Cmdr. Bryce Benson. U.S. NAVY
Cmdr. Bryce Benson. U.S. NAVY

Navy drops criminal cases against USS Fitzgerald officers charged in 2017 fatal collision

by Caitlin Doornbos
Stars and Stripes

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy will drop charges against two former USS Fitzgerald officers accused of criminal negligence in the 2017 fatal collision of the ship that killed seven sailors, according to a Navy statement.

Former Fitzgerald commanding officer Cmdr. Bryce Benson and the destroyer’s former tactical action officer Lt. Natalie Combs will instead receive secretarial letters of censure from Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. The two were previously dismissed from their jobs and received non-judicial punishment, the Navy said.

On June 17, 2017, the Fitzgerald collided with a commercial vessel, the ACX Crystal, in the waters off Japan. Seven sailors died, and the ship sustained millions of dollars in damages. It remains under repair in Pascagoula, Miss.

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