Home » Foreign Forces » 7 Sailors Missing, CO Injured After Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Collided with Philippine Merchant Ship

7 Sailors Missing, CO Injured After Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Collided with Philippine Merchant Ship

USS Fitzgerald bound for the U.S. naval base at Yokosuka, Japan following a collision with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel. The Yomiuri Shimbun Photo

Click to see the latest coverage on USS Fitzgerald from USNI News

Seven sailors are missing after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Japan, U.S. 7th Fleet said in a Friday night statement to USNI News.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collided with ACX Crystal at about 02:30 AM on Saturday local time or about 1:30 PM EST on Friday, U.S. 7th Fleet told USNI News. The collision resulted in significant damage to the destroyer, the loss of the seven sailors and a serious injury to the ship’s commander.

Navy officials reported three patients requiring medical evacuation were taken off the ship. “One was Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, who was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition,” read a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet released on Friday about 9:15 EST.
“Other injured are being assessed. There are seven sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them.”

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, then-executive officer, assists in bringing down the battle ensign aboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) in 2016. US Navy Photo

“USS Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline. The collision resulted in some flooding. The ship’s crew is responding to the casualty. The full extent of damage is being determined,” the statement said.
Fitzgerald is under her own power, although her propulsion is limited.”

Two Navy tugs, destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) and Navy aircraft have been dispatched to assist the ship.

Navy Times reported , “that Auxiliary Machine Room 1 and two crew berthings were completely flooded. Given the late hour, most crewmembers not standing watch would be in the berthing.”

The status of the crew of Crystal is still unknown. Images of the container ship following the collision show damage on the port bow, suggesting the destroyer was attempting to give way to the merchant ship ahead of the impact.

ACX Crystal off of Japan following the collision with the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) on June 17 2017. The Yomiuri Shimbun Photo

Navy leaders offered support to the families and praise for the first responders and the crew.

“U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship. As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public. Thank you for your well wishes and messages of concern. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, in a statement.

“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, in the same statement.
“We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.”

Fitzgerald is part of the U.S. Forward Deployed Naval Forces based in mainland Japan and attached to U.S. 7th Fleet.

The following is the complete statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.

PHILIPPINE SEA – USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

As of this time, there have been two patients requiring medical evacuation. One was Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, who was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition. A second MEDEVAC is in progress. Other injured are being assessed. There are seven Sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them.

Although Fitzgerald is under her own power, USS Dewey (DDG 105) got underway this morning as well as several U.S. Navy aircraft, and will join Japanese Coast Guard and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters, ships and aircraft to render whatever assistance may be required.

“U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship. As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public. Thank you for your well wishes and messages of concern. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.

“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.”

  • Looks like the US Navy will soon have a Job opening for a new Captain. I feel sorry for the Current captain, when he pulls into port, he’s gona be so FIRED.

    • DaSaint

      Have to agree there. Collisions and groundings don’t go over well for Captains. It will either be a desk job or early retirement.

      • I’ll bet ya, the Admiral will be looking for a new captain very shortly

    • Pooua

      Considering that he was medevaced with serious injuries, I think he has other concerns right now. He might not be able to return to duty in any case.

      • You know his career is finished

  • Desplanes

    I think it was a collision, not a coalition … Pretty sure this doesn’t help the coalition with Japan.

  • Blain Shinno

    OMG. The damage does not look good. I think it will be in the yard for while. I hope it is not a write off.

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    Stbd side damage appears to be the destroyers fault per rules of the road. It’s what happens when the Navy forgets how to be mariners first instead some weird wanna be soldier sea warrior launch the sm3 guy. . Same with all these recent engineering casualties. If you can’t sail and steam the ship, you can’t fight it. Have to be a professional mariner first.

    • Astin Martin

      *ding ding* Armchair captain arriving

      • MarlineSpikeMate

        And I’ll cite COLREG rule 15 part B.

        • USNVO

          And I will cite rule 13 which possibly trumps your rule 15.b.

          Based on the damage to both ships, the freighter was approaching from the starboard quarter (as viewed from the DDG). So assuming no special circumstances were at play (restricted in ability to maneuver, constrained by draft, not under command, sailing vessels, traffic separation scheme, low visibility, etc) then there are three possibilities only one of which is the container ship the stand on vessel..

          Case 1. Assuming there was just the two ships, the container ship was overtaking the DDG. In this case, rule 13 applies and the DDG was the stand on vessel. Hard to tell the angle of impact but it looks to be greater than 30 degrees but it really doesn’t matter because one or both of the ships may have maneuvered at the last minute. However, the container ship very easily could have been approaching from more than 22.5 degrees abaft the beam and in that case, the container ship has to maneuver.

          Case 2, If not, and again if there were just the two ships, it was a crossing situation. In this case the container ship was the stand on vessel as rule 15.b applies. Again hard to tell from the collision angle.and again, it doesn’t matter as one or both ships may have maneuvered.

          3. There was another ship beyond the two ships in which possibility of collision existed then neither ship is the stand on vessel as the rules of the road only apply when two ships have a possibility of collision. Add a third ship and rule 2 applies and all three ships have to proceed IAW rules of good seamanship.

          Finally, I can say categorically that both ships are at fault (although to different degrees) since both Rule 2 and 17 require the stand on vessel to maneuver to avoid collision if the give way vessel doesn’t.

          So why don’t we wait until we see the result of the investigation before jumping to conclusions.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Looking at the AIS track, it appears the container ship altered course at the last minute to starboard to avoid a collision, which would line up with a crossing situation and him being the stand on. This also lines up with more damage to his port bow..

          • USNVO

            Altering course to starboard (toward the bow of the DDG) passing ahead of the ship would appear to be the wrong decision and would greatly increase the possibility of hitting the other ship. Port would appear to be the safer move but it is hard to tell without seeing the entire picture. Again, without all the facts, we just don’t know.

            However, altering course to starboard could also be the correct maneuver if overtaking if you were going to parallel their course since they are on the starboard quarter and may not have a good idea of target angle. Further, at the last minute may have been after impact since the ship would turn to starboard in the collision which AIS would see as a turn to starboard.

            Finally, since there could be multiple craft involved, the container ship may have assumed it was the stand on vessel when it was, in fact obligated to maneuver in accordance with good seamanship.

