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USS Fitzgerald Collision

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boatgeek

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First, a moment of silence for 7 young sailors who lost their lives. Thanks to everyone who served.

I saw the Fitzgerald collision with the ACX Crystal mentioned on another thread, but nothing really significant on it. I read this piece (https://gcaptain.com/us-navy-destroyer-collides-container-ship/) earlier today and thought that it had a pretty good description of how merchant and Navy ship bridges operate. It's written from a merchant captain's perspective, so Navy people may find it a little biased. I'd like to get your opinions, though. The article also has a nice view of the Crystal's track (Navy ships don't have trackers for obvious reasons) toward the bottom. There will obviously be a major investigation and much more talking but it really looks to me like the Fitzgerald tried to cross in front of the Crystal and didn't quite make it. The Crystal turned, which probably saved the Fitzgerald from getting cut in half, but couldn't avoid a collision.

If that's true, then the Fitzgerald is almost entirely at fault. Normal rules of the road would say they should have passed behind the Crystal. The Crystal will get a little blame since there is no such thing as a no-fault collision at sea. I'm sure there are other mitigating factors which will come out in the investigation. One interesting one is that foggy conditions can make radars do really funny things including not registering targets which are out there.
 

cbrarick

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Dude get your facts straight before your spout crap like that.
the Crystal made a U turn to attack the Fitzgerald.
Reference https://www.dailywire.com/news/17705/fitzgerald-collision-investigation-brings-frank-camp

Maybe if you understood shipping you would realize that ALL merchant ships bearing cargo make a bee line (or as much as possible) to their next port. Steaming in circles (or at least a zig zag) just burns fuel and delays their next delivery. Nothing their masters prefer. In fact they run tighter schedules then the airlines.

The only fault I see in the Fitzgerald was not unloading every bit of ordinance on it before the Crystal deliberately struck a US Navy Warship

Course, I'm sure you already know this. And served in the navy.
I did.....USS Dwight D Eisenhower, Reactor Department, RM division. Made MM1(SW) there before moving to a teaching command.......
 

DavidMcCann

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Dude get your facts straight before your spout crap like that.
the Crystal made a U turn to attack the Fitzgerald.
Reference https://www.dailywire.com/news/17705/fitzgerald-collision-investigation-brings-frank-camp

Maybe if you understood shipping you would realize that ALL merchant ships bearing cargo make a bee line (or as much as possible) to their next port. Steaming in circles (or at least a zig zag) just burns fuel and delays their next delivery. Nothing their masters prefer. In fact they run tighter schedules then the airlines.

The only fault I see in the Fitzgerald was not unloading every bit of ordinance on it before the Crystal deliberately struck a US Navy Warship

Course, I'm sure you already know this. And served in the navy.
I did.....USS Dwight D Eisenhower, Reactor Department, RM division. Made MM1(SW) there before moving to a teaching command.......
Hey, I'm with you that this is weird....But how does a container ship attack a freaking destroyer by ramming it? one of these things should move faster than the other...







Somebody F'd up.
 
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modeltrains

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Nice crisp and saturated photo of the Fitzgerald. I played with Google reverse image search and found who the photographer was.
 

cavecentral

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I would have guessed that no ship of any sort would be allowed to get that close to a major warship, regardless of fault. Also, I would have guessed the destroyer would be part of a larger fleet that no other ships would be allowed near.

Looks like I was wrong.
 

DavidMcCann

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Nice crisp and saturated photo of the Fitzgerald. I played with Google reverse image search and found who the photographer was.
Clouds are messed up, but the ship came out ok. Too much processing for me.
 

DavidMcCann

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I would have guessed that no ship of any sort would be allowed to get that close to a major warship, regardless of fault. Also, I would have guessed the destroyer would be part of a larger fleet that no other ships would be allowed near.

Looks like I was wrong.
this is slightly fishy.
 

georgegassaway

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The only fault I see in the Fitzgerald was not unloading every bit of ordinance on it before the Crystal deliberately struck a US Navy Warship
HOLY - (word starting with letter after "E" that can't be posted on this forum).

What a hell of an assumption that a US Navy captain would in real-time fire everything the ship had at a civilian cargo ship, on the assumption that the much slower cargo ship in busy shipping lanes, broadcasting its GPS location via AIS, was intentionally attacking the faster highly maneuverable destroyer.

