US Navy sacks fleet commander

Vice Admiral and U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Joseph Aucoin speaks to reporters. REUTERS  Toru Hanai

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"Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, today relieved the commander of Seventh Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command", the August 23 statement reads.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, current commander of 7th Fleet, was the three-star commander of the us 7th Fleet based in Japan.

Swift said that, while there were "no indications of that as of yet ... we are not taking any consideration off the table and every scenario will be reviewed and investigated in detail".

Following the Monday crash, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said "this trend demands forceful action", foreshadowing Aucoin's ouster.

Swift said Tuesday, but the search continued Wednesday.

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It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific-based 7th Fleet.

"We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted", he said.

The John S. McCain's sister ship, the USS Fitzgerald, nearly sank off the coast of Japan after colliding with a Philippine container ship on June 17.

Speaking at WEST 2017, a conference co-sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute, Aucoin said: "We hope that North Korea abides by the United Nations Security Council resolution to stop development of nuclear weapons, but I'm not holding my breath on that regard".

In February, the USS Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground near the US base in Yokosuka, Japan, and in May the USS Lake Champlain, another Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, crashed into a South Korean fishing boat.

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And, the tensions were ratcheted up further when President Donald Trump made threats of fire and fury to North Korea. Only weeks ago it said it was considering firing a salvo of missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam.

The Navy declined to confirm names of the missing sailors, but, by Tuesday, some of their relatives had begun to identify them.

The damaged vessel is named after US Senator John McCain's father and grandfather, who were both admirals in the US navy.

Two commanding officers on the Fitzgerald were removed from their posts last week after an investigation concluded "flawed" teamwork and "inadequate leadership" contributed to the collision.

The family of Jacob Drake of OH was told he was among the missing, the Columbus Dispatch reported. "We are all having a very hard time not knowing where he is or what has happened", Roberts, 27, said in a Facebook message, adding that her family was "refusing" to lose hope. Local police said the Navy was in communication with the family.

"The collision only occurs if several other safety mechanisms fail", he said.

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