The U.S. Navy plans on relieving the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, amid multiple incidents of collisions with ships of the fleet over the past few months, reports said citing U.S. officials.
The three-star commander of the fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, could be removed from duty Wednesday for loss of confidence over the accidents, according to the officials. The Navy, however, is yet to issue a statement on the issue.
The possible decision follows a deadly collision Monday in which the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker before dawn near Singapore on Monday. Around 10 soldiers were reported to be missing in the incident and a number of remains of the soldiers were found in a compartment of the vessel.
This deadly collision and others, including an at-sea collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald and a cargo to Aucoin’s role coming under scrutiny. According to CNN, a statement from the 7th Fleet did talk about the possible dismissal of Aucoin stating that McCain’s sailors were “trying to regain some stability.”
According to the website of the 7th fleet, the vice-admiral assumed his current responsibilities as commander of the fleet in September 2015. Earlier, he served as the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems and was also involved in heading several programs including Program Planning and Development Maritime, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Aviation Training Plans and Programs and was the director of the Programming Division.
Aucoin was the commander of the aircraft carrier — Carrier Air Wing 5 forward deployed in Japan Carrier Strike Group 3, a Navy carrier strike group homeported in Bremerton, Washington.
He was given the designation of a naval flight officer in 1981 after receiving his commission from through the University of North Carolina Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program in 1980. Aucoin was initially assigned to Fighter Squadron 101 for initial training in the F-14 Tomcat.
As the commander of the 7th fleet, he largest U.S. numbered fleet, with over 60 ships and 200-300 aircraft, he talked about the possibility of a war with North Korea in February this year. Aucoin said: “If there’s a fight tonight, it’s probably going to happen on the Korean Peninsula” adding that the country was the only one in his area of operations whose relationship with the U.S. did not see any improvement.
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.” He gave a three-pronged approach for the navy to deal with the threat from North Korea: “technology, our partnerships, and training.”
Aucoin’s removal is significant development since the Navy began dismissing officers who were held accountable for the collisions. Less than a week ago, it was announced that top three leaders aboard the USS Fitzgerald would be removed from duty after the vessel was damaged in a collision off the coast of Japan in June, killing seven sailors.
Source: International Business News