The commanding officer of the USS Fitzgerald and two other senior crew are among those to be disciplined after the destroyer collided with a Filipino merchant ship off the coast of Japan
The US Navy has announced that around a dozen crew of the USS Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson, are to be disciplined following a collision in June which left seven sailors dead.
The destroyer was in collision with a merchant ship, ACX Crystal, at around 2.30am local time on 17 June, around 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka in Japan.
The USS Fitzgerald sustained damage below the water line, causing the lower decks to flood.
The seven dead sailors, aged between 19 and 37, were later found by divers.
An investigation into the exact cause of the incident is ongoing.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, the vice chief of naval operations, Admiral William F. Moran, said Commander Benson, along with his second-in-command, Commander Sean Babbitt, and the senior enlisted sailor for the ship, Command Master Chief Brice A. Baldwin, will no longer serve on the ship.
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Sailors who were on watch on the bridge of the USS Fitzgerald at the time of the incident will also be disciplined. Neither Benson nor Babbitt were on the bridge at the time of the collision.
The 20 crew on board the Filipino merchant ship, ACX Crystal, received no injuries during the incident. The ship suffered damage to its port bow.
The bodies of seven missing US navy sailors have been found in the flooded quarter of the USS Fitzgerald, after their destroyer collided with a merchant ship off the east coast of Japan on Saturday 17 June.
“A number of Sailors that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found. ” The US 7th Fleet said in a statement “As search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision this morning, the missing Sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments. They are currently being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified. The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time. The names of the Sailors will be released after all notifications are made.”