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Posted: September 19, 2017 1:00 PM

Seventh Fleet Task Force, Destroyer Squadron Commanders Relieved

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

YOKOSUKA, Japan — The commander of Task Force 70, Rear Adm. Charles Williams, and the commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, have been relieved of their commands by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet. Both reliefs were due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command, U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a Sept. 18 release.

Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of Task Force 76, has assumed duties as commander, Task Force 70. Capt. Jonathan Duffy, deputy commander, Destroyer Squadron 15, assumed duties as commander.

Though not explicitly stated in the release, the reliefs are believed to be related to the separate collisions this summer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, in which a total of 17 Sailors died and both ships were severely damaged. The two officers were the immediate superiors in the chain of command for the two ships.

Sawyer recently succeeded Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, who was relieved for reason of loss of confidence in August by the Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Scott Swift, following the collision of the John S. McCain.



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