A Navy chief is facing court-martial over allegations that her ship security team deployed without magazines for their firearms.
Chief Master at Arms Nicolasa R. Simmons, of the San Diego-based Coastal Riverine Squadron 3, is also charged with obstruction of justice for impeding a probe into the September 2018 incident by telling her watchstanders “not to report that the unit was not equipped with M4 and M9 magazines” while underway on board the fast transport Carson City, according to charge sheets obtained by Navy Times.
Military prosecutors also accuse Simmons, 37, of impeding an investigation when she instructed watchstanders not to report that a foreign vessel had entered the “reaction zone” of the Carson City near Alexandria, Egypt, that month.
Simmons also allegedly told an unnamed petty officer second class “to delete video footage recorded during the Embarked Security Team Mission” for Carson City that month, according to the court filings.
But her defense attorney says she didn't steal anything.
Embarked Security Teams provide security for ships but are not permanently assigned to the vessels.
The allegations against Simmons stemmed from a preliminary command investigation, according to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Amber Lewis.
Lewis confirmed that the team’s sailors “were underway without magazines” but declined to discuss details about the mission or the vessel that entered Carson City’s reaction zone, citing operations security.
The charge sheets suggest Simmons’ teams came aboard the Navy ship in the Spanish port of Rota during the first half of September 2018.
Simmons’ civilian attorney, Phil Stackhouse, said in a statement Tuesday that his client’s matter had already been resolved by “counseling, training and supervision review.”
“She was reinstated as a Mission Commander of an Embark Security Team for the remainder of the Squadron Deployment — which she completed successfully,” Stackhouse said in an email. “It’s unfortunate that after a significant break in time, the command has now decided to charge her for the same allegations she had previously resolved.”
Stackhouse said Simmons’ trial is scheduled for May. He attributed that to delays “so that the government can coordinate necessary evidence in the case.”
The charges against Simmons were referred to court-martial in October.
Defense Department media posts show the Carson City was participating in Exercise Bright Star 2018 that month, a U.S. Central Command event held with Egypt that focuses on boosting maritime security and stability in the combatant command’s waters.
Simmons was advanced to chief in August 2018, shortly before the Carson City deployment, according to her service record.
A California native, she enlisted in 2004 and joined the squadron in 2017.
Four were disciplined at admiral's mast, one officer was found not guilty and another faces a reprimand.