Two former Navy commanders face homicide charges for deadly collisions

Two former Navy commanders face homicide charges for deadly collisions
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen with a hole on its portside after a collision with an oil tanker in Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017. The Navy filed homicide charges against the commanding officers of two Navy guided-missile destroyers that were involved in separate collisions over the summer, killing 17 sailors. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Navy guided-missile destroyers were involved in separate collisions over the summer, killing 17 sailors. Tuesday, the Navy filed homicide charges against the commanding officers of those vessels, The Hill reported.

The backstory

The USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship southwest of Japan in June, and seven sailors died.

The USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore, and 10 sailors died.

Both crashes were determined to be preventable by the Navy.

The charges

Commander Bryce Benson and two unnamed lieutenants and an unnamed lieutenant junior grade from the USS Fitzgerald were charged with dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide.

Commander Alfredo Sanchez of the USS McCain was charged with dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide, and an unnamed chief petty officer from the McCain was charged with dereliction of duty.

Benson and Sanchez have been relieved from duty in the wake of the incidents. The charges will be presented at what’s known in the military justice system as an Article 32 hearing, which will decide whether the officers will face courts-martial, The Hill reported.

“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,” said Capt. Greg Hicks, a Navy spokesman, according to The Hill. “All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”