US Navy: Two deadly collisions this summer were ‘avoidable’

WASHINGTON DCThe US Navy has released a report concluding that two fatal collisions that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors this summer were “avoidable.”

The USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain collided with commercial ships in June and August, respectively.

Regarding the Fitzgerald, the Navy said many of the decisions made leading to the collision were the result of poor judgment and decision making by the commanding officer of the ship. According to the Navy’s findings, no single person bears full responsibility for the incident. The crew was unprepared for the situation in which they found themselves and hampered by ineffective command and control, and deficiencies in training and preparations for navigation.

The Navy has determined that “numerous failures occurred on the part of leadership and watchstanders” aboard the USS Fitzgerald.

The Navy cites the following failures in the USS Fitzgerald collision:

  • Failure to plan for safety.
  • Failure to adhere to sound navigation practices.
  • Failure to execute basic watch standing practices.
  • Failure to properly use available navigation tools.
  • Failure to respond deliberately and effectively in an extremely difficult situation.

The report cites the following failures in the USS John S. McCain collision:

  • Loss of situational awareness in response to mistakes in the operation of the John S. McCain’s steering and propulsion system while in the presence of a high density of maritime traffic.
  • Failure to follow the International Nautical Rules of the Road, a system of rules to govern the maneuvering of vessels when risk of collision is present.
  • Watchstanders operating the John S. McCain’s steering and propulsion systems had insufficient proficiency and knowledge of the systems.

Two Connecticut sailors were killed in the separate collisions.

26-year-old Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, from Suffield, was killed on the USS John S. McCain. Their family released a statement at the time of his death:

On behalf of the entire Doyon family, we want to thank all those who have extended their support and prayers. Dustin was a wonderful son, big brother, and Sailor. He truly loved his family, the Navy, and his shipmates. We are incredibly proud of him and his service to our country. We will miss him immensely and we are so very thankful for the 26 wonderful years we had together.
As we mourn the loss of our son and brother, we would like extend our appreciation to so many people, especially to the community of Suffield, Connecticut who has been supporting us since we first learned of the accident. We are also thankful to the United States Navy for their continued support and are thinking of the brave crew of USS John S. McCain who are still hard at work with a difficult task.
We ask everyone to keep the families and friends of those affected by this terrible tragedy in your thoughts and prayers.
As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family and we respectfully request that you continue to respect and honor our privacy.
Thank you.

Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, was from Oakville. He was killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant vessel. 

The oldest of four siblings, his mother and the children moved to Connecticut in 2005. He joined the Navy in 2014 after taking a few classes at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

His younger sister Lan issued a statement regarding his death,

“We want people to know that anyone who came across Tan noticed he was very quiet person, but he is also the sweetest and nicest. When he talked about things that he loved, he showed so much passion, just like his love for the Navy and niece. He had a bright smile.”

Mary, another sister, also released a statement,

“It was really hard on us when he left for basic because us four siblings are all we have. We don’t have a huge family in America, it was just us and our mother for so long. He was the first person I would vent to even though he was away, because I knew he would always reply and be honest with me. It took a toll on my little brother but it made us even more happy and warmed our hearts that he loved being in the Navy. He had a purpose and he took it very seriously. I always asked if he would ever come home and he always said, probably not for awhile because he loved (not many can say they never want to come home) being in the Navy. He was so smart and was effortlessly amazing at everything he did. Our family will never be whole again without him but we are just happy he didn’t die alone, he died with his brothers.”