The U.S. Navy said senior officers of two warships involved in deadly collisions in the Pacific in 2017 that left a total of 17 sailors dead, will face criminal charges including negligent homicide.
“After careful deliberation … charges are being preferred against individual service members in relation to the collisions,” spokesman Greg Hicks said in a statement.
The officers of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S McCain will face charges including hazarding a vessel, dereliction of duty and negligent homicide.
Their ranks include commander, lieutenant and junior lieutenant.
The collisions were among a series involving the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in the Pacific Ocean in 2017.
In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippines cargo ship off Japan, resulting in the deaths of seven US sailors.
The Philippines ship’s bow “directly struck” the cabin of the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, who was found “hanging from the side of the ship” when he was rescued by sailors, the U.S. Navy said afterwards.
The commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the destroyer were relieved of their duties days after the incident, which the U.S. Navy said was “avoidable.”
Two months later, the USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker off Singapore, killing 10 sailors.
Following the incident, the Navy dismissed Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin as commander of the Seventh Fleet, citing a loss of confidence in his ability to lead.
In November, a U.S. destroyer collided with a Japanese tug boat during a towing exercise, though no lives were lost.
Two other Seventh Fleet ships were also involved in non-fatal collisions in Asian waters in 2017. (dpa/NAN)