Families of lost sailors, Navy could be impacted by legal action by owners of ship that struck USS McCain

Dustin Doyon

HOUSTON — The owners of the ship that struck the USS McCain last year are taking legal action which would limit damages to the U.S. Navy, the sailors and the families of the sailors who died according to one of the law firms involved.

According to the law firm representing the families of the sailors who died, the owners of ALNIC, are claiming, “The vessel was worth $16,700,000, and they have filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York asking the judge to exonerate them from liability or limit the value of any claims filed by the Navy, injured sailors, or the families of sailors killed to $16,700,000.”

Representatives for Energetic, the owners of ALNIC, said, “Energetic denies any responsibility for the collision. This filing is purely a protective measure, necessitated by the Limitation Act’s 6-month deadline, which was triggered by a records preservation notice from the U.S. Navy soon after the collision.

One of the sailors killed was Suffield native, 26-year-old Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, from Suffield.

Nine other sailors were killed after the destroyer collided with the merchant vessel near Singapore in August 2017.

The former commanding officer of the USS John S McCain pleaded guilty to a charge of negligent dereliction of duty resulting in death under the Uniform Code of Military Justice during a court-martial proceeding last month.

Navy Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez was in charge of the USS McCain at the time of the incident.

Sanchez was arraigned and entered his plea at the Washington Navy Yard. He was sentenced to a punitive letter of reprimand and a forfeiture of three months’ pay. In a pretrial agreement Sanchez also agreed to submit a request to retire from the Navy.

In a separate June 2017 incident, seven sailors died aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a cargo ship off the east coast of Japan. A subsequent investigation by the Navy found both incidents were avoidable and found numerous failures by the crews and commanders of both ships.

The accidents prompted the dismissal of the Navy’s 7th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, as well as multiple reviews of the way the Navy trains, maintains and deploys its fleet.

US Government Accountability Office data obtained by CNN in September 2017 found that both the McCain and Fitzgerald had lengthy records of failing to fulfill key training requirements.