The move follows four Navy accidents in the Pacific since late January, including two collisions that left sailors dead and missing. Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, who had been named as Aucoin’s successor, will assume command immediately, the Navy said. The 7th Fleet said in a statement Wednesday that Navy and Marine Corps divers are continuing to search flooded compartments of the USS John S. McCain which collided with an oil tanker.
Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin
On Tuesday, divers found human remains inside the destroyer’s wreckage. Malaysians assisting in the search had found a body, but it had not been determined if it was a McCain crew member. The sea-based search east of Singapore is expanding to encompass a greater area as time goes on. The search area more than doubled Wednesday to about 2,120 square miles with aircraft and vessels deployed by the US, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. The cause of the collision has not been yet determined. The White House issued a statement on Tuesday expressing “great sadness” over the deaths of the sailors aboard the McCain. After the collision on Monday, Adm. John Richardson, the Navy’s top officer, announced that all 277 Navy ships worldwide would take an “operational pause” to review basic seamanship, teamwork and other “fundamentals.”