US Navy fires two commanders after Asia sea accidents

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy dismissed two senior officers on Monday after a series of collisions involving Seventh Fleet warships in Asia, citing a loss of confidence in their ability to command.

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. In August, Sawyer replaced fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who was fired after the accidents.

"Both reliefs were due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command," the Navy statement said.

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Personnel work on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
Personnel work on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
Personnel work on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
A helicopter hovers over the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
Tanker Alnic MC is seen in Singapore waters after a collision with U.S. Navy USS John S. McCain, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Christoph Van Der Perre
Personnel work onboard a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain arrives at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 21, 2017 in this handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
U.S. Navy personnel are seen on board guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
U.S. Navy personnel are seen onboard guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
A Republic of Singapore Navy vessel passes the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
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The shakeup in the Seventh Fleet command followed a pre-dawn collision between guided-missile destroyer USS McCain and a merchant vessel east of Singapore and Malaysia on Aug. 21, which killed 10 sailors and was the fourth major incident in the U.S. Pacific Fleet this year.

In June, another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a Philippine cargo ship, killing seven U.S. sailors.

Several other officers have also been relieved, with administrative action taken against other members of the ship’s watch teams. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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