As military officials investigate the deadly USS John S. McCain crash, the Navy has dismissed the admiral of the Asia-based 7th Fleet, citing a "loss of confidence in his ability to command."
The removal of Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin comes after Sunday's collision between the McCain and an oil tanker became the fourth in a series of warship accidents that have raised questions about U.S. naval operations in the Pacific.
"While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation," U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift told reporters.
Meanwhile, questions abound as to whether the vessel's electronic defenses were the target of a cyberattack. Navy leaders tell CBN News they are not ruling out any possibilities.
"I've directed a more comprehensive review to make sure that we get at the contributing factors, the root causes of these incidents," Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said.
He added that, right now, the Navy has no indication that an intentional action was the cause. Nevertheless, he said, "We're looking at every possibility and leaving nothing to chance."
Meanwhile, senior editor for The Washington Free Beacon and author Bill Gertz says the possibility of the electronic defenses on the Aegis guided missile destroyer being hacked is not impossible.
"Navy warships like the USS McCain have incredible radar that reaches out 20 miles," said Gertz. "In this case something went wrong. The Chinese have stolen Aegis technology and they've incorporated that into their own Aegis style ships. So they could have an understanding of how the electronics on that ship work."
Ten sailors were left missing after the McCain collided with a commercial tanker near Singapore Monday. The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet says a number of bodies have been found on board the McCain, and one body was found by Malaysia.
The Navy says it's taking steps to prevent another accident.
"This trend demands more forceful action. As such, I've directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world," said Adm. Richardson.
Sources tell CBN News the pause is a one-day safety stand-down that will be done over the course of a couple weeks and at the discretion of individual commands.
"I will examine the process on which we train and certify forces that are forward deployed in Japan to make sure we are doing everything we can to make them ready for operations and war fighting," Adm. Richardson said.
Sunday's collision is the second in three months for the Navy's Pacific fleet.
Back in June, seven sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald died after the vessel hit a much larger cargo ship. The subsequent investigation led the Navy to relieve the Fitzgerald's commanding officer and several others of duty over the crew's actions.
Navy top brass tell CBN News if it turns out to be a training issue, they will get it fixed.
The problem could get worse. President Donald Trump plans to grow the Navy's fleet from 274 ships to 350.
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