Even a captain did so, if the cargo ship was a few hundred feet away, "unloading" everything would not stop the cargo ship. Even if its bridge was wiped out and the engines knocked out (almost impossible to hit the engines of a ship coming straight-on), it would still coast from momentum. If the cargo ship was farther away than that........ the Fitzgerald should have been able to veer off and outmaneuver it (unless it had stopped for some reason). Indeed a good captain would first command for the ship to turn to avoid a collision rather than start ordering missiles and guns to be fired (which by the time anyone could aim and fire them..... the ship would already have been hit).

Of course, in this case the captain was in his quarters at the time (about 1:30 AM) and was seriously injured. Whoever the top officer on duty on the bridge at that moment, was in charge of the ship (at least as regarding the course, avoiding collisions, and being aware of as much as possible regarding other ships and possible collision/grounding hazards).

Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

From: https://www.oldsaltblog.com/2017/06...-around-uss-fitzgerald-acx-crystal-collision/

Is there any basis for these claims? No, but a delay in reporting the collision does explain some of the crazier ideas being tossed around.

AIS (Automatic Identification System) is an automatic tracking system used for collision avoidance on ships. The container ship ACX Crystal uses AIS, whereas the USS Fitzgerald as a Naval vessel does not. We have the track of the ACX Crystal on the early morning of the collision but we cannot see where the USS Fitzgerald was in relation to the container ship. No doubt this will be revealed in the multiple ongoing investigations into the collision.

Where the confusion appears to come from is that, according to the Japanese authorities, the collision took place around 1:30 AM, not an hour later as originally reported. The ACX Crystal only reported the collision at around 2:20 AM. No one is sure why there was an hour delay in the reporting. There is also no record of when the USS Fitzgerald reported the incident or to whom.

At just about 1:30 AM, the ACX Crystal AIS track, shows the ship, which had been holding a roughly steady course and speed, make a sharp turn to the south and then continue generally easterly before looping back toward the collision site.

The “proof” that the container ship intentionally rammed the Fitzgerald, as presented in the You Tube videos, is based on the originally reported collision time of around 2:20-2:30 AM, when the ACX Crystal is turning back toward the collision site. It could appear to the conspiratorially minded that that the container ship is turning back toward the destroyer possibly to ram her. Of course, according to MaritineTraffic.com, the container ship was averaging about 15 knots while the destroyer is capable of well over 30 knots, so it is unclear whether an attempt to ram would be successful assuming anyone on the bridge of the Fitzgerald was paying attention.

Conspiracy theories aside, the larger issue, which will be addressed by the various investigations, is how a high-tech destroyer, capable of shooting small incoming missiles out of the air, failed to avoid the slower less maneuverable 700′ long container ship. Until we know more of the facts, there are many questions left to be answered.
 
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Lowpuller

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Ok pure speculation on my part but based on the map showing the cargo container course consider this scenario:

Fitzgerald is heading south inadvertently in a shipping lane "potentially flying under the radar", the Crystal strikes the Fitzgerald starboard side by pure accident. This would be a full speed impact

The impact causes the Crystal to veer of course to the right. The same collision "spins" the Fitzgerald 180 degrees.

The Crystal makes a u turn to return to the scene of the accident. At this point the Fitzgerald has completed a 180 from the impact and is facing North.

When the Crystal now approaches the scene of the accident they are approaching the impacted side of the boat.

Timeline:

Crystal point of view; Impact 1:30am, Crystal veers, maintains course, u turns returns to scene of the incident 2:30am

Fitzgerald point of view; impact, udder chaos, save the sailors save the ship, controlled panic ensues. Smoke clears facing north looking at Crystal facing the impact, check watches, 2:30am.

I'm no expert but big boats turn slow really slow. I think even an hour for the Crystal to u turn is tight.

Don't rule out stealth technology. Fitzgerald may have been invisible to Crystal until impact.

"What was that!!! Come about hard!!!!""

Did the Crystal render any assistance?

Again pure speculation on my part.....

I know one thing our guys are 1st class!

