September 01, 2017

Course Correction: The Navy Needs to Invest in People, Not Just Platforms

By CDR Daniel G. Straub, USN and Patrick M. Cronin

On a moonlit early morning with calm seas on June 17, the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald was conducting routine operations within sight of land, near Japan’s Izu Peninsula.  At about 0130 the port side of ACX Crystal, a commercial ship, struck the starboard side of the Navy vessel above the waterline.  Beneath the water, the container ship’s bulbous bow punctured a 17-by-13-foot hole in a berthing area and auxiliary machine room spanning the second and third decks.  The official investigation report describes the impact of the collision, which threw some sailors from their bunks.  Within seconds, there were yells of “water on deck” and “get out.”  The berthing area was flooded in less than a minute.  One sailor survived by breathing in a small air pocket and then swimming across toward the starboard egress ladder. The last sailor to escape had to swim around floating lockers and debris toward the only light he could see and was said to be taking his final breath when he was pulled from the water.  Five sailors used a sledgehammer, a kettle bell, and their bodies to break down the door to rescue the injured commanding officer, who was in his cabin at the time of the collision.  Seven sailors died.

Read the full op-ed in War on the Rocks.

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • January 31, 2023
    To Help Afghanistan, Engage Its Political Opposition

    The effort to help Afghans shape a better alternative should begin now....

    By Richard Fontaine & Lisa Curtis

  • Commentary
    • Quad Plus
    • January 20, 2023
    The Fall and Rise of the Quad

    The Quad has become the linchpin of US strategy to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and to counter increased Chinese aggression and hegemony....

    By Lisa Curtis

  • Commentary
    • Breaking Defense
    • January 20, 2023
    The Siren Song: Technology, JADC2, and the Future of War

    Winning future wars will not be about maintaining information advantage but rather prevailing when neither side has the advantage. And that is not a war that can be won by new...

    By Andrew Metrick

  • Commentary
    • The Wall Street Journal
    • January 12, 2023
    Ukraine, Japan and the Korean War’s 21st-Century Parallel

    Rather than foreshadowing deadlier and more destructive wars to come, Ukraine’s struggle could provide the path to averting them....

    By Vance Serchuk

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia