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Equifax Massive Data Breach

 

 

 

equifax.jpgA huge security breach at credit reporting company Equifax has exposed sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and addresses, of up to 143 million Americans.  Others in the U.K. and Canada were also impacted, but Equifax hasn’t said how many. The data breach is considered one of the worst ever because of its reach and by the sensitivity of information exposed to the public.

The hackers have accessed sensitive information — including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. customers were compromised, in addition to “personal identifying information” on about 182,000 U.S. customers.

Equifax (EFX) is one of three nationwide credit-reporting agencies that track and rate the financial history of consumers. The company gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders.   The data breach is among the worst ever because of the amount of people affected and the sensitive type of information exposed.  The company said it found no evidence that consumers in other countries were affected beyond the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Equifax said the breach happened between mid-May and July 2017.  They discovered the hack on July 29th and promptly engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm which has been conducting a comprehensive forensic review to determine the scope of the intrusion, including the specific data impacted. Equifax also reported the criminal access to law enforcement and continues to work with authorities.

They reported the breach to the public on September 7th.  They said hackers exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files and they are investigating the breach.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also launched a formal investigation into the hack.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into the breach as well.

Equifax said it will send notices in the mail to people whose credit card numbers or dispute records were breached.   They have also established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com  to help consumers find out if they have been impacted.  To find out if you are potentially impacted, you can go the website-click on “Potential Impact,” and enter your last name and last 6 digits of your Social Security number.

The company is also offering a program called TrustedID Premier. It says that includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year.  You must complete the enrollment process by November 21, 2017.  Consumers should be aware that buried in the terms of service of this program, is language that bars those that enroll in the Equifax checker program from participating in any class action lawsuits that may arise from the incident.

The best defense against identity theft and credit fraud is to monitor your credit report frequently to check for any suspicious activity, such as accounts you didn’t open, address changes, or anything else that you don’t recognize.

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A homemade bomb exploded in a rush-hour subway car injuring 29 people in London on Friday.  Most of those injured suffered flash burns while others were hurt when the blast triggered a stampede.  Police and ambulances were on the scene within minutes and emergency services said none of the injuries were serious or life-threatening.  Britain raised its terrorism threat level to critical — meaning another attack is expected shortly.   The British government is investigating the explosion as a terrorist incident and a manhunt for the perpetrators ensued in what police said was the fourth terrorist attack in the British capital this year.

The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. as the train was at Parsons Green station in the southwest of the city.  The bomb was hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag but it only partially exploded, sparing the city much worse carnage.  Prime Minister Theresa May said the device “was intended to cause significant harm.”  Witnesses describe a loud bang and a massive flash of flames that went up the side of the train, followed by a chemical smell.  As the flames shot up the side of the train chaos ensued as hundreds of people poured from the train.   Others describe a scene of “every man for himself” as people pushed to get out the doors.  Photos taken inside the train showed a white plastic bucket inside a foil-lined shopping bag, with flames and what appeared to be wires emerging from the top.

Trains were suspended along a stretch of the Underground’s District Line, and several homes were evacuated as police set up a 150 foot area around the scene while they secured the device and launched a search for those who planted it.  Hundreds of police investigators, along with agents of MI5 were pouring over surveillance camera footage, carrying out forensic work and interviewing witnesses.

The next day, two suspects were detained over the bombing, an 18-year-old refugee from Iraq and a 21-year old from Syria.  Police searched three addresses, including the house of Penelope and Ronald Jones, of Sunbury.  The couple has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II for fostering more than 200 children, including refugees from Middle Eastern conflicts.  Both of the suspects were fostered by the British couple.

The 18-year-old was detained Saturday at the southeast England port of Dover, a departure point for ferries to France. Later the same day, the 21-year-old man, identified as Yahyah Farroukh, was detained as he left his work shift at a restaurant in Hounslow, West London.  Surveillance footage shows a man near the Sunbury address Friday morning carrying a bag from Lidl supermarket. Images posted on social media following the attack appeared to show wires protruding from a flaming bucket contained in a Lidl bag on the floor of the train carriage.

The threat level was lowered to severe by Sunday and police said the investigation was making rapid progress.  Both men are being held under the Terrorism Act 2000 but neither has been charged.  British authorities say they have foiled 6 terror plots since the since the van and knife attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament in March, which killed five people. Police and MI5 say that at any given time they are running about 500 counter terrorism investigations involving 3,000 individuals.

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Hurricane Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane.  It caused at 84 deaths, including 45 in the Caribbean and 39 in the United States.  For over a week, Irma’s intensity fluctuated between a Category 5 and 2 hurricanes.  It was also the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005.

