Accidents call for scrutiny
The apparent death of 10 sailors on Aug. 21 after the USS John S. McCain, a Navy destroyer, collided with an oil tanker near Singapore was the fourth accident involving a Navy warship in Asian waters this year. This awful record shows the necessity of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson’s decision to launch a broad inquiry into Navy operations to see if there is anything the Navy can do to improve its training or its management practices and make such mishaps less likely.
The action came just days after the Navy removed the commanding officer, executive officer and senior noncommissioned officer of the USS Fitzgerald from their duties for their failings in allowing their destroyer to collide with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan on June 17, leading to the death of seven sailors.
Thankfully, no one was injured in the other two accidents this year — the collision of USS Lake Champlain, a cruiser, with a South Korean fishing boat in May, and the USS Antietam, another cruiser, running aground while attempting to anchor in Tokyo Bay in January. But they also raise basic questions about ship leadership.
Thankfully, the branches of the U.S. military have a culture of accountability. Those responsible for the McCain tragedy will be identified and dealt with appropriately. It’s the Navy way.
— The San Diego Union-Tribune