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USS Essex Captain Loses Job After Aging Ship Collides With Tanker
Posted By Rob Bluey On June 22, 2012 @ 1:57 pm In Scribe | Comments Disabled
The USS Essex keeps making news for all the wrong reasons. The amphibious assault ship was unable to complete two missions  because of mechanical or maintenance issues. Last month the aging warship’s steering failed, causing it to collide with the tanker . Now the Navy has removed the ship’s commanding officer.
According to press reports , the Navy “lost confidence” in Capt. Chuck Litchfield, who was in charge when the Essex crashed into the USNS Yukon off the coast of California on May 16. The Essex was returning from a 12-year stint in Sasebo, Japan.
The amphibious assault ship was featured in a Heritage Foundation video  last month about military readiness. The high-profile mishaps on the Essex reflect broader challenges with America’s aging military.
“These current problems are the result of years of under-funded maintenance and modernization work,” Heritage’s Brian Slattery wrote earlier this year .
It’s not the first time the military has confronted a readiness crisis. In Heritage’s video, retired Capt. Tom Shanahan recalls his experience on the USS Canisteo in 1979 . America’s military had emerged from the Vietnam War earlier in the decade and was now facing sizable and significant budget cuts.
“I can see in the USS Essex the same types of things that happened to me in Canisteo,” Shanahan said. “You draw down equipment, you draw down personnel, and therefore, you draw down the readiness of your ship to deploy. I had that case in Canisteo. I was drawn down to the standpoint I could not get the ship to sea, and I had to be honest with my superiors and say I couldn’t do it.”
In Shanahan’s case, he took the bold step of refusing to certify his ship as seaworthy  — a bold move that came as a surprise to many in the military.
For the 21-year-old USS Essex, steering failure was a factor in the May 16 collision. But a Navy investigation also found breakdowns in the command and control of the ship and a loss of situational awareness, according a spokeswoman. Those factors contributed to Litchfield’s dismissal.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/06/22/uss-essex-captain-loses-job-after-aging-ship-collides-with-tanker/
URLs in this post:
 unable to complete two missions: http://www.military.com/news/article/uss-essex-unable-to-fulfill-mission-for-2nd-time-in-7-months.html
 causing it to collide with the tanker: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h-30MRRVu6F4ZJxgSVQA8cWRrEOg?docId=619dbd052e16464da421d7fc89e05e1e
 press reports: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/06/20/essex-captain-relieved-following-collision.html
 Heritage Foundation video: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/05/31/video-navy-faces-readiness-crisis-as-more-ships-unprepared-for-combat/
 wrote earlier this year: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/03/07/readiness-concerns-point-to-a-bleak-future-for-u-s-military/
 refusing to certify his ship as seaworthy: http://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/article/?q=Yjc5NTQ5YzE5MDFjZDE5ZWU4NjZmODk0YmVmOTY2MDA=
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