US Navy fires two commanders after accidents in Asia

WASHINGTON • The US Navy dismissed two senior officers yesterday after a series of collisions involving Seventh Fleet warships in Asia, citing a loss of confidence in their ability to command.

Rear-Admiral Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, and Captain Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, were fired by Seventh Fleet commander Phil Sawyer, the United States Navy said in a statement.

"Both reliefs were due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command," the statement said.

Rear-Admiral Marc Dalton, commander of Task Force 76, assumed duties as commander of Task Force 70, while Captain Jonathan Duffy, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, took over as commander, according to the statement.

In August, Vice-Admiral Sawyer replaced the Seventh Fleeth commander, Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who was fired after the accidents.

The shake-up in the Seventh Fleet command followed a pre-dawn collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS McCain and a merchant vessel east of Singapore and Malaysia on Aug 21, which killed 10 sailors and was the fourth major incident for the US Pacific Fleet this year.

In June, another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a Philippine cargo ship off Japan, killing seven US sailors.

Several other officers have also been relieved of duty, with administrative action taken against other members of the ships' watch teams.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'US Navy fires two commanders after accidents in Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe