The former commanding officer of the destroyer USS John S. McCain pleaded guilty to a charge of dereliction of duty for his role in the 2017 deadly collision that killed 10 sailors.
Commander Alfredo J. Sanchez was sentenced to a letter of reprimand and a $6,000 fine, as part of his plea deal agreement he will be required to retire from the Navy.
On August 21, 2017 10 sailors were killed when the ‘US top of the line’ guided missile destroyer collided with a slow moving oil tanker as it entered the busy waterway into the port of Singapore.
The collision occurred two months after seven sailors were killed when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan.
Both collisions resulted in the removal of senior leaders in the Navy’s Seventh Fleet and to criminal proceedings against the senior leaders and some of the crew members of both ships.
Sanchez, the McCain’s commanding officer, was on the bridge when the US warship collided with the Alnic MC following an apparent loss of steering control.
A Navy investigation later determined that Sanchez did not follow the recommendations of his command team to have the ship’s most experienced bridge team on duty as destroyer entered the busy waterway into Singapore.
Investigators also found that Sanchez and the bridge team lacked a familiarity with some of the helm consoles that led to a perceived lack of steering.
Sanchez’s wife, Maria Zapata Yordan, also told the court of the emotional toll the collision has had on her husband, noting that some nights he will be yelling orders in his sleep.
During the sentencing phase of the hearing surviving family members read victim impact statements describing the grief of lost sons, brothers and fathers.
Ricardo Lopez described how his brother’s wife and two daughters grieve the loss of his death on a daily basis.
Lopez told the court his brother was on the last deployment of a nearly 20-year naval career and three months away from retiring and that the family is not receiving his retirement benefits “because of this incident”?
ABC Flash Point WW III News 2019.