When the USS John McCain collided with a petroleum tanker near Singapore in August, killing 10 American sailors and injuring five, it was a “preventable” accident, the Navy has found.
The Navy relieved the guided-missile destroyer’s two top officers—commanding officer Alfredo Sanchez and executive officer Jessie Sanchez—of their duties “due to a lack of confidence.” They have been reassigned elsewhere.
In a Tuesday statement, it said the investigation was still ongoing, but “it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgement, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.”
The USS McCain hit a merchant vessel called the Alnic MC on August 21. Following the collision, the destroyer’s berthing, machinery and communications rooms flooded—divers subsequently recovered the sailors’ bodies from these compartments.
It was the second such incident in just a couple of months. In June, another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, also struck a container ship off the coast of Japan, drowning seven sailors in the ship’s breached berthing compartment.
Following August’s crash, Navy leaders told the Senate Armed Services Committee—including John McCain himself—that exhaustion may have played a role in the incidents, as sailors routinely work 100 hours a week.