            Again, until we see the final report, we don’t know. In any event, both ships clearly failed their obligations.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Open up a COLREGs pub.. It looks like the container ship was following Rule 15 and 17 perfectly actually. Look how short the vector looks for the STBD course change compared to when the collision actually happened. This would correlate with an action IAW Rule 17. Rule 17 states that the vessel may however take action to avoid collision when it becomes apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way is not taking appropriate action. (c) also states to avoid altering course to port for a vessel on her own port side.

            ALSO, being a mariner, you should know they would almost NEVER alter course to PORT in an extremis situation, as the understanding from the container ship’s point of few is that the give-way vessel will also turn to STBD at some point in time, even at the last minute to avoid collision. MULTIPLE case studies show an error when ships at the last minute turned to port and the other to stbd to avoid an accident yet actually create one.

            This is seamanship 101 folks. The vectors match perfectly with a crossing situation and last minute course change to stbd, but we will see.

          • USNVO

            Sorry, again you are putting together data points several minutes apart and trying to draw facts in isolation. If the ship altered course to starboard while trying to avoid collision and hit from the starboard quarter near the pilothouse, if they had altered course to port, or likely even just went straight, it would have missed entirely astern.

            Lets look at the two scenarios and see which fits the geography of the area and known information. As far as I could find the track of the Fitzgerald is not available on AIS.

            1. A crossing situation. We know the containership was headed roughly 070 at 18kts at the time of the collision, having altered course to Port from roughly 085 about 10 minutes before the collision IAW with its navigation track to go betweeen Toshima and Oshima. The collision took place at approximately 1630Z. The Fitzgerald would have to be headed roughly South to SouthEast. By your interpretation, the merchant ship turned hard right just before striking the DDG from the starboard quarter, so a turn of roughly 45 degrees or so. Does this make sense.
            Well, it is hard to tell,
            – Does it make sense that the Fitzgerald was coming down from that direction. Not really, unless they were running tracks around Oshima Island, they had no reason to be coming that way. The Containership was headed to Tokyo, it didn’t take that route. Additionally, the Fitzgerald would have to have left Yokosuka at something like 2000, not impossible but unlikely.
            – Does make sense where they were in the shipping channel. Not really, they would probably be further west than where the collision occurred.
            – Does where they are going make sense? Not really, they are headed pretty much right at Toshima Island as opposed to the open sea.
            – Is the damage consistent? Maybe, it appears most of the damage was under the waterline. In any event it is the same with all the collisions.
            – Is this consistent with what the Containership did? Possibly, the watch officer would have observed the DDG near the port bow with rapid bearing drift to the right and he put the rudder over hard to the right. In general in accordance with COLREGs but he would have had to not take action anytime after turning to port and creating a CBDR situation (roughly 7000yds or so). So if he saw the ship at all, he would have seen a sidelight and both masthead lights and would generally know it was a large ship.

            2. An overtaking situation. Again, we know the containership was headed roughly 070 at 18kts at the time of the collision, having altered course to Port from roughly 085 about 10 minutes before the collision occurred. The collision took place at approximately 1630Z. In this scenario, the Fitzgerald would be at roughly the same track as the containership and maneuvering between Oshima and Toshima. The containership is overtaking, doesn’t see the Fitzgerald, turns to port and rams into the DDG, turning right either immediately before the collision or is pushed off to the right by the collision and the damage to the bow. The Fitzgerald may have also altered course to starboard to avoid contacts or was continuing to the right side of the channel.
            Does this make sense.
            Well, it is hard to tell,
            – Does it make sense that the Fitzgerald was coming from that direction? Sure, if they were returning to Yokosuka they would have been following the typical route. If they were pulling in that morning, they would have been at the collision site a little after midnight. Its Friday, seems to match up.
            – Does it make sense where they were in the shipping channel? Sure, they were on the right side of the channel right where they would typically be to go between the islands. They are somewhat to the right of where they might expect to be but if they were maneuvering around contacts, that would make sense.
            – Does where they are going make sense? Sure, the are headed to homeport on the route they typically take.
            – Is the damage consistent? Maybe, it appears most of the damage was under the waterline. In any event it is the same with all the collisions.
            – Is this consistent with what the Containership did? Possibly, the watch officer would have observed the sternlight only of the DDG. If the containership never maneuvered, they would have struck the DDG from the starboard quarter.
            – What about the Fitzgerald? Maybe. If they were looking at other traffic they may not have caught that the containership turning to port 10 minutes before the collision. Before that it would have been 2000yds or so on the starboard quarter and set to pass down the starboard side. More importantly, they were the stand on vessel and would have expected the containership to not maneuver until it was past.

            So no clear conclusion. But lets look at what the containership did afterwards.

            After the collision, the containerships course was altered to the right. This might have been by the force of the collision or it might have been by a maneuver. But this is where it gets weird. After the collision, the ship does not stop. In fact, it would appear that it was on autopilot because it immediately comes back up in speed (no change in engine setting) and proceeds directly back toward its navigation waypoint as if it was still on autopilot. No report of collision is made. The ship proceeds for 20minutes or more before it suddenly does an obvious hard turn to port (much tighter than the turn to port after the collision) and heads back to where the collision occurs. It arrives roughly one hour after the collision in the area where the Fitzgerald is and reports the collision to the Japanese authorities. It then precedes back toward Tokyo and once again directly heads toward the same navigation point.

            Does this weird behavior support a crossing situation? Not being there I would have to say I don’t know but it doesn’t appear to be consistent.

            Does it support a overtaking situation? Again, not being there I would not know but there are a couple of thing that supports it.
            – In an overtaking situation, they would only have seen a single stern light. DDGs have reduced RCS so they don’t appear very large unless they have the corner reflectors up. So no idea of how big the ship is. For that matter, if you think the right turn was caused by the collision and not an intentional act, there is really no indication that they even maneuvered at all. Note that there was a dramatic drop of speed immediately followed by on increase in speed and a fairly small rudder angle turn back to a course to the previous waypoint. Both argue ignorance.
            – 20 minutes is enough time for someone to go up to the bow and figure out they hit something big and decide to go back. Note that if they had tried to heroically maneuver to avoid collision, they would have known they hit something big. So it again argues for ignorance.

            Again, I don’t know, but there is not enough information to draw any conclusions. Clearly, regardless of the situation, both ships failed in their responsibilities.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            We will find out when the report comes out, and I’m not saying you are absolutely wrong, however history with starboard side damage does not bid well in case studies. I heard the same argument about the USS Porter. After all the mistakes and fault laid on the Porter and the merchant exonerated, some still said the merchant could have turned to port. I actually sat in a simulation with audio overlay, and the merchant did what anyone would do, turn to STBD at that last moment with the Porter, which made perfect sense. Think about it, the ship is on your port side until the collision with no understanding of the give-way vessels intentions (hoping they go to STBD too!)