All 1,800 residents of Barbuda have been evacuated to its sister island of Antigua after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on September 6 made Barbuda “uninhabitable”  for the first time in 300 years.  Downed phone lines ceased all communication with nearby islands-leaving the exact state of the island unclear for hours.  Irma damaged or destroyed 95% of the structures on Barbuda with preliminary damage assessments of at least $150 million.  Antigua sustained minimal damage with leveled roofs and fences, downed power poles lines, and uprooted trees. Some street flooding also took place in low-lying areas.

On September 6, Irma’s center crossed the island of Saint Martin with peak intensity, sweeping away entire structures, submerging roads and cars, triggering an island-wide blackout and killing 3 people.  The majority of the island’s population was left stranded and without water, electricity or phone service.  Premier William Marlin estimates between $1.2 – 1.5 billion in damage from Irma’s destruction.

Damage in the British Virgin Islands included buildings and roads destroyed on the island of Tortola, which bore the brunt of the hurricane’s core.  Satellite images revealed many residential zones had been left in ruins on the island of Cane Garden Bay.  Irma’s most severe damage were on the islands Saint Thomas and Saint John with 12 inches of rain fall and both island’s suffering widespread structural damage.  Both islands had widespread power outages and three deaths were attributed to Irma.

Hurricane Irma reached the Turks and Caicos Islands on the evening of September 7th. While the eye passed just south of the main islands, crossing over South Caicos and the Ambergris Cays, the most powerful winds on the northern side of the eye swept all of the islands for more than two hours. Communications infrastructure was destroyed with extensive residential damage and some neighborhoods reported to be entirely gone.  Minister of Infrastructure Goldray Ewing estimated that damage exceeding $500 million.

The eye of the storm passed over Duncan Town, in the Bahamas on September 8th and “almost directly over” Inagua and South Acklins.  Damage was largely confined to the southern islands with downed power lines, lost communications, flooding and 70% of homes sustaining roof damage.  Irma hit Cuba overnight September 8th as a Category 5 but weakened to a Category 3 hurricane on September 9th causing significant damage.  Many one homes and roads were completely flooded with waves rolling through some towns.  Irma is estimated to have caused at least $2.2 billion in damage and at least 10 deaths across the country.

Irma hit the Florida Keys on September 10th with reports at least 90% of structures in the Florida Keys suffering damage and a quarter of them were destroyed completely.  Irma hit the Keys as a Category 4 storm causing major damage to nearly everything in its path, knocking out power, water, sanitation and communications. The hurricane was downgraded to Category 1, prior to reaching Tampa but still left nearly 4.5 million Florida residents without power for days.   Damage along the length of the Keys, around Naples and Fort Myers area could reach as much as $300 billion, according to insurance analysts.

 

 

 

 

 

Prosecutors have asked the FBI to assist in an investigation into the rough arrest of a Utah nurse after video of her being dragged screaming from a hospital drew widespread condemnation.  Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is overseeing a criminal investigation into officers involved in the handcuffing of nurse Alex Wubbels. He is asking for FBI help in part because his office can’t prosecute possible civil rights violations like wrongful arrest.

The incident happened on July 26 but bodycam footage that was released last week sparked national outcry.  That night, a man named William Gray was taken to the hospital after suffering severe injuries from a car crash.  Gray, a reserve police officer with the police department in Rigby, Idaho-who works as a truck driver, had been injured after being in the fiery head on car crash with a truck that was fleeing from Utah State Highway Patrol.

In the video, Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne is seen squaring off against Utah nurse Alex Wubbels, the charge nurse working the night shift on the burn unit at Utah University Hospital.   Wubbels was following hospital protocol and the law when she calmly refused to allow a blood draw on an unconscious patient without consent or a warrant.   She presented the officers with a printout of hospital policy on drawing blood and said their request did not meet the criteria.

Hospital policy specified police needed either a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient needed to be under arrest, before obtaining a blood sample.  “I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do. That’s all,” Wubbels tells the officers, according to the body camera video.  She put her supervisor on speakerphone who told Payne “You’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.” “No, we’re done,” Payne said. “We’re done. You’re under arrest.”

Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne insisted on drawing the blood, maintaining in his report that he wanted the sample to protect the man rather than prosecute him. He was supported by his supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, who said the nurse could be arrested if she didn’t agree.  The dispute ended with Payne handcuffing Wubbels and dragging her outside while she screamed that she’d done nothing wrong. She was detained for 20 minutes and later released without charge.

