Sunday 22 July 2018

US fleet commander to be removed after Pacific warship collisions

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, speaks during a press conference, with damaged USS Fitzgerald as background at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo. U.S. officials said that Aucoin is to be relieved of duty after series of ship accidents in the Pacific. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, speaks during a press conference, with damaged USS Fitzgerald as background at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo. U.S. officials said that Aucoin is to be relieved of duty after series of ship accidents in the Pacific. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
The damaged USS John McCain (L) and the USS America are docked at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
The damaged USS John McCain is docked next to USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
The damaged USS John McCain is docked next to USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
The damaged USS John McCain is docked at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
The damaged USS John McCain is docked next to USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks at a news conference near the damaged USS John McCain and the USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks at a news conference near the damaged USS John McCain and the USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
The damaged port aft hull of USS John S. McCain, is seen while docked at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks at a news conference near the damaged USS John McCain and the USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong

The commander of the US Navy's 7th Fleet is to be removed after a series of warship accidents in the Pacific, two of them fatal, officials have confirmed.

One official said Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin was being relieved of his post because of the leadership's loss of confidence in his ability to command.

The move follows four collisions involving navy ships in the Pacific this year, two of which left sailors dead and missing.

"While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation," Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift said in Singapore.

In this photo released by the Royal Malaysian Navy, navy sailors carry an unidentified body on to the deck of KD Lekiu frigate after it was recovered in the waters off the Johor coast of Malaysia, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said some remains of Navy sailors were found in a compartment of the USS John McCain on Tuesday, a day after the warship's collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing. (Royal Malaysian Navy via AP)
In this photo released by the Royal Malaysian Navy, navy sailors carry an unidentified body on to the deck of KD Lekiu frigate after it was recovered in the waters off the Johor coast of Malaysia, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said some remains of Navy sailors were found in a compartment of the USS John McCain on Tuesday, a day after the warship's collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing. (Royal Malaysian Navy via AP)

The navy previously announced a broad review of the 7th Fleet's performance following the incidents.

Seven sailors died in June after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off Japan.

Then the USS John S McCain collided with an oil and chemical tanker off Singapore on Monday. Ten sailors are missing, and Admiral Swift said the remains of some have been found.

The decision to remove Vice Admiral Aucoin was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The damaged port aft hull of USS John S. McCain, is seen while docked at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
The damaged port aft hull of USS John S. McCain, is seen while docked at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

He assumed command of the 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan, in September 2015.

The pre-dawn collision tore a gaping hole in the McCain's left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms.

The damaged USS John McCain is docked next to USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong
The damaged USS John McCain is docked next to USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Calvin Wong

There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year.

In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the navy's 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.

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