Sunday, October 26, 2014

Skipper of US warship in Subic mishap sacked

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 26): Skipper of US warship in Subic mishap sacked

The commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been relieved from his post one week after the warship hit two fishing boats while on its way out of Subic Bay.

Commander John Bradford, was relieved by Capt. Shan Byrne, commander, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 15, Oct. 24, due to loss of confidence in Bradford’s ability to command,” said a statement from Task Force 70, the battle force for US 7th Fleet.

According to the statement, “the decision to relieve Bradford came after a recent incident involving a 19-foot wooden vessel reportedly hit by Stethem while the ship was underway from Subic Bay, Philippines, Oct. 13. No one was injured. The investigation is still in progress.”

“Stethem is now commanded by Capt. Chris Sweeney, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron 15, who will serve as a temporary relief. Bradford has been reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 15,” it further stated.

Capt. Craig Thomas, Military Public Affairs Liaison, US embassy, had earlier confirmed the collision between Stethem and two fishing boats.

“A 19-foot wooden vessel crossed into the authorized outbound traffic sea lane and was hit by the USS Stethem (DDG 63) at approximately 8:36 p.m. Oct. 13 while traveling from Subic Bay, Philippines,” Thomas told the Manila Bulletin in an email.

“As the USS Stethem proceeded in the center of the traffic sea lane, the ship’s safety officer reported Stethem had collided with a small unlit boat,” he added.

The 19-foot wooden canoe was towing a smaller wooden craft, both were unlit, when hit by the warship.

Thomas stressed no one was hurt in the incident and all three personnel in the boat were recovered by USS Stethem sailors. “After a medical evaluation the ship’s duty corpsman determined they were uninjured,” he said.

Local authorities have identified the fishermen as Orlito T. Cocjin, 44; Julie Mendez, 43; and Pampilo B. Bacsal, 33, all from Barangay Barretto, Olongapo City.

The Stethem proceeded to its journey after turning over the three fishermen to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) authorities.

The ship pulled into Subic Bay Oct. 13 for refueling. It was not among the five US vessels that US Pacific Command (US PACOM) commander Admiral Samuel Locklear ordered to remain in port at Subic after investigation on the killing of a Filipino transgender allegedly by a US Marine.

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