Navy charges chief aboard Japan-based destroyer with espionage
(Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

Navy charges chief aboard Japan-based destroyer with espionage

A U.S. sailor assigned to a warship based here has been charged with espionage and communicating classified information to an unidentified foreign national.

Chief Petty Officer Bryce Steven Pedicini, a fire controlman aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins, is accused of handing off classified national defense information to a foreign national at least seven times between November 2022 and February 2023, according to a charge sheet obtained by Stars and Stripes.

Pedicini, of Tennessee, is “suspected of mishandling classified documents and information,” according to Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a spokesman for Naval Surface Forces Pacific. The Navy alleges Pedicini handed documents to a foreign national first at Hampton Roads, Va., and later attempted to pass information at Yokosuka in May, according to the charge sheet.

He is also charged with failure to report contact with a foreign national. Hampton Roads in southeastern Virginia is home to major military installations and commands, including Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Langley Air Force Base.

Pedicini had reason to believe that those documents “would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation,” according to the charge sheet.

“The incident remains under investigation and legal proceedings continue,” Abrahamson told Stars and Stripes in an email Wednesday. USNI News first reported the charges against Pedicini on Wednesday in the United States. The charge sheet refers to the classified information only as documents such as “Article 1112” or “1223 Updates,” but they contained information related to national defense.

Authorities allege Pedicini also attempted to hand over photographs of a computer screen connected to the Defense Department’s network used to transmit classified information. The document identifies the alleged recipient or recipients only as a “citizen and employee of a foreign government.”

The charge sheet lists seven specific allegations of espionage and one of attempted espionage, seven for communicating defense information, two for failure to obey a lawful order and two for violating a lawful general order.

The document indicates that Pedicini has been in pre-trial confinement since May 19. He was still confined in San Diego as of Wednesday, Abrahamson wrote. On Jan. 18, the case was referred for a general court-martial under the authority of Naval Surface Forces Pacific, according to the charge sheet.

A motions hearing for Pedicini was scheduled Wednesday in San Diego, according to the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps trial docket.

As a fire controlman, Pedicini would have worked with “everything from radars, fire control systems and computer systems to the Navy’s most advanced missile system, Aegis,” which is used aboard guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, according to the Navy’s description of the job.

Pedicini enlisted in January 2008 and served aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Curtis Wilbur and USS McFaul, according to a biography provided by Abrahamson. His awards and decorations include three Good Conduct Medals, two Navy “E” Ribbons, two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin.