STARBASE 74 – The court-martial proceedings against Commander Victor Yaeger, previously the commanding officer of the USS Astraeus, are scheduled to begin today.
Yaeger presided over the accidental stranding of the Astraeus, resulting in the deaths of 46 members of his crew. Though Yeager and his attorneys have been tight-lipped about the specifics of their defense strategy, Yeager is expected to plead not guilty to more than a dozen separate charges, including conduct unbecoming an officer, dereliction of duty, and gross negligence.
The incident occurred while Yeager was serving as commanding officer of the Astraeus for a highly regimented shakedown cruise intended to test the capabilities of several experimental modifications to the newly-refit Galaxy-class starship. At Yeager’s order, the ship diverted from its planned course to cross into the Shoals, a volatile region of space known for its high concentration of dangerous tetryon anomalies. So dangerous, in fact, that Starfleet has forbidden starships with a mass in excess of two million tons from even entering the region. With subspace warning buoys lining the border to the Shoals and automated audio warnings hard-wired into every Federation computer core, Yeager is alleged to have willfully ignored that ban.
“Starfleet officers have long been regarded as the best the Federation has to offer,” said Commander Varo of the Starfleet JAG office. “If it’s true that Yeager decided to ignore standing orders, no matter the reason, he is simply not compatible with that legacy, and this office will do everything in its power to ensure Mr. Yeager is held responsible for his actions.”
A spokesman for the aggrieved families issued a statement on the eve of the court-martial, with several parents of the deceased standing behind him.
“Our sons and daughters knew that a life in Starfleet was a life of risk,” said Keith Couzens, on behalf of the families. “But no one – Starfleet or civilian – should lose their life to support the prideful arrogance of a superior. We expect Yeager and his senior staff to be held fully accountable for the lives lost as a direct result of their decisions.”
If found guilty, Yeager could face expulsion from Starfleet and up to twenty years in a Federation penal colony. While a number of high ranking officers have been dismissed from Starfleet in the wake of the accident, including Vice Admiral Sh’Hiel, formerly the Commander of Starfleet Operations along the Tholian border, Yeager is the first officer to be brought up on charges. Lieutenant Commander Kreeta, Yeager’s former first officer, and Master Chief Petty Officer Linford Styles, the senior enlisted officer, will also face court martials later this year.