Payne, who has worked for the department for over 20 years, and a second unidentified officer were put on full paid administrative leave by Salt Lake City police after the video emerged.  Lt. James Tracy’s actions are also under review.  Payne has also been fired from his part-time job as a paramedic following comments he made on the video about taking transient patients to the hospital as retaliation.

The Rigby Police Department said they hope the incident will be investigated thoroughly and “appropriate action” will be taken.  “The Rigby Police Department would like to thank the nurse involved and hospital staff for standing firm and protecting Officer Gray’s rights as a patient and victim,” “Protecting the rights of others is truly a heroic act.”  “It is important to remember that Officer Gray is the victim in this horrible event, and that at no time was he under any suspicion of wrongdoing,” the statement said, adding that Gray “continues to heal.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help William Gray and his wife with expenses while he recovers at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.  https://www.gofundme.com/BillGray

 

 

Troy Gentry, of country duo Montgomery Gentry, has died at the age of 50, following a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey.  The crash took place around 1pm on Friday September 8th at Flying W Airport where bandmate Eddie Montgomery waited.  Pilot James Evan Robinson, 30, died on the scene and Troy Gentry was taken to nearby Virtua Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.  Montgomery Gentry was scheduled to perform that night at the Flying W Airport & Resort in Medford but the show was immediately cancelled.

Medford police said first responders received news of a helicopter in distress that was returning to the Flying W Airport.  A police statement said “Initial reports were the helicopter was going to attempt to crash land.” “Emergency crews arrived at the airport and shortly thereafter, the helicopter suddenly crashed in a field just south of the airport runway.”  The Federal Aviation Administration has said that the Schweizer 269 helicopter crashed into a wooded area off the Runway 1 at the airport.

Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, described the flight as a “spur of the moment” helicopter ride.  Rayner explained “Not long after takeoff, the pilot announced over the airport frequency – which was being monitored by a number of people – that he was having difficulty controlling engine RPM.”  “A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one.  The helicopter landed short of the runway in low brush, it was substantially damaged and the occupants were fatally injured.”

Friends long before they made it big, the Kentucky-based duo formed in the late ’90s.  They produced a number of country music hits, including “My Town,” “Headlights” and “Hillbilly Shoes.”  They were named duo of the year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association in 2000, and were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009.

The duo’s recent years were marked with loss and struggle. In 2014, Gentry grieved the death of his brother, Keith.  In 2015, Hunter Montgomery, the 19-year-old son of Eddie Montgomery died from an accidental overdose.  Gentry was also by Montgomery’s side as he battled prostate cancer in 2010. A few years later Troy Gentry’s wife, Angie McClure Gentry, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was eventually declared cancer-free in 2015.  Troy Gentry also lost his father Lloyd Gentry on August 13 of this year.  Troy Gentry leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

 

 

 

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Hurricane Irma made its first landfall in the northeast Caribbean early Wednesday after growing into one of the most powerful storms ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean.  The storm is one of three (Irma, Jose and Katia) hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have been in the Atlantic.  Jose, in the open Atlantic far to the southeast of Irma, became a hurricane. Katia, in the Gulf of Mexico, also became a hurricane.

Irma has maintained intensity above 180 mph longer than any storm in Atlantic basin history.  Late Wednesday night, Irma’s core was spinning about 85 miles northwest of San Juan, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.  In the US Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp ordered a 36-hour curfew.

Irma’s core slammed the tiny island of Barbuda before moving over St. Martin and Anguilla and parts of the British Virgin Islands. Its maximum sustained winds of 185 mph were well above the 157 mph threshold of a Category 5 storm.  Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said that the telecommunications system in Barbuda, where 1,800 people live, was wiped out and cell towers were knocked over.  Both of the island’s hotels were demolished, he added.  There is also no way to land airplanes on the islands, Browne said from Antigua, whose 80,000 people comprise most of the two-island nation’s population.

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said Irma destroyed four of the most solid government buildings on the French-administered portion of nearby St. Martin, an island of about 75,000 people.  Puerto Rico and Storm surge is a concern for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Central Bahamas (up to 20 feet), as is heavy rain (up to 20 inches in the Virgin Islands, and up to 20 in parts of Puerto Rico).

Computer models show that on Thursday the storm will move very near or over the Turks and Caicos, with catastrophic damage likely. The storm will also pass just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, bringing hurricane force winds to northern sections of the island, with flooding and mudslides probable.

In the Bahamas, emergency evacuations have been ordered for six southern islands — Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.  “This is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.

It’s too early to tell whether it will make landfall on the US mainland but models show it could hit near  Florida’s east coast by late Sunday, and forecasters warn the core still could hit the Florida peninsula.

