tv Admirals Testify on Naval Warship Accidents CSPAN September 12, 2017 5:12pm-5:51pm EDT
may not have the dedicated at sea time to do so while the force is working very hard to meet its commitments. >> those virtual experiences have proven to be very successful in the airframe operations, and further discussion on that would be useful in your report, i suppose we'll deal with that as a potential training asset. with that, i yield back. thank you, mr. chairman. >> in light of the job we're asking your sailors to do every single day, and you know, a lot of this goes unnoticed because the majority of what you do in uniform is not high-end combat. it's waging peace. i feel we need to step up to the plate and do a better job here in congress to end defense and sayer sequester and begin this process of rebuilding the navy. >> if i could for the record,
admir admiral, combatant commander as well, sir. >> thank you very much, congressman. we proceed to congress james langevin of rhode island. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for your testimony today. the incident involving the "uss fitzgerald" and the "mccain" were tragic events. and i wish we had never gotten to this point. and my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who are lost and those who are injured. and we're all anxious to get to the bottom of what happened. but this appears to be a symptom of a larger problem. i know we touched this in many different capacities here today, but the u.s. navy has, my understanding of all this, has moved training out of the schoolhouses and instead embraced an on-the-job training model, which is what sailors do, operate with little sleep and without a singular focus on learning.
so in an attempt to meet the high up tempo demanded by the navy which only increases, we have left structural choices that have left us with short side training infrastructure, and we're hindering our ability to keep our sailors safe, in my view. would you agree with this assessment, and how do you believe we can reinvigorate training initiatives to make sure any incidents such as these are not of our own making. >> yes, sir. i'll take that, if you don't mind. the school in the great state of rhode island is an absolute core place where we achieve our competencies from division officer all the way up to major command and further. we have -- we are going to look at that training, as i said before. we did take the schoolhouse training for division officers
out of surface warfare officer school and move them to a surface warfare officer school in the home ports where they're going. so we took that 16 weeks of training when i was there versus the 16 weeks we do it at nine plus five and six model we're on right now. so i think to your point of what else can we do, i think that the review will look at that. whether we need more and improved and a more capacity of training in the schoolhouse, whether it be on the waterfront or up in surface warfare officer school and, you know, again, i think we'll have more information when we see the outcome. >> thank you. mr. pendleton, do you have anything to add? >> not really, sir. that's not something we looked at specifically, the schoolhouse training. what we pointed out with respect to the forward deployed naval forces is that they were just so busy that they didn't have
dedicated training time. so most folks arrived. we heard when we went on ships and did focus groups the fact that sailors would arrive green and untrained put a burden on the sailors that were already there and we heard that consistently. >> thank you. admiral moran, i also fear that the current tempo is not sustainable. but that we seek to sustain it to the detriment of training and certification requirements. recent reports indicate a large margin of separation when it comes to training and certifications between u.s.-based cruisers and destroyers versus forward deployed naval forces. so were there any indications or warnings that forward deployed naval forces up tempo was leading to a train on the margins scenario and not meeting qualifications or certification standards for key surface warfare systems?
>> sir, it's a great question and one that admiral davidson will absolutely look at in his comprehensive review. what did we miss? what should we have seen earlier to address them in order to prevent the trends that were already starting earlier with antietam, for example, and lake champlain that preceded both "fitzgerald" and "mccain." so we've got to get after the question of why didn't we see the trends earlier. why didn't we take more action much earlier than now, for example. so it's a fair question and one that admiral davidson will look at. >> i know that the review is also looking at any potential cyber vulnerabilities. i had an opportunity to speak with the admiral about this from the tenth fleet, something that first came to mind when i heard of the incident. i hope that that is not the case, but i also think that we
will get to the bottom of the training issue. so i appreciate your due diligence on the review and we're going to continue to focus on this as well. thank you and i yield back. >> thank you, congressman. we now proceed to the congressman rodney davis of illinois. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thanks to all the members, especially wilson and thornberry for allowing a noncommittee member to be here today. and i want to say a special thank you to the staff. they helped connect my office in a very difficult time for one of the families in my district after the loss of petty officer logan palmer, one of the sailors on the "john s. mccain." that's why i'm here today. i'm here because i appreciate what my colleagues on this committee are doing to urge the
navy and urge our military to investigate what caused these tragic accidents and what caused the tragic accident that took the life of my constituent, mr. palmer. we will never forget the service that our sailors provided or their sacrifice, and we're praying for all their families and friends and also the ship mates during this difficult time. and it's up to us as congress to allow you the opportunity and the resources to fully investigate why these accidents have occurred. i really -- getting here at the end of the hearing, i have been able to listen to so much and so many questions that i would have had, be it the issue on the possible cyber attack that my colleague from missouri brought up. the sequestration issue and funding issue that we in congress need to do a better job of addressing so that our military, each one of you who are leading our young sailors have the resources you need to
not only investigate what happened but also to insure that it never happens again to any of us and any of the families that have been affected. so we want to provide you those resources. and we want to do a better job on our end. but throughout this process, which was a first for me, to be so engaged with the family who lost one of our heroes. and i want to ask you about what maybe you can do as a military to do a better job of serving those families during those difficult times. i didn't have the best experience working with the navy and again very appreciative of the hask staff for their intervention. and the families didn't have the best experience. while the personnel was very good at getting answers, it just seemed like it took -- it took a lot longer than what i would have imagined. it was very bureaucratic and getting information on logan
took too much time and it involved way too many people. what can be done or is actively being done to help the families have a better more streamlined process when tragedies like this occur? because again, my first experience, palmer's first experience, while it was good, could have been a lot better. >> i don't think there is anything that anybody could have said today that would have made us feel any worse than to hear that a family member experienced something less than the sufficient amount of service that we owe these families. so i'll take that on personally. i promise you that we will fix whatever issues came up with the palmer family. but i will tell you that we all appreciate your personal involvement in helping get some of the information for the palmers.
we know we fell short on transportation issues. we know we fell short in some cases on announcing that missing sailors had been found before we got to the families. we know that the social media environment that we're in works inside of our ability to move information around to those who need it first. our focus has always been ever since both of these tragedies, has always been first and foremost the families. and we thought we were doing a pretty good job, but from time to time we didn't -- we didn't meet our own standard and i'm afraid to say the palmers were one of them. and i regret that. i apologize for it. >> i appreciate your regret. i appreciate your willingness to work together. let us help you make the steps even better. i don't want to see any family not get any answer. granted, i know you have a lot of good people working this
case. i will tell you i was probably most concerned that an outside organization had to pay for the flights of the family to go see their son's body returned to dover air force base. >> it wasn't that they had to pay for it, congressman. it was that we did not get the government to move as fast as we should have. >> so the government does have a process? >> yes, sir, they do. >> that's not a requirement to go to an outside -- >> no, sir, it is not. >> so, yes, thank you for agreeing to do a better job to make sure those families who may not live as close as others so they had the opportunity to get to that point to see their loved one returned for the sacrifice that that entire family has made. >> and for them to be with the loved ones and crew mates of their fallen sons and husbands in the location where that crew is going to memorialize their fallen and we're doing that. >> i appreciate your service. i appreciate your recognition of
the issues and i look forward to working with you. >> thank you. >> thank you. i yield back. >> and thank you, congressman davis for your compassion for the family. we now proceed to congresswoman elizabeth esty of connecticut. >> thank you, mr. chairman. again, i want to thank the committee for their allowing my colleague, mr. davis and i, to join in today's proceedings. i too lost a constituent, navy sonar technician third class on the "fitzgerald." it was his birthday and the family basically surmised by checking his facebook feed. and when the responses to his birthday wishes stopped coming, they began to get worried. that's the era we live in now. that's the era we live in now. so my focus also as a member of the veterans committee is thinking about what we owe those who serve and so my focus is very much going to be on the
human side, not so much the equipment but rather the human side because much of what has been reported today has to do with training, with leadership, and the culture of safety. i say this as a daughter of navy man who insisted on great discipline in our household, and it does make me think about what we can do better as so many of my colleagues have said, that we owe it as members of congress to provide you with those resources. we need to ask you to say when we're asking too much with what you have, and to be willing and able to say, we cannot do what you are asking us to do without putting the lives of men and women at risk. and we need to know that from you. and i understand that's against your culture. but it is required because of the commitment these young people have made to this country. so that is unfair that we put you in that position and sequester and continuing resolutions has made that worse.
