The US Navy has relieved Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin of his duties after two fatal collisions involving warships in Asia in less than three months.
Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, relieved Aucoin from duty at the US Navy’s Yokosuka naval base in Japan, a US Navy spokesman said.
Rear Admiral Phil Sawyer, the deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet, will assume command immediately, he added.
A pre-dawn collision between a guided-missile destroyer and a merchant vessel east of Singapore and Malaysia on Monday was the fourth major incident in the US Pacific Fleet this year .
The decision to relieve Aucoin was made “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the spokesman said.
Aucoin was due to step down next month.
An international search-and-rescue operation involving aircraft, divers and vessels from the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia is looking for the 10 US sailors missing since Monday’s accident.
On Tuesday, US Navy and Marine Divers found human remains inside sealed sections of the damaged hull of the USS John S McCain, which is moored at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.
The Navy has not yet announced the identities of the bodies discovered.
The US Navy is also working to identify a body found by the Malaysian navy about eight nautical miles northwest of the collision site.
The latest collision has already prompted a fleet-wide investigation and plans for temporary halts in US Navy operations.
The USS John S. McCain’s sister ship, the USS Fitzgerald, almost sank off the coast of Japan after colliding with a Philippine container ship on June 17.
The bodies of seven US sailors were found in a flooded berthing area after that collision.
The USS John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided on Monday while the US ship was approaching Singapore on a routine port call.
The impact tore a hole in the warship’s port side at the waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area.