This is a hard essay to write.
It is admittedly an awkward attempt to distill a lesson from a tragedy in order to apply it to a far larger problem facing our nation. In the navy, sailors are taught a simple dictum: ship, shipmate, self. Those are your priorities, in that order. Place your ship and your fellow sailors before your own individual needs. At 1:30 a.m. on June 17, 2017, this rule was tested as the container ship ACX Crystal impacted the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, opening a thirteen by seventeen-foot hole in the side of the ship, flooding a berthing space where thirty-five members of the Fitzgerald’s crew lay sleeping. The impact awakened some of the crew, others slept through the experience, only to be jarred from sleep by shouts of “Water on Deck!” and “Get out!” moments later. Cold sea water poured into the room in a torrent. The accident report stated that senior sailors assigned to the berthing space quickly checked for shipmates who still might be asleep in their beds. Later individual accounts stated that by the time the third sailor to exit the berthing area arrived at the ladder leading up out of the space, the water was already waist deep.
Read the full op-ed in The National Interest.
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