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Two 7th Fleet commanders relieved of their command

Two commanders of the U.S. 7th Fleet were relieved of their command over a "loss in confidence in their ability to command," the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet announced Monday.

Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer on Monday dismissed Rear Adm. Charles Williams, who is the commander of Task Force 70 (CTF 70),  and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. 

USS John S. McCain IDs 01:00

Bennett's command included the USS John McCain and the USS Fitzgerald, both destroyers that collided with tankers in separate incidents in just over the past four months. The McCain struck a tanker near Singapore in August, killing 10 U.S. sailors, and the Fitzgerald hit a merchant tanker close to Japan in June. Seven sailors died in that incident. 

Williams had the command of Task Force 70 and Carrier Strike Group 5, which meant that he oversaw the 7th Fleet's cruisers and destroyers, Carrier Air Wing 5, which is based in Atsugi, Japan, and the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.  

The fatal collisions involving the McCain and the Fitzgerald recently followed two other less disastrous accidents. The cruiser Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay and another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain, collided with a South Korean fishing boat.

Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of Task Force 76 (CTF 76), has assumed Williams' former command, and Capt. Jonathan Duffy, who had been deputy commander of DESRON 15, is now that ship's commander, Sawyer said in a statement.  

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