Several officers and senior non-commissioned officers from the destroyers Fitzgerald (pictured) and McCain are facing charges, for their roles in the ships’ separate collisions with civilian vessels.
Stars and Stripes reported that both skippers – Cmdrs. Alfredo Sanchez of McCain and Bryce Benson of Fitzgerald, are being charged. Additionally, two lieutenants and a lieutenant junior grade from Fitzgerald and a chief petty officer from McCain are facing charges.
Adm. Frank Caldwell, who was designated as the convening authority by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson last year, reached the decision to move forward with criminal action. The charges include homicide, dereliction of duty, and hazarding a vessel. The next step in the process entails a hearing under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice – the military’s equivalent of a civilian grand jury hearing.
Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship in waters about 80 miles southwest of Tokyo on June 17, killing seven sailors. McCain collided with a Liberian-flagged merchant ship on Aug. 21 in the Strait of Malacca, killing 10 sailors. An internal Navy investigation determined that both incidents were avoidable.