The US 7th Fleet commander relieved the commander of Task Force 70 (CTF 70) and the commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 as part of ongoing investigations into a series of incidents which caused the deaths of 17 US Navy sailors.
The commander of Task Force 70 (CTF 70), Rear Adm. Charles Williams and the commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, were relieved by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer on Tuesday, due to what the navy defines as a loss of confidence in their ability to command.
The two commanders were relieved of their duties as the navy conducts investigations into four incidents involving US Navy ships in the Pacific this year. Seventeen sailors lost their lives in two collisions involving US Navy destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald, while the other two incidents caused millions in damages.
Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of Task Force 76 (CTF 76), has assumed duties as commander, CTF 70 and Capt. Jonathan Duffy, DESRON 15 deputy commander, assumed duties as commander.
In addition to Charles Williams and Jeffrey Bennett, the US Navy has earlier dismissed the 7th Fleet commander, three-star admiral Joseph Aucoin, following the USS John S. McCain collision in August, and the leadership of USS Fitzgerald. The commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the USS Fitzgerald were relieved on August 18, two months after USS Fitzgerald collided with a tanker off Yokosuka.