Emergency management officials are requiring visitors to the Florida Keys to begin evacuations by sunrise Wednesday due to incoming Hurricane Irma; resident evacuations begin 7 p.m. Wednesday.  Floridians should heed any evacuation order, Gov. Rick Scott said. “A storm surge could cover your house. We can rebuild homes — we cannot rebuild your family,” he said.

 

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North Korea carried out a missile test directly over Japan that prompted the government in Tokyo to warn residents in its path to take cover. After a flight of nearly 1, 700 miles, the missile flew over the northern island of Hokkaido, broke into three pieces and landed in the sea.  Public television programs in Japan were interrupted announcing the missile’s flight over the country and warned citizens to take cover in a sturdy building or basement.

North Korea has fired projectiles over Japanese territory twice before.  Once in 1998,  prompting a minor diplomatic crisis in Asia, and once again at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. In both those cases, the North said the rockets were carrying satellites into orbit but they made no such claim in this case.

The missile was launched from a site near Pyongyang’s international airport, not the usual launch site in the northeast, according to the South Korean military. They are still trying to determine what type of missile was launched but it’s believed to be a Hwasong-12, a newly developed intermediate range weapon.  North Korea’s usual launch sites are in remote areas, where there would be little concern about civilian casualties.  A strike near Pyongyang would risk many civilian deaths, suggesting that the real goal was to strike at the regime.

The commander of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Air Defense Command said that the armed forces did not try to shoot down the missile from North Korea because they did not detect a threat to Japanese territory.  They warned citizens in its path to take cover in case any parts fell on Japan.  This latest launch appears to be the first of a missile powerful enough to potentially carry a nuclear warhead.

North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Han Tae-song, defended his country’s actions saying they were a response to military drills carried out by the US and its allies in the region.  “Now that the US has openly declared its hostile intention towards North Korea by raising joint aggressive military exercises despite repeated warnings… my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its rights to self-defence.”

US and Japanese forces have just finished a joint drill in Hokkaido while another annual exercise involving tens of thousands of South Korean and US military personnel is still under way in South Korea.  China warned that tensions on the Korean peninsula had reached a “tipping point” but said the US and South Korea were partly to blame. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying criticised the two countries for their repeated military drills, which North Korea perceives as practice for an invasion.

North Korea has been working on its missile program for decades, with weapons based on the Soviet-developed Scud.   While it has conducted short and medium-range tests on many occasions,  the pace of testing has increased.  Experts speculate that North Korea has made significant advances towards its goal of building a reliable long-range nuclear-capable weapon.  Though, no one knows how close North Korea is to miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to put on a missile.

Brazil has lifted restrictions on mining for gold in a 17,800-square mile area in the country’s north known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates, thought to contain rich veins of gold, iron, manganese and other minerals.  President Michel Temer signed a decree abolishing protection of the area in order to help his country’s struggling economy.

The government, which has previously said that the region is rich in minerals, gold and iron, framed the decision as an effort to bring new investment and jobs to a country that recently emerged from the longest recession in its history.  The 17,800 square mile area that is now open for mining is twice the size of New Jersey.

Brazil announced a plan in July to revitalize its mining sector, and increase its share of the economy from 4% to 6% by opening 10% of all protected rainforest areas to mining. The industry employs 200,000 people in a country where a record 14 million are out of work.  They have said that mineral extraction would only be allowed in areas where there are no conservation controls or indigenous lands.

The move comes amid signs that deforestation in the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and home to one-in-ten of Earth’s species, has accelerated.  World Wildlife Fund Brazil warned that deforestation would result, along with a loss of biodiversity and water resources. It said that even areas that remain under formal protection are at risk.

Deforestation and mining are destroying the rainforest at a stunning rate. The Rainforest Foundation estimates that about 1 acre is wiped out every second, and an estimated 20% of the rainforest has been destroyed over the past 40 years.  The Amazon covers 1.2 billion acres and produces 20% of the world’s oxygen.

A major concern arising from deforestation in Brazil is the global effect it produces on climatic change. The rainforests are of vital importance in the carbon dioxide exchange process, and are second only to oceans as the most important sink on the planet to absorb increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from industry.

Another concern is that over a million species of plants and animals are known to live in the Amazon.  There are also millions of species of plants and animals that are unclassified or unknown.  The rapid process of deforestation of the habitats of the millions of animals and plants that live in the rainforests threatens these species that may face extinction. The deforestation has the effect of reducing a gene pool amongst species meaning that there is less genetic variation that is needed to adapt to climate change in the future.

The Brazilian Amazon is known to possess a vast resource for the treatments of medicines and scientific research conducted to find a cure for major global killers such as AIDS, cancer, and other terminal diseases.

