore respectively.

The collisions also left Navy brass wondering how two of the world’s most sophisticated warships were unable to successfully navigate crowded shipping lanes.

“In total, the 7th Fleet has clocked up five major non-combat incidents in 2017 involving ships and an additional two involving aircraft, including Wednesday’s crash in the Philippine Sea of a plane taking personnel to the Reagan.

“A US Government Accountability Office report from September warned lengthy deployments of US ships based in Japan — as both the Fitzgerald and McCain had been at the time of their collisions — often result in key training requirements being neglected due to the demands of operational duties, something the report describes as a ‘problem.'” [source]

Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 2:  What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?

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Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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