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Last Straw: Navy Fires 7th Fleet Commander

Joseph Aucoin relieved of duty after string of accidents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 23, 2017 1:33 AM CDT
Updated Aug 23, 2017 4:03 AM CDT
Navy Dismisses 7th Fleet Commander After Accidents
US Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US 7th Fleet, has been relieved of his command.   (Eugene Hoshiko)

The commander of the Navy's Asia-based 7th Fleet was dismissed Wednesday after a series of warship accidents raised questions about its operations in the Pacific, per the AP. A two-sentence statement issued by the Navy said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, had relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command." The move follows four Navy accidents in the Pacific since late January, including two collisions that left sailors dead and missing. "While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation," Swift said late Tuesday.

He said the Navy will carry out a "deliberate re-set" of all its ships in the Pacific, focused on navigation, mechanical systems, and bridge resource management. It will include training and an expert assessment of each ship. The Navy said that Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, who had already been named as Aucoin's successor, would assume command immediately. Aucoin assumed command of the 7th Fleet in September 2015 and was due to retire in a few weeks. Seven sailors died in June when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off Japan. On Monday, the destroyer USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided off Singapore, injuring five sailors and leaving 10 others missing. (Some bodies have been found in the damaged ship.)

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