Four more US Navy sailors punished over last year’s fatal destroyer collisions

Four more US Navy sailors have been punished in relation to the two multiple-fatality collisions of guided missile destroyers with commercial vessels in Asian waters last summer.

The administrative penalties, only just made public by the Navy, were issued on January 25 under the non-judicial punishment process after hearings held at the 7th Fleet’s base at Yokosuka, Japan.

They relate to the June 2017 collision of the USS Fitzgerald with a containership off Japan and the August 2017 impact of the USS John McCain with an oil tanker off Singapore.

Seven sailors died on the USS Fitzgerald and 10 died on the USS John McCain.

Admiral James F. Caldwell issued guilty verdicts on charges of dereliction in performance of duties for the Fitzgerald’s executive officer Commander Sean Babbitt, its command master chief CMC Brice Baldwin and an additional officer, as well as for one enlisted sailor from the McCain.

All four were given formal letters of reprimand, which often block promotion and can lead to separation from the service.

Previously other measures were taken as a result of the accidents. Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin was relieved of his duties as commander of the 7th Fleet and top officers from each ship were also removed from their positions.

Then, in January this year, it was announced that negligent homicide charges would be brought against the former commanding officers of the two destroyers.

The Navy says that the latest findings bring to 17 the number of individuals tried under the non-judicial punishment process in relation to these two accidents.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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