Top officers on USS John S. McCain relieved of duty

The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) being loaded on to the heavy-lift transport ship MV Treasure prior to being transported to Fleet Activities Yokosuka for repairs The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) being loaded on to the heavy-lift transport ship MV Treasure prior to being transported to Fleet Activities Yokosuka for repairs U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton

OCTOBER 11, 2017— The U.S. Navy has relieved the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), which was involved in the deadly collision with the 50,700 dwt tanker Alnic MC on August 21. The collision resulted in the deaths of 10 sailors, injuries to five others, and millions of dollars in damage to the ships.

In the announcement by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, Commander, Seventh Fleet said both the Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and Executive Officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, were relieved “due to a loss of confidence.”

The Navy said that while the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship's training program. 

Following the collision, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson took the unusual step of announcing on August 21 to order an operational pause for all U.S. Navy fleets around the world. The operational pause was used to allow “leaders and their commands to ensure that we’re taking all appropriate to ensure safe and effective operations around the world.

"In addition to that operational pause, I’ve directed a more comprehensive review to ensure that we get at the contributing factors – the root causes – of these incidents” said Admiral Richardson in a Facebook video.

The move followed the second collision in three months in the Pacific region. The USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) collided with the containership ACX Crystal on June 17, resulting in the deaths of seven sailors. The USS Fitzgerald is expected to arrive at Huntington Ingalls Inc.’s Ingalls Shipbuilding facility in Pascagoula, MS, in December for repairs.

USS John S. McCain is currently undergoing repairs at the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility-Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka, Japan. 

Cmdr. A. Sanchez was reassigned to Commander, Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ) and Cmdr. J. Sanchez was reassigned to Ship Repair Facility (SRF) Yokosuka. 

Cmdr. Ed Angelinas, former Commanding Officer of USS McCampbell (DDG 85), assumed duties as Acting Commanding Officer. Lt. Cmdr. Ray Ball, Chief Engineer of USS Antietam (CG 54), will assume duties as Acting Executive Officer. 

 

 

 

 

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