By Kari Huus, msnbc.com
The Navy has fired the commander of the Navy assault ship Essex which collided with a Navy oil supply ship at sea last month, the Navy Times reported Tuesday.
Capt. Chuck Litchfield was relieved of his duties due to a “loss of confidence in his ability to command,” over the May 16 collision, said the Times, citing Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Tamsen Reese.
The USS Essex, a big-deck amphibious assault ship ran into the USNS Yukon, a replenishment oiler during the approach for a routine refueling, about 120 miles off the coast of southern California on May 16, sending both ships to port for emergency repairs, the Navy News Service reported at the time of the collision. It said there were no injuries or fuel spills caused by the accident.
Capt. Chuck Litchfield has been fired as commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship Essex.
An ongoing investigation has indicated “a number of factors that contributed to the collision,” according to Reese. The problem began with the partial loss of rudder control and was followed by “a breakdown in command and control, in bridge resource management and in communication between the two ships,” she told the Times.
The Essex was returning to San Diego after completing 12 years as the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in Sasebo, Japan.
Litchfield has been temporarily reassigned to the Naval Air Force Pacific staff in Coronado, the Navy Times reported.