US Navy commanders fired after fatal ship collisions

The US Navy has fired two senior commanders in the Pacific region in connection with two ship collisions which resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

The announcement comes a day before the top US Navy officer and the Navy secretary are scheduled to go to Capitol Hill for a hearing on the incidents.

Vice Admiral Phil Sawyer, commander of the Navy's Japan-based 7th Fleet, fired Rear Admiral Charles Williams and Captain Jeffrey Bennett, citing a loss of confidence in their ability to command.

Mr Williams was the commander of Task Force 70, which includes the aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers in the 7th Fleet, and Mr Bennett was commander of the destroyer squadron.

Last month, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who previously led 7th Fleet, was relieved of duty.

The USS John S McCain and an oil tanker collided in south-east Asia last month, leaving 10 US sailors dead and five injured.

Seven sailors had died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan.

The latest dismissals bring the number of fired senior commanders to six, including the top three officers of the Fitzgerald.

Navy Captain Charlie Brown said that 7th Fleet ships have completed the one-day operational pause ordered for the entire Navy to make sure crews were conducting safe operations.

Pacific Fleet is in the process of carrying out a ship-by-ship review of its vessels, looking at navigation, mechanical systems, bridge resource management and training.

Rear Admiral Marc Dalton is now commander Task Force 70 and Captain Jonathan Duffy, who was deputy commander of the destroyer squadron, took over as commander.

AP


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