            In any case, to give you the benefit of the doubt, maybe it was a confusing overtaking situation around 22.5 abaft the beam, where one knew they were the stand on, and the other wasn’t sure (22 or 23 degrees). Percentage of fault is never 0% and 100%, so blame will lie on both.

            Maybe you are confusing auto-pilot with auto-track, but in any case, most likely the watch officer had the helmsman return from look out and put it in hand when things started getting close. Returning to the scene for assistance is standard procedure, as is this case with the container ship doubling back.

          • USNVO

            We’ll see when the final report is out. Without knowing what the DDG was doing and where, trying to make something of the AIS is like reading tea leaves. Clearly both ships are at fault although to different degrees.

            But my point remains the same. Just because the damage to the ship was starboard doesn’t mean it was a crossing situation. It could just as easily be that it was an overtaking situation. The impact angle was pretty shallow based on the damage on the container ships bow and the fact their is virtually no penetration at the deck edge argues for a glancing blow from behind as does the fact that the underwater damage opened numerous compartments. So it could go either way.

            However, given what we know, the evidence more closely matches what we would expect to see of an overtaking situation.

            Final note, is it normal to regain speed and resume track for 20 minutes, steaming over 5 miles in pretty much a straight line, before returning to the collision location? Especially if it was in manual at the time of the collision? Really? Come on, next you are going to say it is normal to not report for over an hour as well. Sorry, both actions argue that the ship was on autopilot and the engine order was never changed until 20 minutes after the collision. Your confirmational bias is showing.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            I agree, we are picking at scanty information here. As for your final note, I’m not sure what your are assuming here.

            Just being in the industry, I can say this time of day the second mate was probably on watch with an able bodied seaman (AB) as lookout with auto pilot engaged. The AB is able to take the helm whenever the watch officer wants. Depending on the situation, the watch officer can always call assistance, and the captain to the bridge. As they enter more restricted waters, the ship will be in hand with a helm, lee helm, master, officer of the watch, and the navigator (second mate) for navigation. The engineering watch is dependent on the situation as well. The type of engine the ACX was equipped with (30,000kw STX slow speed diesel engine) can be slow to respond depending on what mode it is in.

            The naval vessel had CIC manned with a TAO and watch team, plotters, etc and the bridge with OOD, JOOD, JOOW, CONN, lookouts, BM of the watch, Helm, Lee helm, QM and maybe some UI… so many people which can lead to chaos. We also know the CO never made it to the bridge, which could show a complete lack of situational awareness. Could be completely wrong. This could be a ramming attack for all I know.

          • USNVO

            Based on the information I have seen, specifically;

            1. The location and most importantly the position of land.
            2. AIS track of the containership
            3. Actions of the containership after the collision.
            – It took 20 minutes and over 5nm for the container ship to turn around. That would not be normally if they knew what happened but it is time to send the “lookout” up to the bow to see what they hit, have him report back, and go “oh S…” or its equivilent in Tagalog.
            – The engine order was not changed during that time (we don’t actually know that but, if we assume the ship was proceeding at 18kts before and it had damage to its bow afterwards,15kts is pretty close to what you would expect).
            – The ship resumed a straight line track to its next waypoint.
            – The ship did not report the collision for an hour, after it had returned to the collision scene and realized it had hit something.
            And please don’t insult yours or my intelligence by claiming that is normal.
            4. The complete silence from the containership and its company. If their ship had tried to maneuver away from the DDG, you can be sure they would be saying so even if back channel, witness numerous other collisions.
            5. As you say the CO of the DDG was not on the bridge for what was a very close CPA.
            6. Moonless night.

            Based on all of that, I would say there was a complete lack of situational awareness as well, But unlike you, I would be willing to bet is was true of both ships.
            – On the DDG, I would speculate that the ship was identified as overtaking in CIC and then ignored, It would have had a pretty wide CPA when first reported. No one projected out that the ship would be turning to port to follow the typical route to Tokyo. When they were then CBDR, probably at under 2000yds, no one noticed. I doubt either ship maneuvered before the collision, at least to avoid the other one.

            – On the Containership, I seriously doubt that the watch officer was even aware of the DDG before the collision or assumed it was a fishing boat and just ignored it. He or she also ignored the fact they were CBDR after they turned left IAW their nav track. Further, the AIS track pretty much shows they were completely clueless as to what had happened after the collision. And really, an hour to report a collision at sea? Yeah, they were on top of things.

            Examples of comfirmational bias:
            – The ship doesn’t change engine order for 20 MINUTES and you shrug it off that the engine might be slow to respond. Say that a few times, does that sound reasonable.
            – Look at how fast the ship turned around after figuring out that it was involved in a collision and when it wasn’t required to provide assistance to head back to Tokyo. Compare that to how long it took to come back to port to regain track after the collision. I call that autopilot, probably while the lookout checked on the bow. Does that sound like anything resembling what you would expect if they knew what happened.
            – The ship steamed away from the collision for the fore said 20 minutes. Does that sound like any post collision maneuver you ever heard of. I am open to a plausible answer, but just don’t see it.

            So yes, confirmational bias. You started at the DDG was at fault, and let’s note that it is clearly at fault if for no other reason than they did not avoid the merchant ship when it did not avoid them, and you have systematically ignored all evidence to the contrary. We’ll see what comes out of the investigation, for all I know the DDG turned right in front of the containership not realizing it was there, but the actions of the containership show an equal ignorance of the DDG.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            – “It took 20 minutes and over 5nm for the container ship to turn around.”
            I don’t see any problem with that. Where they in communication? They were certainly within LOS. Maybe one was NOC. 5nm seems like a reasonable distance. This look oddly familiar with the Porter and Otowasan collision. By all your reasoning, you will still fault the Otowasan for the collision when they made almost all the right actions.

            -“The engine order was not changed during that time”
            That statement appears to be false and the root of your argument. Simply looking at the AIS track, the ACX slowed from 18 kts to 17 kts at 0130 immediately before or right at the perceived impact and hard course change to STBD. Whether the hard change to STBD and 1 kts speed reduction at that moment was due to the impact, late course change or both, we simply do not know yet.
            AIS then tracks the contact slowing to 11 kts less than 3 minutes after impact, then eventually slowing down to 7 kts before turning around to apparently investigate. An immediate speed reduction was obviously performed, and if you know anything about house sized slow speed (rpm) diesel engines that burn heavy crude, this fits precisely with that.

