The commander of a US Navy ship that collided with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship in the Sea of Japan, killing seven American seamen, will be punished along with several other sailors, a senior admiral said Thursday.
Admiral Bill Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, said among those to be disciplined from the crew of the USS Fitzgerald are its commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor, who will all be relieved of their duties aboard the ship.
"They will be detached from the ship for cause, which (means) we've lost trust and confidence for their ability to lead in those positions and they will not return to the ship," Moran told reporters.
Seven sailors drowned in their sleeping berth when the USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal in a busy shipping channel off Japan's coast early on June 17.
Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who heads the Navy's 7th Fleet which is based in Yokosuka, Japan has notified one sailor of his or her punishment and the rest will be notified by the end of Friday.
Moran said the disciplinary moves are all "initial accountability actions," meaning the sailors could face further punishments depending on the outcome of various ongoing probes.
"I'm not telling they will or they won't. It's just we are not done with the investigation," Moran said.
Aged 19 to 37, the drowned seamen were found by divers in flooded sleeping berths a day after the collision tore a huge gash in the side of the USS Fitzgerald.