The following is from a press release issued by the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
This summer, 42 service members died in accidents related to readiness challenges impacting the U.S. Military. Seventeen Sailors were killed aboard the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald; separate accidents claimed the lives of 19 Marines and 6 Soldiers.
These incidents are more warning lights that our military readiness crisis is deepening. Congress has a choice: repeat past mistakes and jeopardize more lives or work together before the end of the fiscal year to provide the military the resources they need to begin turning the readiness tide around.
June 17 – “Seven U.S. Navy sailors are missing after the USS Fitzgerald destroyer collided before dawn with a container ship four times its size off the coast of Japan…” CBS News
July 10 – “The KC-130 aircraft that crashed in western Mississippi this week, killing all 16 troops on board…Indications are something went wrong at cruise altitude…” CNN
August 5 – “The MV-22 crashed while on final approach to USS Green Bay, a Navy amphibious ship off the east coast of Australia” Fox News
August 15 – “A multi-agency team scoured the ocean off Hawaii on Wednesday for five soldiers aboard an Army helicopter that went down during a nighttime training exercise…The UH-60 Black Hawk went missing when another Army helicopter training with it lost visual and radio contact…” Army Times
August 21 – “On Monday, while operating off Malaysia’s east coast, the USS John S. McCain collided with a Liberian chemical tanker…Ten sailors are missing, five were injured, and a rescue operation is underway.” Washington Examiner
August 25 – “A search effort is under way for a missing U.S. service member after an American Black Hawk helicopter crashed off Yemen’s southern coast during a training exercise, the military says.” Wall Street Journal
WARNING SIGNS AND INVESTIGATIONS
“Since the loss of 17 sailors after the Fitzgerald collided with a freighter near Tokyo in June, and a second destroyer, the John S. McCain, collided with a tanker… while approaching Singapore, Navy investigators have been piecing together the causes of the fatal crashes.” New York Times
NAVY & MARINE CORPS ORDER OPERATIONAL STAND DOWN
“After the McCain collision, the Navy ordered a one-day operational pause across the entire fleet in order to examine the root causes of the accidents.” CNN
“The Marine Corps also issued a one-day grounding for all of its aircraft earlier this month following two deadly crashes. The Navy has said more than half of its aircraft cannot fly… And all the military services expressed concerns about training and maintenance in the past year following a spate of aircraft training accidents.” CNN
WARNING SIGNS WERE EVIDENT
“Shipboard veterans had long seen signs of trouble. Factor in a shrinking Navy performing the same duties that a larger fleet did a decade ago, constant deployments that leave little time to train and relentless duties that require sailors driving 9,000-ton vessels to endure sleepless stretches that would be illegal for bus drivers, and avoidable accidents can happen…” New York Times
“’Consequently, each ship is being deployed more to maintain the same level of presence,’ according to the report, which also noted that maintenance has been reduced, deferred or eliminated.” Wall Street Journal
“Congressional investigators and military officials warned repeatedly about overworked sailors, shortened training schedules and budget cuts in the years leading up to two fatal collisions involving U.S. Navy ships, government auditors…” Wall Street Journal
TRAINING FELL BY THE WAYSIDE OVERSEAS
“Three reports in the past two years by the Government Accountability Office, an independent watchdog agency, spell out endemic problems. They found through interviews and Navy studies that U.S. sailors overseas often arrive to their assigned ships without adequate skills and experience. They end up on duty for an average of 108 hours a week, instead of the Navy-standard of 80 hours…” Wall Street Journal