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A Naval Board of Inquiry
(or Naval Court of Inquiry
) is a type of investigative court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...
proceeding conducted by the United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...
after the occurrence of an unanticipated event that adversely affects the performance, or reputation, of the fleet
This is a list of current ships of the United States Navy. There are more than 400 ships believed to be in active service with the United States Navy, on reserve, or under construction, based on public reports compiled in this list. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet...
or one of its ships or stations
Convening the board
Depending on the severity of the event that has occurred, the Board of Inquiry could be called by the Secretary of the Navy, or a lesser authority reporting to a higher authority.
In any case, the authority calling for the board of inquiry must be of an authority superior to the authority related to the unanticipated event.
Purpose of the board
Naval Boards of Inquiry are called to examine all particulars concerned with the event in question, and to determine facts and cause, corrective action, and disciplinary action, if called for by the findings of the inquiry.
Events or actions calling for an inquiry
A Naval Board of Inquiry may be convened for numerous reasons, such as when a Naval ship:
- performs poorly in a battle situation
- is found to be unprepared in a battle station
- is sunk
A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English....
- is lost in a storm
- runs aground
- collides with a ship of a neutral nation
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...
- collides with another Naval ship
- is destroyed by fire or explosion while docked
- destroys dockage while docking
- has a mutinous
Mutiny is a conspiracy among members of a group of similarly situated individuals to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority to which they are subject...
- fails to follow approved orders or procedures
Notable Boards of Inquiry
- Destruction of the USS Maine
USS Maine was the United States Navy's second commissioned pre-dreadnought battleship, although she was originally classified as an armored cruiser. She is best known for her catastrophic loss in Havana harbor. Maine had been sent to Havana, Cuba to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt...
(1898) – found that the Maine was destroyed by an external mine attributed to Spain
- Port Chicago disaster
The Port Chicago disaster was a deadly munitions explosion that occurred on July 17, 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California, United States. Munitions detonated while being loaded onto a cargo vessel bound for the Pacific Theater of Operations, killing 320 sailors and...
(1944) – investigated the accident but did not determine cause of the explosion
- USS Liberty incident
The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, , by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy torpedo boats, on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War. The combined air and sea attack killed 34 crew members , wounded 170 crew members, and...
(1967) – found that the attack by Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...
i forces was caused by the ship being misidentified as an Egyptian vessel