Admiral Bill Moran, deputy chief of naval operations, told a media briefing earlier in Washington that about nine sailors would face administrative punishments.
“Serious mistakes were made by members of the crew, and there was no benefit to waiting on taking accountability actions,” Moran said.
An official report released on Thursday contained dramatic accounts of what happened when the freighter hit the Fitzgerald.
The collision, at 1:30 a.m. local time, tore a gash below the Fitzgerald’s waterline and sent water pouring into the warship, the report said.
“Water on deck,” sailors in a berthing area started yelling. “Get out,” they shouted as mattresses, furniture, and even an exercise bicycle began to float.
The berthing was completely flooded within 60 seconds, although more than two dozen of the 35 sailors in it escaped. The last sailor to be rescued was in the bathroom at the time of the collision.
“Lockers were floating past him, … at one point he was pinned between the lockers and the ceiling of Berthing 2, but was able to reach for a pipe in the ceiling to pull himself free,” the report said.
Two sailors stayed at the foot of the ladder in the compartment to help others escape.
“The choices made by these two sailors likely saved the lives of at least two of their shipmates,” the report said.
Benson was trapped in his cabin and five sailors used a sledgehammer to break through the door.
“Even after the door was open, there was a large amount of debris and furniture against the door, preventing anyone from entering or exiting easily,” the report said.
The sailors tied themselves to each other with a belt and rescued Benson, who was hanging from the side of the ship.