Fixing root problems in the Navy’s surface force, which contributed to numerous incidents in 2017 including the fatal collisions of the destroyers Fitzgerald and John S. McCain, is a top priority of Navy leadership.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran is hot on the trail of potential solutions as one of the two leaders of the oversight board charged with implementing recommendations that emerged from last year’s readiness reviews.

Moran’s first stop in that endeavor, which he documented in a blog post, was a Jan. 26 visit to the Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island, a ten-week course designed to ready officers for their shipboard command tours.

“We need to build confidence back in the force,” Moran said in a release. “I think part of that includes giving commanding officers more time for training. But we also need to look at proficiency and how we define and measure it. We’ll continue to look at these things and get after them.”

During the visit, Moran observed training in the full mission bridge simulator and witnessed a re-creation of the Fitzgerald collision in the Conning Officer Virtual Environment trainer.

He concluded his visit with a discussion with the hopeful COs and XOs in attendance.

“Spending time with instructors and prospective COs and XOs attending the Surface Commanders Course was my primary priority for the visit,” Moran wrote in his Navy Live post. “Much has been written lately about what SWO leaders are thinking and feeling — hearing directly from them was an important first step.

“The scope of the tragedies and the obligation we all have to our lost shipmates demands our full attention as senior leaders,” he continued. “A key assumption of our team is that we don’t have all the answers; if we go it alone, we will fail — success will require input and two-way dialogue with the fleet, especially with our commanding officers.”

Moran is already planning additional trips to visit operators in the fleet, the release said.

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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