Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

January 24, 2013

Navy: Random alcohol tests for sailors in U.S.

NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy said Wednesday it will conduct random blood-alcohol tests on its sailors in the United States starting next month, a sign of how concerned the service’s leaders have become about the effects alcohol abuse is having on the force.

The tests are part of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative, an expansive program intended to improve the well-being of sailors and Marines after more than a decade at war.

The Marines announced it would carry out its own random alcohol tests last month. While alcohol has long played a part in the Navy’s culture, Navy officials stressed they aren’t trying to stop sailors from drinking altogether, but are concerned about their health and safety.

The Navy said it will use the blood-alcohol tests to determine whether someone is fit for duty or may need counseling. Any sailor whose blood-alcohol level is .04 or higher when reporting for duty won’t be allowed to work. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a driver with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol is considered drunk.

A positive test result for a sailor reporting to work — a reading of 0.02 percent or higher — won’t be used to punish sailors. But the Navy said it could be used to refer him or her to a drug and alcohol program adviser.

Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, said the random tests could help spot sailors who need support before “an incident occurs due to the irresponsible use of alcohol.” He also wrote in a message outlining the new details of the policy to the fleet that the tests will serve as a safety measure and raise awareness among commanding officers of a crew’s “culture of alcohol use.”

Alcohol is of particular concern because of the role it frequently plays in other destructive behaviors such as suicide and sexual assault. Alcohol also has played a factor in the dismissals of a number of commanding officers in recent years.

“Deterring irresponsible use of alcohol is essential to the readiness of our fleet and ensuring the health and safety of our service members and units,” Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, said in a statement.

In a pilot program with 13 commands this past summer, nearly 7,500 sailors were subjected to random alcohol tests. Of those, 87 tested positive for alcohol.

“The test verified that the majority of our service members, who choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. It also verified that our commanding officers need a flexible program that serves to increase the Navy’s awareness about the impacts of alcohol,” Gortney said in a statement.

By May 24, the Navy expects to have hand-held alcohol detection devices available for nearly 2,000 commands.

The 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative was unveiled by Mabus in a rare ‘all-hands’ call aboard a ship in Norfolk last March that was broadcast to sailors around the world. Among other things, it also focuses on preventing suicides, sexual assaults and increasing physical fitness. The Navy has also begun conducting random urine tests for synthetic drug use under the initiative.

Unlike the alcohol tests, those who test positive for synthetic drug use are subject to punishment.

——

Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • ‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in South Sudan, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economy College Gradu_Stew.jpg Job market for college grads better but still weak

    With college commencement ceremonies nearing, the government is offering a modest dose of good news for graduating seniors: The job market is brightening for new grads — a bit.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court TV On t_Stew.jpg Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned

    Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1791, the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, was born in Franklin County, Pa.

    April 23, 2014

  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results