USS Fitzgerald collides with ACX Crystal off coast of Japan

thanks…I believe the FITZGERALD was on a course similar to the CRYSTAL’s which the damage indicates

Thanks for the new link (2014 article in SeaTrade). That worked. This also explains the appearance of the “Marina” institution my Filipino colleagues have had to contend with in recent years. Wonder if there is any quantitative indication of the plans executed in 2014 (more auditors, ect) to the quality of seafarer in 2017. Was that the nature of the article in your first link? Is this a follow on inspection by this EMSA? Discussion might be better served in a new thread though.

More than a magazine. Fairplay used to do IMO numbers with LR (Lloyds Register Fairplay). Now runs IMO data on behalf of.

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Fairplay Magazine, not Fairplay the towing company, but then you probably knew that.:innocent:

I think most who have sailed with and/or worked with Pinoy seamen, Masters, officers, engineers and rankings, will agree that there are all kinds, from the smartest and best qualified to some that would have been better suited to flip hamburgers. But I can’t think of any one seafaring nationality of whom you cannot say the same, incl. any nationality present on this forum.

The time when fake COCs were rampant among some nationalities are largely over. STCW is doing it’s part to ensure that the education standard is kept similar, if not yet same, among all nation’s maritime education system. (No system is perfect)

For some nations complying with STCW standard actually meant shorten the time in school it takes to pass the various grades of certification. In Norway, from 3 to 2 years of schooling before being able to sit for an exam that eventually (with seatime) give the opportunity to gain an Unlimited Master Licence. (STCW II/2)
But then again, the level of basic education of seafarers have generally improved, thus less time is needed to teach mathematics, physics, languages and writing skills etc.

Even if the educational standard and the required seatime to obtain the various COCs are the same, there are no way of judging a person’s actual abilities, except to observe them in actual situations over a long period of time.
When doing a simple one day Suitability Survey I have been asked by clients to assess the abilities of Masters, Officers and Crews to perform specific tasks, to which I have had to tell them that is impossible in port and at such short time. Even by asking specific question you can only tell if they are totally ignorant, or have some knowledge of the task(s) to be performed.

I remember one such situation where I asked a Master of an AHTS about his Anchor Handling experience, which he claimed he had. When I asked him about what type of anchors he had worked with, he said; “they looked like mushrooms”. That tells you that he had never handled a Bruce anchor before, otherwise he would likely have said;“they looked like a plough”.

But back to the qualifications of the OOW on AXC Crystal; is there ANY reason to believe that he was anything less than qualified and experienced for his position?? I have not seen or heard anything to indicate that.

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The article from Fairplay. 6 February 2017

Authorities in the Philippines are bracing themselves for another visit by European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) inspectors charged with assessing whether the country’s training and certification system meets the requirements of IMO’s Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention and Code.

EMSA’s findings in this inspection will be taken into account by the European Commission in deciding on the recognition, via the EU Committee for Safe Seas (COSS).

The EMSA confirmed to Fairplay that the visit was scheduled for the middle of March.

This will be the fifth such inspection in 11 years, with the previous one taking place in 2014.

The agency told Fairplay, “While improvements were noticed in the Filipino system”, during these inspections “certain important findings remained unaddressed”.

The European Commission has, nevertheless, so far continued to accept Philippine certificates. However, the threat of approval being withdrawn, and Filipino officers no longer being able to sail on EU-flagged ships, remains a real one.

The EMSA noted that “following the 2014 inspection, COSS agreed to give more time to the Philippines to fully implement the STCW convention. This allocation of extra time was made on condition that the Filipino authorities provide the European Commission with regular updates on the corrective actions taken. These updates were received and analysed by the commission and EMSA”.

In a blog, veteran Philippine maritime industry specialist and former shipping journalist Barista Uno said the central problem has been the perceived lack of state oversight of maritime schools. Uno argues that the EMSA team should determine whether there are now clear-cut national guidelines for the proper vetting of maritime academies.

He said they should ask if the two agencies overseeing shipping and maritime education, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Commission on Higher Education, have become less dependent on the private sector for school inspections. A third question, he said, should be whether the large number of colleges has been reduced.

In July last year, Marcial QC Amaro III took over as Marina administrator. In December the Manila Bulletin reported that Marina was doing its best to achieve STCW compliance. At that time Amaro said foreign maritime administrations had responded favourably to Marina’s efforts in this regard.

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I had a feeling I had read that article some time ago.
That article was posted 10 October 2014. Things may have changed since then.
Do we know which Ship Management Company or Crewing Agent that supplied crew to the Crystal?

