Comprehensive Review

From Commander, Military Sealift Command

Comprehensive Review

Earlier this month the Navy released a report detailing the events and actions that led to the collision of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and ACX Crystal in June, and the collision of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and merchant vessel Alnic MC in August. As a result of those incidents, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson tasked Adm. Davidson at U.S. Fleet Forces Command to conduct a comprehensive review of surface ship operations and incidents at sea to inform and drive improvements Navy-wide.

The CNO noted, “Both of these accidents were preventable and the respective investigations found multiple failures by watch standers that contributed to the incidents.” The Comprehensive Review identified gaps in doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities that point to actions needed to improve in the areas of fundamentals, teamwork, operational safety, assessment, and culture.


(U.S. Navy photo/Released)


As an organization dedicated to continuous improvement and high-velocity learning, we need to read and understand these reports, and take the lessons learned and areas for improvement and apply them to our work at MSC.

For it’s important to remember that MSC is not immune to mishaps and safety lapses. In the last year we’ve had our share of incidents from groundings, to allisions, to anchor drops that have adversely affected mission and most importantly were preventable.

In all that we do, sound maintenance practices, adherence to standard operating procedures, and a commitment to watchstanding principles are the backbone of crew safety and mission success.

This past week at our headquarters, a U.S. Coast Guard representative provided us a debrief on the Board of Investigation report from the sinking and loss of the steam ship El Faro. Here too, the investigation revealed that a lack of leadership, crew complacency, and lack of training and procedures contributed to the tragedy.  As this report details, the nature of our work is totally unforgiving; even a momentary lapse in vigilance can swiftly lead to disaster.

I would encourage everyone to read the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Navy Comprehensive Review and the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation. These documents may be found at the following links:

After reading and discussing these reports with our teammates, we should ourselves, “What can I learn from these accidents?” and “How can I apply what I learned to my work at MSC?”

In the coming weeks and months we will take the findings from the comprehensive review, and the findings from our recent operational pause, and use them to improve our operations. In addition, we will stand up a cross functional team that will serve as the hub for integrating the lessons learned and recommendations into all stages of our training, and the operation and maintenance of our ships.

We are constantly called upon to operate at the highest levels of performance providing on-time fleet logistics, strategic sealift and special mission support to the joint warfighter.  Your daily commitment to safely operating and maintaining our ships is critical to mission accomplishment and the safety of our mariners.

United We Sail,

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command


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