US Navy chief John Richardson on Monday ordered a worldwide operational pause of all the country’s fleets and announced an investigation into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after an early morning collision, BBC reports. The collision, which took place between the USS John S McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, left 10 US sailors missing and others injured. The collision was second in the last two months involving the Navy’s 7th Fleet. Earlier, seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. Earlier, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that Richardson, the chief of naval operations, will call for a pause in operations and seek a deeper look in the issue. “He has put together a broader inquiry to look into these incidents,” Mattis was quoted as saying by AP.
The US Navy probe will review the performance of 7th Fleet. The probe will include personnel, navigation capabilities, maintenance, equipment, surface warfare training, munitions, certifications and how sailors move through their careers. “The chief of naval operations’ broader inquiry will look at all related accidents, incidents at sea” Mattis was quoted as saying. “This is a broader look at what is happening,” he added.
As reported by AP, a Navy official said that chief of Naval staff wants to ensure that there aren’t bigger problems in the fleet that may be masked by the high pace of operations there and budget uncertainties. The official added that beyond the tragedy of the lost lives, and the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on repairs, the US Navy chief wants to ensure that the Navy is able to meet the maritime demands, particularly in the Pacific region. After the collision, vessels and aircraft from the US, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are searching for the missing. Four sailors have been evacuated by a Singaporean navy helicopter to a hospital in the city-state for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.