            -“the ship resumed a strait line track to its next waypoint”
            Again, going that short distance down its original track does not seem odd to me before turning around. This track was already verified swept within the XTE by ECDIS for the 40,000ton ship with a large draft. Look at the collision between the Porter and the MV Otowasan. The exonerated Otowasan made a hard to STBD to avoid as well, and ended up slowing then resuming on its original track.

            -“the ship did not report the collision for an hour, after it had returned to the collision scene and realized it had hit something.”
            Is it normal that the Fitzgerald did not report the collision immediately as well? How did they know they didn’t injury anyone on the ACX? Maybe the two vessels were in communication with each other. I will say, It is strange it took them fifty minutes. IMO regulations is English, we know all tell well how poor that can be.

            -“the actions of the containership show an equal ignorance of the DDG”
            depends on the relative angle between the two. If the ACX was stand-on, she sure doesn’t turn and slow in a hurry.

            My friend, I don’t believe history is on your side. You look back at almost every collision and allision with a us naval vessel, and after every in depth, well thought out study, the naval vessel is usually grossly negligent. Seamanship skill are truly lacking, and every professional merchant mariner throughout the world will tell you that. The unwritten rule in the COLREGS is “haze grey, stay away”, and it holds true. I hate to say that, but it is true.

            That being said, no collision is ever the sole fault of one ship, and we will find out both made errors is this instance.

      • The Hill staff

        He’s just stating facts, based on the location of the damage. The vessel on the right has the right-of-way. This is true of all vehicles, including cars arriving at a four-way stop at the same time.

        • USNVO

          Not true.

          First, their are numerous rules that supersede rule 15. For instance a ship could be overtaking, one of the ships could be restricted in its ability to maneuver, they could be meeting, there could be more than one ship, etc.

          Second, in any place where they drive on the wrong side of the road, like say Japan, the rules for the car drivers are backwards from everywhere else.

          I have had a sailboat tack literally under the bow entering San Francisco when I was OOD because he didn’t see the ship (because a 30,000 ton ship is hard to see) and sailboats always have the right away anyway. Well, except for when rule 10 applies (which it did) and then they don’t.

          • Tom

            Then there is the “Prudential Rule”. The last vessel that could have avoided the accident and did not react is considered to be at fault.

          • The Hill staff

            Note I said BASED ON DAMAGE.

          • USNVO

            Damage is clearly from a shallow angle impact from the starboard quarter. Overtaking is anything 22.5 degrees abaft the beam, much more likely to be from an overtaking situation.

      • Rick Rodriguez

        You forgot the stinger…

    • Kamiel Foskey

      It probably was the Destroyer’s fault… The US navy has a reputation of refusing to yield right of way to anyone… There is a wonderful audio track out there of a Navy Radioman demanding a Spanish lighthouse get out of the way or they are going to sink it.

      • John Keller

        That’s a spoof, but hilarious nonetheless. Canadian lighthouse is a variant.

    • scotty

      It is also possible the container ship was overtaking, if it was that far south of Sagami Wan then there is no reason to cross traffic and everyone is just driving on a freeway. Who was going to be late for their pilot pickup?

      We’ll have to wait for the flag state investigation and the Navy’s redacted write-up.

  • Ed L

    Someone forgot the first rule when dealing with merchant ships. Always maneuver when the contact become CBRD constant bearing range decreasing

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      Always menuver IAW Colregs doesn’t mean to always menuver in a CBDR, dependent on range of that vessel. Communicate is usually a good idea. The STBD side damage appears to show the destroyer was in fact the give way vessel, unfortunately.

      • Ed L

        In 14 years on ships most of that as a bridge watch stander. I saw many times where we maneuver in violation of Colregs keeping our ships out of danger. Saw many a merchant ship just keep on streaming never changing course or speed. Never trust a merchant ship or an Aircraft Carrier. That was our motto in the Gators and Service Squadrons
        We used to look down on the destroyers and cruisers. Man for man our boat coxswains were better Seamanship,better our engineers were better.

        • MarlineSpikeMate

          The only problem is that in almost every circumstance and case study you look at, the naval vessel is almost ALWAYs to blame. I hate to see that, but it is true. Merchants seem to consistently follow COLREGs, as they do this day in and day out with each other with out much problem. The Navy likes to always play give-way, (just as you pointed out) no matter the situation. An example would be tanker off your port bow with 1nm CPA. Generally if you hold as you are suppose too, the merchant tends to turn STBD around 6 to 10 nm to give way. Maybe you give a courtesy call if your feeling nervous. The problem is the naval vessel tends to get uncomfortable, even though this is standard practice for merchants. The naval vessel slows are makes a bad move to open up the perceived CPA, yet simultaneously the merchant turns to STBD as custom. Obviously this creates a problem. Any time the naval vessel decides to give way when it shouldn’t creates confusion. I’ve sailed on both naval as a SWO and merchants as an officer, and tend to see the merchants have much more experience at sea for this type of stuff. I would even argue a concerning lack of proficiency on the grey hull side is an issue.

          When you consistently see damage on the STBD side…. you know there might be a training problem… Porter for example.

          • Ed L

            Yes my navy is not what it use to be. No celestial navigation no signalmen and the signal lights. (Don’t even see signal lights on the Burke class ships.) Visited Norfolk a while back talk to the QMCS who dad I served with. He said he reported to a new ship after two years of shore duty. First day at sea was getting ready to do a fix with his sextant and was told by the navigator that they didn’t do that anymore . But he decide to do it anyway. When question he said it didn’t require electricity to work. At 38 he said that the wiz kids have ruin the navy

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Good points. The major problem I see is the mentality of not being a mariner first. We are suppose to drive, steam and fight the ship, but you first have to master the driving and steaming portion before you can fight. Engineering and navigational errors are almost common place in the fleet today, and personally I blame the mentality as a whole (wiz kids). After seeing the merchant side, it brought a whole new perspective in level of knowledge and understanding that we so simply check off in a box or dismiss so easily.

          • tiger

            Sailors being sailors? Radical idea. Step one, lose the damn camo gear at sea.

          • The Plague

            The Air force often gets derided for being just a bunch of pilots with the “white scarf syndrome”. But maybe they do have a point there, after all : first and foremost you have to be a pilot to make it. And a good one.

