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charges filed

Navy files homicide charges against commanders of 2 ships involved in deadly crashes

The U.S. Navy announced Tuesday it is filing negligent homicide charges against several officers involved in two deadly ship collisions last year.

In June, the USS Fitzgerald hit a commercial ship in the waters off Japan, leaving seven sailors dead, and in August, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in the waters off of Singapore, killing 10 sailors. Both collisions were deemed avoidable. Navy spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks said a hearing will determine if the officers, charged with dereliction of duty and endangering a ship as well as negligent homicide, will be taken to trial in a court-martial.

The Navy is filing at least three charges against four officers on the USS Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer at the time, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and charges against the commander at the time of the USS John S. McCain, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and the chief petty officer. Hicks said the announcement of charges is "not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence." In the wake of the collisions, several top leaders, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucion, were fired.