CNO names timely ship maintenance, sailor training as priorities during Italy visit

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday speaks to sailors at an all-hands call on Oct. 18, 2019, in Naples, Italy.


By SCOTT WYLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 18, 2019

NAPLES, Italy — The Navy must get ships out of the maintenance docks more quickly and keep improving its weaponry to meet changing security threats worldwide, the Navy’s top officer said Friday.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday also said during an interview at the Navy base in Naples that while the hardware is important, training and motivating quality sailors is paramount.

“At the end of the day, it’s not high technology that’s going to win the fight — it’s going to be the individual sailors,” Gilday said. “It’s going to be that their skillsets and their drive and their passion is better than the adversary.”

Gilday visited Navy bases in Europe and attended an international maritime conference in Venice, Italy, over the past week. He is traveling around the world to gather information and sailors’ feedback for a naval guidance plan he is writing.

When asked how the Navy was coming with high-tech weaponry, such as laser cannons, hypersonic missiles and railguns, Gilday didn’t comment on specific systems but said the Navy was making progress.

“We are closing capability gaps quickly,” Gilday said.

China is reportedly making progress on a railgun and Russia says it has flight-tested a hypersonic cruise missile. Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to install a laser cannon on a destroyer by 2021.

The Navy also is looking at how to improve traditional weapons, Gilday said.

Modernizing weaponry and cyberwarfare systems are essential, but so is efficiently maintaining ships, Gilday said.

Only 40% of ships undergoing maintenance leave the yards on time, he said, calling that unacceptable. A Government Accountability Office report in 2018 put the number closer to 30%.

The Navy is working with commercial and naval shipyards to reduce the out-of-service time for ships, he said. That means getting Navy leadership involved down the chain command to the ground-level supervisors, he added.

Twitter: @wylandstripes


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday discusses ways to improve the Navy on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, at the Navy base in in Naples, Italy.

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