The US Navy warship USS McCain had collided with a cargo vessel, which resulted in 10 sailors being killed and five injured. This incident had badly dented the image of the navy as a professional force. The incident was widely reported all over the world and the navy had to take some action to show that it will always uphold professionalism and none will be spared. Now the action has come and the commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) were both asked to hand over command to their juniors.

In short, they were relieved of their duties by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, Commander, Seventh Fleet, on Oct. 11. The reason given is “loss of confidence’ and effectively, it means the end of their careers in the Navy. This news is reported by CNN.

The incident had occurred on Aug. 21 and apart from the deaths, both the ships were damaged.

Board of Inquiry

The navy had immediately ordered a Board Of Inquiry and preliminary investigations revealed that the collision was preventable. This was damning news and it was clear that the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program as reported by

The captain of the ship Cmdr.

A. Sanchez and Cmdr. J. Sanchez has both been reassigned to shore jobs. They will now await the final report by the Board of Inquiry.

The removal from command in any fighting force is a serious mark on the career of an officer. One can safely say that both the officers have no future in the Navy and will not be promoted. Once the inquiry is completed there could be further punitive action, even a Court Martial.


Having served in the armed forces for years, I can say that a collision can happen in a number of situations none of which the captain and certainly the XO had direct control. But there is a catch in this and a commanding officer on board a ship is given extraordinary powers with the understanding that he is responsible for every deficiency on board his ship.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Once an accident takes place the CO will be responsible. This is the rule in the military. Now a powerful and highly respected commander of a warship must wait in a side job and await retirement. Failure in the navy has no place. The US Navy with its global reach can ill afford any incidents like collisions and heads must roll.