News   Reform

Readiness, Safety Top Priorities of Navy, Marine Corps

Feb. 5, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The readiness of sailors and Marines, along with ensuring their safety, is the premier concern of leadership of the two sea services, senior officials from both services said at a joint hearing of two House Armed Services Committee subcommittees.

Navy Vice Adm. Richard A. Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation, testified today at a hearing of the seapower and projection forces and readiness subcommittees that focused on the Pacific region.

In response to lawmakers' questions on safety and accident concerns, Brown said commanders at all levels embrace the standards and responsibilities associated with safety.

Sailor moves through the dark.
McCampbell Training
Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 conduct helicopter vertical-board search-and-seizure training on the USS McCampbell in the South China Sea, June 25, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Tarleton
VIRIN: 190625-N-RF825-1145

"There is one unified standard for ensuring readiness," Brown said. "Our manning, training and equipping are unambiguous. We only deploy ships that have the required manning, are fully certified and have the necessary materiel readiness."

Brown said the Navy conducted a strategic readiness review and implemented safety compliance and risk-management measures. "We undertook measures to enhance the development, assessment and sustainment of proficiency," he said.

The Navy will also more effectively balance maintenance training with operations, he added.

Ships sail sea
USS America
The amphibious assault ship USS America and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki operate in the East China Sea, Jan. 13, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent E. Zline
VIRIN: 200113-N-RU810-1092

"While not declaring mission complete, over the last two years the pace of enhancements and their initial results are a cause for optimism," he said, referring to efforts to increase safety and reduce accidents.

Rudder said the Marine Corps is invested in providing transparency with regard to accidents, and that all of its findings would be provided to lawmakers, the public and families of those killed or injured in accidents.

The tempo of Marine Corps aviation operations around the globe has been high, Rudder noted, adding that this is not an excuse for accidents. In 2019, Marine Corps aviation executed 78 operations, were part of 88 major security cooperation events with partners and allies, and conducted 170 major exercises, he said.

Machine gunner fires into the night.
Night Training
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tyler Marshall, a rifleman with 4th Marines, fires an M240G medium machine gun during low-light live-fire machine gun training at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, March 11, 2019.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Harrison C. Rakhshani
VIRIN: 190312-M-SQ016-759

Today, more than 19,000 aviation Marines are forward-stationed and 17,000 are forward-deployed, totaling 19% of the active-duty force engaged in 60 countries. Forward-stationed means assigned to an overseas base, while forward-deployed means being assigned to a base in the United States, but being overseas.

"The Marine Corps is the nation's expeditionary force in readiness," Rudder said. "We are charged and expected to always be the most ready when the nation is least ready. This responsibility is at the very core and identity of Marines."