US Navy Fires 2 Commanders after Asia Sea Accidents

September 18, 2017 Updated: September 18, 2017

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Navy dismissed two senior officers on Monday after a series of collisions involving Seventh Fleet warships in Asia, citing a loss of confidence in their ability to command.

Rear Admiral Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, and Captain Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, were fired by Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Phil Sawyer, the Navy said. In August, Sawyer replaced fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who was fired after the accidents.

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Royal Malaysian Navy personnel carry a body onto their ship during a search and rescue operation for survivors of the USS John McCain ship collision in Malaysian waters in this undated handout released on August 22, 2017. (Royal Malaysian Navy Handout via REUTERS)

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

The shakeup in the Seventh Fleet command followed a pre-dawn collision between guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain and a merchant vessel east of Singapore and Malaysia on Aug. 21, which killed 10 sailors and was the fourth major incident in the U.S. Pacific Fleet this year.

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Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, U.S. 7th Fleet former Commander who was dismissed in August 2017, speaks to media on the status of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald, damaged by colliding with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, and the seven missing Fitzgerald crew members, at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan on June 18, 2017. (REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File photo)

In June, another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a Philippine cargo ship, killing seven U.S. sailors.

Several other officers have also been relieved, with administrative action taken against other members of the ship’s watch teams.

Doina Chiacu