Bryce Benson, the commander of the USS Fitzgerald, is a Wisconsin native who was injured in the collision between the Navy destroyer and a Philippine merchant vessel.
Seven U.S. sailors are missing at sea after the June 16 incident between the 505-foot Navy destroyer and a larger container ship called the ACX Crystal.
The cause has not yet been released. No officials have given any indication that the collision could be terrorism related.
As the commander of the ship, Benson has found himself suddenly thrust into the public eye.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Commander Was Airlifted From the Ship
Benson says on LinkedIn that he was executive officer of the USS Fitzgerald for 1 year and 8 months. He took command of the naval destroyer one year before the collision.
2. Benson Was Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin & Received a Bachelor’s Degree in History From Marquette University
Benson’s Naval career began in Wisconsin through the Navy’s ROTC program.
“A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, CDR Bryce Benson graduated from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1999 and earned his commission through the Naval ROTC program,” the US 7th Fleet wrote in a biography of Benson.
On LinkedIn, Benson wrote that he graduated from Marquette, a Jesuit university in Milwaukee, in 1999 with a degree in history. Under activities while in college, he wrote Naval ROTC and Les Aspin School for Student Government.
3. Seven Sailors Are Missing After the Collision, Which Damaged the Ship
The Navy has confirmed that seven sailors were reported missing after the collision. A Philippine merchant vessel called the ACX Crystal struck the Navy destroyer. The missing sailors’ identities had not yet been released.
“U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship. As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public. Thank you for your well wishes and messages of concern. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.
The ship suffered “damage on starboard side above & below waterline. Some flooding,” reported the Navy, but it was later running on its own power.
4. Benson Continued His Education & Went to Sea
According to his LinkedIn page, Benson’s education didn’t stop with Marquette. He received a master’s degree from George Washington University in organizational management in 2005 and participated in the Navy’s Washington DC internship program.
Benson also attended National Defense University Joint Forces College where he studied warfightin and received a professional military education.
CDR Benson’s initial sea tours were on the pre-commissioned ship USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) and USS Kauffman (FFG 59) “where he deployed to the 5th Fleet in support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” the Navy says. “In 2006, he was assigned as the Weapons Officer on USS FORREST SHERMAN (DDG 98) and participated in the maiden deployment to the 6th Fleet Area of Operations. In 2007, CDR Benson screened for the early command program and subsequently served as the Executive Officer then as Commanding Officer of USS GUARDIAN (MCM 5), forward deployed from Sasebo Japan, 2008-2010.”
Ashore, reported the Navy, Benson was selected for the Navy’s Washington D.C. Internship Program “where he earned a Master’s degree in Organizational Management from The George Washington University and served internships on the Navy Staff, Joint Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 2010, CDR Benson was assigned to the Navy Personnel Command, Surface Warfare Distribution (PERS 41) as the Placement Coordinator for Amphibious and Mine Warfare Forces. In 2013, he reported to the U.S. Pacific Command where he served as the Executive Assistant to the Director for Operations (J3) and as an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Staff Officer (J36).”
In November 2015, Benson “reported as the Executive Officer of USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) forward deployed from Yokosuka, Japan as part of the Surface Navy’s Command Fleet Up program,” the Navy said.
5. A Massive Search Is Underway & the Cause IS Not Clear
The Japanese Coast Guard is searching for the soldiers as is the damaged ship, according to the USS 7th Fleet. The ACX Container ship is a larger vessel than the USS Fitzgerald.