US Senate Seapower Subcommittee chairman Roger Wicker and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain have jointly introduced legislation to enable the US Navy to restore its surface force readiness.
The new Surface Warfare Enhancement Act of 2018 is intended to help address some of the major causes of declining force readiness.
The causes of the decline were previously outlined by the US Navy and military officials in the Strategic Readiness Review and Comprehensive Review.
McCain noted that accidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain vessels have reduced the navy fleet’s capabilities and cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Furthermore, McCain said that it is necessary that Congress provides sufficient funding and oversight in order to keep the military safe and effective in combat.
Wicker said: “In the wake of the tragic accidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain, our commanders and sailors have been calling for meaningful reform.
“Over-extended and undermanned ships, overworked crews, fewer officers with naval mastery and confusing chains of command have contributed to a decline in our naval power.”
The measures outlined to improve the US Navy’s force readiness include requiring the navy to carry out a ‘clean sheet’ review of its organisation and chains-of-command, as well as appointing a senior, Senate-confirmed navy civilian to oversee ship maintenance,
The legislation is also intended to allow the navy more time and flexibility when spending maintenance funds.
In addition, the bill requires the US Navy to provide realistic baseline projections of sailors’ workloads and ship maintenance operations.
It also mandates that the navy maintain records regarding watch standing and training activities completed by surface warfare officers, among others.