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USN officers face negligent homicide, other charges in ship collisions

17 January 2018

US Navy (USN) officers are facing negligent homicide and other Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) charges stemming from the 2017 collisions involving guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain in the Western Pacific.

Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant cargo ship off the Japanese coast on 17 June. The USN later confirmed that seven missing sailors were found dead in flooded berthing compartments inside the destroyer.

McCain collided with an oil tanker near the eastern entrance of the Strait of Malacca on 20 August, resulting in the deaths of 10 sailors.

Article 32 courts-martial proceedings are being convened, the USN said in a statement, to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges – dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide – against Commander Bryce Benson, the former Fitzgerald commanding officer, as well the ship’s two lieutenants, and one lieutenant junior grade.

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