Preliminary hearings for five Navy officers facing negligent homicide charges in connection to fatal warship collisions last summer have been delayed at the request of their defense attorneys, service officials confirmed Monday.

The hearings, known as Article 32s, involve the prosecution presenting their case for why charges should go to a court-martial, with a military judge making the call after hearing the evidence.

The hearings were initially scheduled to begin next week.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson face charges in connection to the destroyer Fitzgerald’s June 17 collision with a merchant vessel off Japan in which seven sailors drowned.

He was the ship’s commanding officer at the time.

Three Fitz junior officers face the same charge, but the Navy has declined to identify them.

Also facing negligent homicide charges is Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, who was the commanding officer of the destroyer John S. McCain when it collided with an oil tanker near Singapore in August, killing 10 more sailors.

In addition to negligent homicide, the officers all also face dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel charges.

Attorneys for all five of the accused requested the delays, according to officials.

The hearings have not been rescheduled and likely will not commence until April at the earliest, officials said.

Eighteen sailors from the Fitz and McCain have faced nonjudicial punishment, or NJP, in connection to the collisions.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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