The new leader of the Navy’s troubled 7th Fleet has arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, after assuming command Wednesday, according to a Navy release.
Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer replaces fellow three-star Joseph Aucoin, who was relieved last week after a second fatal collision involving one of his ships claimed the lives of 10 sailors.
The destroyer McCain suffered a collision Aug. 21 with an oil tanker near Singapore. Less than two months before that, another commercial vessel struck the destroyer Fitzgerald off Japan, leading to the drownings of seven sailors.
In January, the 7th Fleet cruiser Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay. A few months later, the cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel.
Sawyer is a career submariner with experience commanding in the region, according to the Navy.
He was most recently deputy commander for Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, and headed up Submarine Force Pacific before that.
His afloat commands were the submarine La Jolla and Submarine Squadron 15.
The Naval Academy grad takes on the largest of the Navy’s forward-deployed fleets as the sea service begins a massive review of systemic failures that have led to the disasters.
The 7th Fleet waters include 50 to 70 ships and boats at any time, 140 aircraft and about 20,000 sailors in an area of operations that stretches from the International Date Line to the India-Pakistan border, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.