Criminal charges filed by Navy against commanders of collision ships


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The Navy today announced that it is filing criminal charges against the commanding officers of the two ships that were involved in collisions earlier this year.

The commanders of the two guided-missile destroyers that were involved in fatal collisions with merchant ships in 2017 will face military criminal charges that include charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide, after the two incidents that resulted in the death of 17 sailors total, USNI News has learned.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, former commander of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), along with three Fitzgerald junior officers, face a mix charges that include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide related to the June 18 collision between the ship and ACX Crystal that resulted in the death of seven sailors, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy provided to USNI News.

Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, former commander of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), faces similar dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide charges for the Aug. 21 collision between the guided-missile destroyer and a chemical tanker off the coast of Singapore that resulted in the death of 10 sailors.

I don’t know whether the military trials will be public (they should be), but if so they will reveal some very interesting details about what was happening on these Navy ships that allowed these collisions to occur.

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3 comments

  • John

    Wow, it’s assumed they’d be relieved of duty, probably forced to retire. But this seems to point at other evidence that might exist.

  • Garry

    from my background knowledge and from what I’ve read of the investigation reports, I think it’s justified to press criminal charges, and it would send a good signal to other captains. Too many military officers inherit a dysfunctional mess and don’t do much about it, because they’re afraid to make waves and don’t want to hurt their careers; they just drift along, hoping nobody will notice the problems during their tours.

    At the same time, I hope that the Navy would not press criminal charges unless they have solid evidence, but I also know that the Navy has a long history of scapegoating. After all, the Navy mascot is a goat.

    Here are two of the most outrageous examples that come to mind

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_B._McVay_III

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Iowa_turret_explosion

    I know Wikipedia is not the most reliable, but the info in these articles matches info I had read in more relaible sources.

  • ken anthony

    It doesn’t need to be public because other officers will get the message. The problem is too many idiots would weigh in if it were public (such a sad state America has become.)

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