YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan -- The USS Shiloh sailor who was presumed lost at sea only to be later found in the ship's engine room admitted to intentionally hiding from his fellow sailors and has been charged with abandoning watch and dereliction of duty, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims admitted during an admiral's mast that he had actively avoided searches conducted by the ship's crew during his weeklong disappearance, 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Paul Newell told Stars and Stripes. Newell didn't provide a reason for the evasion.
Newell said Task Force 70 held the proceeding, which is used to determine minor offenses, on Thursday "due to the seriousness of the incident and the impact it had on the [USS Ronald Reagan strike group] and also our Japanese allies."
The 23-year-old sailor was charged with Uniform Code of Military Justice violations, including absence without leave for abandoning watch under Article 86 and failure to obey an order or regulation for dereliction in the performance of duties under Article 92, the spokesman said.
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Newell added that the Navy is looking into taking other administrative actions against Mims but declined to discuss the punishment, citing privacy concerns.
According to the Manual for Courts-Martial, violations of Article 86 that last longer than three days but less than 30 have a maximum punishment of six months' confinement and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for six months. Violations of Article 92 that involve willful dereliction of duty carry a maximum punishment of "bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months."
Mims, who served as a gas turbine systems technician on the Yokosuka-based guided-missile cruiser, was reported missing the evening of June 8 and was believed to have fallen overboard from the Shiloh, which was conducting routine operations near Okinawa.
U.S. and Japanese ships spent more than 50 hours searching for him, assisted by helicopters and other aircraft from the Shiloh, USS McCampbell, USS Barry, USS John S. McCain and the USS Ronald Reagan.
The massive sea search was suspended June 11, with the presumption that he was lost at sea.
Crew members continued to search the Shiloh while simultaneously planning a memorial service for Mims when he was found in the ship's engineering room on June 15, the Navy said.
Mims was placed in pre-trial confinement at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Brig on June 21 but was released a week later after an independent officer ruled that confinement was not necessary, Newell said.
He was then assigned to Naval Surface Force, Pacific Fleet, at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., to serve in an unspecified capacity.
Mims joined the Navy in February 2014 and reported to the Shiloh the following August.
He was the second sailor in a week to be feared overboard when he went missing. On June 6, Petty Officer Christopher Clavin of the USS Normandy was reported missing while the ship trained off the North Carolina coast. Navy and Coast Guard ships searched for him for more than 76 hours, officials said.