During an admiral’s mast, Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims admitted that he intentionally avoided being found while his fellow sailors searched for him during the week of his disappearance, according to 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Paul Newell.
The spokesman told Stars and Stripes that on Thursday the proceeding was held by Task Force 70, "due to the seriousness of the incident and the impact it had on the [USS Ronald Reagan strike group] and also our Japanese allies."
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice Mims was charged with failure to obey an order or regulation for dereliction in the performance of duties under Article 32 and absence without leave for abandoning watch under Article 86. According to Newell the service is looking into further unspecified punishments.
"Mims admitted that his weeklong disappearance had been intentional and that he took steps to try to avoid being found by the other Shiloh sailors who were actively trying to locate him," Newell told the Navy Times.
A service member can receive a "bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for six months" for Article 92 violations involving wilful dereliction of duty. Article 86 violations carry a punishment of forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for six months and six months confinement, according to the Manual for Courts-Martial.
The 23-year-old gas turbine systems technician was first reported missing on June 8, and was believed to have fallen overboard from the Yokosuka-based guided-missile cruiser as it was sailing near Okinawa conducting routine operations.
Mims, who first joined the Navy in February 2014, was presumed lost at sea after Japanese and US vessels spent 50 hours searching for him. Helicopters and additional aircraft from the Shiloh, USS John S. McCain, USS McCampbell, USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Barry assisted with the expansive search effort.
The search was suspended on June 11. Carrier Strike Group 5 and Task Force 70 commander Rear Adm. Charles Williams said in a statement at the time, "Our thoughts are with our lost shipmate, his family, and the officers and crew of USS Shiloh."
Shiloh crewmembers continued the search on board the ship, eventually finding Mims hiding in the vessel’s boiler room on June 15. Newell said that on June 21 Mims was held at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Brig June 21 for pre-trial confinement, but was released a week later after an independent officer decided this measure wasn’t necessary.