If convicted, Captain Lee Joon-Seok of the Sewol ferry, two navigators and a chief engineer could face the death sentence.
They are accused of leaving the ship as it was sinking while telling passengers, mostly high school students on a school excursion, to stay where they were.
The four and 11 other low-ranking crew members are accused of being the first to escape to safety, leaving passengers trapped in the sinking vessel.
Coastguard spokesman Ko Myung-Suk said Thursday that a further five bodies were retrieved late Wednesday, including one found floating on the surface.
The confirmed death toll now stands at 281, with 23 still missing.
The Sewol was carrying 476 people when it sank on April 16 after listing sharply to one side.