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Article 92 Violations in the Navy

 In ARTICLE 92, Blog

There have been various instances in Navy history where individuals faced charges of violating Article 92 in the Navy for failure to obey orders or regulations or dereliction of duty. Navy Article 92 violations can be ship-related or non-ship-related.

Revolutionary War Navy Article 92 Violations

As far back as the Revolutionary War, some commanders faced accusations of dereliction during their duties. Naval operations were critical for American and British forces during the Revolutionary War. While formal structures of the U.S. Navy as we know it today didn’t exist during that time, both sides took various naval actions. Instances of dereliction of duty could have occurred, although historical records may not always provide detailed accounts. 

Here are a couple of examples:

Esek Hopkins (1776): Esek Hopkins was appointed the first Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy in 1775. During the Battle of Nassau in the Bahamas in 1776, Hopkins faced accusations of dereliction of duty. Navy leaders claimed that he failed to pursue military objectives adequately and allowed a British ship to escape. These accusations led the Navy to dismiss him from command in 1777.

Benedict Arnold (1781): Benedict Arnold, who initially fought for the Continental Army but later defected to the British side, was involved in naval operations during the war. In 1781, while in command of a small fleet on Lake Champlain, he was accused of neglecting his duty and not adequately preparing for a British invasion. Arnold’s actions during this period were controversial, and his reputation suffered.

It’s important to note that the Revolutionary War naval operations were challenging, and many individuals faced difficult circumstances. Accusations of dereliction of duty often emerged from the complexities and uncertainties of maritime warfare during that time. Records from this period might be limited or not as detailed as in more recent conflicts, but instances of alleged dereliction of duty did occur.


One notable but more recent historical example is the case of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. The sinking of the USS Indianapolis was a tragedy, but there were subsequent legal actions.

After delivering components of the atomic bomb to Tinian Island, a Japanese submarine torpedoed the USS Indianapolis. The ship sank, and many crew members went into the water. Due to communication failures and other issues, the survivors had to wait too long for rescue, leading to one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history.

Captain Charles McVay, the commanding officer of the USS Indianapolis,

faced a court-martial in 1945. The Navy charged him with various offenses, including failing to zigzag the ship (a defensive maneuver against submarines) and failing to order ‘abandon ship’ promptly. McVay was found guilty of failing to zigzag but not guilty of the more severe charge of hazarding his ship by not abandoning ship sooner. The Navy ultimately court-martialed him, and the Secretary of the Navy controversially overturned the sentence.

This case highlights how Navy Article 92 charges can arise when the failure to obey orders or regulations has contributed to a significant event or failure.

Contemporary Examples of Navy Article 92 Violations

A couple more contemporary examples of a commander facing dereliction of duties charges are related to the collisions involving the USS Greenville in 2001 and the USS John S. McCain on August 21, 2017

The USS McCain collision occurred near the Strait of Malacca. The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with the Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC.

The former second-in-command, or executive officer, of the USS John S. McCain at the time of the collision was Commander Jessie L. Sanchez. In January 2018, Commander Sanchez was relieved of duty due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command. In May 2018, Commander Sanchez faced a non-judicial punishment (NJP) hearing, an administrative process used within the military for disciplinary actions that do not involve a court-martial. He was found guilty of dereliction in performing duties for his role in the collision. The collision led to the deaths of 10 sailors and prompted investigations into the circumstances surrounding the incident. The findings revealed a combination of factors, including a failure to follow standard operating procedures, inadequate training, and a lack of communication between the ship’s crew. The Navy took disciplinary actions against several individuals involved in the incident, including reassignments and NJP proceedings.

In the incident involving the USS Greeneville, Commander Scott Waddle faced a non-judicial punishment for dereliction of duty following the collision between the USS Greeneville and the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Japanese crew members.

Dereliction of duty charges against Navy captains is relatively rare. Still, it can occur in serious incidents or accidents where authorities determine the captain has failed.

Navy Article 92 Violations can be non-ship-related

A non-ship-related example of Navy Article 92 Violations is the charges related to the Tailhook scandal in 1991. The Tailhook scandal involved allegations of sexual harassment and assault during the Tailhook Association’s annual symposium in Las Vegas. Naval aviators attended the event, and the allegations centered around misconduct at a hotel where attendees stayed. Numerous individuals, including high-ranking officers, were implicated in the scandal. While the primary focus was on charges related to sexual misconduct, there were also instances where individuals faced disciplinary action for failure to obey orders or regulations. The scandal led to several investigations, and several naval officers were either disciplined or faced court-martial for their actions.

Most Navy Article 92 violations can result from simple failure to obey an order or regulation and don’t require court-martial. However, these violations can still result in adverse administrative action from Article 15 Non-judicial punishment to a show cause board for retention in the Navy.

Remember that the circumstances surrounding charges of dereliction of duty are usually complex, involving multiple factors, and the outcomes can vary. Additionally, the Navy may not always choose to pursue charges under dereliction of duty specifically, opting for charges like hazarding a vessel or negligence, depending on the situation. If you are facing charges of violating Article 92 in the Navy, call now at 757-504-2815 to discuss your case with an experienced military lawyer, or click here to contact us.


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