          • Sounds good, but the fact is a sextant is no where near as accurate as GPS is. And if there is no electricity, the ship is not going far anyway.;

          • tiger

            It has worked well enough for 400 years of navigation

          • So did oars and sails.

          • Ed L

            That’s the problem with the non steam power ships. We used to be able to engage steam power fuel oil pumps to keep the boilers going and the shaft turning

          • Tiny_Montgomery

            People who depend totally on GPS make regular appearances in the Darwin Awards — driving off cliffs, driving over electrified train lines, turning on to cow paths that end in rivers or streams. GPS tells you where you’re at; it doesn’t tell you who is next to you, behind you, or in front of you. That’s what the radar is for.

            The radar and/or its operators are likely the problem. First order of business is figuring out what happened, firing/discharging people who earned it, and trying to devise an idiot proof procedure to avoid similar occurrences. Playing chicken with other shipping as a form of “prestige” might be old and traditional, but it is also stupid. The damage to the naval vessel looks to be in the tens of millions of dollars, lives may have been lost, and the ship appears to have come very close to sinking. Far too high a price to pay for chickenshit.

          • wtny64

            My experience with “idiot proof” is that there’s almost always an idiot who jumps up and says ‘Challenge accepted’

          • Tiny_Montgomery

            I guess that amounts to “initiative” by the aspiring idiot, and gives him a goal that he has the ability to achieve.

            Your statement above should be a corollary to both the Laws of Murphy and the Peter Principle.

          • wtny64

            Thanks for the comment. One wishes the circumstances were different.

          • wtny64

            Thanks for your comment.

          • wtny64

            Thanks for the comment.

          • Jayfar

            Or as I’ve heard it said, “Make it idiot proof and they’ll just go and make a better idiot.”

          • wtny64

            Thanks for the comment.

          • TheGipper

            Well, a ship can drift a long way. It would be nice to know where you are after a week or two.

      • I am betting there is probably recordings of the ship to ship communications.

        • Jaromir Rowiński

          Recording devices on merchant vessels are obligatory – including voice recorders for “ship to ship” communication, for bridge conversations and for outside bridge microphones. See Annex 10 SOLAS – in force since 2002…
          I’m betting there is similar system in Navy. But unlike in merchant shipping – Navy can keep it’s records “secret”.

          • dagoo neybah

            Crews of foreign merchant vessels don’t necessarily speak much English, if at all. The right-of-way rules-of-the-road have worked for 100’s of years without much need for communication.

          • Jaromir Rowiński

            The dangers associated with the use of VHF for purposes of collision
            avoidance are widely publicised within the shipping industry, particularly
            in relation to creating unnecessary confusion where a practical solution
            already exists. It is not related to crews language ability only…
            There have been a significant number of collisions where subsequent investigation has found that at some stage before impact, one or both parties were using VHF radio in an attempt to avoid collision. The use of VHF radio in these circumstances is not always helpful and may even prove to be dangerous.
            Valuable time can be wasted whilst mariners on vessels approaching each other try to make contact on VHF radio instead of complying with the Collision Regulations.
            There is the further danger that even if contact and identification is achieved and no difficulties over the language of communication or message content arise, a course of action might still be chosen that does not comply with the Collision Regulations. This may lead to the collision it was intended to prevent.

            BTW – There no such thing like “right-of-way” in the Collision Regulations (COLREGS)…
            Yes – there are “stand on vessels” and there are vessels that “shall keep out of the way of the other” and there are “give-way vessels”…

            But never vessels deemed to have…..”right-of-way”!

            During 30 years of bridge-watching I’ve never assumed to have…”right-of-way”. That’s why I’ve never had a collosion, I suppose…

  • geek49203

    Headline doesn’t match the body of the article — is this a Japanese ship, or a “Philippine Merchant Ship”? I see it’s flying under the Philippine” flag…

    • Sam LaGrone

      It was briefly IDed as a Japanese ship but has been updated.

      • tiger

        Any idea about the sea conditions at the time? Was there fog or something in play?

        • TommyD

          My understanding is it was clear visibility, That there was heavy ship traffic in the area at the time.

    • tiger

      Likely Japanese owned with a Filipino crew.

  • Kope

    Does anyone even know who is at fault!?! Or just pointing fingers. Thank God no casualties were aboard. I’m also thankful it was not my son’s ship

    • Sailor Jerry

      Clearly the US Navy ship. They got hit on their starboard side looks like pretty much t-bone style damages. Ship on your starboard side have right of way that means they were the give away vessel and that they had to slow down or alter to starboard for ACX Crystal.

      • USNVO

        If neither ship maneuvered before the collision, from the damage the containership hit from the starboard quarter. An overtaking situation and the Fitzgerald was stand on. If they maneuvered, who knows. We do know the containership altered course to port 10 minutes before the collision, no clue what the Fitzgerald was doing..

    • John Keller

      It appears the Filipino freighter hit Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald may have sailed across her course.

      • The captain or OOD may have miscalculated the speed needed to cross the bow of the merchant. It apparently took place at 3AM so quite likely the captain and XO were not on the bridge.

  • spikeo

    This is hard to do, with all the safety procedures that are in place on a Navy ship.

    • Kamiel Foskey

      It is not hard to do at all… Really, it’s not… All it takes is 1 commanding officer going, “No, stay the course. They have to yield right of way.” That’s exactly how the original Ticonderoga flagship was put out of commission… The commanding officer on board refused to allow the helmsman to yield right of way and they rammed a merchant ship, doing irreparable damage to the whole front end of the ship. I have a friend that was an engineer on the ship when it happened.

      • Horn

        I have no clue what Ticonderoga you are talking about. The cruiser was decommissioned because of the Mk26 launchers. The carrier was decommissioned because she was old.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    It was only 6 weeks ago that USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) collided with a South Korean fishing boat.

  • Ed L

    ACX CRYSTAL Master Data. Last 5 port visits track with AIS
    Built:2008. Size:213 x 30 m. Draught:12.018 m
    Gross Tonnage:29093 t. Net Tonnage:14422 t. Deadweight:39565 t
    Got this info from my vessel finder app

  • RB

    It is unacceptable for any US Warship to collide with any vessel. I’ll bet you
    boyfriend/girlfriend on radar night watch was having s**, and the duty officer
    at the helm was asleep. Cmdr. Bryce Benson relieved Cmdr. Robert Shu
    during the change of command May 13. 2017. Heads should roll.

    • John Keller

      And the freighter helmsman was likely napping.

      • tiger

        Keep in mind the freighter helmsman can not see the bow with containers piled to the sky.

