In the wake of two destroyer collisions with commercial vessels this summer that killed 17 sailors, the Navy began an assessment of basic sailor skills among the surface fleet.

Navy reports this week cited failures in basic tenets of seamanship as reasons for the fatal Fitzgerald and McCain collisions.

The Fitz and McCain operate under the Japan-based 7th Fleet, which came under scrutiny following the disasters due to high operational demands and little time for training and maintenance.

Ready for Sea Assessments, or RFSAs, have so far been conducted on nine ships, according to Naval Surface Force officials.

If the two-day assessment deems a ship not ready for sea, “Pacific Fleet will assess the operational requirements versus correcting the deficiency in order to make an informed risk decision,” Naval Surface Force spokesman Cmdr. John Perkins said in an email.

How those nine ships fared remains unclear, as the Navy is declining to make results public.

“Due to operational security, we will not discuss the number of ships that have failed or passed these assessments,” Perkins said.

The assessment’s first day focuses on administrative items like proper manning, qualifications, watch bills, training plans and equipment checks, according to a Navy release.

The second day is conducted at sea and looks at propulsion and navigation drills, watch team proficiency and other exercises.

“Ships that do not pass the administrative review on day one will not be allowed to go to sea for the second part of the evaluation,” the release states. “The intent is to evaluate the ship’s readiness, and if necessary, develop a remedial plan to fix any gaps.”

Once all 7th Fleet ships are assessed, the process will move to other West Pacific ships and on to the entire surface fleet.

“These assessments are about taking an honest, hard look at how we do business and adjusting, as required, to remain the world’s preeminent naval force,” Naval Surface Force commander Vice Adm. Tom Rowden said in the release.

Also this week, the Navy established a detachment exclusively focused on ensuring 7th Fleet ships are ready for operations.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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