Defense Officials Blame USS Fitzgerald for Collision


Preliminary findings in the investigation into the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and the ACX Crystal Philippine cargo ship off the coast of Japan suggest the crash was caused by multiple errors by the navy destroyer's crew, according to two US defense officials.

One official told CNN that nothing was done “until the last second” and that “a slew of things went wrong”, with a second official stating that the crash “will wind up being our [the US Navy's] fault”.

The collision happened 56 nautical miles off the coast of Honshu, Japan, on June 17, 2017.

According to CNN, both officials have said that the initial investigation has found that the Fitzgerald crew “failed to understand and acknowledge the cargo ship was approaching and failed to take any action necessary to avoid the collision”.

Investigators are reportedly looking at the possibility that the ship was travelling at a higher speed than expected to reach a location it was due to arrive at the next day.

The preliminary findings will now be reviewed by the 7th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin.

Both US Coast Guard and Japanese naval and maritime authorities are also conducting investigations.

Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, US Navy Chief of Information, responded by stating that there was no “definitive information” that the Navy was able to share and that it was “premature” to speculate the cause of the accident or any other issues.

The day after the collision, Aucoin reported that the ship had suffered severe damage, causing one machine room and two berthing areas for 116 crew to rapidly flood.

Until now, many reports have indicated that the ACX Crystal Philippine may have been at fault. 

A defense expert from IHS Jane recently said that the Japanese cargo vessel ACX Crystal could have been on autopilot, while Lawrence Brennan, a former US Navy Captain and an expert on maritime law, has suggested that the container ship may be liable for almost US$2 billion.

The cargo ship's captain has claimed that the USS Fitzgerald ignored warnings and failed to take evasive action.

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