USS Fitzgerald - Why So Quiet After Impact


Yes, he was among the deceased.

Yes, but it doesn’t prove that the radio room was safe.


Radio is not the ONLY means of communications these days. (Maybe not even the prefered method)


Bridge has VHF…


I just played that CNN report and it appears that the Father was referring to the collision happening at 0220 hrs. and the WhatsApp contact was at 0256 hrs. as recorded on his phone.

The first appears to be based on the earlier reported time of collision, which the USN stuck to for quite some time after it was confirmed to be wrong.

Could the time recorded on his phone be EST, (UTC -5) which is 14 hrs. different from JST (UTC +9)?
(IOW: 0258PM (1458 hrs.) EST = 0058 hrs. JPS)

I sincerely hope so, otherwise this would indicate that the crewmembers that died was locked in while their compartment slowly flooded. It does not bear imagining.


That’s exactly what happened. FC1 Rehm reportedly kept going in and out of the compartment, saving up to 20 (reported) Sailors, and then had gone back for more when the Damage Control officer made the call to seal the compartment to save the ship. So any of those 7 Sailors that weren’t killed by impact, drowned. Imagine making that call. Imagine living with it. He knew there were Sailors left in there, yet it had to be done to save the ship. IF FC1 Rehm’s actions are as reported, he deserves the Medal of Honor but sadly, will not get it because this was not a combat situation. (And THAT really burns my keister. The ship doesn’t give 2 damns if it was holed by another ship or by a missile, and the actions taken by the crew to save her, are precisely the same.)


The B2B circuit generally goes straight from a civilian B2B handset unit to the antenna above the pilothouse just like a merchant ship.


The argument of “let’s stop saving the ship to make a call” is utter nonsense. Especially with the amount of crew onboard, sure the XO himself doesn’t have to make the call, but you can’t tell me any of his subordinates can’t be trusted with being told to figure out a way to get a hold of shore. Whether it’s a sat phone, cell phone, or the friggin EPIRB.


Right, I’m an Adams class DDG vet, we had repair parties, everybody had a specific job to save the ship, what I have learned from 42 years of going to sea is that communications is a priority and a major step in saving your vessel.


The JCG was able to call them so they obviously had functioning radios.


ocnslr, I agree sir. Immediately after the collision, it would not be clear if the ship was under attack or if it was an accident.

Operations would probably be very different on a surface ship than on a submarine, but as a (enlisted) submarine veteran, we definitely would not call the other ship. Safety is the first priority: control any damage to the boat and try to maximize the distance between the boat and any other vessel.

On a submarine, we have a radio room as well, but there are several different backups for most systems. For example, primary propulsion is the nuclear reactor, but we also have a diesel engine, and we also have a battery bank that can drive the boat (very slowly) via an electric motor. We have hand held VHF radios for B2B if needed. I have no idea if surface combatant vessels have hand held B2B radios. I would imagine so.

We very rarely communicate with surface vessels, especially civilian surface vessels. When we do we try to avoid identifying the boat. We never say over the radio “this is the USS Florida SSBN-728 on heading XXX”. The Navy considers that (the boat’s exact location) to be classified information, at least with regard to submarines. And of course we don’t have the hull number painted on the boat. The Puddle Pirates refer to submarines over the radio as “submarine 1”, “submarine 2”, etc. I remember one time we were sailing away from the coast, about to submerge. The Puddle Pirates said over the radio “Submarine 2, ok just let me know when you’re going to submerge.” One of the junior officers turned to the Senior Chief Nav ET and said, “hey, Senior, we’re not really going to tell them that, right?”. And the Senior Chief said “nope, we won’t do that, sir. It’s classified. We’ll just disappear.”

And that’s what we did. :slight_smile:


Why so long to call it in . I don’t Know , Should both ships have called sooner probably They should certainly have talked to each other. If only to see if the other kneaded assistance.,
Easily said by on old fat guy in an armchair with a beer in my hand and a computer.

Understood by someone who has had to deal with even a minor incident. Let alone a major incident. They were not responding to an incident. They were the incident. Some would be in shock, Some would not, Some will just be needing someone to tell them what to do. The guy who is usually in charge is a casualty. The guy they turn to is a casualty. They are doing what they have to do. responding to immediate requirements. .Probably just got missed as more immediate actions were required.

Once you are talking to the outside. Its amazing just how much it takes you away from the immediate problem.
Think about the XO. Not that I know anything about what an XO in the navy does. He just got a hell of a battlefield promotion. The CO is down. For real not a drill. Now he has to do the CO’s job.
I bet what he really wants to do is the XO’s job. Partly because its his job. Partly because Its kind of Hard to stand back and be in charge when you are used to being the guy who does.

I cant really comment on how well they did before the collision. or how well they did after.

One thing I can say. The ship was badly damaged, Its command and control structure was significantly impacted. It appears it was in danger of going down. The ship is still afloat. all but 7 still alive.

The investigation will find fault, there is always things get forgotten, missed or just could have been done better.

Right now. Can anyone really say anything other than good job, well done, you guys saved your ship. and most of your crew. .


You (the Fitz) were provided with the best technology available to identify and track multiple surface contacts by radar and sonar. You were manned by technicians and analysts who were supposed to be able to evaluate the information provided by those systems.

Why was this not enough?

The fact that only 7 died because the latest and most costly technology and the greatest number of supposedly highly trained human resources that could be packed into the bridge and CIC was not enough to avoid a containership is not something the Navy should be proud of.


While I certainly understand the reasoning for tight control of communications as you mention, the attitude of refusing to communicate with civilian vessels is also a potential contributing cause of this collision that we are talking about.


From media reports it appears that the Fitzgerald had SAT / Iridium phone capability that was used after the incident. I would certainly be surprised if they did not.


That’s pretty much it.

It isn’t “well done, good job” it is “you fucked up and killed 7 sailors”.


Yeah, absolutely. This isn’t a feel good about ourselves safe space. “How did a USN warship get run over by a merchant cargo ship?” is a reasonable question. Nobody has to wait a certain time to ask it.


Let’s take it even further and say that it is not a “job well done” because only 7 died instead of 300 if the Fitz had t-boned an LNG carrier or gasoline tanker and roasted everyone on both vessels.

It was pure shithouse luck that it was a relatively small boxboat they couldn’t keep a safe distance from.


I’m just imagining if this had been more like the Sea Witch vs. Esso Brussels collision. It definitely could’ve been much worse, but it should’ve never happened.


Yeah, that is exactly the incident that I thought about as well. Considering the number of LNG and LPG carriers along with product and chemical tankers moving up and down Tokyo Bay it is not much of a stretch to imagine a nightmare scenario.


I cant disagree.

Its pretty clear those on watch got it wrong and the end result 7 of their ship mates are dead. Not much to be proud of there.

The question here why the delay in reporting? Not why did they have a collision.
I don’t know why there was a delay in reporting.

I can make some guesses. Speculation if you prefer. Those members of the crew who responded to the damage. May or may not have been involved in the events leading up to the collision. Woken up suddenly to a severely damaged ship in the middle of the night. I’d still say those guys did a good job.
Its worth separating the response from the collision.
Even if the XO was the OOD and involved in the collision. He stepped up after. Given the situation I can understand communication getting lost in the confusion of the immediate response.

Particularly just a guess on my part. Contacting the Admiral or shore base, A task probably usually ordered by the CO.