        • Sailor Jerry

          That is just untrue. You can see the forward mast and nothing in any case should be so close as to be in the blind spot under the bow/ fwd mast area. As for you John Keller this derogatory remark for a merchant seamen is out of place. What do you know of merchant mariners? Clearly not that much since we do not have helmsman at the wheel. They invented computer systems monitored by a bridge team since the last time you stepped on a row boat. Now who needs to review BRM and move forward to the 21st century? The US Navy.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Concur with Sailor Jerry. After sailing with as an officer on Navy and USMM ships, I can attest to the professionalism and modern bridge resource management that is superior to what the USN does. Experience is much greater as well.

        • Appolos Chuks

          You’re right

        • LTK

          You are wrong.

      • TommyD

        Commercial container ship prob on auto pilot.

    • RHS

      That USN ship has to have a high resolution, short range radar, that apparently wasn’t being watched, and I’m sure it’s better than what we had 30 years ago, and it worked great back then. There’s an OOD and a conning officer that need to answer some questions. That Destroyer was T-Boned, so they sailed right into the freighter’s path. Freighters usually have the required lighting. Where were the lookouts?
      The worst part is that we have 7 sailors that are unaccounted for.

      • dagoo neybah

        It’s very embarrassing that an unarmed rusty freighter can take out an American warship.

        • Ray Flo

          The Champlain,The Porter and now the Fitzgerald.

      • Jon Rogers

        7 sailors unaccounted for is unacceptable having stood these watches it is alarming as to who was sleeping and who was on lookout reports should come in offten from watches radar watch bridge wing watch aft watch

      • Ray Flo

        Probably got bad 5U4s on the radar

    • 1coolguy

      Heads WILL roll. Benson should preclude the inevitable and hand in his commission and go join a tug boat company.

  • RB

    I say where, where is the escort ship? The escort ship would have helped with radar detection of another vessel? Our enemies are going to start purchasing merchant ships in-place of warships.

    • Retired E-6 USN

      Your a freaking idiot…. what ship is going to escort a DDG to keep it safe???

      Newsflash the DDG is an Escort class ship for a Carrier battlegroup its not a carrier. The US navy doesn’t have escorts to escort, escorts!!!

      Furthermore this ship has tons of Radar, Sonar, Bridge Wing Watches etc etc…. The fact that it managed to collide with a larger ship doesnt bode well for the Captain as no matter how this pans out…. The US Navy Destroyer must yield to the Larger ship and give way…. There is no reason a ship that can Instantly stop within a ship length and full speed 40+ Knots should be T-Boned by a Container ship!!!

      While I hope this C.O. recover’s, sadly he has lost his job… And the buck stops with him as he is ultimately the one responsible for his ship and its welfare!

      • 011001100110

        ” The US navy doesn’t have escorts to escort, escorts!!!”

        sure they did…, you forgot about tail hook….. ; ) ahhh the good old days.

      • tiger

        HMAS Melbourne managed to wreck twice in a career….


      • RB

        I’m US Army, may be I should have said US warships ships should start traveling in pairs, just like fighter jets have a wing-man (?).

      • Gerard Martin

        The destroyer or merchant must give way to each other based on the rules of the road (give way to the right). However, the damage to the stbd side makes it look like the destroyer failed to give way.

    • John Keller

      A DDG is an escort ship.

    • Escort ship for a DDG? DDG’s *ARE* the escort ships.

      • Discriminator

        Well, actually…we did have DE’s (destroyer escorts) up until about 1973, when they were re-designated as FF’s. But, you’re right, today a DDG can do all the ASW functions of the DE/FF/FFG. except for towed-array sonars, which many DDG’s lack. just to nit pick.

  • Ross 97338

    someone is in serious trouble, their is suppose to be watches to prevent this very thing from happening

  • John Keller

    From the damage, it appears the freighter hit Fitzgerald.

    • The DDG basically got t-boned. Too early to tell but perhaps the Navy captain thought he could make it across the T in time.

      • Grumpy Ol’ Senior Chief

        It probably wasn’t the captain. Note where the merch hit Fitz’s superstructure. That is where the CO’s inport cabin is (They have an at sea cabin just off the bridge but it isn’t always used). Given that the CO was a medevac, he was likely in his rack when the hit happened.

        • Yup, I should have said OOD, not captain.

    • Sailor Jerry

      That doesn’t matter in the rules of the road. The Fitzgerald was the give away vessel.

    • TommyD

      While that does appear to be the case, that is not the determining factor. The International Rules of the Road is the bible in this case which has been written from knowledge gained over hundreds of years taking input from thousands upon thousands of incidents.
      It will be determined who / which vessel had the right of way and if and what mistakes were made by one or both vessels involved.
      Could be that one or both took incorrect actions or failed to take the appropriate action. It will be determined.

  • Crunky

    Look at merchant ship; the bow thruster must have poked a hole into ship well below water line; maybe 30+ feet into ship. My boy says that this is into officer berth area. Beautiful ship when we visited ~5 years ago. Very ship-shape. Very tip-of-spear. Very, sad to hear. One or two advanced radar arrays appear to be missing — probably floating. This is really bad news. Hope the crew is all found OK. Hope Captain recovers. Sounds like perhaps Crystal has the antenna gear?

    • Leo Crunky

      Perhaps Crystal DOES has antenna array on deck? There is some junk on her deck.

    • Grumpy Ol’ Senior Chief

      It isn’t an officer berthing, it’s crew berthing #1 & 2. 60-70 crew in berthing 1, 30-40 in berthing 2. The bulbous bow probably punched straight in to the berthings and flooded them. Given that this was in the middle of the night, fairly amazing that casualties were so limited.

  • No name

    Merchant ship: Captain Gaku, did you feel that? Feel what? Check auto pilot. We’re on course Captain. Go back to sleep.

  • ENS Pulver

    Having been a prior SWO (since lateral transferred), I have stood/observed/assisted many a bridge watch (including in these waters). First off… my thoughts and prayers with the USS FITZGERALD and her crew. May all our sailors and shipmates return safe…. However, as tragic as a time that this is, it highlights the necessity of the SWO community to engage in professional development on par with it’s sister communities, such as aviators (i.e, logs for deck time and matching civilian mariner qualifications, etc…).

