Six Amazing Years: RAGs, NATOPS, and More   [open pdf - 137KB]

"In the early 1950s the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were suffering near-catastrophic accident rates. In 1954 alone the Navy/Marine Corps accident rate was almost fifty-five major mishaps per hundred thousand flight hours, meaning that 776 aircraft and 535 aviators were lost. This was unsustainable. Two British inventions, the angled flight deck and the optical landing system, ameliorated the problems of flying jet aircraft at sea, but widespread safety problems persisted, not only in carrier operations but in shore-based operations as well. It was apparent that beyond carrier modifications and other technological fixes, there were institutional changes that needed to be made. This article chronicles several of these changes at a critical period in the service's history. Between the start of 1958 and the end of 1963 the Navy and Marines logged a remarkable achievement in aviation safety. In a period of only six years that included intensive operations with some of the most difficult aircraft in the fleet--Crusaders, Demons, Skyrays, Tigers, Phantoms, Vigilantes, and Skywarriors--the Navy-wide major mishap rate was reduced by more than half and was launched on a downward trajectory that continues to this day.1 In those six years were established replacement air group (RAG) training, a system of 'level readiness,' a Naval Aviation Training and Operations Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) program, an improved system for selection and assignment of personnel, a more responsive system for maintenance and supply support, and more. Several of these programs go hand in glove and need to be discussed together."

2011 Naval War College Review. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit.
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Naval War College Review: http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review.aspx
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Naval War College Review (Summer 2011), v. 64 no. 3, p. 98-110
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