NORFOLK--"They violated several policies on how to handle a situation like that, they just fumbled it," said retired Navy captain Joe Bouchard, after reading the long-awaited report on the investigation into the March 24, 2014 USS Mahan attack.
The report , cites "watch standing failures" at Naval Station Norfolk's Gate Five.
"This incident was totally preventable if the guard force on that gate had carried out their duties," said Bouchard, who was commanding officer of the base from 2000 to 2003--concurrently with the USS Cole and 9-11 attacks. "The second line of defense was at the gate of the pier, that also should've stopped the individual. It failed too."
The report notes that intruder Jeffrey Savage "passed unchecked through layers of security."
Master-at-Arms Second Class Mark Mayo was killed, when her rushed to protect fellow sailors near the quarterdeck of the Mahan. Savage who possessed a Transportation Security Administration Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card, for reasons still unknown, entered Gate Five at the base, made it past security at Pier One, and gained entry to the deck of the Mahan when the fatal confrontation occurred. Savage disarmed a Mahan sailor who had the watch. That's when Mayo interceded and paid with his life. Savage also died in the shoot-out.
Mayo's Navy and Marine Corps Medal citation noted "his exceptionally brave actions" and credited him with saving the lives of four sailors, and said he"ensured the safety of the entire crew of the USS Mahan."
The new report says the "primary failures" were "the individual watch standers at Gate Five."
The Navy says the police officer in charge at Gate Five was "red-flagged," and he no longer works in law enforcement or carriers a weapon. Four other security personnel from that night were also temporarily disciplined, but have since returned to work after receiving refresher training.
The report also says "manpower shortages had a negative impact on the supervisory performance of the Naval Security
Force." The document goes on to note that sequestration, furloughs, a hiring freeze and a high attrition rate all could've played a role.
One thing the report never gets to is why Savage did what he did. "The fact that the report couldn't determine the motive is unfortunate," said Bounchard. "I"m sure Petty Officer Mayo's family would like to know that. But the report focuses on he enhancements to security that apply regardless of the motives of the intruder."
The investigation was completed in mid-October and was forwarded to the Pentagon for review by Navy brass. It was signed off upon by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michelle J. Howard on Monday.