Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the seventh fleet, will have the dubious distinction of being one of a handful of US military commanders who have been removed from command of a formation for inefficiency. This step was inevitable after warships of the seventh fleet suffered four major accidents and collisions with merchant ships on the high sea, leading to 17 able bodied seamen’s deaths and damage to warships to the tune of millions of dollars in 2017. The latest collision of a guided missile destroyer USS McCain with an oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca with a loss of 10 sailors is the catalyst for this swift move.

The commander was relieved of his command as the Commander-in chief of the seventh fleet, and in all probability, his navy career is over. The Vice Admiral has been replaced by newly promoted Rear Admiral Phil Sawyer, and he has assumed command immediately in a seamless operation. The Navy in a statement has said that Aucoin was relieved of his command as the Navy had lost confidence in his ability to command. CNN International reports this news.

Seventh Fleet

The seventh fleet is the pivot for the defense of the US interests and allies like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines in the Eastern Pacific, the China Sea and as far as the Indian Ocean. Its importance cannot be underrated as the opposing countries China, Russia, and North Korea are belligerent.

This is one of the hotspots of the world, and the role of the seventh fleet in the entire scenario is extremely important.

Navy cracks the whip

The removal of the commander of the fleet was expected as no navy can absorb so many deaths during peace time. It also points to a crisis in command and leadership. The recent collisions of two premier warships of the US Navy with civilian ships, prima facie show some neglect on the part of the captain and the crew.

An inquiry into the collision of the USS Fitzgerald a destroyer with a cargo ship in the Sea of Japan is completed, and it has blamed the Captain and some other sailors for lack of professional approach. The Navy has cracked the whip, and the Captain has been removed from command, and a dozen other officers and sailors will face disciplinary action.

Last word

The removal of Aucoin was on the recommendation of the US Pacific fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift. Hopefully, this removal will send a message to the rank and file that unprofessional conduct will not be tolerated. It will also instill confidence in the naval ratings who man the ships.