US Navy: Collision Ship Commanders Could Be Charged With Homicide

Two Commanders Face Court-Martial After Deadly Collisions

Smacking into civilian ships has become a growing problem for the US Navy, especially in the Pacific Ocean. This could be leading to homicide charges for a pair of ship commanders involved in such incidents, according to the Navy.

The US Navy’s statement says that the commanding officer of the USS John S McCain and the commanding officer of the USS Fitzgerald, two guided missile destroyers, are each facing court-martials, with charges including dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Three other Fitzgerald officers are also facing charges.

The USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship in June, with seven sailors killed. The USS John S McCain hit an oil tanker, killing 10 of the crew and doing an estimated $230 million in damage to the ship.

The incidents raised major concerns about US fleet readiness, with evidence that the vast majority of US ships engaged in active operations do not have a sufficiently trained crew and are often being put out on far more missions than they’d normally be able to handle.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.