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17 Sailors Died. Now 5 Officers Face Homicide Charges

Navy announces charges stemming from pair of 2017 collisions
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2018 4:00 PM CST
Navy Officers Face Negligent Homicide Charges in Collisions
In this July 11, 2017 photo provided by US Navy Office of Information, the USS Fitzgerald moves into Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel.   (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/U.S. Navy photo via AP)

(Newser) – The Navy announced Tuesday is has charged commanding officers from two vessels involved in deadly crashes last year with negligent homicide, NPR reports. Three other officers also face negligent homicide charges. According to the AP, the charges will be presented in a hearing, which will determine if the officers will head to court-martial proceedings. At the moment, the Navy notes, all involved are "entitled to a presumption of innocence." The USS Fitzgerald hit a commercial ship in June off the coast of Japan, killing seven US sailors. The USS John S. McCain hit an oil tanker in August off the coast of Singapore, killing 10 US sailors. An investigation by the Navy determined both collisions were "avoidable."

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Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez of the USS McCain faces charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. A chief petty officer on the vessel also faces a charge of dereliction of duty. Cmdr. Bryce Benson, two lieutenants, and a lieutenant junior grade of the USS McCain face charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Eight other crew members—four from each vessel—are facing administrative actions. The decision on the charges was made by Adm. Frank Caldwell. Meanwhile, CNN reports US Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden announced his resignation Tuesday stemming from the collisions. (Read more Navy stories.)

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