Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Top officers of USS John McCain fired for 'poor judgement'

A spate of U.S. naval collisions this year has resulted in a major leadership shake up in the U.S. Navy in Asia as it tackles increased tensions with North Korea and engages in operations in the South China Sea that challenge Beijing's growing control of the waterway.

The U.S. Navy has relieved of duties the commander and executive officer of the USS John S. McCain, which collided with an oil tanker near Singapore in August. Jessie Sanchez, its executive officer, were relieved of their duties and reassigned, Navy officials announced in a statement. In June seven sailors were killed in the USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a container ship near Japan. That incident claimed the lives of seven US sailors.

Commanding officer Alfredo J Sanchez and executive officer Jessie L. Sanchez of the USS John S. McCain "were relieved of their duties" on Wednesday, the Pacific-based US Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

In June, the Fitzgerald nearly sank off the coast of Japan after colliding with a Philippine container ship, which claimed the lives of seven U.S. sailors. The Fitzgerald's executive officer and senior enlisted sailor were also dismissed in that case. Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin who was a Seventh Fleet chief was removed after his ability to command was put into question, this was after the US Navy in August ordered a fleet-wide probe. Four accidents involving ships have occurred in the western Pacific since February, according to The New York Times. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground near Yokosuka base in Japan, and in May the USS Lake Champlain had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.

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