WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's joint hearing titled “Navy Readiness – Underlying Problems Associated with the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"I call this joint hearing of the subcommittees on Readiness and Seapower and Projection Forces of the House Armed Services Committee to order.
We are here in honor and memory of the seven USS Fitzgerald sailors
• Shingo Douglass
• Noe Hernandez
• Ngoc Truong Huynh
• Xavier Martin
• Gary Rehm Jr.
• Dakota Rigsby
• Carlos Victor Sibayan
And the ten USS John S. McCain sailors
• Kevin Bushell
• Dustin Doyon
• Jacob Drake
• Timothy Eckels Jr.
• Charles Findley
• John Hoagland III
• Corey Ingram
• Abraham Lopez
• Kenneth Smith
• Logan Palmer
Ms. Rachel Eckels, mother of Petty Officer Timothy Eckels, Jr., is here with us today. Ms. Eckels, we extend our deepest sympathies and profound sorrow for your loss.
I want to welcome our members to today’s hearing,
As we begin today’s unclassified hearing on 'Navy Readiness – Underlying Problems Associated with the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain' I have no doubt that our Navy remains the most powerful in the world, but these recent tragic events only reinforce our committee’s concerns about the depth of readiness challenges that the Navy faces. I am equally concerned about shortfalls in force structure and whether the sustained operational tempo of a 277 ship Navy may have contributed to these events.
I fully believe that the first responsibility of the national government is to provide for the national security of its citizens – and that is especially true of our sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines; therefore, it is our responsibility as members of this subcommittee to continue to better understand the readiness situation and underlying problems of the United States Navy, and then for us to chart a course which best assists the Department of the Navy in correcting any deficiencies and shortfalls.
We now ask the senior leaders of the U.S. Navy and Government Accountability Office, here with us today, to be candid and in your best judgement advise us on the underlying problems associated with the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain and how to recover from these tragic events.
This afternoon we are honored to have with us:
• Admiral Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations
• Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall, Director, Surface Warfare
• Mr. John Pendleton, Director, Defense Force Structure and Readiness Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office"