Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing to discuss the recent Naval accidents. The discussion also turned to the ongoing readiness issues the Navy faces, including reduced training, long deployments and continued budget uncertainty. Below are excerpts from some of the stories identifying critical readiness shortfalls:
New York Times: Navy Ships Kept at Sea Despite Training and Maintenance Needs all to meet increasing operational demands: After a string of deadly accidents in the western Pacific, a top admiral acknowledged on Thursday that the Navy had knowingly operated warships there despite a growing number of major training and maintenance shortfalls — all to meet increasing operational demands…But the hearing painted a disturbing portrait of fatigued crews and commanders on a shrinking overseas fleet saddled with constant deployments — including confronting an expansionist Chinese military and keeping vigil on a nuclear saber-rattling North Korea — with little time left to train or to repair aging ships….
CNN: Lack of training, taxingly long deployments, congressional budget headaches: Senior Navy officials told a congressional panel Thursday they are examining everything from a lack of training to taxingly long deployments to congressional budget headaches in order to get to the bottom of a spate of deadly ship collisions in the Pacific.
The Hill: ‘Most useful thing' we could have out of Congress is stability: “…That along with nine consecutive continuing resolutions, and we’re about to get another one. Those budget uncertainties drive uncertainty in the schedules. The most useful thing we could have out of Congress right now in terms of addressing a lot of our readiness concerns is stability.”
Stars & Stripes: Curtailed training, maintenance overruns, sailors working more than 100 hours a week: The agency also has found the Navy has doubled the number of ships based overseas, which has resulted curtailed training periods. In addition, it found during a recent 5-year period, maintenance overruns on more than 60 percent of surface ships has resulted in more than 6,000 lost operational days. And in some cases, the agency said, sailors are working more than 100 hours per week, boosting overworking and safety concerns.
Associated Press: Navy is "treading water" in a push to keep up with operational demands that have put a heavy strain on the force, says GAO: GAO found that more than a third of the warfare certifications for cruiser and destroyer crews based in Japan, including certifications for seamanship, had expired as of June. That represents "a more than a fivefold increase in the percentage of expired warfare certifications for these ships" over the last two years, according to Pendleton.
Federal News Radio: A ‘bad gamble’ on an overstretched fleet: Adm. Bill Moran [said]… that although the review is far from finished, it’s clear, in retrospect, that the service had been overly optimistic about the ability of the Japan-based 7th Fleet to continue operating safely and proficiently in an extremely high-tempo operating environment…GAO official said, “I fear this was a bad gamble, in retrospect.”
New York Times: Navy ships decrease while deployment temps stays the same, increased burden fallen disproportionately on the Seventh Fleet: In the past two decades, the number of Navy ships has decreased about 20 percent, though the time they are deployed has remained the same, according to a 2015 report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments… The increased burden has fallen disproportionately on the Seventh Fleet. That tempo, Admiral Moran acknowledged Thursday, has frayed readiness. Government and military investigators have drawn similar conclusions, warning that the mission pace was leaving crews unprepared. Mr. Pendleton noted that a 2015 study by the Government Accountability Office found that the high demands of Navy fleets based overseas, like the Seventh in Japan, affect maintenance and training.
The Hill: Constrained military budgets caused a lack of training that could have led to ship collisions and deaths: The Navy’s No. 2 official told lawmakers Thursday that it was “absolutely the case” that constrained military budgets caused a lack of training that could have led to two ship collisions and 17 sailor deaths this summer.
CNN: Funding reductions, consistent uncertainty about budgets: "Back in February, I cited funding reductions and consistent uncertainty about Congressional budget approvals as especially damaging, as they prevent us from taking steps to mitigate the burden on ships and sailors imposed by the high operational demand," Moran said.