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The Navy is relieving the captain of the USS Fitzgerald of command following an investigation into a collision between the destroyer and commercial container ship that killed seven sailors in June.

“The collision was avoidable, and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement, noting that “flawed” teamwork among those assigned to keep watch contributed to the collision.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson will lose command of the warship, along with two other top leaders, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt and Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin. The Navy said the three had shown “inadequate leadership.”


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Yet, the Navy had praise for the crew of the USS Fitzgerald, as NPR reports:

“It was also evident from this review that the entire Fitzgerald crew demonstrated real toughness that night,” the Navy said in the report. “Following the collision these sailors responded with urgency, determination and creativity to save their ship.”

The victims of the collision were in a berthing compartment on the ship when the collision happened. Stars and Stripes reports the Navy has posthumously promoted the sailors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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