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U.S. Navy commanders face homicide charges for crashes that killed 17 sailors

Staff Writer |
The commanders of two U.S. Navy destroyers involved in separate crashes last year, resulting in the total deaths of 17 people, will face criminal charges for negligent homicide.

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USS McCain former commanding officer Alfredo Sanchez and USS Fitzgerald former commanding officer Bryce Benson will also face charges for dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel.

"After careful deliberation, today Admiral Frank Caldwell announced that Uniform Code of Military Justice charges are being preferred against individual service members in relation to the collisions," the U.S. Navy said in a statement Tuesday.

U.S. Navy Chief of Information Capt. Greg Hicks said Sanchez and Benson will face preliminary hearings and court martial proceedings on the charges.

Two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade from the Fitzgerald face similar charges.

Both collisions came within two months of each other during a disastrous summer for the U.S. Navy.

In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship near Japan, Tokyo Bay, killing seven U.S. sailors.

In August, the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant oil tanker, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead.

In an investigation released in November, the Navy found both collisions were the result of avoidable, human errors.

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