US Navy to relieve commander after collisions in Asia


The US Navy has relieved Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin of his duties after two fatal collisions involving warships in Asia in less than three months.

"While each of these four incidents is unique, they can not be viewed in isolation", Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift said late Tuesday.

An worldwide search-and-rescue operation involving aircraft, divers and vessels from the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia is looking for the 10 U.S. sailors missing since Monday's accident. Aucoin has commanded the Japan-based fleet since September 2015. REUTERS/Calvin Wong The damaged USS John McCain is docked next to USS America at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 22, 2017.

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After the collision on Monday, Adm. John Richardson, the Navy's top officer, announced that all 277 Navy ships worldwide would take an "operational pause" to review basic seamanship, teamwork and other "fundamentals".

On Monday, five sailors were injured after United States destroyer John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC near the Malacca straits.

"As the Navy begins the process of recovering our fallen sailors, our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends."The Department of Defense will conduct a thorough and complete investigation of the incident."
He said the crew responded quickly after the collision, righted the ship and prevented an even bigger disaster."I was on the McCain this morning and looking at the eyes of those sailors, and even after their heroic efforts yesterday I didn't see exhaustion", he said.

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At least seventeen sailors have been killed in the four collisions, the latest happening Monday morning local time between the USS John McCain and an oil tanker near Singapore.

The damaged vessel is named after US Senator John McCain's father and grandfather, who were both admirals in the US navy.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said McCain crew member Logan Palmer is from the Decatur, Illinois, area and his mother identified him as missing. Swift said four were immediately flown by Singapore navy helicopters to a Singapore hospital, and the fifth was hospitalized when the ship reached Singapore.

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In June, another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, was struck by a Philippine-flagged container ship some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.