WASHINGTON (AP) — The officer in command of the USS John S. McCain when it collided with an oil tanker near Singapore in August 2017, killing 10 sailors, has pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty, the Navy said Friday.
Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez entered his plea during court-martial proceedings at Washington’s Navy Yard.
The Navy said the formal charge to which Sanchez pleaded guilty was “negligent dereliction of duty resulting in death.”
Sanchez was sentenced to a punitive letter of reprimand and forfeiture of $2,000 a month in pay for three months. As part of a plea agreement, he will submit a request to retire, the Navy said.
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At a separate court-martial Thursday, boatswain’s mate Chief Petty Officer Jeffery D. Butler pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty. He was sentenced to a reduction in rank. Butler’s role aboard the McCain was certifying sailors on the destroyer’s navigation system.
The McCain accident happened two months after another destroyer in the Pacific, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a commercial ship in waters off Japan, killing seven sailors. The officer in command of the Fitzgerald at the time, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, faces homicide charges. His court-martial has not yet been scheduled. Attorneys for Benson assert that public statements by the Navy about Benson’s actions have jeopardized his chances for a fair trail.