One Year After the Bonhomme Richard Fire, Questions Remain Unanswered
(Military Times | July 12, 2021) … There could be several reasons for the silence and delay, according to Mark Nevitt, a former aviator and judge advocate attorney in the Navy, who spoke with Military.com about the investigation. Nevitt is now a professor at the Syracuse University College of Law.
Aside from the usual privacy and national security redactions, Nevitt said that pending criminal charges can delay an investigation.
“If you have a recommendation that is related to training, to readiness, to how watch is done, you don’t have the same sort of criminal law due process concerns associated if [you] charge a Navy sailor with a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” he explained.
Nevitt also noted that the Navy may have already taken some administrative action, “which could be non-judicial punishment,” away from the public eye.
“Firing people … removing people from the watchstand, or having people administratively separated for some kind of underlying administrative misconduct” are all things that could have already occurred, he said.
“It seems likely to me that, if there is a formal court-martial, that would take place following the completion of the investigation and the endorsements by the [Pacific Fleet] commander,” Nevitt said.
Jeff Houston, a spokesman for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS, said that its investigation into the fire remains ongoing. Houston added that no charges have been filed at this time.
“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS does not comment on or confirm details relating to ongoing investigations,” he said in a statement.
More broadly, Nevitt argues that the wait is understandable given the scope of the incident …