It’s been almost a year since the catastrophic events that engulfed the 7th Fleet of the United States Navy happened. The two collisions between USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain with merchant’s vessels. As well as a C2-A Greyhound crashing in the Philippine Sea as it was heading towards the USS Ronald Reagan are just some of the events that happened during the year 2017 which has been marked as possibly the worst year in the recent history of the fleet. But, 2018 looks to be breathing new life into the year as the months so far have been relatively calm. The question remains, how are the sailors handling the situation?
CFAY or Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka in Japan is a relatively small place. Located in the city of Yokosuka it is home to over 24,000 military personnel and their families. But, due to the relatively small size, it’s also a place of familiarity, a place where almost every sailor will know someone from the next command over. Whether it’s from living in the barracks, partying in the Honch, frequenting the Liberty Club or only having one commissary and a NEX, it’s very likely that sailors will know a person from every ship. As such, when the collisions between the ships happened back in the summer months of 2017, practically everyone was affected in a way or another.
For some time, the sailors aboard the ships in 7th Fleet were apprehensive; everyone had something to say or some commentary to make about the events that transpired. Most of the junior sailors made a note of how overworked they were, and how lack of sleep was the probable cause of the events. Rest and sleep are a luxury among all fleets not just the 7th. It’s not rare to hear stories of Boatswains mate’s mentioning that a good night for them is a meager four hours of rest. The Navy took time off their schedule to arrange for a Safety Stand Down where they would take notes of the complaints by the sailors and made annotations denoting the concerns.
While it was a simple measure, the fact that they took time to hear people out meant changes were coming. Now, most sailors weren’t sure what to think, some believed this would mean more time at work and less time at home. A few sailors were hopeful that it would bring about positive changes. Another group was certain that nothing would change. But, thankfully it seems things have changed for the good of the fleet.
2018 has started out with more training cycles, and overall more scrutiny in its exercises. According to rumors from The Navy Times, those sailors onboard ships such as the Chancellorsville have been provided better sleep cycles and Chiefs are taking a more active role in the lives of their crew. Psychiatric help is being provided to those survivors who have demonstrated symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the events in 2017 and all sorts of emotional support groups have been made available. It seems the Navy has made positives strives to ensure the recovery of their fleet and it continues to this day.
While the events that happened last year should have never happened, they were almost a necessary evil. The Navy is suffering from being undermanned, and sailors continue to leave the military for better opportunities in the outside world. As such it struggles to maintain a properly staffed ship that provides ample time to rest for its crews. But, it was those same events that forced the higher-ups to step back and assess their situation. It’s times like these that make people realize the importance of proper training and the seriousness of a good night’s sleep.
The Navy has always asked its sailors to work while fatigued but never considered the possibility that mishaps would happen more often than not without proper sleep. Now the effects are more pronounced than ever. It is often said the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program is written in blood. During these times, we’re reminded of the sad reality of the saying and how applicable it is to all naval functions.
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