Despite a century of abolition efforts, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, passed by Congress in 2016, skippers still have the authority to punish 'troublesome sailors' with nothing to eat but bread and water, but this is to change from the very first day of 2019, making the system fairer and more efficient, according to New York Times.
Commanders throughout the armed services will still have the authority to punish minor misconduct in various ways without a trial. But the new law deletes the regulation that authorized ship commanders to confine low-ranking sailors on bread and water for up to three days at a time.
Although it sounds medieval, the bread and water penalty has been used in recent cases. In 2015, the USS Shiloh became widely known as the USS Bread and Water, as commander Adam M. Aycock used this punishment very frequently.
The Navy is perhaps the most tradition-bound of the services when it comes to discipline, NY Times report. Two US Navy secretaries have called for abolishing the practice of feeding sailors nothing but bread and water, first in 1882 and again in 1921. However, some still see it as a vital means of imposing discipline.