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uss john s mccain collision

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is towed away from the pier at Changi Naval Base, Oct. 5, 2017, to meet heavy lift transport vessel MV Treasure. U.S. Navy Photo

GAO Urges U.S. Navy to Improve Ship Crewing Data Management

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1930
April 29, 2024

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the U.S. Navy needs to improve the reliability and management of its ship crewing data.

The Navy has historically assigned fewer crew members than required for safe operation, contributing to fatal ship collisions in 2017, including the separate collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and merchant ships that resulted in the deaths of seventeen Navy sailors.

The Navy uses “fill” and “fit” metrics to gauge crewing target levels and monitor personnel readiness. Fill metrics count the number of personnel on a ship, while fit metrics evaluate the skills, experience, and specialties of personnel.

However, the GAO found that this data lacks reliability and transparency due to how the Navy calculates skill and experience, which result in counting some junior enlisted sailors as filling positions that require more senior-level sailors.

Graphic credit GAO

The report highlighted a significant drop in the number of fit sailors in positions linked to nuclear-powered ships when one calculation rule was removed. The GAO warns that unless these calculation rules are removed, the Navy will continue relying on data that does not provide an accurate understanding of the skill and experience gaps across the fleet.

The GAO has made 11 recommendations to improve the reliability and management of Navy ship crewing data, which include removing certain calculation rules and updating guidance to specify that only the Navy Manpower Analysis Center (NAVMAC) can validate changes to personnel requirements.

The Navy has fully agreed with six of these recommendations, partially agrees with two, and disagreed with three.

The GAO maintains that all recommendations are warranted.

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