NAVY LTJG PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGE OF
DERELICTION OF DUTY IN COLLISION TRAGEDY
WHEN USS FITZGERALD BADLY DAMAGED AT SEA
SARAH COPPOCK (OFFICER OF THE DECK) SAYS
“I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY” FOR LOSS OF
SEVEN SAILORS WHO WERE KILLED IN THE COLLISION
LTJG COPPOCK LOSES 1/2 PAY PER MONTH
FOR THREE MONTHS AND RECEIVES LETTER OF ADMONITION
– NO WORD ON IF SHE WILL REMAIN IN NAVY
© 2018 MilitaryCorruption.com
WASHINGTON NAVY YARD — “Not a day goes by when I haven’t thought what I could have done differently,” said Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Sarah Coppock.
LTJG Coppock was the Officer of the Deck at 01.30 local time on 17 June 2017, when the cargo ship ACX Crystal, carrying 1,080 containers from Nagoya to Tokyo, reported that it had collided with USS Fitzgerald near Shizuoka, Japan, about 64 miles southwest of the Yokosuka naval base at the entrance of Tokyo Bay.
The 29,000 ton merchant ship’s bulbous bow suffered minor damage. The Fitzgerald suffered severe damage to both her starboard side superstructure and her starboard side below the waterline.
The Fitzgerald’s commanding officer and two sailors were injured and evacuated by helicopter. Seven U.S. Navy sailors were found dead in the damaged, flooded starboard compartments. They were killed while they slept.
None of the 20 crew members aboard the container ship, all Filipino, were injured. The Japan Coast Guard’s investigation of the incident began the same day. Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral William Moran stated that “serious mistakes” were made by the Fitzgerald’s “bridge team,” which caused them to lose “situational awareness,” thus rendering it impossible to avoid the collision even after the ACX Crystal had already been sighted.
Six senior officials in the US Navy have been removed from duty in connection with the Fitzgerald collision as well as the 23 August 2017 collision of its sister ship, the USS John S. McCain with the oil tanker MV Alnic MC. Ten sailors lost their lives aboad the McCain.
LTJG Coppock pleaded guilty to charges of “dereliction of duty” and will be fined 1/2 month’s pay for three months, as well as receive a letter of admonishment for her failure to perform her duties properly while on the bridge of an American man-of-war.
“I take full responsibility,” the choked up junior officer said at her sentencing here in the nation’s capital. We are told that she froze and didn’t contact the destroyer’s skipper or the tin can’s communication center in the crutial minutes before the USS Fitzgerald was “t-boned” by the larger vessel.
WILL COPPOCK REMAIN IN THE NAVY?
Scapegoat, or deserving of punishment, Coppock may get to stay in the Navy. There has been no comment from the usual sources when a ship’s officer is on their way to be tossed overboard.
The brass wants to make sure no one thinks this case is just a mild slap-on-the-wrist. “The Navy will not accept complacency, negligence, or other behaviors,” read a news release handout to reporters here at the Navy Yard.