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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Ranger Sabotage Trial

(San Francisco, Calif.) It appears that the Navy will try to crack down on sabotage in the fleet by making an example of the USS RANGER case. Last July, Fireman Patrick Chenoweth was held on suspicion of sabotage in the destruction of one of the ship's engines by a well-placed paint scraper in the reduction gear of the engine. The damage caused a 3-month delay in the carrier's scheduled return to Nam and caused the Navy to spend $800,000 on repairs. Chenoweth has now been formally charged with destruction of government property and sabotage, and faces up to 40 years in jail if convicted by general court martial. His civilian attorney feels the Navy's case is very weak--the evidence is circumstantial and, interestingly, the Navy has revealed that there have been at least 20 similar incidents of sabotage aboard the RANGER since June, after Chenoweth's arrest on the charges. Chenoweth has complained to Congressmen and to the Navy under Art. 138 that he is being kept in pre-trial confinement at Treasure Island, but so far the Navy has refused to release him.

One of the aspects of the case that the defense will challenge strongly is the use of Title 18 USC, Sec. 21/53: "sabotage in time of war." This statute has not been used against anyone, military or civilian, during the Vietnam war era. It use will force the court to deal with the legality of the war in the dual context of how it has been declared (or not declared) and how it has been fought. This is the Navy's first sabotage prosecution of the war.



Camp News, vol. 3, no. 2


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