WASHINGTON — Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced today that all Navy personnel deploying to the Persian Gulf will be issued knee pads, effective immediately.
The new safety initiative follows in the wake of a widely-publicized incident in January, in which a commander of the riverine boat USS Bergdahl ordered his sailors to kneel for several hours, in violation of Navy, OSHA and Coast Guard regulations.
“Osteoarthritis is a real problem,” Mabus said. “We can’t have our guys spend this much time on their knees without appropriate ‘knee-pro.’”
“Have you ever knelt on non-skid [paint] on a rolling deck?” Mabus added. “It’s absolute agony.”
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson noted that Navy leaders need to do a better job looking out for the joint health of sailors.
“And also their dignity, but we don’t have to shell out money to pay for restoration of dignity,” he said.
“It’s not easy keeping your hands on your head while your boat bounces on the wake of a squadron of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] speedboats,” Richardson added. “These knee pads will let our sailors show our adversaries that we are made of sterner stuff than they think.”
Capt. Kyle Moses, commodore of Commander Task Force (CTF) 56, whose boats were involved in the incident, was said to be “relieved.”
Mabus concluded the announcement by thanking the Marine Corps for volunteering to pay for the Navy’s kneepads out of the Corps’ birthday ball budget.