OK I got busy and haven’t published in more than a few days. What can I say? Maybe I’m suffering from Solar Eclipse Overload Syndrome. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many folks who have lost their homes and personal possessions as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
US Navy 7th Fleet Relieved
Following a collision between the Seventh Fleet destroyer USS John S. McCain with the merchant ship Alnic MC in the the Strait of Malacca in the South China Sea, which left 10 navy sailors missing and five sailors injured on August 21, 2017, off the coast of Singapore it was confirmed the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet has been relieved of command. Vice AdmiralJoseph P. Aucoin (below right) was relieved of his command on 23 August 2017 due to “loss of confidence in his ability to command.” He was just weeks away from retirement. The Wall Street Journal first reported the planned move Tuesday. RADM Phillip G. Sawyer has now assumed command of Seventh Fleet. While I was a bit glib in earlier editions of FOD regarding the need for a band, etc. it is unfortunate to see the careers of fine officers ended in such a manner. That being said, the Navy reposes special trust and responsibility for the safety and well-being of the ship and those who sail within her and thus commanding officers are held to the highest standards of accountability. The U.S. Navy announced on 24 August 2017 that it would be suspending search-and-rescue efforts to focus on recovery efforts of the missing sailors. Divers have recovered the bodies of all 10 sailors missing. The Navy previously identified eight crew members who were missing as Charles Nathan Findley, Abraham Lopez, Kevin Sayer Bushell, Jacob Daniel Drake, Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., Corey George Ingram, John Henry Hoagland III and Logan Stephen Palmer. The bodies of Kenneth Aaron Smith and Dustin Louis Doyon were previously recovered. There has been at least a rumor out there McCain may have suffered a steering causality or a loss of steering control shortly before the accident, but that doesn’t add much to the discussion at this point. My experience aboard aircraft carriers was that after-steering (the manual backup steering control room) and all other steering backup systems were always fully manned during a transit of the Strait of Malacca.
Friends of FOD – How did you observe the solar eclipse? All the best photos are on the internet, but I enjoyed seeing the solar eclipse in Boise, ID, thanks to Friends of FOD Roger and Glorie. Thanks to both of you! And I also got to do some fishing on the Boise River. Notice I said fishing and not catching. But a good time was had by all. Good stories appreciated.
Another Collision At Sea
USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-classdestroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing and five were injured following the collision, which happened at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time (5:24 p.m. ET Sunday), according to the Navy’s latest update issued around nine-and-a-half hours later. And the search continues as of August 21st. After the collision the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to return to port under her own power. According to United States Navy press release, the breach “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Initial casualty reports indicate ten sailors missing and five sailors injured. Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations (below left) has ordered an “operational pause” or safety stand down for a day to “include,
but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”
The Strait of Malacca is one of the most heavily transited bodies of water in the world, with more than 80,000 vessels moving through it annually, roughly one third of all oceanic transits. US Naval vessels usually have their best bridge team on duty for the transit. I noted in the 11 through 15 August edition of FOD that a military band is standard for that all important change of command. I would venture to say the yet unannounced, change of command for the McCain and perhaps even Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will not need a band. As you’ll recall, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in the June 17 with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, a container ship, off the coast of Japan resulted in the death of seven sailors. Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief have been relieved of their duties aboard Fitzgerald. I’m thinking the commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 15, CAPT Jeffrey A. Bennett II might be looking for another job.