Navy Fires Admiral, Captain in USS Fitzgerald, USS McCain Crash Probes

Andrew Cummings
September 18, 2017

For Sawyer, the firings are effectively his first public act as commander of the 7th Fleet; on August 23, he abruptly assumed the command after Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the previous commander, was relieved from his post by Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift just days after the second deadly ship collision.

Navy Capt. Charlie Brown said Monday that 7th Fleet ships have completed the one-day operational pause ordered for the entire Navy to make sure crews were conducting safe operations.

Rear Adm. Charles Williams, the commander of the 7th Fleet's Task Force 70, and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, the commander of the fleet's Destroyer Squadron 15, have both been relieved of duty effective Monday, the Navy announced.

"Both reliefs were due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command", a Navy statement said.

More leaders are being removed from their posts as the Navy continues to investigate the cause of two deadly ship collisions in the Pacific this summer that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors. 7 that blasts the Navy for "persistent training, maintenance, and other issues" that could have contributed to low-readiness and higher risk of collisions and groundings.

These dismissals come after the USS McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with a chemical and oil tanker near Singapore on August 21, killing 10 US sailors. In June, the USS Fitzgerald, another destroyer, collided with a cargo vessel off Japan, an accident claiming seven sailors. The collision tore a gaping hole in the McCain's left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments, including crew berths, machinery and communication rooms.

On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing looking at the recent Navy accidents at sea.

"The Navy has stated that high demand for presence has put pressure on a fleet that is stretched thin across the globe".

Navy commanders have approved numerous waivers to expiring certifications of standards, such as seamanship, Moran told the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

The announcement comes a day before the top US Navy officer and the Navy secretary are scheduled to go to Capitol Hill for a hearing on the incidents.

Citing the incidents, the Navy briefly suspended operations of all United States fleets in late August.

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