Navy Dismisses 2 More Leaders After Incidents Involving The 7th Fleet

Navy Dismisses 2 More Leaders After Incidents Involving The 7th Fleet

They are Rear Adm. Charles Williams, who commanded Task Force 70, which has tactical control of US ships in Asia, and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, who led the destroyer squadron based in Japan.

The U.S. Navy has relieved two more top officers due to a "loss of confidence in their ability to command", following two deadly collisions over the summer.

Seven sailors had died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan.

The moves come almost a month after the USS John S. McCain collided with a chemical and oil tanker off Singapore, killing 10 American sailors.

It follows four incidents since January in the western Pacific involving warships assigned to the Seventh Fleet, including the USS John S. McCain guided-missile destroyer colliding last month with an oil tanker near Singapore, resulting in the loss of 10 sailors.

According to the Navy's statement, Adm. Marc Dalton and Capt. Jonathan Duffy will assume duties as commanders of Task Force 76 and DESRON 15, respectively. That fleet, led by a three-star admiral, oversees all naval forces while they are in Asia. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the highly respected 7th Fleet commander, yielded his command to Sawyer in August, just days after the captain, executive officer, and command master chief of the Fitzgerald were relieved of their positions.

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Both men worked in the Japan-based 7th Fleet.

In addition to the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain crashed into a South Korean fishing boat near the Korean peninsula in May.

Joining the top Navy leaders will be John Pendleton, director of Defense Force Structure and Readiness Issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which issued a report highlighting the Navy's readiness issues.

"We believe that, until the Navy makes the needed changes, its ships may not have the right number and skill mix of sailors to maintain readiness and prevent overworking its sailors", the GAO report concluded.

"The Navy has stated that high demand for presence has put pressure on a fleet that is stretched thin across the globe".

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