I'm praying for the sailors and families.
 

boatgeek

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Dude get your facts straight before your spout crap like that.
the Crystal made a U turn to attack the Fitzgerald.
Reference https://www.dailywire.com/news/17705/fitzgerald-collision-investigation-brings-frank-camp

Maybe if you understood shipping you would realize that ALL merchant ships bearing cargo make a bee line (or as much as possible) to their next port. Steaming in circles (or at least a zig zag) just burns fuel and delays their next delivery. Nothing their masters prefer. In fact they run tighter schedules then the airlines.

The only fault I see in the Fitzgerald was not unloading every bit of ordinance on it before the Crystal deliberately struck a US Navy Warship

Course, I'm sure you already know this. And served in the navy.
I did.....USS Dwight D Eisenhower, Reactor Department, RM division. Made MM1(SW) there before moving to a teaching command.......
You're right, I don't really know anything about merchant shipping. The 20-year service recognition I just received at a company that operates the largest US-flag commercial fleet (and incidentally, manages several ships for USNS) doesn't really mean anything. I'm sure it was all confusion on my part.

The US Naval Institute is also reporting that the collision timeline was messed up, with the initial strike at ~1:30am and not reported until the Crystal got back to the scene at ~2:20am because the Fitzgerald's communications were knocked out in the collision. https://news.usni.org/2017/06/21/in...for-an-hour-before-distress-call-reached-help The Crystal's U-turn was them not being sure what happened, and not reporting until they were able to get back to the scene.

Sooooo, your conclusion is that a cargo ship (that only travels in straight lines as you state) and took 50 minutes to make a U-turn ran down a destroyer that can has about a 500-foot turning radius and can go almost twice as fast. Huh. Do you also believe that a semi can pull a U-ey on the interstate and take out a sport bike?

Oh, and the website you cited said that there was confusion about the timeline, not that one version was right or wrong. But on the basis of that, you think the captain should have ignored his rules of engagement and open up live fire in crowded waters on a merchant ship flagged in a friendly nation. Seems legit. :eyeroll:
 

boatgeek

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I would have guessed that no ship of any sort would be allowed to get that close to a major warship, regardless of fault. Also, I would have guessed the destroyer would be part of a larger fleet that no other ships would be allowed near.

Looks like I was wrong.
Below is a screen grab from the area of the accident taken just now from AIS data. The green boats are cargo ships, red are tankers, dark blue are large passenger ships. The collision occurred somewhere near the cluster of ships off of Shimoda, although I don't have the exact location. The Fitzgerald's home port is Yokosuka just off screen to the top right. This gives you an idea of how congested those waters are and why it would be very hard to keep clear of all other shipping. US ships transiting from Yokosuka to waters off Korea or vice versa need to pass through this area.

Yokosuka.PNG
 

Woody's Workshop

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Reminds me of a documentary I seen once that took place during WWII. A destroyer (the name alludes me at the moment) was cut in half by a merchant (or personal carrier) and the aft section sank. They saved the fore section and re-fitted her and put her back in service. It's the only ship in history to have a history as being Sunk, and still in service. Probably decommissioned by now. Several servicemen lost there lives, while others escaped with no injuries. Others suffered extensive injury, mainly from squeezing their frame out of 12" port hole to avoid drowning. If you have time, look up ship accidents on Youtube. There is some really stupid moves, and makes for great entertainment. Most are in a foreign language.
 

Banzai88

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Having only recently retired, those are my brothers out there.

Word is beginning to filter in through the Chief's network, and having served on US Naval vessels for 26 years, and having driven a few a few times (Knox class frigate, Nimitz and Enterprise class carriers), Boatgeek has his stuff straight. Multiple sources are now correcting the timeline as the collision having occurred BEFORE the u turn by the Crystal.

What's currently not being disclosed is what, if any, restrictions the Fitz was operating under.

Most people have NO idea how close things get to our warships out there. In crowded shipping lanes, you're just another boat. In open operating areas, like the Persian Gulf, dhows and other garbage scows will INTENTIONALLY cross your path and challenge you to avoid them.

Since the Cole (and I lost a personal friend on that one), we're learned a LOT, but there's still a reluctance at the highest levels to allow American warships to hold their bubble with bullets....unless the bad guy is already shooting at you.
 