    While this is hardly the time (or any crisis) to assume that changes would make a difference, the SWO community needs a wake up call. It is high time for this community to have a renaissance and a change of focus back to being professional mariner. In the mean time:

    “Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea! “

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      “However, as tragic as a time that this is, it highlights the necessity of the SWO community to engage in professional development on par with it’s sister communities, such as aviators (i.e, logs for deck time and matching civilian mariner qualifications, etc…”

      “SWO community needs a wake up call. It is high time for this community to have a renaissance and a change of focus back to being professional mariner.”

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • DPaige

    I’m a proud USN vet. I just want to know why the skipper was the first one evacuated.

    • John Keller

      Only crew member to be injured but not missing? Or to save his life from an angry, mutinous crew?

  • Centaurus

    I tell you, this was a blatant attack by the Chinese masquerading with a literal “false flag” operation ! Watch Trump tweet that this was a blatant attack on our warship by a hijacked / fake pil’ap’ino container ship.
    And no, I’m NOT drunk !

    • The Plague

      Well, it is increasingly difficult to imagine this incident without some degree of intentionality being involved…

  • wtny64

    This could have been better-written . The second paragraph gives the impression they’ve already written off the 7 missing crewmen.

  • Nightmare

    This small boat sailor knows what to do if I were to see a port side running light on a significantly larger ship. My 25′ sailboat’s berth was surrounded by nearby container ships and to get underweigh we had to sail out them. USS Yorktown further narrowed the channel.

  • Bani Prasad Das

    Wait for the accident investigation report! Busy waterways, necessitate manouvering of vessels, even naval vessels in close proximity, which is the exact reason that both ships should have been more alert.
    As a professional Merchant Marine Captain, I’m afraid that as usual there will be an overkill in the response by IMO and the US Government.
    One aspect that begs attention is the necessity of traffic separation schemes in certain areas off Japan.
    For over 30 years there have been voluntary TSS recommended by the Japan Captains Association, but these are purely voluntary due to pressure from the Japanese Fishermen’s interests.

  • Curtis Conway

    My first question is “What did the Captain’s Standing Night Orders Say?”

    Most Standing Night Orders in my past had a close coordination of CIC and the Bridge to never permit anyone to penetrate a Closest Point of Approach (CPA) of 5 miles while following the Rules of the Road and the Incidents at Sea agreement, and if that was to occur, to wake the Captain before the 5 mile CPA was breached. Being the “Mid-watch King” in CIC on two cruisers, I can tell you that many a trip was made to the Bridge to make sure we knew EXACTLY what we were going to do, long before such an occurrence would transpire. A degree or two of course, or a knot adjustment in speed to drive the CPA out where it belonged, was the goal, without causing a negative effect on our Speed of Advance so we could meet our Position of Intended Movement on time. Combat and the Bridge had to both maintain a situational awareness, and had to agree what that surface picture looked like, and were comparing notes constantly between the CIC watch-officer (in a True degree world) and the OOD (in a Relative world w/r/t our heading). It boggles the mind that a capital ship was able to get that close to a US Navy Man-O-War, and neither Combat nor the Bridge appreciated the situation. Who was driving the ship? The ‘proverbial dog’ was probably driving the container ship (does Bridge-to-Bridge Ch-16 still exist?), and one can never count on traffic to act professional, but there were multiple people on the Destroyer who were watching radar screens, or putting glass to eyes to observe the horizon (surface watch in CIC, Bridge lookouts, EO/IR sensors). If this is not so, then what was going on . . . on this ship? I wasn’t there, and I look forward to the Board of Inquiry’s report. It is clear that few if anyone was looking out for the welfare of this combat vessel at sea while on patrol.
    This is probably a good time to have every commanding officer in the US Navy to review his/her Captain’s Standing Night Orders.

    • Papasan Pauly

      You sold me. Sure doesn’t speak well of FITZGERALD’s Ship’s Company and I guarantee there’s a lot of highly ticked off Sailors and Chiefs who would do great bodily harm to those who made them look this bad.

      • Mikey

        I’m pretty sure that the night orders didn’t say allow the ship to get close to and run into a huge container ship. Someone was not paying attention on the bridge or one of the ships had a steering casualty. I bet their EEO, LGBT, Bystander Intervention and Cultural Awareness training was all up to speed though.

        • MarlineSpikeMate

          Mikey, you are exactly right talking about priorities.

    • 1coolguy

      Here, here. Well done.

    • The Plague

      Just as you describe, given the large number of people standing watch both in CIC and on the
      Bridge at all times, and the multiple ways these crewmen get to observe
      the ship’s environment, as well as the nature of Navy regulations in general, it is looking increasingly unlikely that this incident could have happened where it did without either the destroyer intentionally trying to approach the merchantman for whatever reason, or affairs aboard the destroyer being in disarray beyond belief. My bet is on the former.


    what would the repair and test time frame before return to service ?
    one year ?
    TWO years ?
    does it get dry docked, and do they do it in japan or does it come back to the states ?

    during that time what happens to the crew, do they get TDY’d ???

  • PolicyWonk

    The unfortunate incident brings the reasoning behind proper ship design and crewing front and center. The toughness of the Burke-class design and construction (let alone crew size and damage control training) is what allows it to survive this kind of damage.

    This is what makes me wonder what the USN was thinking with something like our so-called “littoral combat ship” classes, that have neither the design, construction, nor crew sufficient to rescue their ship should something of this magnitude this occur.

    Regardless, I offer prayers for the missing crew members and their families, and congratulations to the crew for rescuing their ship.

    • Curtis Conway

      If an LCS had suffered the same damage, we probably would be reading a different story today. THAT is why survivability standards w/r/t watertight integrity and compartmentalization exist.
      Those US Navy Regulations concerning survivability were purchased with our most precious blood during previous wars, and the current LCS design so cavalierly discards. The US Navy needs 50+ Hybrid Electric Drive, multi-warfare, Aegis-light (like) Guided Missile Frigate Surface Combatants, with a non-rotating 3D radar that at a minimum can detect, track and engage Tactical Ballistic Missiles and Supersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles. Two versions should be built with one AAW-centric design, and the other ASW-centric design that differ in locations of small boats, and a greater population of Mk 41 VLS cells for the AAW-centric version in place of a sacrificed helo hangar. The ASW-centric version should have a Towed-array & Variable Depth sonars aft.

      • USNVO

        A LCS is one third the displacement. If a MCM, MHC, PC, or even a FFG-7 had the same collision, it would have been far worse as well.

        As to the rest, as AESOP once observed, anyone can think of an impossible plan.

      • tim

        IMHO it should read “at a minimum can detect” container ships and properly warn of incoming objects.”

