The U.S. Navy on Tuesday fired the USS John S. McCain’s top two officers, calling the warship’s deadly August collision with an oil tanker “preventable.”
Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, the McCain’s commander, and Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez, its executive officer, were relieved of their duties and reassigned, Navy officials announced in a statement. Both were fired due to a lack of confidence, officials said.
The McCain, a guided missile destroyer built by Bath Iron Works in Maine, collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC on Aug. 21 near Singapore. Ten American Sailors died and five others were injured.
“While the investigation is ongoing, 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,” officials said in the Navy’s announcement.
The incident is among a series mishaps, to include three collisions and a grounding, that have exposed the Navy’s struggle to address widespread leadership shortcomings and its erosion of training standards. Two months prior, the USS Fitzgerald, also a guided-missile destroyer built at BIW, collided with a container ship in Tokyo Bay. That accident left seven sailors dead.
In September, Navy leaders acknowledged several unsettling truths about the service’s dangerous deployment pace and the role physical exhaustion — some sailors routinely endure 100-hour workweeks, they said — may have played in the two deadly collisions.