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Rubio asks Navy to include Mayport in collision review

USS The Sullivans sails from Naval Station Mayport in advance of Hurricane Irma.
USS The Sullivans sails from Naval Station Mayport in advance of Hurricane Irma.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants the Navy to expand the review announced in the wake of two deadly collisions to include all ships, including those stationed at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

Those two collisions left 17 sailors dead.

Rubio, R-Florida, sent a letter to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer requesting that the scope of the evaluation be expanded to include Florida.

"Florida is home to a significant number of military personnel and Naval Station Mayport, the second largest naval port on the East Coast," Rubio wrote. "The safety of our sailors is of vital importance to me."

He said it's important not to lose sight of keeping the entire Navy fleet safe.

Rubio is making four requests:

  • Increase assessments to include all ships across the world. He wants every ship to be reviewed.
  • Make sure all ships are properly certified.
  • Address concerns of fatigue to make sure sailors are getting enough sleep.
  • Identify a plan for each fleet to remain proficient in all certification areas.
  • There's no word yet on whether the Navy has responded to Rubio's request.

    The full text of Rubio’s letter is below:

    Dear Secretary Spencer:

    First, I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the 17 sailors who recently lost their lives while aboard the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain. They served our country honorably and our nation mourns with their families. 

    I commend the decision to institute an operational pause and review to ensure safe and effective environments for our sailors. While those who choose to serve in harm’s way are aware of the inherent risks of performing their duties, as you know, recent collisions involving U.S. Navy warships have called into question the current state of readiness of not only our ships but also their crews. I am increasingly concerned that these incidents could have been avoided.

    Florida is home to a significant number of military personnel and Naval Station Mayport, the second largest naval port on the East Coast. The safety of our sailors is of vital importance to me, and I request that you expand the scope of your evaluation so that it includes the ships such as those homeported at Naval Station Mayport. 

    Understanding the portion the fleet most affected by this conundrum is our forward-deployed naval forces, we must not lose sight of keeping the rest of the force safe. As you continue your investigative efforts regarding the recent U.S. Navy incidents at sea, I request that you: 

    • Increase the scope of the Readiness for Sea Assessments (RFSA) beyond ships assigned to Japan to include all ships across the globe. These assessments are intended to inspect and assess watchstander proficiency and material readiness to ensure ships are able to safely navigate, communicate and operate. Every ship should be reviewed to ensure safe operations for our sailors. 
    • Ensure the ships of every fleet are properly certified by standing up a Naval Surface Group for each region to oversee the training and certification of ships.
    • Address fatigue concerns by ensuring shipboard routines allow sailors get sufficient sleep.  
    • Identify a plan for each fleet to regain currency and proficiency across all certification areas. 

    Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to working with you on these matters.