Adm. Swift Calls for Readiness Before Growth

Adm. Swift at Pearl Harbor, March 2018 (USN file image)

By The Maritime Executive 05-18-2018 09:44:00

Adm. John C. Aquilino has relieved Adm. Scott Swift as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, taking over the Navy's biggest division as it seeks to reform in the wake of last year's warship collisions. 

"In the action of a single salute, all authority, all responsibility and all accountability will transfer from Admiral Swift to Admiral Aquilino. And with that transfer of command, with that salute, so to goes our loyalties," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson at a ceremony in Pearl Harbor. 

Adm. Swift, a 40-year-veteran of the service, had been expected to take over as head of Pacific Command, the joint command overseeing all American forces in the theater. However, the Pentagon chose not to nominate him after the collisions involving the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald last year. 

"I am grateful for the opportunities the Navy has provided," said Adm. Swift. "To finish my career here, in the Pacific Fleet, the only fleet I have ever sailed in, headquartered in the city I was born in, in the harbor of my father's first command, doing what I love is something dreams are made of."

Swift also memorialized the 17 sailors lost in the collisions, and like others, he alluded to systemic factors underlying the accidents. "While individuals are responsible for their loss, and must be held accountable, the readiness environment that created the conditions for those [collisions] must be improved,” he said. "To get to the Navy the nation needs, that the CNO speaks so eloquently about, we are going to have to secure a bipartisan budget that funds the Navy we have with the necessary resources for safe operations."

Without naming China, Adm. Swift also warned that ambitions for an alternative order in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean will not be deterred by small-scale Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) alone. "It will take a whole-of-government approach . . . to counter the whole-of-government strategy being used to implement this alternative, corrupted vision," he said.