Tens of thousands of residents began evacuating coastal communities in Texas as forecasters predicted Hurricane Harvey could make landfall late Friday as a major category-three storm, delivering a life-threatening 35-40 inches of rain to some parts of the Gulf Coast.  Several counties along the Gulf coast, including Nueces county, Calhoun county and Brazoria county, have ordered mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has activated about 700 members of the state National Guard and put military helicopters on standby in Austin and San Antonio in preparation for search and rescues and emergency evacuations.  In the Gulf of Mexico, oil and natural gas operators had begun evacuating workers from offshore platforms.

Harvey intensified on Thursday from a tropical depression into a category 1 hurricane. Early on Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported it had become a category 2. Fuelled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, it was projected to become a major category 3 hurricane.  Typical category 3 storms damage small homes, topple large trees and destroy mobile homes. The wall of water called a storm surge poses the greatest risk.

Hurricane trackers expect the storm’s eye to come ashore near the city of Corpus Christi, where Mayor Joe McComb called for a voluntary evacuation.  Forecasters predict that if Harvey stalls over Texas it could deliver catastrophic flooding before drifting back over the Gulf of Mexico towards Louisiana.

The National Hurricane Center said it expected flash flooding along the middle and upper Texas coast. The storm is expected to stall and unload torrents of rain for four to six straight days. In just a few days, the storm may dispense the amount of rain that normally falls over an entire year, shattering records. The storm is also predicted to generate a devastating storm surge — raising the water as much as 13 feet above normally dry land at the coast.

The National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi said that due to the combination of flooding from storm surge and rainfall, “locations may be uninhabitable for an extended period.” It warned of “structural damage to buildings, with many washing away” and that “streets and parking lots become rivers of raging water with underpasses submerged.”

Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane at 11 p.m. Friday between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas. With 130 mph winds, the storm became the first major hurricane, rated Category 3 or higher to strike U.S. soil in 12 years.  In 2008, Hurricane Ike hit near Galveston, Texas as a Category 2 storm that killed 113 in the US and caused $37.5 billion in damages.

The US Navy released the names and hometowns of the 10 sailors who went missing after the USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with a merchant ship near Singapore, east of the Malacca Strait on Monday.  Initial reports indicated that the destroyer sustained damage to her port side aft, the left rear of the ship, in the collision that left five injured and 10 sailors missing. Authorities said four of those injured were medically evacuated by a Singapore navy helicopter with non-life threatening injuries and the fifth injured sailor stayed on board with minor injuries.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was en route to a routine port visit in Singapore.   The ship headed to port under its own power after the collision.  The other ship, the Alnic MC, is a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000 and is about three times the size of the McCain.    The USS McCain is based at the fleet’s homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. It was commissioned in 1994 and has a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 enlisted sailors, according to the Navy’s website.

The US Navy confirmed they recovered the remains of two sailors — Kenneth Smith, 22, and Dustin Doyon, 26 but suspended the search for the sailors who are still missing after “more than 80 hours of multinational search efforts,” the statement said.

Those lost in the collision have been identified as Kenneth Smith, 22 of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Dustin Doyon, 26, of Suffield, Connecticut; Kevin Bushell, 26, of Gaithersburg, Maryland; Jacob Drake, 21, of Cable, Ohio; Timothy Eckels Jr., 23, of Manchester, Maryland; Charles Findley, 31 of Amazonia, Missouri; John “CJ” Hoagland III, 20 of Killeen, Texas; Corey Ingram, 28 of Poughkeepsie, New York; Abraham Lopez, 39, of El Paso, Texas and Logan Palmer, 23, of Decatur, Illinois.

The incident is the second serious collision for a Navy vessel in two months and fourth since January. The USS Fitzgerald collided with a freighter off the coast of Japan on June 17, leaving seven sailors dead.  The Navy last week relieved the Fitzgerald’s skipper and two top sailors of their command for losing “situational awareness” in the hours leading up to the collision. About a dozen sailors in all are facing some punishment, including all of the destroyer’s watch, the Navy said.

The Navy is preparing to conduct an extremely rare suspension of ship operations worldwide for a day or two in order to review safety and operational procedures. Navy officials are also investigating the role that training, manning and crew communications may have played in the accidents.  Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, the head of the Seventh Fleet, the Navy’s largest overseas, was removed Wednesday in connection with the four accidents since January, according to a statement by the Navy.

Admiral Aucoin had been expected to retire in the coming weeks, but his superiors pushed up his departure date after losing confidence in his leadership.  Admiral Aucoin is being replaced by Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, “who has already been nominated and confirmed for the position and promotion to vice admiral,” the Navy statement said.