CNN reports that Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin will no longer be the Commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.
Aucoin’s dismissal comes on the heels of a collision involving guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and a merchant vessel.
Ten sailors have been missing since the collision. Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that “some” remains had been found. The remains were found in the McCain’s sealed compartments. The Royal Malaysian Navy also recovered a body, but officials have not confirmed if the body is one of the sailors.
The White House released a statement that said, “As the Navy begins the process of recovering our fallen sailors, our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends.”
A statement from the 7th Fleet offered sailors mental health support and other medical resources.
An investigation has already begun into the crash. The McCain collided with a tanker because it suffered a steering failure. However, officials do not yet know why the crew was unable to use the ship’s backup steering system.
While there is no evidence that the ship’s computer was tampered with, Swift said, “we are not taking any consideration off the table and every scenario will be reviewed and investigated in detail.”
Carl Schuster, an intelligence expert and professor at Hawaii Pacific University, believes it is unlikely that the McCain was sabotaged.
“Navigating a ship in a shipping channel is a manual operation. It comes down to watch attention and awareness. It’s a training procedure issue and a watch qualification issue,” he said.
After the incident, the Navy ordered an operational pause. An operational pause allows the Navy do to safety checks.
The McCain’s accident is the fourth for a U.S. ship in Asian waters this year. One other accident had fatalities. In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship and seven people died.
An investigation into the Fitzgerald incident attributed the collision to crew error.