Dear Editor:

Recent hearings by Congress with Navy officials regarding the deaths of 17 Navy sailors in collisions of the USS McCain, the USS Fitzsgerald, the USS Lake Champlain and USS Lake Antietam cited budgetary, operational, training and operational management and leadership.

Ray Mabus, ex-governor of Mississippi, was the longest-serving Navy Secretary in the last 100 years, holding the office from 2009 to January 2017. During this time, Secretary Mabus spent time with the following issues: 1. “fashion” issues regarding Navy hats; 2. Naming a cargo ship after Cesar Chavez, the farm activist; 3. The use of alcohol and cigarettes by Navy personnel; 4.Using renewable energy sources for the Navy; 5. Naming a Navy oiler after civil rights activist John Lewis; 6. Using women in Marine combat roles; 7. Dismissing a Marine Corps study that found mixed-gender Marine Corps teams were less effective; 8. Spending significant effort, time, and energy advocating for gay and transgender rights.

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and former Army captain, was the first to mention Mabus' legacy: "The morale and welfare of sailors and Marines is of utmost concern for me," Cotton said. ‘Your predecessor displayed what I think is questionable, indeed strange, judgment on some matters. That left him as one of the most unpopular service secretaries of the modern era.’ "


I have been unable to understand why Mr. Mabus has not been called for any of the hearings, or held responsible for the miserable readiness of Navy personnel’s training. After all, most Americans cannot explain how ships with, allegedly, the most sophisticated guidance systems in the world, run into cargo ships and tankers.

I implore military officials, Congress, and news organizations to interview Ray Mabus regarding his personal responsibility for the deplorable preparedness of the U.S. Navy. In my opinion, “he’s got some ‘splaining to do.”


Heddy-Dale Matthias, MD


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