NEWTOWN, Conn., Aug. 24, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Two recent collisions involving U.S. Navy warships and merchant vessels in the waters around Singapore and Japan  may be indicative of a systemic weakness in U.S. Navy ship operations, according to Forecast International.

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collided with the 600-foot oil tanker Alnic MC off Singapore August 21. Five sailors aboard the McCain were injured in the collision, and 10 were missing, with the remains of some of the missing sailors reportedly found. This accident came two months after the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with the container ship Crystal off the coast of Japan, which resulted in the deaths of seven sailors. 

An inquiry into the Fitzgerald collision pinned the blame on faulty watchkeeping practices, inadequate training, and improper supervision of the bridge crew by the command triumvirate.  However, the report was silent on exactly how a fast, agile destroyer ended up colliding with a slow clumsy merchant ship.

"With this background of collisions and groundings, the question must be asked whether there is a systemic fault at play here," said Forecast International Naval Analyst Stuart Slade. "We have to look at training procedures and priorities in order to determine whether basic seakeeping procedures are being properly taught."

Already, the finger of suspicion is pointing at the electronic charts and automated surveillance systems that are in extensive use.  They treat navigation and watchkeeping as sciences, which neither are.  Both are art forms built on science, and both require extensive training, constant supervision, and exacting vigilance, according to Slade.

"The problem is that electronic charting makes everything seem easy, and the old-fashioned skills of paying close attention to the radar screen, performing maneuvering board analysis on the display screen for closest point of approach (CPA) range, and being attentive to signs of close-aboard contacts all too often are simply not practiced," Slade said.

Slade added, "It is all too easy to rely on the electronic information presented on the electronic displays and give that priority over the demands of keeping a manual watch.  If the skills of the latter have been allowed to decay, they can take a long time to recover."

 

About Forecast International

Forecast International, Inc. is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Consulting in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics. Based in Newtown, Conn., USA, the company specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments used by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide. Forecast International also maintains a high posture of situational awareness and geopolitical analysis. 

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Attachments:

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/0e6bbc8d-7ac1-458e-9b42-78f3618e88dc

Ray Peterson
Forecast International
203 426-0800
ray.peterson@forecast1.com