Port Royal officer escapes court-martial


POSTED: Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The skipper of the $1 billion guided-missile cruiser that ran aground near Honolulu Airport's reef runway Feb. 5 has avoided a military court-martial.

Capt. John Carroll, former commanding officer of the USS Port Royal, was “;awarded nonjudicial punishment for dereliction of duty and improper hazarding of a vessel”; yesterday, a Navy news release said.

Nonjudicial punishment permits commanders to administratively discipline service members without a court-martial.

Officials would not provide details of the punishment. The captain, who had been relieved of his duties after the grounding, is serving on the Pacific Fleet staff.

The cost to repair the ship, which was stuck on the reef for more than three days, will run at least $40 million. The state is seeking compensation from the Navy for the extensive damage to the reef.

Vice Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the 3rd Fleet in San Diego, conducted the disciplinary hearing for Carroll and the ship's executive officer, Cmdr. Steve Okun, in San Diego.

Okun, who also received nonjudicial punishment for dereliction of duty, is continuing to serve as the No. 2 officer aboard the ship.

Locklear found that the nonjudicial punishment was appropriate for the disciplinary offenses, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Melissa Weatherspoon.

Two officers and a sailor, namely a ship's navigator, ship's assistant navigator and officer of the deck, were also disciplined after undergoing an admiral's mast at Pearl Harbor.

The three were found yesterday to be guilty of dereliction of duty and improper hazarding of a vessel.