USS Fitzgerald collides with ACX Crystal off coast of Japan


This is pure speculation. No way to tell if the facts from the Fitz would have any impact on John S. McCain and their collision.

But I would think that since the Navy has relieved the CO, XO & CMC of the Fitz and statements from the Pentagon indicating the Fitz collision was primarily the fault of the Fitz, the John S McCain crew would taken that info into consideration during their transit to Singapore.


I cannot understand the USN mentality. Merchant ships always go from A to B and the Master has informed concerned parties the ETA at B after departing A. The trajectory from A to B is known in detail. Nothing magic. There is normally only one watch keeper on the bridge at sea that always can ask for assistance.
USN ships have no commercial restraints. To avoid problems USN should simply avoid commercial ships at sea and their fairways and always pass behind them or well away, when meeting. USN should simply issue a standing order to forbid the USN ships to pass ahead of a merchant ship anywhere.


Hi, Tim thanks for the interesting comments. I made my comments based on my belief in the people’s ability to learn and think by themselves once people grasp basic facts. Don’t underestimate the ability of self learning of all the staff on a destroyer from young sailor to the commander on deck. For example if the track of the Fitz was shared among McCain crew a week ago. I am sure it should have been the hot discussion subject in the entire McCain ship at dinner, morining meeting etc. Whatever the true cause was, each member would use his or her brain and imagination trying to see why Fitz took the collision course. A newly assgined watch sailor surely thinks importance of his responsibility and become much more alert on his duty, Officer on bridge might re-realize the difficulty in anticipating many ships heading from all the places to the same narrow traffic lane. If one of them speeds up or down , the action could effectively close the open space ahead of a destroyer which intended to cross the bow of a large tanker. OOD might now feel comfortable to let a tanker go first. I am just a small sail boat sailor and may not be appropriate to write to this forum, but I still feel pitty that Navy might have taken valuable opportunity from McCain to become less acccident prone organization. Knowing that Navy decided to halt operation of all the ships for audit and sharing findings from Fitz misfortune I think. Only knowing the fate of three officers on Fitz does not generate above mentioned atmosphere fostering stronger ownership mentality. Thank you


Thanks @Takeshi for posting the news articles earlier from Japan.


Even without the facts being released to the public while the investigation is still ongoing, the officers and crew of John S. McCain know what happened on the Fitz and have discussed it quite a bit. They are sister ships in the same port in the same squadron. It is a tight community.

II’m pretty sure the Commodore of DESRON 15 would have discussed the Fitz accident with all his ships. (Although I am hearing rumors that the squadron commander maybe the next senior officer ‘sacked’.)

But the Navy will release the reports as to what happened (with names redacted because of privacy issues). And they will use it train shipboard personnel. I remember after the Samuel B. Roberts hit the mine in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf and the crew saved the ship, most of the damage control leaders on that ship were transferred to various fleet training centers to use their experiences to train those headed to ships.


Tim thank you for your understanding my point and filled me in on the information (lessen) sharing practice among navy ships. appreciated. Probably I worry needlessly only hoping such communication had sufficient details.


The most recent editorial about the report. I pretty much agree with. Its about PR rather than learning what can be changed.
I have also said I thought well of the response from the damage control. I still do. Particularly reading about the enlisted men who responded.
I don’t agree with “Blame” it doesn’t help change things for the better. Even if I don’t agree with the decisions. I do understand criticism and reasons for removal of commanding officer and the executive officer. I would understand the removal of all the Bridge Officers.

I do not understand why the Master Chief would have been removed. I have never heard of a situation where an Enlisted Man would be held accountable or blamed for the actions or failures of an Officer.


We haven’t seen the report of what led up to the collision. I suspect that since the Command Master Chief was fired, there was something the investigators found relating to inappropriate relationship(s) between enlisted and officers which related to the collision. Because yes, it is unusual for the CMC to be sacked for an operational failure.

But just a guess on my part.



Took a screen shot of the area when I came through last time. The collison position is marked with a waypoint. The data is from my ship’s AIS.

The blue triangle is “own ship”, O Shima is on my ship’s port bow. The traffic NW of O Shima is from/to Tokyo Bay.


And it’s rare for an admiral to get sacked for an operational failure as well, but I guess there are enough in high levels that are sick and tired of the status quo to do that as well.

Perhaps we can get it clarified when further reports, if any, come to light. To me it’s an indication that the investigation may have turned up a piss poor attitude towards watch-keeping and competency on a shipwide basis. That’s not an operational failure, it’s a leadership failure on multiple levels.

From an outside I would say that the Chiefs, those high level enlisted members, are what allow teenagers and those in their early twenties to conduct many complex evolutions day in and day out with a good safety record (the present seamanship fiasco being a notable exception). They should be held in high regard for those accomplishments.

It’s just time to apply many good principles in use by the military (and civilian sailors) to the subject of seamanship and proper watchkeeping. And if they don’t or can’t, to be held accountable as well.


If the Fitz only had an iPad running inavx with a serial to wifi converter from the pilot plug…

Hell, it even works on my phone.


At $1.75 billion you’d figure that would be standard bridge equipment.


Somehow they couldn’t avoid a 30,000 ton ship with all the sensors and people on watch (including multiple lookouts) they already had. I’m not sure another another display would have made any difference.


It was no secret back in 1970 among a select few that the Evans was at fault, so I agree with this video and what Captain Stevenson says.


According to reports the Fitz was leaving Sagami Wan which is the bay just west of Tokyo Bay, The course at the time of collision was 230.

In that case the Fitz would have had to cross the line of coasters entering/leaving Tokyo Bay. This would require the full attention of the bridge team as it is continuous crossing traffic and is almost always heavy.

The Fitz was doing exercises in Sagami Wan then leaving the bay they would have been in heavy traffic. Once they got clear of that heavy traffic they watch may have relaxed a bit including the captain going below.

The Crystal was on a course of 080 at the time of collision and had just made a course change. Before the Crystal changed course the Fitz may have believed they were going to pass astern of the Crystal. The Fitz may have missed the course change made by the Crystal.

The Crystal may have been relying too much on AIS.


There’s no question that the Fitz has the equipment needed to detect and avoid cargo ships. There is a question as to how well that equipment fits into the bridge work flow. It may be time to talk about integrating information from a variety of sensors into a display that presents the needed information to the OOD, without drowning them in less-relevant data.


I agree, how the data is displayed is very important.

If the watch officer is weaving through coasters and/or fishing vessels close in they sometimes miss the big fast ones further out. I like having my binoculars and my own display of AIS off in the corner of the bridge out of the way of the watch officer when in heavy traffic.


LCS and Zumwalt operate their bridge teams efficiently with minimal watch standers. Increased schooling and training time for OODs taught by unlimited masters makes a big difference. Believe they go through four months of simulator and basic seamanship training.


I pretty much agree with what Cap David Marquest said in his presentation about Santafe.


That’s why you should avoid going through a pack of fishing vessels.
A good OOW should always keep one radar on short range 6M and the second on 12M ( periodic scan to 24M).
Attend to the contacts with the least TCPA first.