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georgegassaway

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Since the Cole (and I lost a personal friend on that one), we're learned a LOT, but there's still a reluctance at the highest levels to allow American warships to hold their bubble with bullets....unless the bad guy is already shooting at you.
There is also this tragic lesson involving the USS Vincennes about shooting first, and not understanding what is really happening until later (considering it was an Aegis Cruiser brimming with state of the art radar, it was just nuts that it's technology/crew misidentified an airliner flying its regular route as an attacking fighter jet):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655

Iran Air Flight 655

Iran Air Flight 655 is an Iran Air passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai. On 3 July 1988, the aircraft operating on this route was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes under the command of William C. Rogers III. The incident took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight's usual flight path. The aircraft, an Airbus A300 B2-203, was destroyed by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from Vincennes. All 290 people on board died.
 
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Zeus-cat

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Are you referring to the Melbourne–Evans collision?

According to Wikipedia: This was a collision between the light aircraft carrier HMAS*Melbourne of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the destroyer USS*Frank E. Evans of the United States Navy (USN). On 3 June 1969, the two ships were participating in SEATO exercise Sea Spirit in the South China Sea. At approximately 3:00*am, when ordered to a new escort station, Evans sailed under Melbourne's bow, where she was cut in two. Seventy-four of Evans' crew were killed.

From the rest of the entry; the bow sank, but the stern didn't. It was stripped for parts and then used as target practice. It was not rebuilt.
 

CPUTommy

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Call me stupid first off.. but having operated a boat for 20 years, (nothing this big though) every other vessel see or "unseen" is a threat.
Question 1- How many people were on the bridge
Question 2- What did the Radar operators see (impossible for them NOT to see a ship of that size)
Question 3- If a collision was in the realm of possibility, what order was given to avoid the collision.
Question 4- Who confirmed the "Radio, or Radar" were taken out prior to collision

There are so many questions, When I seen this on the news, My initial and only reaction is NO FREIKING WAY. Its next to impossible to have a newer destroyer collide with ANYTHING remotely the size of a building. The captain, XO and every other person on watch that night should have made every conceivable decision to avoid ANY contact or encounter with any other vessel. Were not talking about inflatables, This is a massive moving ship the size of an aircraft carrier. To have a collision is not only implausible but 100% avoidable. Ive seen captains command ships and do precision maneuvers with ships less nimble than the fitz, so to say or even suggest that there was no means to avoid the impact is a dead issue. (Your wrong before you begin) To say that the fitz never "seen" the floating monstrosity of a ship IN THE SHIPPING LANE is also a dead issue, How many different "types" of monitoring does this ship have? Ok, Turn off the "traditional" radar, That still leaves at least 3 other sources of data/returns that show where everyone is at the moment. I have YET to hear the "fog" excuse, there is no way a ship of that size can not be seen by more than one watch man, let alone the bridge. (even at night) And again, its not like these ships dont already travel in the shipping lanes and are not familiar with the rules of the road.

I don't buy this story for a single second. There are to many things that can not be explained even to a novice, let alone to someone who has been on the water for a majority of his life.
 

r66astro

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reminds me of old naval warfare movies..the drum beat increases "Ramming Speed!"
'
 

CPUTommy

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Surface search radar would have detected approaching vessels from fifty miles away at least, especially a huge merchant container carrier like the one involved in this incident. Someone is going to be court-martialled over this, and they should be. At least FOUR people aboard the destroyer SHOULD have been aware of the merchant ship LONG BEFORE it became a threat: the surface search radar operator in CIC (Combat Information Center), the officer of the watch in CIC, the navigator on the bridge, and the Officer of the Deck on the bridge. Any time another vessel is determined by CIC to be on a constant bearing with decreasing range it is an EMERGENCY which should be notified to the bridge immediately. In addition, there are always TWO LOOKOUTS on duty on either sides of the bridge, and unless visibility was degraded by fog, even THEY would have seen the merchant ship and warned the bridge in time to take evasive action. There is no excuse for this accident. Seven sleeping men awoke in their berthing compartment with a terrible crash and then drowned, a nasty way to die just because somebody was not doing their job.

