Collisions Force US Navy Chief to Halt Pacific Fleet Operations, Orders Review

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It operates over an area of 124 million square kilometres from bases in Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

This week, the USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore.

The Seventh Fleet, headquartered in Japan, operates as many as 70 ships, including the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, and has around 140 aircraft and 20,000 sailors.

Yesterday US military divers located the remains of some of the 10 sailors.

"We owe it to sailors that man Seventh Fleet and their families to answer the questions that flow from the uncertainty of what happened", said Swift, the head of U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The Navy says it's taking steps to prevent another accident. The Malaysian Navy also located a body, which it has given to the U.S. to identify. The Malaysian navy said one of its ships had found a body eight nautical miles northwest of the accident site. Each of those two countries claimed to be leading the search effort at sea, which included ships and planes from the United States, Indonesia and Australia.

The McCain's crew were "tough, and they are resilient", Swift said. "It is clear their damage control efforts saved the ship and saved lives".

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The move follows two fatal collisions involving Navy ships.

The collision prompted the Navy to order a rare suspension of ship operations worldwide for a day or two in the next week to review safety and operational procedures.

"I support Admiral Swift's decision to bring in new leadership to 7th Fleet", Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement.

"This trend demands more forceful action".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that an inquiry into the collision had already begun. His broader remarks suggested a focus on "how we do business on the bridge".

The destroyer was named after John S. McCain Sr. and John S. McCain Jr., Navy Admirals who were the grandfather and father of Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

The tanker involved in the collision, which was used for transporting oil and chemicals and weighed over 30,000 gross tonnes, sustained some damage but no crew were injured, and Singapore said there was no oil pollution. In June, the Japan-based destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the merchant vessel ACX Crystal. Meanwhile, divers were preparing to access compartments sealed in the aftermath of the collision as the ship's sailors struggled to sail the battered ship into port. Multiple media reports have confirmed that the three-star Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin will face an unceremonious exit from his current role and is expected to be formally relieved of his duties on Wednesday, 23 August.

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