Fletcher in the News

Two Deadly Destroyer Crashes Could Have Been Prevented: Prof. Weitz Discusses with USA Today

Rocky Weitz

The Navy has determined that two deadly crashes involving destroyers earlier this year could have been prevented, according to a report released Wednesday.

"Both of these accidents were preventable and the respective investigations found multiple failures by watch standers that contributed to the incidents," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. "We must do better."

That’s report details the events that led to the collision of USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan June 17, and the crash of the USS John S. McCain and the merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21. Seventeen sailors died in all...

...“No one on the bridge clearly understood the forces acting on the ship, nor did they understand the Alnic’s course and speed relative to John S. McCain during the confusion,” the report says.

Bad luck, the busiest sea lane on the planet and a bare minute’s confusion combined to doom the McCain to its collision, said Rocky Weitz, director of the Fletcher Maritime Studies Program at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Boston.

“You have the perfect storm for an accident,” Weitz said.

The Seventh Fleet has been stretched thin, Weitz said. Budgets for training and maintenance haven’t kept pace. A tragic accident was nearly inevitable.

"They just got bad luck that has revealed real challenges," Weitz said.

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