I have also a long experience sailing with Filipino officers and ratings, and I agree, they are covering the whole scale, from excellent to mediocre.
But that is not the point. The point is that many Filipino seafarers are being educated at schools that are not up to standard, hence the concern from EU and EMSA.

The article is from 6 February 2017.

I immediately recognized that this was something I had read a long time ago, before re-reading and found that at the bottom of the article it is clearly stated: “POSTED 10. October, 2014”.

The Crystal bow flare structure is pretty solid (12/15 mm plate + strong stiffeners) to withstand wave impacts and forces in a seaway, while the Fitzgerald deckhouse wall is thin plate (4 mm + some weak stiffeners). When the solid/strong bow flare contacts the thin/weak deck house wall, the latter was just pushed in and destroyed. The damages were neither felt nor heard on the Crystal – a light kiss in the dark.
As the Crystal port bow flare contacted the Fitzgerald starboard side deckhouse wall, it seems Crystal had right of way (and kept its course) and that Fitzgerald, sneaking up from behind, should have passed behind Crystal (or speeded up ahead in front of Crystal). I assume after contact Crystal pushed Fitzgerald to port, while Crystal continued straight ahead or turned starboard away from the other ship.
Of course it happened in complete darkness at night, when outlook is slack.

Don’t recall even suggesting he should have been there. Are you responding to what I wrote, or what you want to hear? Relax, my friend.

The Seatrade article is from 2014. The Fairplay article is from 2017.


Good question. If the two vessels were following the TSS and, as we both believe, would have been on near same headings until just before the collision, they would have seen ONLY one white light, the sternlight of the Fritz. (Believing the statement that warships show very little lights at night)

With the traffick, possibly fishing boats around and the moonlight behind, it is easy to miss a single light in the background of all the other lights. I have done so and so have probably everybody else, but without this tragic result.

The Fritz being designed to be “invisible”, both visually and on radar, it is VERY possible that the OOW and lookout on the Crystal was blissfully unaware of the danger, until shortly before the impact.

PS> Could it be a case of: even if there is a light and little blip on the radar screen, it is not real unless you see a AIS note beside it.
IOW: over reliance on instruments over eyeballs???

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I thought you had left us forever but of course you would crawl out from under your rock at this moment…

do us all a favor now and return to it please

Nej, jag är ingen idiot. Varför förfalskar du min post? Vem är du? Är du fullt frisk? Du verkar sjuk.

I actually watched the reports of the contact on Japanese TV and found it interesting. Evidently, when a big, structurally strong cargo ship (Crystal) contacts a lightweight, structurally weak war ship (Fitz…), the latter has no chance. It should not have been where it was sailing in front of the port side of cargo ship. Simple rule - ships on the starboard side has right of way.

But the damages were just a buckled bulwark on the Crystal focsle port side, while the Fitzgerald starboard deckhouse wall was ripped away. Thus no hull damages of any kind. No spaces below waterline flooded, etc, etc. IMO Fitz is 100% guilty of careless navigation, when trying to sneak in front of Crystal… Happens all the time.

I am sorry. I did not know this Mag. But that’s why I’m here in this Forum. Never had more interesting opinions, links and background knowledge than here. But that’s part of merchant mariners life too. Putting your legs up and reading a good book or watching the newest pirated movies ( bought from chinese vendors in Yantian or Xiamen for a buck per piece ), but never having the chance to ride the wireless waves :wink:

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Am I correct Navy never actually released official findings on the Porter? All I find is " The Navy has declined to release or discuss a pair of investigations into the incident", but perhaps my google foo is lacking?

There is the porter bridge voice recording out in public by a FOIA, but it does not look like even a FOIA pried the investigation report loose?

At least in this case we have the JCG who look pretty straight so far - but not sure if they will get navy access for their investigation.

For an idea of how it can all go wrong on a warship bridge, here is the report on the 1988 collision involving HMS Southampton and MV Tor Bay.
Admittedly, they were trying to get close, but not that close!

Re ownership:

1987550 ISM Manager SEA QUEST SHIP MANAGEMENT INC 376, Sampaguita Street, San Martin de Porres Ph. 3, Panapaan, 4102 Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines. since 26/01/2009

1987550 Ship manager/Commercial manager SEA QUEST SHIP MANAGEMENT INC 376, Sampaguita Street, San Martin de Porres Ph. 3, Panapaan, 4102 Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines. since 30/11/2008

4021665 Registered owner OLYMPIC STEAMSHIP CO SA Care of Sea Quest Ship Management Inc , 376, Sampaguita Street, San Martin de Porres Ph. 3, Panapaan, 4102 Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines. since 30/11/2008

The collision caused the dogleg and speed reduction: