USS Fitzgerald collides with ACX Crystal off coast of Japan


Consider the source … it’s not worth the troll food.


Read this article this morning. The guy writing it is backing off the one way blame game but still making the assumption that since the Crystal was in auto pilot, no one was on the bridge. He has a lot of knowledge of SOP on a navy destroyer, but limited knowledge on Merchant bridge ops in my opinion.


Thanks for asking. The SOLAS rules are quite clear but IMO discusses them and issues Guidelines how to interpret them all the time. See how I see it!

What is no clear to me is how a collision producing underwater, small, structural damages and up-flooding of one accommodation/equipment compartment well ahead of the Fitz four engine rooms could cause complete black-out and loss of power on the ship. We are told the warship has no watertight doors in the bulkheads, so how could sea water progressively flood the engine rooms?

That Fitz crew members drowned in the up-flooded compartment is probably due to defective escape arrangements. They were trapped and couldn’t get up/out in the dark.

But I agree, last time I crept through destroyers in dry dock was 1970. Do they have bilge pumps or is pumping by hand by sailors?


I notice that the author of that article is STILL talking about the AXC Crystal being on autopilot (true) WITH NOBODY ON THE BRIDGE!!!
He doesn’t even qualify it as a possibility, but as a proven certainty, based on an article in the VERY reliable tabloid, the Daily Mail which quotes another VERY knowledgeable expert on how Merchant ships are operated:

What is the chances that the bridge was unmanned? Close to Zero, unless you think that thousands of Merchant ships habitually sail around the world “on autopilot with only a dog on the bridge”

Sorry to say, but racial prejudice MAY also be behind so many appearing to believe so.
Since this vessel was manned by Filipinos they must be less qualified and less conscientious than say Americans, or West Europeans.

Some members of the media and the general public seams to believe that East Europeans, Chinese and others, are also somehow in this category and behave like a bundle of “cowboys” on the high seas, which can be written down to lack of knowledge I presume. (That there are also a few Mariners that still think so is more worrisome)


If a dog can be trained to fetch beer from a refrigerator why can’t it be taught to disengage an autopilot? Why aren’t these canine nav watch officers held to STCW standards? It appears they aren’t getting much more nav watch training than the navy guys.


What planet are you on that reported on a blackout? No blackout, no loss of power.

The presence of tugs does not automatically indicate a full blackout. Pulling statements out of thin air with no reports to even hint at them is right up there with ‘professional’ naval officers automatically assuming nobody was on the bridge Crystal and accusing its Captain of lying just because a statement he made did not make sense to the writer.


Let’s not feed the troll.


OK, complete blackout of the flooded crew compartments and engine compartment. USN reported two crew compartments and one engine room flooded - total three compartments - and I doubt electricty/light works in flooded compartments. But maybe USN has watertight lights?
It seems the ship could hardly do less than three knots under own power after the incident … so most power was lost.
But who cares? It was all the fault of the CO. He shouldn’t have been asleep. Ship was in a busy fairway full of other ships close to shore.


I really tried not to, but was getting a bit nauseated and wanted to make sure others could tell the difference between securing power to damaged spaces and a ship adrift with a full blackout that did not occur since the poster is very liberal with what’s considered facts.


So are you going to fix the post to make it at least partially accurate, along with the fact that your saying all of the blame is on the CO of the warship when it’s not?

And I suppose that means there was ‘not’ progressive flooding of all four engine rooms as was mistakenly posted?


There are only TWO engine rooms on the DDG-51 class destroyer.

Heiwa is so far afield in his statements, assumptions and conclusions that I won’t deign to respond to him. As noted several times, “…don’t feed the troll”.


Hm, I still cannot understand how three compartments were flooded when only one watertight compartment was damaged in the collision and how ship lost all propulsive power after incident … as reported. I assume we will never know when USN investigates itself. It must have been the fault of the CO sleeping while navigating in a busy fairway close to shore, a few hours before arrival, etc, etc.

Personally I do not like holes in decks with a hinged lid as means of closing and a sloping ladder below as means of access/escape from internal hull spaces. I remember them from the destroyers I inspected 1970. Imagine having to push the lid open from below!
They were all built in the 1950’s … two turbine rooms, two boiler rooms (total four engine rooms). Seems the basic design has not changed much. And the crew accommodation was awful.


yeah, uhuh sure whatever you say. Just like the ship had a complete blackout as you mentioned earlier.

Then don’t go to sea on those ships

Wait for the report and then perhaps they will grant you a wish so you can see what was damaged

We might not get any good information out of them, but there have also been instances in which they have responded quite well, making sweeping changes after disasters. SUBSAFE comes to mind. So it can be done and has been done to make things much better after an investigation. So don’t use the lowest form of knowledge.

I’ve never been in the Navy, but I’m pretty sure vessels with gas turbines don’t need boilers to operate those gas turbines. What do I know, I’m just a dumb DPO. I’m sure a diligent professional such as yourself would be able to determine if this was indeed the case.

My apologies to everybody for feeding the troll. It’s just the mood I’m in after teaching today.


The other way around. It is the Fitzgerald that did the hitting. Or got in the way .


Haha… I’ll remember that next time I have a USCG inspection and one of the crew has tied a door open. Remote releases aren’t standard on all classes of vessel.

If the ship has remote releases for the fire doors, they’ve probably got a switch to close the WT doors too.

Um, that’s part of the job description. The master has overall responsibility for the vessel. They may not “go down with the ship” anymore, but they will go down FOR the ship in the tribunal. So yeah, he may have been asleep, but he had command and the ship was damaged so he’s the one that will take the heat for it.


Let’s not forget:
Seafarers are recognised as a special category of worker and, given the global nature of the shipping industry and the different jurisdictions with which they may be brought into contact, need special protection, especially in relation to contacts with public authorities. In the interests of increased maritime safety, seafarers should be able to rely on fair treatment in the event of a maritime accident. Their human rights and dignity should be preserved at all times and all safety investigations should be conducted in a fair and expeditious manner. To that end, Member States should, in accordance with their national legislation, further take into account the relevant provisions of the IMO guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident.

Let’s also not forget that the ship owner has final responsibility to ensure that the ship is seaworthy.

Warships are not supposed to be seaworthy from a civilian LSA point of view. I have never seen a warship with lifeboats. Maybe there are life rafts, rings and belts aboard but I didn’t sea any when I was in the Navy. In the Navy not only the CO but everyone is supposed to go down with the ship, if necessary. Nothing wrong with it. Die for your country, king or president, while doing your job. I was mainly in the Navy for the uniform. The girls got attracted to me by it.


“Japanese authorities said Monday that they were almost finished with their investigation into last month’s collision between a Philippine freighter and a U.S. naval destroyer that left seven Navy sailors dead, but still haven’t been given access to data from the U.S. side.”

Bad look for Navy.
In fact in violation of the status of forces agreement with Japan.


Still, six weeks or so for an investigation is pretty quick (in a good way) in my eyes.

I wonder how the NTSB or USCG investigations are going? I’m pretty sure they are doing ones as well and have yet to hear anything on that side.

But agreed, bad look on the Navy side.


Saving a copy of the article’s photo, ABC credits AP for the pic. Photo shows damage to ACX Crystal’s bow.


The objective of an investigation conducted by the Japan Transport Safety Board, JTSB, in
accordance with the Act for Establishment of the Japan Transport Safety Board is to determine the
causes of an accident and damage incidental to such an accident, thereby preventing future accidents
and reducing damage. It is not the purpose of the investigation to apportion blame or liability.

USN, owner of Crystal, NTSB, USCG and Philippine authorities have the right as interested parties to assist the JTSB, when JTSB collects evidences, inspects damages and interviews people.

When the draft report is ready comments of involved parties and flag states relevant to the cause of the incident are invited. These comments can be included in the final report if of interest.

Here is a typical example of a JTSB ships collision report: