Navy re­moves head of 7th Fleet

Ac­tion fol­lows deadly crash of USS John S. McCain

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -


The U.S. Navy dis­missed Vice Adm. Joseph Au­coin as com­man­der of the 7th Fleet on Wed­nes­day, fol­low­ing the deadly col­li­sion be­tween the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker off Malaysia. It was the fourth ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing a U.S. war­ship this year and the sec­ond fa­tal col­li­sion.

Adm. Scott Swift, com­man­der of U.S. Pa­cific Fleet, dis­missed Au­coin “due to a loss of con­fi­dence in his abil­ity to com­mand,” the U.S. Pa­cific Fleet said in a state­ment.

Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer will as­sume com­mand of the 7th Fleet im­me­di­ately, of­fi­cials said.

Au­coin had been ex­pected to re­tire this year, but his su­pe­ri­ors de­cided to push up his de­par­ture date due to con­cerns over his lead­er­ship skills, The New York Times re­ported. Au­coin has com­manded the Ja­pan-based fleet since Septem­ber 2015.

Navy and Ma­rine Corps divers on Tues­day lo­cated the re­mains of some of the 10 sailors miss­ing from the USS John S. McCain fol­low­ing Sunday’s crash.

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.

The Royal Malaysian Navy dis­cov­ered the po­ten­tial re­mains of one of the miss­ing sailors while search­ing the area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore where the col­li­sion oc­curred. The re­mains were trans­ferred to the U.S. mil­i­tary and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ef­forts were un­der­way, the U.S. Navy said.

It said the search area at sea will be ex­panded.

The McCain, a guided mis­sile de­stroyer, was about five miles off the coast of Malaysia and headed for rou­tine port visit to Singapore when it col­lided with the Liberian-flagged Al­nic MC, an oil and chem­i­cal tanker. The Navy said the war­ship suf­fered “sig­nif­i­cant dam­age” to its hull, flood­ing crew berths, ma­chin­ery and com­mu­ni­ca­tions rooms.

Five U.S. sailors were in­jured in the crash. Swift said four were im­me­di­ately flown by Singapore navy he­li­copters to a Singapore hospi­tal, and the fifth was hos­pi­tal­ized when the ship reached Singapore. The McCain re­mains docked in Singapore for re­pairs.

Swift said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause was con­tin­u­ing.

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