For the fifth time this year, a US Navy warship of the 7th fleet collided with another boat in the Pacific. On Saturday, the USS Benfold slammed into a Japanese tugboat when the vessel lost propulsion and drifted into the US warship. The incident took place in the Sagami Bay (which lies south of Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshu, Central Japan).
Though damage to the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer ship, was minimal (it suffered only minor scrapes on its sides and could remain in the water autonomously powered), it is the reputational damage of the 7th fleet that has more people worried.
In a string of mishaps over the summer, some 17 sailors drowned in accidents that the Navy, after investigation, claims could have been averted.
In August of this year, the USS John S. McCain slammed into a commercial boat just off the coast of Singapore. The accident, where the US destroyer was hit by the Alnic MC in the busy approaches to the Singapore Strait, killed 10 US sailors and took the warship out of commission.
Because of the deadly collision with the oil tanker, the Navy fired both commanding officers of the USS John S. McCain afterwards, stating: “While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.”
And in June, another US destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, was struck by the container ship ACX Crystal in the approaches to Tokyo Bay, during which 7 sailors died when they became trapped and drowned in one of the flooded berthing compartments.
Afterwards, the Navy concluded to relieve the Fitzgerald’s Captain, Executive Officer, and senior enlisted leader of their positions for a “loss of confidence” in their ability to lead. The crew members that tried to save their drowning comrades, on the other hand, were praised.