Why won't the Navy release the USS FITZGERALD's track?


If the light was used likely the captain verbally ordered someone to do it. The last time I used the light as mate during a close call the captain was yelling.


It really is going to be hard for the Crystal to hide much with VDR, and everything being recording from engine orders, helm orders, AIS, audio, and even radar and ECDIS.


No argument from me, there.


Plus written statements from and an interrogation of every single crew member that was on board at the time.


It is quite comical to see everyone blowing up over the article about the Crystal Captain’s statement that Navy times put out. People are arguing and pushing that the Crystal was in AUTOPILOT and the bridge UNMANNED for at least 30min after the collision. This has to be the case. This is the story. They are pushing it hard, and just as Captain Konrad pointed out, this will go down just like the narrative of Captain Joseph Hazelwood drunk on the bridge when the Exon Valdeze ran aground.


That narrative is coming from vesselofinterest.com, which is a ship tracking blog run by a guy who writes for Janes about vessel tracking and IT security, I think? Not a sailor but he’s pushing his “professional opinion” regardless.


Reading some articles in Navy Times I just wonder if this is some sort of amature publication?
The way they describe things maritime give all indication it is written by somebody with limited or no knowledge of the subject at a hand.


The golden rule for publications is “write for your audience.”

Since Navy Times’ “about us” page seems to be down, this comes from Wikipedia:

“Navy Times (ISSN 0028-1697) is a newspaper published 26 times per year serving active, reserve and retired United States Navy personnel and their families …”


And this is done because it usually is effective much more often than it isn’t. Perception often-to-usually isn’t reality. But when it comes to manipulating public opinion, the manipulators know that the public’s perception is exactly what governs public behavior, voting, etc. It becomes the public’ governing reality.

So I f the public can be easily convinced that a wild-eyed drunk captain drove his tanker onto a reef when no such thing happened then convincing them that the Chrystal’s crew was asleep-on-autopilot, with no particular evidence that passes muster at this point, will not be too difficult. That’s a neat, easily-digested story that will go down easy. The public is far too distracted and impatient to be bothered with learning the fine points of the COLREGS.

“Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!” Is a textbook example.

And the Tonkin Gulf Incident is another. There are many more.


And let’s not forget Hearst’s famous line …"…You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war."

Despite absolutely no evidence to support the finding, the Navy claimed it was a Spanish mine that sank the Maine.

As for the highly vaunted radars and highly skilled crews operating them, it seems that neither the radars or their operators can tell the difference between a fighter and and an Iranian airliner.


I was transiting Hormuz at the time.

The situation got very edgey very quickly. Iranian Saam class frigates were about and we were glad to disappear out of range.


Merchant mariners don’t have to look at planes at 30,000 ft. altitude and don’t shoot down planes.


Some merchant mariners know a lot about it, don’t just assume otherwise.

Besides, it doesn’t take a Lockheed radar scientist to know that the radar return from those two giant signal scattering radar reflectors on the wings of an Airbus do not look anything like the spectrum returned from an F-14.

The radar may have told the story but the sailors didn’t listen to it. That is the common thread in virtually every one of the Navy’s repetitive screwups.


But Navy sailors do and the Iran Air 655 debacle is an example of how badly they can fail. They also are supposed to be able to use multi-million $ surface radars to track surrounding ships, which by all the evidence they did not do too well either. Or even worse, if they did track them they didn’t do anything with the information.



Please tell us folks who know about the 1st generation spy1 radar what it’s video looks like on a radar scope or I should say console.

This should be interesting…


I don’t see any security problem with releasing the track of the Fitz immediately before and after the accident. It’s not like it’s a state secret she was in the vicinity. What would be the harm?


Lots of pics on Google if it really matters to anyone what the displays look like. It is not the display that matters, it is what the people do with the information they provide.

What I care about is the fact that the system provided all the information needed to confirm the aircraft was a scheduled commercial flight on a flight plan on an airway but because of either arrogance or ignorance the Vincennes captain killed 290 innocent people even after being told by another Navy ship that it was a commercial flight.

What does really matter is described in great detail in an article in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute: https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/1993-08/vincennes-case-study

Read the part about why there was no courts martial and why the story was spun the way it was.

"The Vincennes affair is more relevant than ever as a vivid example of the kind of military-political gymnastics in which the Navy may be engaged in coming years. It is important for the Naval Service and for all Americans to look at the events that July day five years ago objectively, and to learn, especially since Iran continues to be demonized as a threat to stability in the region.

Basic facts are still in dispute. The full text of Admiral Fogarty’s investigation merits declassification, and especially the geographic track files of the vessels and air contacts involved. Indeed, the secrecy still surrounding the Airbus shootdown only serves to conceal ethical and operational weaknesses from ourselves. "


The signalling lamp could have been either the masthead all round signalling light, or the hand held ALDIS lamp as someone already stated in this thread.

I use both regularly at sea, and find that a lot of the time they are far more effective than attempting to use the VHF, particularly if a target is not easy to positively identify.

Lights have a far better range than whistle signals in good visibility, and are more likely to be noticed by a lookout who may have other sounds, noises and alarms on their own vessel which may affect their listening watch.

Whilst I’m fully aware “All available means” is an excellent all encompassing phrase used in the collision regulations, it’s worth pointing out that whilst signalling lights are specifically mentioned within those rules, the use of radio equipment in collision avoidance is not.

And - before anyone says it, it is not fair to say that the rules have simply not been updated to encompass the use of radio, as annex IV is completely up to date with regard to radio and gmdss installations.

I’m somewhat disappointed that some would assume the master of the container vessel to be lying in his statement regarding the use of a light signal, which is a perfectly reasonable act of good seamanship.

I’m no expert on VDRs, but I have listened to many recordings where the use of the ALDIS lamp is audible to the microphones, as the shutter makes a clicking noise during use.

I’m sure the navy will release the track, but all I good time when their internal investigations are concluded.


I’d be much more likely to use one of the xenon search lights on the bridge, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

“Unknown vessel on a course of xxx°, speed xx knots, in position xxx, I’m shining my spotlight on you, please respond on 16 VHF, you are on a collision course with my vessel.” always worked decently in the days before AIS. Granted, I probably bleached the retinas of some fishing boat captains when I worked seismic, but it worked.

I’m going to be the devils advocate here too and suggest that perhaps the bridge crew on the Crystal thought it was a false echo on radar since there was no AIS signal, and thus ECDIS didn’t flag it either (if their ECDIS was setup properly with the radar inputs). It’s no stretch to say that all too many mariners these days get tunnel vision with the bridge electronics and fail to look out the windows all too often. Now, on the other hand, if the Fitz was running dark (heard many quotes of exercises being conducted, so maybe?), then the Crystal had a radar blip, and a big black hole where a ship’s running lights should be, so it’s again back to the Fitz to be the give way vessel (granted, by COLREGS it was from the beginning but it would put a whole lot more of the responsibility squarely on the OOW for the collision).

My $.02


What is the radar signature of the Fitz? With the radar evading structure she might have appeared on the Crystal’s radar as a small target like a fishing vessel without AIS. And if the Fitz was running dark, who knows what they were thinking in the Crystal’s wheelhouse.

Many years ago on a regular run with a, for those days, large bulkcarrier out of Moji at night, with fishing vessels everywhere, in addition to the whistle we would switch on the decklights so that the fishermen could see the monster bearing down on them and get out of the way.