McCain Wants to Put Navy's Reform Plans into Law

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The USS John S. McCain prepares for transfer onto a heavy lift ship, Singapore (USN)

By MarEx 2018-02-26 20:49:00

Senator Roger Wicker wants the U.S. Navy to take action to avoid a repeat of the deadly USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain disasters, and on Monday, he introduced a bill that would put elements of the service's "strategic readiness review" into legislation. He has the support of Senator John McCain, chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services committee, who suggested that Sen. Wicker's proposal will likely find its way into the next defense appropriations bill.

“In the wake of the tragic accidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain, our commanders and sailors have been calling for meaningful reform,” Senator Wicker said. “Overextended and undermanned ships, overworked crews, fewer officers with naval mastery, and confusing chains of command have contributed to a decline in our naval power . . . Although I have confidence in the Navy’s leadership, I believe Congress needs to play an active role in helping them to succeed in this endeavor.”

Among other measures, Sen. Wicker's bill would:

- Require the Navy to keep career records of watchstanding hours for surface warfare watchstanders. 

- Set minimum training requirements for certain shipboard positions, including Officer of the Deck (OOD), CIC Watch Officer and Tactical Action Officer. 

- Require new OODs to qualify as Officer of the Deck on Navy Yard Patrol training boats.

- Put a Senate-confirmed civilian leader in charge of ship maintenance.

- Allow the Navy to roll over unspent maintenance funds.

- Require the Navy to publish aggregate data on ship inspections in an unclassified form.

- Limit forward deployments for surface combatants to ten years.

- Require a full "clean sheet" review of the Navy leadership structure.

- Make the Secretary of Defense personally decide whether to deploy a unit for operational tasking if the Navy informs him that it is unfit for duty. 

 "The status quo is unacceptable. Congress must provide the funding and oversight required to keep our military safe in peace and effective in combat," Sen. McCain said in a statement.