But please do explain and tell everyone how this was an "accident"
 

boatgeek

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Surface search radar would have detected approaching vessels from fifty miles away at least, especially a huge merchant container carrier like the one involved in this incident. Someone is going to be court-martialled over this, and they should be. At least FOUR people aboard the destroyer SHOULD have been aware of the merchant ship LONG BEFORE it became a threat: the surface search radar operator in CIC (Combat Information Center), the officer of the watch in CIC, the navigator on the bridge, and the Officer of the Deck on the bridge. Any time another vessel is determined by CIC to be on a constant bearing with decreasing range it is an EMERGENCY which should be notified to the bridge immediately. In addition, there are always TWO LOOKOUTS on duty on either sides of the bridge, and unless visibility was degraded by fog, even THEY would have seen the merchant ship and warned the bridge in time to take evasive action. There is no excuse for this accident. Seven sleeping men awoke in their berthing compartment with a terrible crash and then drowned, a nasty way to die just because somebody was not doing their job.

But please do explain and tell everyone how this was an "accident"
As you said, something went terribly wrong. There are lots of choices--you mention the ones on the Fitzgerald, but it takes two ships to collide. What happened on the Crystal, and was there even anyone on the bridge or were they rolling on autopilot? Did the Crystal try to contact the Fitzgerald? What other traffic was in teh area that might have messed with either ship? We won't really know what until the investigation comes through in a few months. All I was trying to say was that it wasn't a deliberate ramming by the container ship.

One other possibility that comes to mind is a radar-assisted collision. There are some really nifty tools for avoiding collisions on modern radars, but they can also lead you astray. I've heard stories that run something like:

Captain: Looks like we're going to be pretty close to that ship crossing us.
Young Cadet: Don't worry, sir, I have a track on the bow, and it will pass ahead of us.
C: Humor me and run another track on the stern.
<a minute later>
YC: Huh. It shows the stern is passing astern of us...

I don't know if that happened, just that over-reliance on technology can lead people astray, especially if they have their heads ni the boat on the screen and not out of the boat looking at what's happening in the real world.
 

CPUTommy

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I don't know if that happened, just that over-reliance on technology can lead people astray, especially if they have their heads ni the boat on the screen and not out of the boat looking at what's happening in the real world.[/QUOTE]

There are sailors who are tasked with watch, that removes the technology factor you refer to, however, with a billion dollar system .. oh wait.. with redundant and NUMEROUS billion dollar systems it takes the technology's argument away also, impossible to have failure of redundant and independent systems all point to failure. Never happen. This wasent an "accident" and it wasent a technology failure.. I suggest some research and see how invalid the technology failure scenario just holds zero credibility.
 

CPUTommy

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Here is the radar track of the crystal.. Can you or anyone explain how this is an accident?


[video=youtube;m1b58yelh_c]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1b58yelh_c[/video]
 

mjhall

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I had a friend on the Frank Evans. He had only been on the ship for a few weeks and was lost in the collision.
 

Peter Olivola

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Since the collision occurred at the point of the first course deviation and not after the Crystal circled back, your question falls into the category of blatantly provocative. Based on the subsequent track, it's clear the first course change on the track was keeping the Crystal on its planned original route. To suggest this was anything other than an accident, caused by some combination of human and technology error, is nothing more than conspiratorial nonsense.

Here is the radar track of the crystal.. Can you or anyone explain how this is an accident?
 

georgegassaway

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XolveJohn

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They need to develop a TCAS system for ships! Except foreign ships won't put it on.

There should be 3 different ways to prevent this. First, an automatic radar. Clearly someone was not watching the scope.

It should actually turn the ship if needed. If the computer junk works so well on self driving cars, then use it on billion dollar
missile ships and aircraft carriers. If everyone is sleeping it will still work!
 

DavidMcCann

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They need to develop a TCAS system for ships! Except foreign ships won't put it on.

There should be 3 different ways to prevent this. First, an automatic radar. Clearly someone was not watching the scope.

It should actually turn the ship if needed. If the computer junk works so well on self driving cars, then use it on billion dollar
missile ships and aircraft carriers. If everyone is sleeping it will still work!
Were you being sarcastic? I'm truly not sure.... because it umm...the crystal was on auto pilot.... https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4633284/ACX-Crystal-autopilot-crash-USS-Fitzgerald.html
 
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