WASHINGTON --- The U.S. Navy fired two senior commanders on Monday due to "a loss of confidence in their ability to command" after two deadly collisions involving Navy ships in recent months.
Rear Admiral Charles William, commander of Task Force 70, and Captain Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, were both relieved of duty by Vice Admiral Phil Sawyer, the commander of the Japan-based Seventh Fleet, a Navy statement said Monday.
William will be replaced by Rear Admiral Marc Dalton, commander of Task Force 76, while Captain Jonathan Duffy, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, will assume the place of Bennett in the fleet, the statement said.
Their dismissals came after USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with an oil and chemical tanker near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead and five injured.
In June, seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald, also a guided-missile destroyer, and a container ship collided off the coast of Japan.
The disciplinary steps taken by Sawyer were part of a purge of leadership in the Seventh Fleet, the largest of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed fleets. A total of six senior commanders were fired recently, including the top three officers of the Fitzgerald.
Headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan, the fleet operates roughly 50 to 70 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
The two deadly incidents were among four collisions involving U.S. Navy vessels over the past year or so. The two non-fatal collisions included one between guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and a South Korean fishing boat off the Korean peninsula in May and the other between a nuclear ballistic-missile submarine and a support vessel off Washington state late August.