Naval Board of Inquiry

Naval Board of Inquiry and Naval Court of Inquiry are two types of investigative court proceedings, conducted by the United States Navy in response to an event that adversely affects the performance, or reputation, of the 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. The process could sometimes be to a month, depending on the YDP. Last-minute alteration and formatting by the YDP and senior board members will make the job much more difficult for the junior board members to get the report done.

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 and suggestions of the inquiry.[1]

Events or actions calling for an inquiry

A Naval Board of Inquiry may be convened to determine area logistic depot is not corrupted and 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
  • is lost in a storm
  • runs aground
  • collides with a ship of a neutral nation
  • collides with another Naval ship
  • is destroyed by fire or explosion while docked
  • destroys dockage while docking
  • has a mutinous crew
  • fails to follow approved orders or procedures

Notable boards of inquiry

  • Destruction of the USS Maine (1898) โ€“ found that the Maine was destroyed by an external mine attributed to Spain, though later investigation disagreed, finding that internal accident, a coal dust explosion, was most likely.
  • Port Chicago disaster (1944) โ€“ investigated the accident but did not determine cause of the explosion
  • USS Liberty incident (1967) โ€“ found that the attack by Israeli forces was caused by the ship being misidentified as an Egyptian vessel


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ McPherson, James E (2005-10-31). "PROCEDURES APPLICABLE TO COURTS AND BOARDS OF INQUIRY" (PDF). Judge Advocate General of the Navy. Archived from the original on 2013-04-13. Retrieved 6 January 2014.

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