Navy to file charges against ships' officers

U.S. Navy Commander Bryce Benson

Vice Adm. Tom Rowden will step down from his position at Naval Surface Force Pacific following a recommendation from Adm. James Caldwell that he be relieved.

Sanchez is facing charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide, while an unnamed chief petty officer from the McCain is facing a dereliction of duty charge, Hicks added.

Courts-martial proceedings/Article 32 hearings are being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against Fitzgerald members.

The USS McCain's commanding officer was Cmdr.

In the case of the USS Fitzgerald, the commander, two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade face possible charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide.

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.

Last year's calamities at sea in the Pacific were the culmination of deep-seated issues within the sea service's budget, operations and culture stretching back decades that Navy leaders are only now attempting to address, sources say.

"They need help, and by help, they mean time", he said last week during the Surface Navy Association's annual conference in Crystal City, Virginia. Alfredo J. Sanchez, is being charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship.

In a statement, Hicks said the announcement of charges Tuesday is "not meant to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses".

As a result of the two deadly accidents, at least eight top Navy officers, including the 7th Fleet commander, were fired from their jobs previous year, and a number of other sailors received reprimands or other punishment that was not publicly released.

"All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence".

The actions, including charges against several lower-ranking officers, were announced Tuesday by the Navy's chief spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks.

The Navy also said there will be additional administrative actions for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers. In November, a report found both incidents were preventable, and cited a number of failures by the respective crews.

The entire leadership of the US Navy's 7th Fleet and the larger Pacific Fleet have come under increased scrutiny following the incidents involving the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald. Rowden had previously announced his intent to retire early and was set to hand off his post to Brown in coming weeks. "The surface warfare community will be in good hands as Rich is a superb and talented naval officer", Rowden said.

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