Navy dismisses commander after collisions

Herbert Rhodes
August 24, 2017

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift on Tuesday said divers have found human remains inside the USS John S. McCain, which collided with a merchant vessel this week.

Sunday's collision is the second in three months for the Navy's Pacific fleet.

An official Chinese newspaper said on Tuesday the USA navy's latest collision shows it is becoming an increasing risk to shipping in Asia despite its claims of helping to protect freedom of navigation.

On Monday, Adm. John Richardson announced that all 277 Navy ships worldwide would take an "operational pause" to review basic seamanship, teamwork and other fundamentals to ensure safety.

The latest collision has already prompted a fleet-wide investigation and plans for temporary halts in US Navy operations.

"Until we have exhausted any potential of recovering survivors or bodies, the search and rescue efforts will continue", he said.

The main thing that each case has in common is what makes the Navy's dilemma so hard: the human element.

The Seventh Fleet, which compromises ships, submarines and aircraft, is the centerpiece of the U.S. military presence in Asia, undertaking sensitive missions such as operations in the South China Sea and around the Korean peninsula.

In the June incident, the Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship in a busy channel not far from Yokosuka, a gateway to container ports in Tokyo and nearby Yokohama.

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Speaking at WEST 2017, a conference co-sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute, Aucoin said: "We hope that North Korea abides by the United Nations Security Council resolution to stop development of nuclear weapons, but I'm not holding my breath on that regard".

He declined to say how many bodies had been located in the ship, which is docked at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

"We have found a number of the remains ... of our missing shipmates, and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those shipmates", he said.

The destroyer is named after John S. McCain Sr. and John S. McCain Jr., Navy Admirals who were the grandfather and father of Senator John McCain of Arizona.

The family of Jacob Drake of OH was told he was among the missing, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

"The concern the Navy has is that the Japan force, because it is the most highly stressed, is the canary in the coal mine", he said.

The 7th Fleet has 50 to 70 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and about 20,000 sailors.

Two commanding officers on the Fitzgerald were removed from their posts last week after an investigation concluded "flawed" teamwork and "inadequate leadership" contributed to the collision. "We do not want to have another collision", he said.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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