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House committee schedules hearing on recent Navy ship mishaps

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing next month to review underlying problems related to two recent deadly mishaps involving the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet. 

The committee review comes after the guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain on Monday collided with a merchant ship in busy shipping lanes in the Strait of Malacca near Malaysia, leaving 10 people missing and presumed dead. That incident came on the heels of a June collision of the USS Fitzgerald off Japan's coast that killed seven people. The Navy dismissed the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, in a highly unusual move this week. On Friday, the Fitzgerald's campaign, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was also relieved of his post, signaling human error in that incident. 

The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7, shortly after Congress returns from August recess, and will be a joint hearing of two subcommittees -- its subcommittees on seapower and projection forces and on readiness. Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, and John H. Pendleton, director of Defense Force Structure and Readiness Issues with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, are expected to testify. 

The USS John McCain collision on Monday tore a hole in the side of the ship, forcing the chief of U.S. Naval operations to call for Navy ships around the glob to stop operations and review basic training. Search and rescue operations revealed remains of some of the missing sailors.

When reporters asked Mr. Trump for his response to the incident Monday night, the president was criticized for his simple, three-word response: "That's too bad."

Navy divers find remains of some sailors after USS John S. McCain collision

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the committee's chairman, said the recent two recent Naval incidents -- along with two less-publicized incidents earlier this year -- point to a need for more Navy resources. 

"This is the fourth serious Naval accident this year," Thornberry said in a statement earlier this week. "We ask a lot of our men and women in the Navy. The time they spend at sea is increasing, while their ships age and their funding gets cut. These are just the conditions that can lead to an increase in the kinds of accidents we are witnessing. At a time of increasing threats, two military services have now had to take a knee to review safety and training procedures. That is unprecedented, and no way to protect America. Congress has a duty to provide our sailors with the additional resources they so clearly need, and to do so immediately. To do any less, while these sailors are doing so much for us, would be immoral."

The open hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sept. 7. 

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