Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Fitzgerald, McCain Commanders To Face Homicide Charges For Deadly Collisions
The former commanders of the two Navy destroyers involved in separate crashes last year that killed 17 sailors will face charges of negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday.
Cmdr. Bryce Benson, who commanded the USS Fitzgerald, and Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, former commander of the USS John S. McCain, are also being charged with dereliction of duty and “hazarding a vessel,” a Navy statement said.
Two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade from the Fitzgerald are facing similar charges. The Navy did not name those officers being charged.
In addition, one charge of dereliction of duty was preferred and is pending referral to a forum for a chief petty officer who was aboard the McCain.
The decision to seek charges was made by Adm. Frank Caldwell, who was designated as the Consolidated Disposition Authority last year by Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations.
“Additional administrative actions are being conducted for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers,” the Navy said.
Last year was a disastrous one for the Navy.
On Jan. 31, the USS Antietam ran aground near Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, and leaked more than 1,000 gallons of hydraulic fluid into Tokyo Bay. The ship’s commanding officer was relieved of command in March.
The USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat in May near the east coast of the Korean peninsula.
No one was injured in those incidents.
Then, on June 17, the Fitzgerald crashed into a civilian merchant ship about 60 miles southwest of Yokosuka, killing seven sailors. The ship’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief were relieved two months later.
On Aug. 21, the McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, leaving 10 sailors dead.
Tugboats from Singapore assist the Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) as it steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Madailein Abbott
In September, the Navy relieved Task Force 70 commander Rear Adm. Charles Williams and Destroyer Squadron 15 commander Capt. Jeffrey Bennett due to loss of confidence.
The Navy began a comprehensive review of its training, manning and procedures after the two deadly crashes. The review’s many recommendations included improving training on seamanship, navigational skills and equipment aboard ships, as well as reducing fatigue and stress among sailors and officers.
During a news conference in November, Richardson said the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions were “preventable.”
“The causes for the collisions included a failure to plan for safety, failure to adhere to sound navigational practices, failure to execute basic watch-standing principles, failure to properly use available navigation tools, failure to respond deliberately and effectively when in extremist of collision, a loss of situational awareness and high traffic density, failure to follow the international rules of the road and for John S. McCain, insufficient knowledge and proficiency of the ship’s steering system.”
The Navy’s investigative report said that many of the decisions leading to the Fitzgerald crash were the result of poor judgment and decision-making by the commanding officer.
“That said, no single person bears full responsibility for this incident. The crew was unprepared for the situation in which they found themselves through a lack of preparation, ineffective command and control, and deficiencies in training and preparations for navigation," the report said.
©2018 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Search efforts are underway to find a West Point cadet, who has gone missing along with his M4 carbine, the U.S. Military Academy announced on Sunday.
"There is no indication the Cadet poses a threat to the public, but he may be a danger to himself," a West Point news release says.
Academy officials do not believe the missing cadet has access to any magazines or ammunition, according to the news release, which did not identify the cadet, who is a member of the Class of 2021.
Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.
Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.
Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.
On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.
This rifle could be a dark horse candidate for the Army's next-generation squad weapon — and you can snag one next year
The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.