Getting Navy safety back on steady course

We applaud your editorial “Navy pauses to go over the basics,” (Aug. 24), and Congressman Joe Courtney’s call for hearings on the recent U.S. Navy accidents. 

As parents of a junior officer serving aboard a Destroyer, the same class of vessel as the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, we know firsthand she is not getting sufficient ship-handling and watch-standing training. The reasons are spelled out in the editorial. 

We understand what training is required as we both served as Coast Guard officers. When we entered the service in the early 1980s, there was an increasing emphasis on qualification standards due two Coast Guard tragedies: the collisions and sinking’s of the cutters Cuyahoga in 1978, and Blackthorn in 1980. With the loss of 34 Coast Guardsmen in 15 months, and the service totally at fault, the Coast Guard, and Congress, woke up to realize that a back to basics approach was needed. 

The congressional inquiry and report into these tragedies titled, “Semi-Paratus: The United States Coast Guard, 1981,” became a catalyst for change. 

There is precedent that Congress, working with the Navy, can bring about change. Hopefully, the memory of the sailors lost can put the U.S. Navy back on course.

Robert and Tamara McKenna


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