U.S. navy commander removed after warship collisions

The U.S. navy says the commander of its 7th fleet has been dismissed "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command" after a series of collisions involving American warships in the Pacific.

Sailors' remains found after most recent incident involving USS John S. McCain

Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, answers questions during a news conference, with USS John S. McCain and USS America docked in the background at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday. Ten U.S. sailors went missing and five were injured when the McCain and a tanker collided on Monday. (Wong Maye-E/Associated Press)

The U.S. navy has announced that the commander of its 7th fleet has been dismissed "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command" after a series of collisions involving American warships in the Pacific. 

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift relieved Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin of his command on Wednesday.

The navy said that Rear Admiral Phil Sawyer, who had already been named to succeed Aucoin earlier, will assume command immediately.

Earlier, Swift said the remains of a number of sailors had been found in a compartment of USS John S. McCain, a day after the warship's collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing.

10 sailors went missing and five were injured after Monday's collision 0:39

An investigation is underway. It was the fourth accident involving U.S. warships in the western Pacific this year. 

Swift also said during the brief news conference in Singapore on Tuesday that Malaysian officials have found one body that has not yet been identified.

"Divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today," Swift said. 

"Additionally, the Malaysian navy has reported that they have located potential remains. They are working to confirm and identify those remains."

The focus of search efforts shifted Tuesday to the damaged destroyer's flooded compartments.

The collision on Monday tore a gaping hole in the McCain's left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments, including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. 

Five sailors were hurt in the collision between the guided-missile destroyer and the 183-metre Alnic MC, an oil and chemical tanker. 

Swift commended the McCain's crew for righting the destroyer quickly after the collision. 

He said helicopters were able to begin evacuating sailors within an hour or two of the accident, and it was "quite extraordinary" for the vessel to be "up and running as an operational ship almost immediately after the collision."

The warship had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after manouevres in the South China Sea.

Malaysian sailors cover an unidentified body after it was recovered in the waters off the Johor coast. (Royal Malaysian Navy/Associated Press)

With files from Associated Press