Following the tragedies of the USS Porter, (DDG-78), USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), the Navy is scrambling to pick up the pieces and move forward. Some argue that the these incidents highlight problems with how the Navy trains, equips, and leads its surface combatant force. As retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis remarked shortly after the Fitzgerald incident, “I think we are going to find out there were mistakes made both on the bridge of the destroyer and the motor vessel Crystal.”
While history does not repeat itself, one can often hear its echo. The Coast Guard faced a similar reckoning in 1980, following the loss of three Coast Guard cutters and 51 lives. Eerily similar to the Navy's 2017 collisions, the Cuyahoga, Blackthorn, and White Alder were all lost to collisions with larger merchant vessels. Over the past 40 years, the Coast Guard has changed the way it trains and prepares ship handlers. The Navy can make similar adjustments.
The Catalysts for Coast Guard Change