Head of Pacific Fleet to Retire in Wake of Collisions

Adm. Swift at a maritime security conference earlier this year (file image courtesy USN)

By The Maritime Executive 09-26-2017 01:52:37

Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, has announced that he has requested retirement, citing the Pentagon's decision not to nominate him as the next commander of Pacific Command (PACOM). Adm. Swift was seen as a front-runner to take the place of outgoing PACOM commander Adm. Harry Harris, who is nearing the end of his three-year term as the top U.S. military officer in the Pacific region. 

"In keeping with tradition and in loyalty to the Navy, I have submitted my request to retire. I do so with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January," he continued. "I have not requested a retirement date as there is much work to be done here in the Pacific area of responsibility."

Swift is the highest-ranking officer to announce his departure from the Navy in the wake of two deadly collisions involving the Pacific Fleet warships USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain earlier in the year, but he did not mention the accidents in his statement. Last month, Swift dismissed 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin over the collisions, citing a lack of confidence in Aucoin's ability to command. Aucoin was due to retire within weeks. Aucoin's successor, Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, immediately removed Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, the unit and task force to which the two destroyers were assigned.

Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces for Pacific Fleet, has also reportedly requested retirement in the wake of the collisions. If Rowden and Swift retire, it would replace most of the senior chain of command above the McCain and Fitzgerald, from the bridge up to Pacifc Fleet itself.