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Chaos Before USS Essex Collision: Investigation

May collision could have been prevented with better communication, Navy investigation finds

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Navy investigation unleashed harsh criticism of the commanding officer of the USS Essex after it collided with an oiler ship in May, according to the Navy Times.

    USS Essex collided with the oiler Yukon off the coast of Southern California as it was returning from a deployment to San Diego.

    The collision could have been prevented, even after the rudder became stuck, read the investigation, obtained by Navy Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    The ship's commanding officer, Capt. Charles E. Litchfield, was relieved of his command in June following the collision.

    “The commanding officer failed to give clear, forceful direction to his crew when it was most needed,” wrote Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, the 3rd Fleet commander in San Diego, in the investigation.

    “It was this lack of clear, forceful direction — not the collision itself — that caused my lack of confidence in his ability to command. Unfortunately, this commanding officer on this particular day, and under this specific set of circumstances, was unable to meet the challenge facing his crew.”

    The investigation determined that the starboard rudder was jammed. While both ships managed to avoid colliding at their bows, a lack of communication in the moments after led to the collision at the stern.

    No one was injured, but the Essex was damaged.

    Read the Navy Times article on their website.

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