but it makes it all the more important that you stand up for them and for this country and for their safety. so that's one. i look at the safety culture and think about the importance of leadership from the top. these incidents seem to have occurred in the wee hours of the morning. i wonder if that's an overreliance on equipment and technology with very young sailors who may be concerned about and not have the experience with how heavy the shipping lanes are. so i think the heaviness of the shipping lanes suggest we maybe need to do different training but also as safety culture of, if you have any doubt whatsoever, anything that seems not right, you must immediately notify right up the chain of command. do not worry you are waking someone up. do not worry you have never seen this before, and it's your second week on the job, so i think if you have a safety culture, that might empower our
young sailors and then go to the training of those young sailors, the notion that they're working 100-hour workweeks is really terrifying for them and for us. and it makes me think about what happened in medicine when we looked at the death rates with new interns who are working in hospitals and working very long shifts. it got so bad that states began to pass laws prohibiting longer workweeks. so again i think that's something you need to look at, the capacity of people to operate under pressure with those kinds of hours. it's simply unfair to them. it's unsafe and it's wrong, and we need to do our job with providing you the resources, but again, we can learn from other areas like medicine where again, you're talking about young people who are working very long hours, and being given enormous responsibility. so i hope we can learn from the checklist manifesto and other areas which could help save lives here.
so those are really my thoughts about what we can do. but also what we may all collectively need to do to protect the lives of these young people. i think about this as the aunt of a nephew who's training to be a s.e.a.l. and is in the process of that right now, of the young men and women who come to us, who we are honored, as colleagues have mentioned, to nominate to the academies, who hope to make their way to the ranks of commanding officers. and we owe it to all of them to do a better job. i hope you heard from all of us, we are not looking to assign blame but we are looking to correct this as rapidly as possible and then be honest with the american public about what those demands are. and what resources are necessary to meet them. so again, i want to thank you for your service, but it is urgent that we address this immediately, and we owe it to the families who are here today,
the families who are unable to join, and the traumatized shipmates of those, and those who went back into those ships to try to retrieve their friends and their comrades. so again, thank you very much, and again, many thanks to the house committee for their hard work and assisting those of us who are not in the committee in trying to do our jobs for our constituents. thank you, and i yield back. >> congress woman esty, thank you for your positive comments and input today. two brief questions from me and then we'll proceed to my other colleagues here. and then we'll be concluding. but mr. pendleton, how do you believe you'll be able to determine when the services are achieving readiness recovery? >> mr. chairman, we -- we're doing a broader body of work, essentially monitoring the readiness recovery efforts. we made a series of recommendations in september of last year.
