Navy releases report on ship crashes that killed Ohio sailors, others

The Navy placed partial blame on ship collisions that killed 17 sailors aboard two U.S. warships at sea on “poor seamanship” and a “failure to follow safe navigational practices,” a U.S. Fleet Forces Command report released Thursday concluded.

The deadly collisions at sea with two commercial vessels involving the USS Fitzgerald in June and the USS John S. McCain in August, killed two Ohio sailors among those who died and wounded dozens of others.

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Among those killed were Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, aboard the Fitzgerald, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob D. Drake, 21, of Champaign County, aboard the McCain.

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The Navy report concluded a degradation of watch team performance and an erosion of readiness, planning and safety practices contributed to the maritime crashes. Navy investigators added a “can-do” culture undermined basic watch standing and safety standards, the report said.

The investigation noted the demands of U.S warships stretched thin by commitments in the Western Pacific and the inadequacy of headquarters staff to identify and assess risks at sea.

The mishaps were among four reported involving U.S. warships in the Pacific this year, investigators noted.

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