Four alarming incidents among four ships of the 7th Fleet this year—the collisions of the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), Fitzgerald (DDG-62), and Lake Champlain (CG-57), and the grounding of the Antietam (CG-54)—have triggered understandable and appropriate investigations and calls for prompt action. The nation has lost unnecessarily the lives of 17 sailors, and several senior naval officers have been relieved of command because of the Navy’s “lack of confidence” in their leadership. In response, the Navy has established a new command, Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, to train and certify forward-deployed ships, and the Commander of Naval Surface Forces has directed, for the first time, formal rest guidelines for sailors on surface ships.
All of this “prompt action” is designed to solve the problem and restore safe operations within (and presumably beyond) the 7th Fleet. The question it begs is, “What problem are we solving?”