Congressman Donald Norcross

Representing the 1st District of New Jersey
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Norcross Statement on Hearing with Navy on USS Fitzgerald, USS John S. McCain Collisions

Sep 7, 2017
News Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, issued the below statement following a hearing on the underlying problems associated with the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain. The United States Navy has experienced four significant incidents this year, including these two major collisions that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Smith* – age 22 of Cherry Hill, New Jersey – was one of the sailors on the U.S. Navy Guided Missile Destroyer USS John S. McCain when it collided with an oil tanker in August.

“We owe it to Kenneth Smith and his loved ones to determine the facts and curb this disturbing trend – and in today’s hearing, I asked questions with them in mind.

“Kenneth’s family, my home district and our entire country is watching and want to know that our sailors have the tools, resources and training they need to conduct their work and return home safely.

“It is clear to me that something needs to change and we must not wait until the next tragedy to face reality. Four naval incidents in 2017 alone should certainly raise red flags.

“Prior reviews and recommendations on surface force readiness have largely been ignored and it’s alarming that so many mission-readiness certifications have expired. We need to make sure the Navy has enough sailors to do the job and that they are properly trained. Our sons, daughters, neighbors and friends are sacrificing so much to keep us safe – and it’s up to us to keep them as safe as possible.”

*Kenneth Smith was posthumously advanced to his next rank, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, according to the Office of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

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Contact: Ally Kehoe, Communications Director
ally.kehoe@mail.house.gov