According to Reuters, the U.S. warship that collided with a container vessel in Japanese waters earlier this month failed to take evasive action before the collision that killed seven American crew members. The cargo ship, the ACX Crystal, belongs to a Japanese shipping company out of the Philippines. Citing a report by the captain of the ACX Crystal, Reuters reports:
In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship’s captain said the ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald “suddenly” steamed on to a course to cross its path.
The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula’s report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters.
Reuters asked the U.S. Navy to comment on the ACX Crystal captain’s report, but they declined. A spokesmen from the Japan Coast Guard also declined to comment.
According to reports, several U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way to determine why the destroyer, USS Fitzgerald, and the ACX Crystal collided “in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay.”
There were no indications that those aboard the USS Fitzgerald were aware of an imminent collision, or that an alarm warning of the impact was sounded. The sailors who died were in their berthing compartments and the commander was in his cabin. Investigators will piece together what happened using eyewitness accounts and electronic data.
Investigators are also interested in learning why it took the ACX Crystal nearly an hour to report the collision to the Japan Coast Guard. According to the ACX Crystal captain’s report, there was “confusion” on the ship’s bridge. He says they traveled 6 nautical miles after the collision occurred before they returned to the collision site.
With seven deaths aboard the USS Fitzgerald, the collision caused the greatest loss of life on a U.S. Navy vessel since 2000, when the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen’s Aden harbor.
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