Capt. Tom Shanahan, commanding officer of the USS Canisteo, had just returned from the Mediterranean Sea and was now leading an overhaul of his fleet supply ship. Over the course of 10 months, the crew assigned to the Canisteo gradually disappeared, relocated by the Navy to other assignments. Those personnel cuts eventually left Shanahan with so few men that he couldn't take his ship to sea.
More than 30 years later, the U.S. Navy is facing another readiness crisis. Shanahan's story illustrates how budget cuts after Vietnam left the military unprepared. Cuts today are creating a new set of challenges.