Tuesday, October 17, 2017

U.S. Navy - Is History Repeating Itself? (USS Shiloh)

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Is The U.S. Navy Suffering From A Catastrophic Morale Problem? 

 Is The U.S. Navy Suffering From A Catastrophic Morale Problem? The guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh is anchored at Subic Bay, a former US naval base in the Philippines, on May 30, 2015

Headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan and responsible for the defense of South Korea, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet has been beset by problems this year. The most serious incidents occurred over the summer when two destroyers, the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, were involved in separate deadly collisions with heavy loss of life. Those events raised serious concerns about the safety and readiness of U.S. warships in the Pacific, as well as morale throughout the Navy in general.
It later emerged that the two destroyers in question had poor records, with both failing to fulfill key training requirements. In June, the USS Fitzgerald’s training certification had expired in 10 out of 10 key warfare areas and the John S. McCain’s had lapsed in six out of 10 mission areas. In fact, expired training certifications for U.S. Navy warships based in Japan increased from seven percent in January 2015 to 37 percent in June, 2015. If that wasn’t bad enough, it emerged last week that another vessel operating in the Pacific, guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh, is suffering from a disastrous morale problem.
The Shiloh is equipped with Aegis technology, potentially vital in intercepting and destroying a North Korean missile. According to three command climate surveys taken onboard the ship and obtained by the Navy Times, however, morale amongst its sailors has hit rock bottom. When Captain Adam M. Aycock was in command of the Shiloh in November 2015, only 31 percent of the ship’s crew felt that the organization’s leadership would treat them fairly. Motivation also plummeted to 37 percent while pride in the Navy sank to just 35 percent. Only 23 percent of the ship’s crew felt the organization’s leadership would represent their best interests. The share of Shiloh sailors reporting a lot of work stress in the past year went from 53 percent under Captain Morris to 83 percent under Captain Aycock.
One sailor commented that “it’s only a matter of time before something horrible happens” while another said that “I just pray that we never have to shoot down a missile from North Korea because our ineffectiveness will really show”. Perhaps most disturbingly, one shipmate described the Shiloh as “a floating prison”. Despite the poor results of the survey, Aycock retained command of the ship until August of this year. The Shiloh also made headlines during the summer when one of its crew members went missing, presumed overboard. After a massive search by the U.S. Navy, Japanese military and coastguard, he was found seven days later hiding in the ship’s engineering spaces.
The surveys and the long list of recent incidents involving ships from the 7th fleet have raised serious concerns about its readiness and abilities to deter a North Korean missile attack. As tensions between Pyongyang and Washington continue to escalate, the U.S. military will have to act fast to shore up one of its most sophisticated and vital lines of defense.


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