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7th Fleet commander fired after series of fatal accidents

The damaged port aft hull of the USS John S. McCain is visible while the destroyer is docked at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base. Associated Press/Photo by Wong Maye-E

7th Fleet commander fired after series of fatal accidents

The U.S. Navy fired the commander of the Asia-based 7th Fleet on Wednesday “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.” Under Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin’s watch, four of the fleet’s ships suffered accidents that left them damaged and led to the deaths of 17 sailors. “While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Along with the change in leadership, the Navy has ordered a “deliberate reset” of all ships in the Pacific, with each vessel getting an expert assessment and new training for their crews. The evaluation will focus on navigation, mechanical systems, and bridge resource management. Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer will take Aucoin’s place. On Monday, the destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker off Singapore. Five sailors suffered injuries and 10 others are missing. Divers have located some remains but officials have not released the names of the dead. Teams are continuing to search flooded compartments of the ship. In June, seven sailors died when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship near Japan.

Leigh Jones Leigh is acting managing editor for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate who spent six years as a newspaper reporter in Texas before joining WORLD. Leigh also co-wrote Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes. She resides with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.


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John Cogan

From the photograph it appears the impact was from the aft direction meaning either the John S McCain was moving aft and port or the other ship hit the destroyer. It is very strange that collisions between US Naval vessels and merchant ships have increased dramatically.