Navy Chief Makes Rare Move After Another Collision

by Garry Watts August 25, 2017, 0:35
Navy Chief Makes Rare Move After Another Collision

It was the fourth incident involving the US Pacific Fleet this year.

At a news conference Tuesday evening at the pier of Singapore's Changi Naval Base, where the damaged warship is now moored, Swift said it is "premature to say how many" bodies were found in the ship. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was removed and replaced by Phil Sawyer, the Navy announced.

The announcement comes as the Navy continues to probe Monday's catastrophic collision between the USS John S. McCain and the Alnic MC, a 30,000 ton Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker.

A two-sentence statement said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, had relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command".

Navy and Marine divers were still searching the flooded compartments on the guided-missile destroyer, which is now docked in Singapore. Navy photos show a gaping hole below the waterline on the destroyer's port side.

Five sailors were injured, four of whom were medically evacuated to a Singapore hospital.

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It was the second such accident in two months involving a United States warship after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship off Japan in June, leaving seven sailors dead.

Swift toured the McCain on Tuesday to inspect the damage to the 505-foot destroyer.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Monday that an extensive investigation was underway to "look at all related accidents, incidents at sea". Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship hit each other in waters off Japan.

Ten US sailors are missing.

Andrew Tan, chief executive of the MPA said: "Our thoughts are with the injured and families of the US Navy crew who are now still missing following the incident in Singapore territorial waters". The Antietam ran aground in January and subsequently dumped about 1,000 gallons of oil into the Tokyo Bay, and the Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel in May.


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