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Navy fires 2 officers over 'preventable' USS McCain collision that killed a Carroll County sailor

Friends and family mourn during the burial service at Arlington National Cemetery for Timothy T. Eckels Jr, a U.S. Navy soldier who was killed in the crash of the USS McCain. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video)

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday fired the USS John S. McCain's top two officers, calling the warship's deadly August collision with an oil tanker "preventable."

The crash killed a Carroll County sailor. Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Eckels Jr., 23, was among 10 Navy sailors who died. Eckels was laid to rest in Arlington on Tuesday.

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Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, the McCain's commander, and Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez, its executive officer, were relieved of their duties and reassigned, Navy officials announced in a statement. Both were fired due to a lack of confidence, officials said.

The McCain, a guided missile destroyer, collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC on Aug. 21 near Singapore. Ten American Sailors died and five others were injured.

"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," officials said in the Navy's announcement.

The incident is among a series mishaps, to include three collisions and a grounding, that have exposed the Navy's struggle to address widespread leadership shortcomings and its erosion of training standards. Two months prior, the USS Fitzgerald, also a guided-missile destroyer, collided with a container ship in Tokyo Bay. That accident left seven sailors dead.

In September, Navy leaders acknowledged several unsettling truths about the service's dangerous deployment pace and the role physical exhaustion - some sailors routinely endure 100-hour workweeks, they said - may have played in the two deadly collisions.

The McCain, a guided missile destroyer, collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC on Aug. 21 near Singapore. Ten American Sailors died and five others were injured.

"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," officials said in the Navy's announcement.

The incident is among a series mishaps, to include three collisions and a grounding, that have exposed the Navy's struggle to address widespread leadership shortcomings and its erosion of training standards. Two months prior, the USS Fitzgerald, also a guided-missile destroyer, collided with a container ship in Tokyo Bay. That accident left seven sailors dead.

In September, Navy leaders acknowledged several unsettling truths about the service's dangerous deployment pace and the role physical exhaustion - some sailors routinely endure 100-hour workweeks, they said - may have played in the two deadly collisions.

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