Navy secretary visits Naval Base San Diego, calls recent fatal collisions ‘unacceptable’

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in San Diego Tuesday that the recent fatal collisions of U.S. destroyers with merchant vessels in Asia were "unacceptable” and would be thoroughly reviewed.

"We’re involving both the active-duty military, Navy uniformed services, we’re getting graybeards involved, we’re getting the private sector involved and doing a comprehensive review on how we operate.” Spencer said during an "all hands” meeting with area sailors at Naval Base San Diego.

He also toured the recently commissioned littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords.

The visit, his first since being sworn in on Aug. 3, came a little over a week since the latest collision, involving the USS John S. McCain and a tanker, that resulted in 10 deaths.

In June, seven sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald died after a collision with another ship. Two of the victims were from the San Diego region.

Both destroyers are based in Japan.

Spencer, who is scheduled to visit with Marines at Camp Pendleton on Wednesday, is a Marine veteran who spent five years as a helicopter pilot. Most recently, he worked for a management consulting firm in Wyoming.

He emphasized the need for improved processes in order for the service’s personnel to meet future challenges, in a memo released today outlining his view of the Navy’s mission, vision and priorities.

"We will drive efficiency, adopt and implement new ideas, and leverage leading practices from industry and academia to positively impacts and support acquisition, manpower, research and operational processes,” he wrote.

Spencer also said the Navy will focus on training, modernization and maintenance to achieve a high state of readiness and increased lethality.

The document was released two days after a scathing article in the Navy Times suggested that current surface warfare officers rising into command-level billets lack the skills, training, education and experience needed to operate effectively and safely at sea. The criticism stemmed from interviews with current and former officers.

A reduction in training implemented 14 years ago and a growing reliance on technology has eroded basic seamanship skills, according to the article.

Categories: Local San Diego News