USS Fitzgerald collides with ACX Crystal off coast of Japan


Incompetence in this discussion should be read as equivalent to “seaworthy.” The culture of the organization and its management structure places people in operational control of a system that is unseaworthy because of organizational or “corporate” failure to adequately train or to manage performance of the bridge teams.

We shouldn’t look at all incompetence of bridge team managers as a personal failing so much as a failure of the organization to train and verify their ability to perform to a well defined standard.

This is not to say that some of those bridge team managers are not made incompetent by lack of training but by arrogance, overconfidence, or lack of confidence.


In addition to the two gas turbines available to be clutched in to each of the two main reduction gears, the ship has three (3) Ship’s Service Gas Turbine Generators (SSGTG) rated at 2500KW each. These are separated sufficiently that at least one of them was likely available throughout this event.


This gets the nail on the head award for me, well said.

And there’s plenty to learn on the merchant mariner side as well. My initial guess would be that the bridge team on the Crystal is well trained and educated for the task and wants to do a good job. And there are more officers sailing all over the world just as good.

Yet we still have collisions, and not just with naval vessels.


I am still mystified how three watertight compartments could be up-flooded by a leak into one compartment. Did the Fitz have watertight doors being kept open at sea? And were these doors fitted between engine and generator rooms?

Another mystery is the water/gas tight hatches (!) fitted flush in decks/floors of the Fitz without any coamings and apparently only operated from one side – below – and with a slooping ladder for crew to climb on. On normal ships the vertical access between decks is an enclosed stairwell fitted with fire doors at every level. If there is a fire on one deck, the smoke cannot spread to other decks through this communication trunk. There shall also be two escape routes from any manned space below deck independent of any watertight doors.


You did a good write up on Wikipedia , excellent . The ACX made a 90 degree turn at 0130 ( just a note, the ACX Crystal is a 39,565 dead-weight tonnage, 730 ft long, 39,265 brake horsepower vessel designed for going in straight lines with as little fuel consumption as possible.

It is not the sort of ship that makes sudden course changes. )
Normally a container ship like the ACX can not do a sudden turn like that , impossible , unless the Fitzgerald collided with it at 0130 and acted like a Bow Thruster to change and accelerate it’s course . Simple deduction .


The watertight hatches are dogged from the upper compartment, these dogs are dogging pins with a nut, basically, it is bolted down, the hatches have a scuttle in the middle that can be opened from the top or bottom to allow passage, once the hatch is secured, it cannot be opened from below. Under normal underway conditions, all the watertight hatches and doors are open and only closed when conditions change to warrant closure, such as, fire, battle readiness, and collision.


This vertical access is an escape trunk, much as you describe it (although it’s a ladder, not a stairwell). It is not the usual access in/out of the engineering spaces.


Access to and escape from hull spaces of merchant ships as per IMO/SOLAS are simple. Same principles should be used by any Navy. The non-military principles are:

Cargo spaces have separate, weather tight hatches on comings on the weather deck for cargo and crew. Crew uses vertical ladders. Access is only from open weather decks. It is very safe and simple, if the hatches are weather tight. Before closing hatches check for stow-a-ways, etc. That hatches are weather tight are easily checked by hose tests.
Engine spaces are protected by a coaming with doors above weather deck. Engine crew members take a ladder up to the door. A second escape from the engine room is a vertical ladder in a trunk with a door at the bottom and a hatch on the open deck. Of course there are other ways in/out of the E.R. via doors in the deck house and the funnel for normal use. All accesses are gas tight to enable fire fighting.

Hull accommodation spaces have enclosed stairwell trunks with doors at every deck level as main access/escape. The stairwell starts inside a protected superstructure or a deckhouse. Vertical/sloping ladder in an enclosed trunk is the second escape from such hull space. Watertight doors are not recognized as regulatory escapes from hull spaces.

Above simple principles could easily be applied by Navies. I know they are not. The people involved are not very bright and more interested in shiny uniforms.


It is allowable to have watertight doors in the bulkhead as access between watertight compartments.


I think it was already pointed out earlier in the thread (can’t search effectively with mobile browser) that the DDGs don’t have watertight doors on main bulkheads below the damage control deck. As far as I know, this is pretty standard for military vessels (navy, cg etc.) - if you have watertight doors, you have to assume they are open at all times when doing the stability calculations.


