Navy relieves two officers in charge during ship collision

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

The U.S. Navy has removed two officers who were in charge on the U.S.S. John S. McCain when it collided with a merchant ship in August.

The McCain’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, were “relieved due to a loss of confidence,” according to statement from the US 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, the ship’s home port. “While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program,” the statement said.

Both officers were assigned to other duties in Japan.

The story also quotes the Navy Secretary saying that this is part of a more comprehensive investigation, resulting from the spat of collisions and other ship disasters in recent months.


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Garry

    The only surprise is how long it took. As I’ve written before, the Navy always finds a scapegoat, so these reassignments are not necessarily an indicator that these officers were the main culprits.

    I wonder what else they are doing to identify the scope of the problem and design remedies.

  • LocalFluff

    Are the two Sanchez commodores married?
    Not a good idea to mix professional war fighting with family.

  • Commodude

    Completely unrelated.

    Pics of the commanders in the above article.

    I’m honestly surprised it took the Navy this long to relieve those in immediate command.

  • Kirk

    LocalFluff, that’s Commander (rank O-5, which I though was more properly abbreviated CDR than Cmdr., but perhaps I am out of date), not Commodore (no longer a rank in the USN, but an honorary title for senior Captains in charge ship squadrons).

    Both the CO and XO are from Puerto Rico, but I’ve not found any indication that they are related. Sanchez is the fifth most common name in Spain and the eighth most common name among US Hispanics, so it’s most likely a coincidence.

    Interestingly, the XO, a mustang, is roughly five years older than his CO. The CO, CDR Alfredo J. Sanchez, got his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico in 1997, and was commissioned via OCS the following year. The XO, CDR Jessie L. Sanchez, did his last year of high school in Tennessee, graduating in 1989 and enlisting in the Navy later that year. He became a Fire Control Technician and received his commission via the Limited Duty Officer Program (Surface Ordnance) in 2001.

    Their entries are still up on the USS McCain biography pages:

  • Garry

    Sometime in the mid 80’s, the Navy changed the name of an O-7 from “Commodore” to “Rear Admiral, Lower Half” and the name of an O-8 from “Rear Admiral” (O-8) to “Rear Admiral Upper Half.”

    Apparently, some of the Navy O=7’s were envious that their equivalents in the other services (Brigadier Generals) were referred to as “General,” but they were not referred to as “Admiral.”

    Or maybe that was the cover story, and they were tired of being confused with members of Lionel Ritchie’s band.

    I can’t imagine how many man-hours and millions of dollars went into making that very trivial change.

  • wayne

    so, are they married or what? (ha)
    good stuff.

    Gilligan’s Island original intro

  • Commodude


    It was probably far, far cheaper than Gen. Shinseki’s orders changing the entire US Army over to jaunty chapeax instead of utilitarian BDU caps, and had less of an impact. (positive or negative. There was almost no one in the US Army who was happy with that change other than the social engineers pushing it)

  • Garry

    I always liked the expression “rock painting” to describe such actions in the military.

    The command post has rocks on display. A new commander comes in, and decides that the quickest way to assert his independence of mind is to have the rocks painted a new color. Instead of marksmanship training, or maintenance, or any of thousands of other useful things the troops could be doing, they’re painting the rocks a different color. It became shorthand for any petty action that wastes valuable resources (particularly time).

    I don’t miss rock painters at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *