But within a few seconds the kernel reassigns a new block device. Plugging it in for the first time the block device might be /dev/sdc1, but when the journal I/O errors appear it disconnects
and reconnects and appears under a new block device name, for example /dev/sdd1. Then I remount under the new name, but soon I get the same errors again and it disconnects/reconnects
again and choses /dev/sde1. This keeps incrementing.
Any chance you're using the plug to power the drive? I had a very similar symptom but it was caused by the fan going out. The fan would drag down with resistance and slow down. That would drag down the power supply voltage and everything on the USB bus would reset. If you're powering the drive from the plug, you might be dragging down the power supply voltage.