In August, the USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, which resulted in the deaths of 10 US sailors and injuries of five others. The first - between USS Fitzgerald and container ship ACX Crystal - claimed the lives of seven U.S. sailors and resulted in the firing of Fitzgerald's commanding and executive officers. Sanchez, the executive officer, were relieved of their duties and reassigned.
Fox News reported that while the investigation into the collision was still ongoing, preliminary findings showed the collision was "preventable", and that the commanding officer exercised poor judgment. It was one of several accidents in the region that raised concern over the safety and operational effectiveness of USA naval vessels.
When Navy heads appeared before Congress in September, they noted that since the United States went to war in 2001, there has been a high demand for the destroyer vessels. Some Navy officials have cited strains from frequent extended deployments, delayed maintenance and almost a decade of budget constraints and reductions in resources devoted to training as factors.
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"The commanding officer exercised poor judgement, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship's training program", the USS Seventh Fleet said in a statement released in Japan on Wednesday.
Pacific Fleet commander US Admiral Scott Swift also relieved three-star Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US Navy's 7th Fleet of duty shortly after the incident occurred.
The USS McCain, damaged last August in a collision with a civilian merchant vessel, was loaded onto a heavy lift transport bound for Japan. Navy officials concluded that the damage sustained by the McCain could be repaired in Japan which will allow sailors assigned to the ship and their families to stay nearby and not relocate to a stateside fix site. J. Sanchez was reassigned to the Ship Repair Facility at Yokosuka, home port of the 7th Fleet, the Navy said. Lt. Cmdr. Ray Ball, chief engineer of USS Antietam, is acting executive officer.