Navy Announces Accountability Actions on Destroyer Collisions
WASHINGTON — The officers who commanded the guided-missile destroyers involved in separate fatal collisions with merchant vessels last summer face court martial proceedings and charges that include negligent homicide, according to a Navy statement.
Seven Sailors died when USS Fitzgerald collided with MV ACX Crystal off Japan on June 17, 10 more died when USS John S. McCain collided with MV Alnic MC off Singapore on Aug. 21. Five crew members in all face charges, four from Fitzgerald and one from John S. McCain.
The Navy issued a statement Jan. 16 by Capt. Greg Hicks, chief of information (acting), on the Uniform Code of Military Justice charges: “On 30 October 2017, Admiral William Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, designated Admiral Frank Caldwell as the Consolidated Disposition Authority to review the accountability actions taken to date in relation to USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) collisions and to take additional administrative or disciplinary actions as appropriate.
After careful deliberation, today Admiral Frank Caldwell announced that Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) charges are being preferred against individual service members in relation to the collisions.
USS Fitzgerald: Courts-martial proceedings/Article 32 hearings are being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against Fitzgerald members. The members' ranks include one Commander (the Commanding Officer), two Lieutenants, and one Lieutenant Junior Grade. The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide.
USS John S. McCain: Additionally, for John S. McCain, one court- martial proceeding/Article 32 hearing is being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against one Commander (the Commanding Officer). The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Also, one charge of dereliction of duty was preferred and is pending referral to a forum for a Chief Petty Officer.
The announcement of an Article 32 hearing and referral to a court-martial is not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Additional administrative actions are being conducted for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers.
Information regarding further actions, if warranted, will be discussed at the appropriate time.”