Published: Sat, October 14, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

USS John S McCain: Navy sacks officers over collision

An additional five officers were injured in the collision on August 21, when the McCain collided with a merchant tanker, dealing significant damage to both ships.

Cmdr Alfredo J Sanchez, the commanding officer, and Cmdr Jessie L Sanchez, the executive officer, were sacked due to a "loss of confidence", the Navy said.

The collision was the fourth such incident in a year.

The Navy said in a statement that the commander and executive officer of the war ship were relieved of their duties for crashing the ship into an oil tanker near Singapore.

The crash killed 10 USA sailors and injured five more.

The Navy statement said it was "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 Alnic MC sustained damage to a tank near the front of the ship, but none of its crew were injured and there were no oil spills. Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez was reassigned to Commander, Navy Forces Japan, and Cmdr.

The McCain and Fitzgerald collisions have spotlighted issues in the Navy's 7th Fleet, headquartered out of Japan, as the wrecks underscore leadership failures and corroding training standards, based on Congressional testimony alluding to naval crews being overworked and spread thin.

The incident also triggered a rare worldwide "operational pause" of the US Navy's fleets as well as a review of operations. J. Sanchez was reassigned to the Ship Repair Facility at Yokosuka, home port of the 7th Fleet, the Navy said.

Following the collision, Singapore coordinated a search and rescue operation for the sailors with the US, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia covering 5,524 sq km, an area more than seven times the size of Singapore, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

The dismissals add to the long list of Navy leaders who have departed their posts in the wake of two deadly collisions this year - the McCain incident and the casualty involving her sister ship USS Fitzgerald, which was struck by the container ship ACX Crystal off Yokosuka on June 17.

In May, a South Korean fishing vessel collided with the guided-missile cruiser Lake Champlain, while another guided-missile cruiser, Antietam, damaged its propellers in January while anchoring in Tokyo Bay.

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