Poor seamanship and flaws in keeping watch contributed to a collision between a Navy destroyer and a commercial container ship that killed seven sailors, Navy officials said, announcing that the warship captain will be relieved of command and more than a dozen other sailors will be punished.
Adm. William Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, told reporters Thursday that the top three leaders aboard the USS Fitzgerald, which was badly damaged in the collision off the coast of Japan, will be removed from duty aboard the ship. They are the commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson; the executive officer, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt; and Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin, who as the ship’s command master chief is its most senior enlisted sailor.
“The collision was avoidable, and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement, noting that “flawed” teamwork among those assigned to keep watch contributed to the collision.
The actions are being taken by Rear Adm. , commander of the 7th Fleet, based at Yokosuka, Japan, because he lost confidence in the three, Moran said.
The Navy said the three had shown “inadequate leadership.” Separately, seven junior officers were relieved of their duties because they had shown “poor seamanship” and bad teamwork, 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss said Friday.