Defense

Another Crash: US Navy’s 7th Fleet Just Can’t Seem To Catch A Break

Courtesy Jake Greenberg/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet suffered another setback Wednesday as a Navy transport aircraft went down in the Pacific.

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan, has encountered a number of challenges this year, including two ship collisions which resulted in the deaths of seventeen American sailors.

A C2-A Greyhound aircraft was flying from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Philippine Sea when it crashed. Eight passengers and crew members were rescued, and a search is underway for another three. Japanese and American naval assets and personnel are scouring the area in search of those of who are still missing. (RELATED: 8 Sailors Rescued, 3 Missing After Navy Aircraft Plunges Into Sea)

President Donald Trump is aware of the incident, posting on Twitter: “We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved.”

The 7th Fleet has been at the heart of a massive Navy investigation into multiple accidents over the past year, several of which ended the lives of American military personnel.

Ten sailors died when an oil tanker collided with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain near Singapore in late August. Seven American sailors perished two months earlier when a container ship slammed into the side of the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald. (RELATED: Divers Recover The Remains Of All Ten Sailors Who Died Aboard The USS McCain)

In addition to the loss of life, the repairs for these ships will cost an estimated $700 million. As these Navy ships are damaged, they are no longer protecting American interests in the critical Asia-Pacific theater. (RELATED: White House Puts Price Tag On Deadly Naval Collisions)

A Navy investigation into these two collisions proved they were “avoidable” and caused by command failures coupled with incompetence and inadequate training. (RELATED: Basic Errors Caused ‘Avoidable’ Accidents That Killed 17 US Sailors, New Navy Report Reveals)

Prior to the two deadly incidents this past summer, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel off the peninsula, and in January, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay. While neither incident was fatal, both were embarrassments for the fleet.

Over the weekend, a Japanese tug boat drifted into the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold during a towing exercise in Sagami Bay, causing minor damages to the American warship. Unlike the other collisions and accidents,  problems aboard the Japanese vessel caused the incident.

An investigation will be carried out for the latest crash in the Pacific. For the incidents involving ship collisions, multiple officers have been relieved of their commands.

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