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U.S. Navy’s safety culture’s deficiencies

Faults Cited After A 2008 Nuclear Carrier Fire Exacerbated The Bonhomme Richard Conflagration, Forbes,
Craig Hooper,  Senior Contributor, 27 Jul 20,   
In the aftermath of the disastrous fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) the U.S. Navy is cracking down on lax waterfront safety practices. This is not enough. Unless the U.S. Navy wants to risk a repeat of the Bonhomme Richard fire at sea, the Navy’s safety standup must extend beyond the pier, encompassing fire safety across the entire Navy enterprise.

As the USS Bonhomme Richard fire—and as at least 4 other major pier-side fires have demonstrated since a shipyard arsonist torched the attack submarine USS Miami (SSN-755) in 2012—the pier is a dangerous place for any naval vessel. Earlier in the month, as the wrecked amphibious assault ship still smoldered, the Navy’s waterfront chronic safety culture shortcomings were re-emphasized and emphasized again after workers inexplicably sparked two minor fires aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and America’s undelivered super carrier, the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

The Navy’s pier-side safety standup is as welcome as it is overdue.  . But the Navy also needs to take a closer look at fire safety at sea and throughout the enterprise. In the past month, far too many have sought to minimize safety culture,……………


The fact that the Navy is moving so quickly to address almost exactly the same deficiencies as those identified after the 2008 fire aboard the USS George Washington is concerning. At a minimum, it suggests that most of the firefighting deficiencies and lax pier-side safety culture that contributed to the demise of the USS Bonhomme Richard are well-known and widely disseminated across the Navy enterprise.

The fact that exactly the same firefighting and safety deficiencies still exist little more than decade after a fire sidelined an underway and strategically critical U.S. Navy platform is inexplicable. The lack of urgency in driving and sustaining a solution to the Navy’s lax fire safety culture is mind-boggling. This is a massive vulnerability. And with Navy’s fire safety proven to be a large—and systemic—national security risk, America must assume sophisticated rivals have noted the Navy’s lax safety culture and are currently targeting these vulnerabilities at individual, command and enterprise levels.

If a rival knows that the persistent encouragement of bad safety practices and the deliberate minimization of real safety risks can effectively sink a carrier for less than the cost of a single carrier-killing missile, there is no reason not to try it.

July 28, 2020 - Posted by | safety, USA

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