Navy Secretary Announces Major Alcohol Testing Program

The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative includes breathalyzer tests, both randomly and upon reporting for duty. Secretary Ray Mabus also said the Navy will begin random testing of urine samples this month for Spice and other synthetic drugs.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced a major alcohol and drug testing initiative in a March 5 speech that was broadcast and streamed live to the fleet. The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative will maximize sailors' and marines' personal readiness, he said during the worldwide All Hands Call on board USS Bataan at Naval Station Norfolk, through programs in five areas: readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion, and continuum of service.

"The new defense strategy will put increased responsibilities on the Navy and Marine Corps in the years to come," he said. "You are the department's most essential asset, and it is the duty of the department's leadership to do all we can to provide each individual sailor and marine with the resources to maintain that resiliency."

Sailors stationed aboard ships, submarines, and at squadrons will be given breathalyzer tests when they report for duty and randomly elsewhere, and the Navy this month will begin randomly testing urine samples for synthetic chemical compounds including Spice. Initial testing will be conducted by a contracted laboratory, but the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory will be capable of conducting in-house testing later this year, according to a news release about the initiative that is posted on the Navy's website. All positive results for synthetic drugs will be sent to NCIS for investigation, and sailors found to have positive urinalysis results and possession of synthetic chemical compounds such as Spice will be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The release said alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities are down across the fleet. One of the tools available from the Naval Safety Center has tools is an online travel risk planning system described as an automated risk assessment tool sailors and marines can use before they go on liberty or leave. It helps them recognize and avoid hazards they might encounter while driving.

Mabus is moving toward making the Navy smoke-free by choice with a continued education campaign, providing easy access to free smoking cessation tools, and ending the discounts for cigarettes in Navy Exchanges and Marine Corps Exchanges.

"We will enable and support our sailors and their families. I am extremely proud of our people," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. "We have a professional and a moral obligation to lead, to train, to equip, and to motivate them. Our personnel programs deliver a high return on investment in readiness."

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