basically saying that the department of defense needed a readiness rebuilding plan that matched the priority it was claiming that it had, that said what the goals were and when they would be achieved and what it would take in terms of money and time and that need to be agreement on it from the top. because what we saw when we looked at it in depth was all the services were pursuing individual plans in zeal but not necessarily being pulled together in a department-wide plan. so what we're looking for, is it clear what the goals are and how are we doing against those goals? in the case of the navy, they had a glide path. that got them to close to where they wanted to be, in some point in the future it was classified. and our concern was the glide path didn't necessarily constitute exact goals. so he mentioned earlier this is going to knock them off the glide path. so being able to articulate the impacts of the decisions that you make, if you continue with
demands and that kind of thing, that that's the way we're going to look at it, sir. >> again, thank you. and i just have to reiterate again how professional and independent your reports have been and so helpful for members of congress and our military. and speaking of a plan, admiral moran, do you believe that we have an effective plan for readiness recovery to erase the maintenance max logs to restore the manning shortfalls to allow the navy to meet the critical operational requirements again without risking the lives of our sailors? >> we do have a plan. we think it's an appropriate plan for recovering all the areas you just talked about, buying down the maintenance backlog, getting our manpower in the right place. we are just -- we must have some stability in the budget so that we can follow through on those plans. if we're constantly changing it
year after year, quarter to quarter, it makes it difficult to assess our baseline. so i think we have a much better understanding of what it's going to take to recover in conas than clearly we understand what it's going to take to recover in fdnf. that's what we have to get after. >> with the accidents, is the technology available to maintain and determine the perimeter of vehicle -- of vessels so this won't happen again? >> we have a lot of systems that do it, contribute to the information that's available to the team on the bridge in cic and elsewhere. what we have to do is really examine, and admiral boxall has talked about this, the intergrashz of those systems and do we have all of that information being provided to multiple sets of eyes on that
bridge at any given time. >> that's so important for navy and military families. chairman rob wittman. >> thank you. admiral boxall, i want to go back to you and get some definition about time versus resources. the navy asked for a billion dollars to be reprogrammed into maintenance and modernization accounts and now says in 2018 those accounts will be fully funded. we know what happens with acr. let me get to a more fundamental question. that is time versus resources. understanding those situations, are we in a situation of having the proper resources going forward to get all of the modernization and maintenance work done to make sure we have the full capability so that mission certifications can be gained on time and do we have the time to do that? so i just want to get your perspective on time and
resources and where you see it going forward to get to where we need to be based on the inadequacies we see today. >> time is critical. yp think you heard that over and over again. if we don't have the time to train, we don't have the staff to maintain the ships to the level we need, then the maintenance goes longer, the time to train gets shorter. off tempo goes up. we get into this spiral that's not healthy. having said all that, we also need to maintain a good path. those yard periods are for a reason. we are restoring that readiness. we put a lot of capacity there. because we're trying to restore that readiness, trying to do them both at the same time is having some of the effects of trimming that time available. so we need to be modernized as well as we look at choices between readiness and floor structure, a key element of that is modernization and year after year we unfortunately have to make the difficult choice to delay modernization, which goes
to our capability to stay up with the threats as we see them around the globe. i do worry about that, and that's something that we will continue to press forward as we continue to submit our budgets to restore readiness also include keeping up not just the capacity but the capability. that's achieved through modernization. >> when you talk about capacity and capability, let me talk about it in a different sense. that is in the yard capacity and capability. when we talk about time, time is an element for the navy when you have the capacity in the yards to get the work done. then it is a matter of managing where things go. doesn't it get to a point where there is only so much capacity and capability in the yard to where time is then not manageable by the navy because you just don't have enough capacity to get the work done, and when that work stacks up, then there's no way that you can pipeline. give me a perspective of where
