No military force can function with any degree of efficacy if lives are lost in peacetime for not following standard operating procedures (SOP). The US Navy is presently the most powerful navy in the world with the onerous responsibility of preserving peace.

The recent step by the US navy top brass and the Pentagon to take cognization of two collisions between Navy warships and initiate disciplinary action is a step in the right direction. The two warships collided with civilian vessels that lead to the death of 17 combatants. One of the collisions took place in the Sea Of Japan and the other in the Malacca Straits.

The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun has reported that ex-officers commanding these ships, including some others could be charged with Negligent Homicide and also face a court-martial.

The U.S. Navy, in a statement on Tuesday, announced that this was part of the effort to address the problem in which 17 sailors were killed. The navy has already dismissed many officers for this grave lapse and the commander of the seventh fleet was removed.

Court Martial

The navy has set up a board of inquiry to examine the charges and the evidence against the commanding officers and many lower rung officers. The findings of the board will be reviewed.

CNN reported that the commanding officer of the USS John S. McCain and another guided missile destroyer which had collided in the Sea of Japan could face disciplinary action under the Unified Military Code( USC).

There is a distinct possibility of a Court Martial. Both the warships were on routine navigation, watch and report missions.

The accidents at sea resulted in 17 young sailors being consigned to a watery grave. it was one of the biggest peacetime accidents in US Navy history. The excuses that the warships were navigating in crowded sea lanes do not hold water.

Navy acts

A preliminary investigation was carried out by the Navy in November last year. It was concluded that the accidents involved human failure and could have been avoided if SOP’s had been followed.The navy has already awarded nonjudicial punishment to four crew members from each warship. These actions show that the Navy is a force that maintains the highest standards of discipline and professionalism. It is clear that such accidents were avoidable and led to needless loss of lives. Such casualties cannot be condoned in routine peacetime deployments.