The Latest: New 7th Fleet chief thanks navies for support

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2017 12:11 AM
The Latest: New 7th Fleet chief thanks navies for support

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the collision between the USS John S. McCain and a tanker (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, the new commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, has thanked the many navies that contacted the fleet with condolences and offers of support following the collision between the USS John. S. McCain and an oil tanker east of Singapore.

Speaking at a maritime security meeting in Bali, Sawyer says all navies have experienced tragic events.

"Often it is a brutal reminder that what we do is dangerous work in an unforgiving environment, requiring honed skills and constant vigilance. And even with those, bad things can happen," says Sawyer, who became commander Wednesday after Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was relieved of command.

Sawyer offered particular thanks to the navies including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia that have helped with a search and rescue for 10 missing sailors. The remains of some have been found in flooded compartments of the damaged McCain.

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5:15 p.m.

The Navy has announced that the commander of its 7th Fleet has been dismissed "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command."

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin of his command on Wednesday.

The Navy said that Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, who had already been named to succeed Aucoin earlier, will assume command immediately.

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2 p.m.

U.S. officials confirm the commander of the Navy's 7th Fleet will be removed after a series of warship accidents in the Pacific.

One official said Wednesday that Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was being removed due to the leadership's loss of confidence in his ability to command. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the decision.

The move follows two fatal collisions involving Navy ships. Seven sailors died in June after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a ship off Japan. The USS John S. McCain and a tanker collided Monday off Singapore and the remains of some missing sailors have been found.

The decision to remove Aucoin was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

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Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Robert Burns in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.