Joseph Aucoin : US Navy dismisses commander after deadly warship collision

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 24, 2017

US officials said that Aucoin is to be relieved of duty after series of ship accidents in the Pacific.

Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, said Tuesday that at least some of the missing sailors were dead - making it the second deadly accident involving the 7th Fleet this year.

Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, who was slated to take over the Yokosuka-based 7th Fleet during a change-of-command ceremony on September 7, will assume command "immediately", the statement said. That announcement had been a reaction to the Monday collision involving the Navy destroyer John S. McCain and an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore. Ten sailors disappeared. Though exact numbers remain unclear, search-and-rescue divers found the remains of some sailors in sealed compartments on the vessel, according to the Associated Press.

In June, another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. Seven U.S. sailors were killed in that accident.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the three-star commander of the fleet in Japan, will be made to step down on Wednesday in connection with the crashes, sources have revealed.

He added that the US Navy was trying to identify the body to see if it was one of 10 missing US sailors in the accident. He said the crew responded quickly after the collision, righted the ship and prevented an even bigger disaster.

The divers were continuing to search the ship for more of the missing sailors Wednesday, with more divers scheduled to join the effort on Thursday, the Navy said.

He also said Malaysians assisting in the search had found a body, but it had not been determined if it was a McCain crew member. Shipowners Stealth Maritime said in a statement that the 183 m ship had sustained damage, contradicting earlier reports.

Richardson also ordered a Navy-wide review to get at the "root causes" of the problems. The identities of the missing have not been disclosed, but Partlow said her fiancee's parents were in touch with the Navy's family assistance center.

The collision at daybreak in a busy shipping area tore a gaping hole in the McCain's left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. She said Smith's father, stepmother and grandfather served in the Navy. But he noted that the investigation was in its earliest stages and said, "We are not taking any consideration off the table".

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