      • PolicyWonk

        I cannot argue with anything you’ve posted regarding this topic either now or in the past – and if an LCS had been the topic of this conversation, it would be a far sadder conservation.

        It is indeed appalling that all the hard-won lessons of littoral combat were ignored by the USN (LCS Program Office) when it came to the development of requirements and design of what is called the “littoral combat ship”.

        And your comments w/r/t what principals should be used when determining what the design basis for a new class of frigates are spot-on. As has been said in the past on this and other forums, if the vessel in question cannot protect itself to some reasonable degree, then regardless of how much money was spent, it wasn’t spent well.

        • Curtis Conway

          The LCS is a culmination of NOT honoring the sacrifice of our great sea warriors who have gone before . . . in my humble opinion.

          • PolicyWonk

            True: all one need do is review the history of littoral warfare, especially since mechanized warfare became the norm.

            The US experience from WW2 (especially the pacific – but not to omit the European theater), through Vietnam – let alone our experience in other conflicts since, all point to the tough lessons learned through the expenditure of blood and lives regarding how to equip and fight in the littorals are all seemingly (if not deliberately) ignored in LCS.

  • Rick Roberts

    Considering the reality, who’s at fault is a pale shadow of the chaos and panic that must have ensued within the hull by surviving members of the heroic crew that pulled together to save this ship. The hours of training and discipline required to overcome this nightmare of every blue water navy man took hold. Kudos to the Officers, boatswains, cool headed old hands and seamen who pulled together in one of the toughest fights any of them had likely ever experienced. Well done.

  • John Smith

    This is what happens when you allow women on ships.

    • Esther Erin Smith

      Trying to incite/bate comments from the female sailors who have served on ships with your quip? I SIR served on the FIRST combatant ship to allow women, I volunteered and was the FIRST of my rating to get sea duty orders as a woman and I went back to sea two more times with my last sea tour as a precommissioning unit of a DDG (which is now stationed in Japan) I am PROUD of my sea service and the job I did on all 3 of my ships including being on board during the Haitian crisis, deploying EARLY for 9/11 amd then going to another ship right afterwards to serve 5 years plus of sea duty ON TOP of being a dual Navy family which meant while I was on shore duty my husband was on sea duty! I missed my youngest sons first 6 birthdays, every holiday of his first years and while at my last command I was almost sent overseas boots on the ground in county but since my husband found out he had stage 4 cancer 2 days before HE was to go on deployment I didn’t go (only thanks to his doctors) . So before you think about blaming women ON ships maybe you should think what a GREAT job US women do on these ships and what sacrifices we have made to get to where we had to go to sea, including harassment from MEN like you, having to work harder for those billets, then while in those billets having to continue to PROVE that you actually BELONG out there every single day by getting every single qualification and more not only for your rating but others as well! So educate yourself before you open your mouth!

      IS1(SW/AW) Esther Erin Smith
      USN (Ret)
      USS MUSTIN (DDG 89)

  • Papasan Pauly

    Prayers out for all Hands in Ship’s Company and the Seven Missing. Equal prayers out for the Families who are really up against it not knowing the fate of their Sailors. God’s blessings and mercies for all of them to find the peace that escapes them now.

    God be with you FITZGERALD.

  • David Ransom

    The Guardian article on this today states that the container ship made a sharp turn shortly before the collision.

    • LolKittunz

      Misinterpreting the data of the ship turning around AFTER the collision.

  • Trudie Nieuwkoop

    We got word today that our cousin Kristina Goldstein is aboard the ship that was at sea and was hit. Grateful to know she is ok. Prayers go out to the sailors lost. Your California Vlot cousins. Love You!

  • Ed L

    Bulbous bow On the Crystal is very prominent

  • DetailsDetailsDetails

    The first thing I did after hearing about the collision was to look at the photos of the Fitzgerald and review COLREGS. While it is certainly not definitive, when you get hit on the starboard side at the bridge, it is likely pretty ugly for the Fitz’s bridge team. Knowing that a container ship gets away from port, makes most efficient speed, locks down the propulsion plant, and goes on autopilot, then sticks to the rules of the road and stays off bridge to bridge radio, make it even more of challenge to not think Fitz has a problem beyond the personnel injuries and potential losses. Navy ships tend to want to contact other vessels on UHF radio to discuss collision avoidance, but merchant masters know that talk on a radio assume you know to whom you are speaking – which is not often a good assumption. As to maneuverability, the Fitz can stop faster and turn sharper than any container ship. This one was a relatively small container vessel, but even so, it can’t change speeds or turn with any agility. Generally speaking an accident of this type is not going to happen unless there are multiple errors made. I would guess that it will be found to be the case in this instance. I hate to see this kind of thing happen when it almost certainly could have been avoided if just one of the mistakes had not been made.


    Working as a San Francisco Ferry Boat Captain for thirty years or so, I have been involved in countless crossing and overtaking situations with both Naval and Merchant ships. I had a radar observers and plotters license and a radio license. Most close quarters situations can be resolved by a slight course change or reduction of speed by the burdened vessel. Naval vessels can exempt themselves from the Rules of the Road.
    Modern radars have “closest point of approach” rings that indicate that another vessel has come close enough to your vessel to warrent action. l don’t know how many times, after deciding what action I would take, I have called the other vessel involved and informed the mate on the other ship of my intentions. He has the option of suggesting another way to resolve our problem. Then, of course, if there is confusion, the Colregs call for the Danger Signal, four or more short blasts on the whistle, to attract attention. A couple of decades ago, I watched the Master of the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise, who had decided to pilot his own ship from sea to the Alameda Naval Station, put his ship in the mud ln the ANS channel. Pilots were available but he wanted to do the job himself.

  • Ditra

    Kim Jong Un was smile and clapping right now

  • Centaurus

    All bear in mind that this happened @ 2:00 AM local time and also that the water tight compartment(s) where the missing sailors are may contain more than 7 sailors.
    A horrible and probably avoidable incident no matter what…
    And agreed that an LCS would probably have sunk

  • Ed L

    Dedicated Signalmen need to return.

  • Niki Ptt

    I’m gonna hazard a wild guess, but what if the USS Fitzgerald was in an exercise, running dark, under EMCON? In a moonless night, that would explain a lot about the collision and the lack of immediate reaction from the cargo’s crew…

  • Ray Flo

    Sad! I noticed orange hoses around the launch tubes and observer in that area. That baby was out of commission in many ways.

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    Well the official reports out.. looks like many bad assumptions from this thread