CNO: Navy inspecting all ships assigned to Japan

Frederick Owens
September 20, 2017

The Navy's top admiral in charge of surface forces is retiring early, and two major 7th Fleet commanders have been fired, part of the service's latest efforts to clean house after a string of serious shipboard mishaps that have left 17 sailors dead this year, according to news reports. The Navy is also creating a new oversight body for training for Japan-based ships, to be called "Naval Surface Group Western Pacific" - a name that suggests a broad mandate.

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

"Your presence here today reminds us of our sacred obligation ot look after the young people who serve in our military", McCain said, noting his personal connection with the USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer named after his father and grandfather.

During his opening remarks, McCain read aloud the names of family members whose loved ones were among the 17 sailors killed in two sea collisions this summer.

The Navy's top officer says that although commanders are ultimately responsible for problems leading to two recent fatal ship collisions - the spike in naval operations combined with budget shortfalls and uncertainty strained his force and made it hard to do needed training and maintenance.

Mr Williams was the commander of Task Force 70, which includes the aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers in the 7th Fleet, and Mr Bennett was commander of the destroyer squadron.

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The Fitzgerald collided with a Philippino cargo vessel off Japan on June 17, killing seven sailors, and the McCain collided with a Liberian container ship near Singapore on August 25, killing 10 sailors. It added that Capt. Jonathan Duffy, deputy commander, DESRON-15, assumed duties as commander.

Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said that a high pace of operations and budget caps had an impact on the Navy, but ultimately Navy leaders were responsible for safety and readiness.

Immediately after McCain's collision, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin who was a 3-star Admiral [VIDEO] and commander of the 7th Fleet, was sacked despite the fact that he was due to retire this month.

They are set to appear with John Pendleton, leader of a General Accounting Office study released Sep.

In January, the USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan.

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