we are today and capability and capacity in our yards. i'm going to ask you in a larger perspective. i know that your duties are there with the surface duty. but admiral, that becomes a bigger issue when it comes to what we see with submarines and other ships in the force. it kind of cascades. but admiral, give me your perspective from the surface navy standpoint. i will get admiral moran to add because i think it has some reverberations there with surface navy work. >> as you know, we are all surface ship availability and maintenance are done in the private shipyards. they want stability as you know and to get stability you have to have the money there and the commitment to doing that maintenance and modernizations that we -- so right now we have -- we're putting money into that and we're seeing this kind of lag response in delaying building the workforce, delay in
having the available private ship workers and, oh, yeah, the quality of the shipyards that are all competing for the same workers. as the workload goes up, good news story that we're restoring readiness, but we can't do it quickly enough and we're going to get bogged down which will put more pressure on those forces. i think that's what you're hopefully trying to get at. >> yeah, it was. we're starting to see some of that reverberate over into ramping up there also with the public yards. there is a cross over because the public yards and private yards are competing for the same skilled workforce and that complicates your issue in getting throughput through the private yards. >> yes, sir. it is a tough problem, just in the talent that we've got across the yards. but on the public side, it's the only place we can do nuclear work. it is the only place you can build and fix carriers. it is the only place for -- yes, sir. go ahead. >> and i think as far as the whole scope of this goes, one of the things we have seen, both
with secretary of the navy's office and within the navy is a roller coaster ride on throughput of work. and if we have that roller coaster ride, we won't be able to maintain capacity and capability to get the work done. even if we do have the will and the resources and then we make the time for this to happen, if we don't have the workforce there, if we ask the workforce to spin up and then spin down by spending them out, we're going to be in a very, very difficult situation. so i'm hopeful that as you all look at this, both in admiral davidson's view of what's going on, the internal review, as well as secretary spencer's review, that it also carries over into the courses of action to correct this and seeing what do we do to see there's that capacity there that's sustainable in yards, public and private. >> that's a critical element of these reviews, in doubt. >> let me end with one additional questions. in each of the two collisions
for "fitzgerald" and "john mccain" these were happening during routine operations. and what we see around the world today and you all have eluded that, that there are over 50,000 vessels transiting in the oceans every day. that's a lot of traffic out there. even though the oceans are big, that's a lot of traffic. as you point out, too, much of it is necked down into some critical areas. tokyo shipping lanes, all those areas where the navy operates on a daily basis. what we see, too, is we have the ships that we interact with that are much less capable as far as the capability of their sensors, their situational awareness, our warships, the best in the world, lots of sensors, lots of capability. admiral boxall, as you know, going into your background, being the former ship handler of the year with the pacific fleet, you have first-hand experience
about what it takes to successfully handle a ship. based on your experience, give me your perspective on where we need to go in training within that realm today and what we need to do to make sure we're developing the best mariners for our surface force. i know you spoke a little bit about that, but i want to get your perspective because you've been there, you've had that experience. you're there on the bridge handling that ship, have been recognized for your skill in doing that. so you have a unique perspective. i want to get you to share this and then we'll go to mr. courtney, too. >> yes, sir. i honestly when i have heard of these incidents i was frankly shocked. i have observed a lot of strong professionalism in the folks i have dealt with throughout the service. so i'm not sure what that's going to find and what we're going to do and how we address those things. but to your question of how we get good at our mariners skills,
we have to get back to basics. i mean, yes, we have -- we are warships with the best sensors and capabilities in the world. a lot of those aren't used for navigation, but our tools for navigation are good enough to do what we need to do. the question is are we using them the best way we can? i know you are a fisherman in your past and i know you spent a lot of time in the water, as i do. i believe there is a skill, but whether you're in a fishing boetd, a merchant vessel or a u.s. navy warship, but we have to make that our core comp tensy. i have had several discussions with admiral roden about this. he's as adamant as i am. i had command of a ship just like mccain, and every time i see the pictures of those sailors, i think of the ones who were with me. i know we have a lot more to do. i'm not sure where we go from here just yet. i want to see what the teams find out and then i'm ready to roll up sleeves and do whatever
