U.S. Navy officers to face charges of negligent homicide for fatal ship collisions

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WASHINGTON — The commanders of the two U.S. guided-missile destroyers involved in collisions that killed 17 sailors in Asia last year will be court-martialed on charges including negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday.

In total, the Navy is filing criminal charges against six sailors, officials said. Another eight will face nonjudicial punishment, a Navy official said, which could include reductions in rank and pay loss.

The former commander of the USS Fitzgerald, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, will face charges of negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel, as will three of his lieutenants, the Navy said. Cmdr. Benson was seriously injured in the June collision with a commercial vessel near Tokyo.

The former commander of USS John S. McCain, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, will face similar charges, and a chief petty officer from the McCain has already been charged with dereliction of duty. The ship collided with a commercial tanker off the coast of Singapore in August, killing 10 sailors.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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