Navy dismisses 7th Fleet commander after warship accidents

24 August, 2017, 02:54 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin Commander of the US 7th Fleet looks on during a press conference as the damaged US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald is seen in the background at Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka south of Tokyo in June

A two-sentence statement said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, had relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command".

The Navy announced Wednesday the commander of its 7th Fleet will be removed from duty after two fatal ship collisions in the past two months.

"There is clearly a systemic problem in the Navy", observes Kirk Lippold after the USS John S. McCain (pictured at right) collided Monday with an oil tanker near Singapore. Divers searching for 10 missing sailors on a United States destroyer that collided with a tanker off Singapore have found human remains, a United States admiral said today.

The Navy began, as it often does, with accountability: On Wednesday it fired the three-star admiral whose command in the Western Pacific suffered at least four big accidents this year, two of which may have killed a combined 17 sailors.

In June, the destroyer Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship off Japan.

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Speaking shortly after that incident, Aucoin told reporters, alongside the ship at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, that the loss of sailors under his command "is something we all feel".

"When you look at these ships today", he adds, "many of them can't even have the lookouts that I used to have because they're so undermanned in the deck force, on a guided missile cruiser or a guided missile destroyer, where hundreds of lives are at stake and you're trying to keep an eye out for traffic". Ships and planes continue to scour the seas east of Singapore.

News of Aucoin's being relieved of command was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The flooding was halted, but the extent of the damage is still being determined, according to Swift, who said a full investigation of the event would be undertaken.

"The investigation is in its very earliest stages". The McCain passed a

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The 7th Fleet has 50 to 70 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and about 20,000 sailors.

"The pause gives everyone a chance to stop the day-to-day operations, review training manuals, run drills to respond to crisis, study the specifics of previous collisions, rest and recuperate from the tempo of operations", Stavridis said.

"As a result of the collision Alnic MC sustained damage to her fore peak tank; there were no injuries to crew and no reported pollution of the Singapore Strait", the statement said. A 5th Sailor was evacuated after the ship got to port in Singapore.

Yet, as Steven Stashwick reported for The Diplomat earlier this week: "Unlike the Fitzgerald collision, whose damage suggests that the US ship was responsible for keeping out of the ACX Crystal's way, the McCain's damage on the port (left) side suggests that it was the Alnic MC's obligation to keep out of the McCain's way under the global 'rules of the road' for preventing collisions".

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