Simplifying an Otherwise Complicated Maritime Environment

Media Coverage | August 22, 2017

In "Simplifying an Otherwise Complicated Maritime Environment: Operate, Navigate, Communicate," the COO of the EastWest Institute shares his experience commanding Navy ships before serving as Chief of Staff for U.S. Naval Surface Forces. Parker's remarks came in the aftermath of yet another fatal accident involving an American ship this year. 

On June 17, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged container ship in route to Tokyo Harbor near the east coast of Japan. As a result of the collision, and the ensuing severe damage to Fitzgerald, a ship of the line was taken out of service, careers were lost, considerable taxpayer dollars will be spent on repairs and most significantly, seven U.S. sailors were killed and many more were injured.

Just over two months after the Fitzgerald collision, a second Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS John S. McCain, collided with the Alnic MC, a 600-foot chemical and oil vessel sailing under the Libyan flag. According to the Navy, John S. McCain was on its way to a port visit in Singapore after patrolling the South China Sea when the two ships collided east of the Strait of Malacca. The John S. McCain suffered severe damage, once again resulting in flooding and potential loss of life. Five sailors were injured and ten are reportedly missing.

Ninety percent by volume and 85 percent by value of the entire world’s trade is moved by ships. Our founding fathers realized our nation’s vital link to maritime trade and delineated in the Constitution that while Congress has authority to raise an army it is required to provide and maintain a Navy. So it is imperative that each of our ships be prepared to keep the global commons open for world trade – a trade that is vital to our own national security and economic survival.

Access the full commentary in The Diplomat here.