Navy Relieves Senior Officers Of Destroyer Crippled After Fatal Crash

REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The Navy sacked two more senior officers in the wake of a deadly collision the cost the lives of ten American sailors.

Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, Commander of the Seventh Fleet, relieved the commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain Wednesday due to a “lack of confidence” in their leadership capabilities, according to the U.S. Seventh Fleet Public Affairs office.

“It is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program,” the Navy said in a statement to USNI News.

The merchant vessel Alnic MC collided with USS John S. McCain near Singapore in August. The fatal crash followed another incident two months earlier in which a commercial ship ACX Crystal collided with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, killing seven.

Several high-ranking officers have been sacked since the Navy began investigating the deadly collisions.

Former U.S. Seventh Fleet commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was relieved shortly after the USS John S. McCain was hit.

The command triad for the USS Fitzgerald –commanding officer Cmdr. Bryce Benson, executive officer Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, and Command Master Chief Brice Baldwin were recently sacked. Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Combined Task Force 70, and Capt. Jeffery Bennett, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 15 were also removed from their commands during the ongoing Navy investigation.

The McCain is undergoing repairs, which will cost over $200 million and take over a year to complete.

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