Former Fitzgerald commander pleads not guilty to three criminal charges from collision
WASHINGTON – The former commanding officer of the Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald pleaded not guilty Tuesday to criminal charges stemming from the deadly collision of his ship and a commercial vessel off Japan just over one year ago.
Cmdr. Bryce Benson was arraigned at the Navy Yard in Washington, where a Navy prosecutor read the three charges against him aloud. Seven sailors died aboard the Fitzgerald on June 17, 2017, when it was traversing through the busy waters of the southern coast of Japan after midnight.
Benson is charged with two specifications of dereliction of performance of his duties through neglect – one count “resulting in death.” He is also charged with one count of improper hazarding a vessel. A charge originally brought against him of negligent homicide was dropped from the indictment.
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