WASHINGTON — The head of U.S. Forces Pacific is preparing to sack the head of the three-star U.S. 7th Fleet after a string of mishaps among the Japan-based ships that have rocked the Navy to its core.
Adm. Scott Swift is traveling to Japan and plans to remove Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin for a loss of confidence in his leadership there, two U.S. officials confirmed.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the pending firing.
Aucoin has overseen 7th Fleet during a virtually unprecedented string of accidents over the past nine months that included a grounding, three collisions, and multiple sailor deaths.
News of the pending relief comes just days after a second collision between a destroyer and a commercial tanker in the 7th Fleet area. The first collision in June involving the destroyer Fitzgerald left seven sailors dead and led to the firing of the ship’s commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted leader.
On Monday morning, the destroyer John S. McCain collided with a tanker outside the Straits of Malacca, leaving five sailors wounded and 10 missing. Swift confirmed late Tuesday that the remains of some of the missing had been discovered onboard.
Aucoin was slated to turn over 7th Fleet in September with Rear Adm. Philip Sawyer, who will likely be the one in the hot seat to implement the changes mandated in the ongoing review.
McCain is docked currently in Singapore.
This is a breaking news report.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.