That was a report on the Navy’s readiness to fight an actual war, prepared by a retired admiral and a retired Marine Corps general. It was not pretty: Inspired by several recent naval disasters — including collisions involving two destroyers, the surrender without resistance of two Navy boats to the Iranians and the dockside total-loss fire of the USS Bonhomme Richard — the report concluded that the surface Navy is deficient in equipment, maintenance and simple competence.
The report surveyed a large number of current and former Navy personnel, 94 percent of whom said those incidents represented larger problems within the Navy. While commanding officers pursue PR and play politics, the business of running the Navy has been allowed to slide.
Among the problems: MBA-style efforts at promoting “efficiency” have led to deficiencies in training and ship maintenance. Unlike their aviation and submarine counterparts, who get extensive training before going to sea, surface officers are placed on shipboard upon commissioning, trained on the job in a sink-or-swim fashion. Instead of classes, they’re given CDs of material to read.