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US Navy commanders face negligent homicide charges over collisions

[WASHINGTON] The commanders of two US Navy ships involved in collisions that left 17 sailors dead face charges including negligent homicide and dereliction of duty, the Navy said on Tuesday.

The USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in August 2017, killing 10 sailors, while the USS Fitzgerald smashed into a cargo ship in June, leaving seven dead.

"Courts-martial proceedings/Article 32 hearings are being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against Fitzgerald members," as well as the commander of the John S. McCain, the Navy said in a statement.

The commanding officer, two lieutenants and a lieutenant junior grade from the Fitzgerald and the commander of the John S. McCain face charges including "dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide," the Navy said.

The deadly collisions highlighted leadership failures and the stresses of frequent deployments across the Pacific region, but also shined a spotlight on sailors not paying proper attention in busy shipping lanes.

"Both of these accidents were preventable and the respective investigations found multiple failures by watch standers that contributed to the incidents," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said in a report on the collisions.


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