In August, the USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, which resulted in the deaths of 10 U.S. sailors and injuries of five others. At the time, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin was relieved of his command of the Navy’s 7th Fleet in a rare instance of the military firing a high-ranking officer. As part of a review of the incident, the Navy has fired the two top officers of the McCain and called the collision “preventable.”
According to a statement released by the Navy, Alfredo J. Sanchez, the McCain’s commander, and Jessie L. Sanchez, the ship’s executive officer, were both relieved of duty and reassigned because of a lack of confidence:
“While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.”
The McCain collision occurred a couple months after the USS Fitzgerald, also a guided-missile destroyer in the 7th Fleet, collided with a container ship near Tokyo, resulting in seven dead sailors. In September, Navy leaders spoke in front of Congress and described the grueling working conditions and exhaustion that may have contributed to the two collisions.
The number of ships in the Navy has been cut while the Western Pacific activities of the Navy (in an effort to curb actions by North Korea and China) have increased, leading to overworked and undertrained crews, but the Navy leadership had a different conclusion.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee at that September session, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said, “At the core, this issue is about command.”
(Via Washington Post)