Two US Navy COs face military criminal charges

The commanding officers of destroyers USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain face courts-martial and military criminal charges, including negligent homicide, the US Navy has said.

The two vessels were involved in separate collisions last year in the Pacific Ocean, both of them with fatal consequences, with 17 sailors dying.

The Navy had already dismissed several senior officers, including the commander of the Seventh Fleet.

The US Navy said that evidence supporting the charges against the commanders and other lower-ranking officers who served on the ships would be reviewed in investigative hearings. “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 offences,” the US Navy said.

The commanding officer of the USS John S. McCain, which collided with tanker Alnic on August 21st 2017 near Singapore, faces charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide. The commanding officer and three other officers on the USS Fitzgerald, which collided with Philippine container ship ACX Crystal on June 17th 2017, face charges including dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide.

Investigations into the incidents found that both accidents were the result of human error by sailors aboard the ships, but determined that no single person could be blamed for the accidents.