The Hammer Falls on the USS John S. McCain Command Team

On August 21, the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain was rammed by a Liberian-flagged supertanker, the Alnic MC. Ten sailor were killed in the collision. (See my posts on the collision here.)


Yesterday, the US Navy announced that is had relieved the commander and the executive officer of the USS John S. McCain and called the collision preventable:

The commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) were relieved of their duties by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, Commander, Seventh Fleet, on Oct. 11. Both were relieved due to a loss of confidence.

John S. McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21 that claimed the lives of 10 Sailors, injured five more, and damaged both ships.

While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgement, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.

Interesting side note here. The senior chief petty officer aboard the USS Fitzgerald was relieved along with the commander, executive officer, and seemingly everyone on the bridge. That was an indicator that some major breach of individual training or discipline was determined to be widespread. The chief of the USS John S. McCain seems to have evaded the axe for the time being. As the same general fact pattern of the USS Fitzgerald was present, i.e. human lookouts not seeing a huge ship bearing down on them, the collision alarm not sounded until after the collision, etc., there is an interesting, if untold, story lurking here.


This makes a nearly clean sweep of the US Pacific Fleet command structure. The commander of the 7th Fleet, the commander of TF 70 (the task force lead by the USS Ronald Reagan), and the commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 have all been relieved of duty.


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