17:20 GMT19 October 2020
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    Nearly 85 percent of junior officers in the United States Navy present “some concern” or “significant concern” with regard to their ability to handle a crisis involving a collision with another ship, according to a recent internal assessment that reviewed 164 officers.

    Following the lethal collisions in 2017 between commercial ships and US naval vessels the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain, the Navy conducted a three-month review to determine how prepared sailors were for the immediate risk of colliding with another ship, Defense News reported Tuesday.

    The two tragedies together claimed 17 lives from the ranks of US Navy personnel.

    The review tracked 164 surface warfare officers, according to a copy of the Navy review obtained by the outlet. Just 27 officers showed "no concern" in the eyes of the Navy's Surface Warfare Officer School, which conducted the assessment. The other 83.5 percent of officers had some type of performance shortfall in dealing with simulated collisions.

    "Officers had a firm grasp of the international rules of the road for navigating ships at sea, but struggled to apply them practically during watch standing," the Navy said in its list of shortfalls driving performance problems.

    The study examined a randomly selected group of first-tour officers of the deck (OOD), Defense News noted. "While the OOD competency checks were a snapshot in time, we must be realistic in confronting the systemic shortfalls that they revealed in core proficiencies across the junior qualified members of the force," US Navy Vice Admiral Richard Brown said in the memo obtained by Defense News. The article does not indicate how recently the memo was sent to Navy staff.

    "We as a community can and must tackle our deficiencies and ensure there is meaningful experience behind our qualification letters," said Brown, the US Navy's top surface warfare officer, who noted that the results of the study were "sobering."


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