If you are replying to me, I was talking about on merchant ships, not Navy. I have edited my comment to try to make that more clear.


Ok. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

I guess what Heiwa was referring to is that while it’s allowed to have watertight doors in commercial ships, they don’t count as escape routes. However, SOLAS allows using watertight doors even in passenger ships in way of escape routes from below bulkhead deck as long as there is at least one route independent of watertight doors. On the other hand, for cargo ships it requires to have two widely-separated escape routes (stairwell and a stairwell/trunk) from accommodation spaces below the lowest open deck, but does not make reference to watertight doors.


What I feel that, that as capable as Arleigh Burke class seems to be, (to a simple merchant mariner) they are essentially flawed.

Navies, of whatever flag, are always under financial constraints. this leads the to cram as much as possible into the smallest platform.

The cheapest part of the ship is the hull. Compared to engines, weapons. sensors etc it is dirt cheap.

To build a hull say 50 foot longer would cost little, have no impact on speed but offer more compartmenatisalation
as well as livability for the crew.

The USN are acknowledging they are too short by the installation
of stern flaps:


Navy to commission new destroyer USS Rafael Peralta

The Navy will commission the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Rafael Peralta in a ceremony this morning at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.

Navy to commission new destroyer USS Rafael Peralta

The Navy will commission the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Rafael Peralta in a ceremony this morning at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.The Peralta will be the 64th Arleigh Burke-class ship to enter service with the U.S. Navy. It will have the newest version of the AEGIS Weapons System that, combined with the AN/SPY-1D radar, can track and engage aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles simultaneously .DDG-115 F-111 or 3 we now have 64 of these destroyers.
I’m a squid, but I’ll add a semper fi to both of these American heroes.
Go Navy!


I referred to merchant ships in international trades subject to IMO/SOLAS rules and ITF requirements for crew accommodation.

Ships in national trade are built according national rules, which can differ considerably from SOLAS.

Military and coast guard ships are not built as per SOLAS. You can do whatever you like, e.g. fit flush hatches in decks without coamings and use them as escape routes. I wonder what ITF would say about USN accommodations.

Watertight doors are evidently only fitted in watertight bulkheads of the hull.

Passengers are today accommodated in deckhouses and thus not exposed to watertight doors.

Large numbers of crew are on the other hand accommodated in the hull, often below waterline, and may be exposed to watertight doors, if fitted.

Such watertight doors are not permitted by SOLAS unless an exemption certificate is issued and particular instructions issued how to use them, e.g. to always be closed at sea.

Many maritime administrations do not follow the IMO rules and permit watertight doors everywhere with catastrophic results! M/S Costa Concordia suffered a hull leakage incident, up-flooding some compartments causing total black out but floated safely 2012. However, when the crew abandoned ship, watertight doors were opened by them producing progressive flooding of intact compartments … so the ship lost stability … capsized … and sank hours after the incident took place. To cover up the defect it was decided to blame the Master alone for everything. I assume the Fitz commander will be treated the same. Just blame the senior officer on the ship.

It could be added that all compartments on different decks should be isolated from one another by fire doors, so that fire smoke in one compartment shall not spread to other compartments. Such doors can easily be closed by remote control. I have no idea how you remotely close a hatch in a deck.


What is the nature of this alternate reality which you inhabit?

There are pharmaceuticals available that may help you … unless misuse of meds is one of the reasons you post such amazing stuff.


Well, I just recommend to keep watertight doors closed at sea. All the time. And do not open them during a serious abandon ship order!

Fire doors can be left open as they are easy to close remotely, if your ship is on fire.

Weathertight doors you close in severe weather to avoid green water wet your accommodations.

You don’t need any meds to understand it.


Wow. I’m going to need a second or third cup of coffee this morning to figure out how these last several posts in any ways has anything to do with the collision at sea I’m trying to keep abreast of in case there’s a substantial update.


Nothing particularly substantial but this is an interesting echo of the Navy apologists who are perhaps now beginning to wonder just how broken their system might be.


Can you provide a citation to that effect? Otherwise I call bullshit.