it takes to include coming back here to ask you to maybe assist us as we make any changes in those recommendations. >> i appreciate that, appreciate your perspective, too. i know you are well respected, a former employee in my office today, commander kevin bosse served under you, learned a lot and is very complimentary of your experience there and how you pursued things. i know you will use that experience in what you need to do collectively to make sure that we are gaining the correct and directed seamanship skills and navigation skills with all of our officers and crew members onboard our fleet. i yield back. >> thank you very much, gentlemen. we now provide to ranking member joe courtney. >> i want to thank all the witnesses for your outstanding testimony here today. you know, i was thinking having -- you know, listened to the whole hearing about admiral moran's first visit to this
congress back in january where again there was a lot of excitement over the structure assessment and increasing the size of the fleet and again i think our committee has gotten us off to a good start in terms of the ndaa, but your testimony was let's remember first things first. we've got to, you know, focus on the existing fleet to make sure that, you know, during that time that it takes with the shipbuilding being such a long game to get to these higher numbers that we're still able to perform the missions of the navy. and i think, again, those words really reverberate today in terms of just, you know, the discussion and the incidents we're talking about, focusing on what you told us to focus on is really critical to all of the goals that we're trying to achieve, which is to, you know, do what the navy does in terms of its missions but also making
sure that it gets done safely. i guess, you know, mr. wilson asked a question about how do we get to that level of adequate readiness. and your comment about the fact that, you know, the forward deployed forces is still really the tough one here in terms of just how do we, you know, achieve that. it's, i think you said you had a pretty good vision or the navy has a pretty good vision about how to do it with the ships that are based in the u.s. and mr. pendleton, your graph on page six of the report, which again showed the difference between training maintenance and deployment and planned schedules for home u.s.-based ships versus japan. again, really vividly shows the sharp difference in terms, and that sort of adds to the level of difficulty, degree of difficulty in terms of trying to
solve this problem. so in the meantime, i mean, the question which we have been talking about is who is the decision maker for the forward deployed forces while we're trying to figure this out? and i know that's probably going to be part of the davidson study in terms of just trying to get the lines of decision making clear, but one last time, who decides for the forward deployed fleet in terms of man, train, and equip decisions and the final decision to send these ships to sea. is it the operational admiral or is it the forces commander? >> understandably, congressman, this is not simple. and i think when we talk about man, train, and equip, there are many people who are responsible for that. it works its way all the way through the surface force, for example, when we're talking
surface ships. obviously, the carrier has components of aviation, so on and so forth. so there are many places and people that are responsible for adequately resourcing the manning, training, and equipping. the operational tempo, the operations and how often those ships and what types of missions they're going on and how to prioritize the training they do get or they're required to get for those missions is clearly the local operational commanders in japan. the model, though, the model that you reflect here on page six is a big navy discussion. so the cno and i and the four-star fleet commanders have got to look at what admiral davidson's review finds. is the model out of alignment for what we have asked them to do? and going forward, do we need to make adjustments? that will be title x s-1, if you will, a responsibility to make
those course corrections based on the recommendations. in the interim period, admiral swift is going after this to make sure as we go through the review he's got a deeper understanding and will adjust where he needs to adjust to lower the tension, if you will, between that off tempo and maintenance training aspects of what he's doing out in japan. >> i think that answer sheds more light in terms of the question, and again, i thought your answer, chairman thornberry about the fact that maybe he made a tough call in terms of the carrier deployments, but again, it was just driven by external forces that we had to set up a schedule and stick to it. and i think that answering the question that you just did and admiral davidson's report is going to help us sort of make sure that we're just not biting off more than we can chew.
i think that's, i think, it kind of screams out from the report from gao that that's something we have to understand, that you know, 100 hours a week deployments, there's got to be sort of a way to decide when to rebalance. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> and thank you very much, ranking member joe courtney, and we want to thank all of our witnesses for your being here, but also in particular for your service to the american people, to protect american families. also, it's an opportunity for us to thank the professional staff who have been here and have been so helpful. the armed services committee is just blessed with remarkable people, and we're particularly blessed with margaret dean because not only is she a professional staff member, but she is a very appreciated member of the navy reserve. so at this time, we shall adjourn. of information