Bryce Benson was in his stateroom asleep when ACX Crystal collided with Fitzgerald on June 17, 2017, off the coast of Japan. The collision caused the death of seven sailors. The collision also crushed Benson's cabin and left him hanging on the side of the ship for 15 minutes before the crew rescued him.
The charges Mr. Benson faces do not include negligent homicide charges that were initially announced by the Navy in January.
The Navy dropped criminal charges against the former commander and two junior officers aboard Fitzgerald last month. The move from Adm. James F. Caldwell, the officer in charge of overseeing accountability actions for the collisions of Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, followed a recommendation from an Article 32 hearing officer who recommended the junior officers not face any criminal charges for their roles in the collision.
James F. Caldwell brought the charges of negligent hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty resulting in death against Benson and Lt. Natalie Combs. Caldwell also determined that Lt. Irian Woodley, who was also on duty in CIC, should not face court-martial but be separated from the Navy via an administrative board.
All three received non-judicial punishment.
The officer of the deck at the time of the Fitzgerald collision, Lt j.g. Sarah Coppock, pleaded guilty to a single count of negligence for her role in the collision.
McCain’s former commander, Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, also pleaded guilty to a single count of negligence in a special court-martial. Former McCain Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jeffery Butler pleaded guilty to one count of negligence in a summary court-martial.