USS McCain: Navy Saved Money with Touch-Screen Controls, Sailors Paid with Their Lives
There's a scathing report from ProPublica detailing how Navy cost-cutting helped end the lives of ten sailors on the USS John S. McCain in a fatal 2017 collision with a Liberian-flagged tanker. A Navy official told CNN shortly after the deadly incident that "it was unclear why the crew couldn't use the ship's backup steering systems to maintain control." But it might just be the result of the Navy's money-saving decision to rely on touchscreen controls to pilot the ship, instead of traditional methods.
ProPublica detailed the control system, which "featured slick black touch screens," and "knit together information from radars and digital maps." Which is all well and good. "It would save money by requiring fewer sailors to safely steer the ship," according to ProPublica and Navy sources. But training was apparently lacking, as 23-year-old McCain sailor Dakota Bordeaux said, "There was actually a lot of functions on there that I had no clue what on earth they did."
The same was true for Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, captain of the McCain. From ProPublica: