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USS John S. McCain commanding officers relieved of duty after fatal collision that was ‘preventable’

October 11, 2017

The U.S. Navy has removed the commander officer and executive officer from the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain following a fatal crash in August when 10 sailors were killed.

USS John S. McCain (Twitter)

The USS John S. McCain officers were relieved due to “loss of confidence,” the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said Wednesday.

The 7th Fleet had also relieved the commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, citing “poor seamanship,” and several other watch standers are being held accountable for the deadly crash that killed seven sailors on June 17.

“While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgement, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program,” the 7th Fleet said Wednesday.

USS John S. McCain (Twitter)

Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer relieved Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez and executive officer Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, and both officers were reassigned.

L. Sanchez was reassigned to Commander, Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ); and J. Sanchez was reassigned to Ship Repair Facility (SRF), Yokosuka, the Navy said.

The Navy reported that Cmdr. Ed Angelinas, former commanding officer of USS McCampbell (DDG 85), assumed duties as acting commanding officer; and Lt. Cmdr. Ray Ball, chief engineer of USS Antietam (CG 54), will assume duties as acting executive officer.

U.S. Navy in August recovered the remains of all 10 sailors who died after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore on Aug. 21.

(American Military News)

There was significant damage to the hull of the USS John S. McCain, which resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms, 7th Fleet officials said, adding that damage control efforts by the crew stopped further flooding. The destroyer made its way back to Changi Naval Base in Singapore on its own power, despite a large hole in its port side.

U.S. Navy Adm. John Richardson called for a global fleet-wide operational pause of the U.S. Navy, given the USS John S. McCain’s collision with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore and the deadly June incident when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan and seven sailors died.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) also called for a comprehensive review, in addition to the ongoing investigations for both collisions, respectively.

As for the possibility that the collisions were caused by “cyber intrusion or sabotage,” the Navy indicated that this didn’t seem like the case in these situations.