US Navy says deadly McCain collision was preventable, relieves ship commander

The US Navy has loaded the damaged destroyer USS John S. McCain onto a merchant ship to be transported to Yokosuka Naval Base for repairs.

Commander A. Sanchez, the McCain's captain, and his executive officer Commander J. Sanchez were reassigned to other duties in Japan, where the Seventh Fleet is headquartered, the Navy said. Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez was reassigned to Commander, Navy Forces Japan, and Cmdr.

"The commanding officer exercised poor judgement, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship's training program", the USS Seventh Fleet said in a press release.

" 'There are so many safeguards in place to avoid these collisions that it's kind of baffling, ' Larter tells NPR".

It was the fleet's second deadly collision in 2017. A hole was punched into the sailors' living quarters, quickly filling it with water and killing seven. The damage will take about $220 million to fix, according to USNI News.

Two less serious mishaps involving Navy ships in the Pacific occurred earlier this year.

In May, a guided missile cruiser collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, while in January another cruiser ran aground near the fleet base in Yokosuka. Nobody was injured in either of those incidents.

The Navy said the destroyer experienced a loss of steering control before the incident but it is unclear if that led to the crash.

The military vessel is named US Navy admirals John McCain Sr and John McCain Jr, the father of Republican US senator John McCain.

Tuesday's dismissals are the latest in a shake-up of Navy leadership.

Both were relieved due to a loss of confidence.

In the aftermath of the collision, Vice Adm Joseph P Aucoin was dismissed as commander of the Seventh Fleet.

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