Navy chief halts Pacific fleet operations, orders review after collisions

The Navy will launch a review of recent accidents following the collision of the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in the Pacific Ocean, making it the second U.S. warship to be involved in such an incident this summer.

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, will call for a temporary halt in operations for the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, the forces that operate around Japan.

“He has put together a broader inquiry to look into these incidents and to determine any of the causal factors to determine what’s going on,” Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns | Plan would reportedly bring troops in Afghanistan back by Election Day | Third service member dies from COVID-19 Trump wants troops in Afghanistan back stateside by Election Day: report 'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? MORE told reporters while traveling in Amman, Jordan.


Richardson will announce the review in a video message on Monday, calling for an “operational pause” to take “a deeper look into how we train and certify forces operating in and around Japan,” The Washington Examiner reported.

The investigative team will include officers and enlisted personnel as well as outside experts from the private sector. Their review will “be on a tight timeline,” the Navy told the Examiner.

The McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with an oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca before dawn on Monday. Ten U.S. sailors are missing and five are injured with non-life threatening injuries.

The Navy has begun search-and-rescue operations to recover the missing sailors.

In June, another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven U.S. sailors were killed in that collision and three senior U.S. Navy officers were removed from command pending discipline.

And in May, the cruiser USS Lake Champlain was struck by a South Korean fishing boat.

All three ships were assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet.

Mattis said on Monday that Richardson’s review is a broader investigation to “look at all related accidents, incidents at sea,” rather than just the latest incident.

“We obviously have a [separate] investigation underway that will determine what happened,” Mattis said.