Navy to file charges against ships' officers

  • Navy to file charges against ships' officers

Navy to file charges against ships' officers

The top Navy officer in charge of the sea service's Pacific combat fleet stepped down this week, ahead of a reportedly scathing review of Navy operations under his command, which included a slew of deadly accidents involving US warships.

The Navy's top surface warfare officer is expected to resign this week ahead of his previously planned retirement following a series of deadly collisions this past summer, Defense News reported Tuesday.

The Navy has already dismissed several senior officers, including the commander of the Seventh Fleet, as a result of the collisions. The destroyer USS Fitzgerald struck a commercial ship off the waters of Japan in June, killing seven US sailors. A Navy investigation found that Benson left the ship's bridge before the collision. Also, one charge of dereliction of duty was preferred and is pending referral to a forum for a Chief Petty Officer. Benson and three other officers are facing charges including dereliction of duty and negligent homicide.

The commander of the USS John S. McCain will face possible charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide. Also facing charges are two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, whose names were not disclosed.

The entire leadership of the US Navy's 7th Fleet and the larger Pacific Fleet have come under increased scrutiny following the incidents involving the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald.

The actions, including charges against several lower-ranking officers, were announced Tuesday by the Navy's chief spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

"In this job, I've spent three-and-a-half years traveling around the world spending time with our Surface Force and the men and women who bring life, energy and goal to our ships", he said. Seven sailors died, including Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista.

A Navy investigation completed in November 2017 determined that both accidents were "avoidable" and reflected "multiple failures by watch standers".