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


Exactly. That’s what I meant. And they are mounted on a swivel pod while the deck lights are fixed.


In any case it seems the scenario that the Crystal used a light or lights to “signal” is very plausible and that mariners are familiar with various usages.

At minimum the ALDIS light is required, I’ve also seen ships turn on deck lighting or sweep a light onto their own containers if they thought they were not seen.


The only one of those pictures showing a search light is the one with the person standing on the wing, the rest are just floodlights.


Correct. The HANJIN BOSTON shows searchlights and floodlights ( high pressure sodium lamps).


While in the merchant marine leaving Houston on board a ship and having nearly passed Galveston we experienced a burst of a 4"sea inlet valve. After 4 weeks in port the bilge was near full and due to the intake of a lot of water the generators were at the point of flooding. While doing every thing to cope with the situation the Coastguard manage to put some engine driven fire pumps on deck.
Glad to receive some assistance I had the crew drag the pumps to the engine room only to find out that US fire hose couplings did not fit the European fire line connections… We managed to reduce the water intake and later, with the help of a diver we were able to replace this valve.

An oversight but not a small thing for an organisation like the US Coastguard. But its not only the coastguard who shortsighted.

I remember a US warship to shoot down a civilian aircraft over the Persian Gulf, a collision with a tanker near the same spot and a US navy jet cutting a cable car wire in Italy and I can still visualize a small navy ship sitting high and dry on a reef.
OK, thing will go wrong but when organizations like the US Navy become so cocksure about their abilities and capabilities there is no room for negative comments and that is a big problem.


That is why it is compulsory to carry an International Shore Connection for the fire main on all vessels per IMO rules. But that doesn’t help much for pumping out an engine room. Maybe there should be an International Connection for this purpose as well??

PS> Even better if we stopped having two systems of measurements. That would avoid this an numerous other problems.


As former U.S. Coast Guard and prosecutor, I’m not aware of any developed nation that immediately ARRESTS people involved in what initially appears to be an accident. That’s because in developed nations we do NOT imprison people for their negligent acts. (This principle is similar to the concept that we do not get thrown in prison for failing to pay our debts. Creditors can make our lives miserable, but they can’t get us thrown into “debtors prison.”)

There may be some nations who are an exception to these general principles (e.g., DPRK), that when there’s deaths of its citizens and furriners appear to be the cause, those people are arrested, and prosecuted, but AFAIK all nations involved or may have an interest in the Fitzgerald/ACX Crystal collision do NOT arrest first, and ask questions later.

(Note: nations or parties involved or interested so far include: U.S. Navy; US DOD; various departments of state or foreign ministries; various U.S. companies; Japan; Philippines; Panama; South Korea (Crystal builder); maintenance and refitter for Crystal; various insurance carriers; shipping companies, licensing entities for the Crystal’s Master, crew; etc.)

Unless there’s strong evidence of a CRIME, and who committed it, all actors involved in this situation are free to go anywhere they want. In relation to that concept, I heard the crew of the ACX Crystal are back to work (after all, they too have families to feed and support, they need to be employed), the ship’s Master has been debriefed by the Japanese Coast Guard the ship owner’s insurance carrier. The Company provided his transport home.

Some Fitzgerald crew probably remain close to the ship so they can man it ship after preliminary repairs make the ship safe and habitable. Crew have been provided liberty and leave. They have been ordered to NOT talk to media or anyone else about the ship or incident.

I digress, forgive me.


Capt. Wolfgang Schroeder of the Zim Mexico III was arrested in Houston one month after his incident in Mobile for a negligent act. God read on his saga is below. Something to think about when the office give la you a hard time about ordering tugs.



Google “criminilization of seafarers” or “captain arrested” for a good read.


I was in the U.S. Coast Guard on its largest ships of the time, 378’ cutters. I could spend 10 pages telling you about the mistakes we made, here, there, and everywhere. Some mistakes were major, some potentially deadly, but luckily no one got killed.

IMO the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard are NOT “cocksure about their abilities and capabilities.” From what I have observed over time, including when I was in combat in the Coast Guard in Vietnam, is that military members have the same problem as anyone part of the working human race has when mistakes are made.

When sheet happens we get embarrassed. When mistakes are made in full view of others, or we know that others will find out about our errors or mistakes, we get really really embarrassed. Compounding the embarrassment is when we have the reputation of being bad asses. Nothing is worse than appearing infallible or a pro to others, and end up making a mistake so serious it will go public, maybe end up in the news, and worst of all, the fate of careers decided.

In these situations man’s natural instinct kicks in (not always, but most of the time). People will instinctively want to save face, aka avoid being embarrassed. This necessarily includes DENYING one is responsible for the mistake. Some people will, as they have done all their lives, naturally point fingers and blame others for the mistake or tragedy. And finally, many people will shift into self-preservation, survival mode.

Over my lifetime I have seen all these instincts in play when the proverbial sheet hits the fan. I can count on one half of one hand (that’s me NOT being literal), the number of times I have seen someone say “this is totally my fault, I’m the one responsible, I accept full blame.”

Yes, there’s people who a cocksure about themselves to the extent they truly believe themselves always right and that they never make mistakes. These are the same people who never in their lives have said the words “I’m sorry, I apologize” and meant such. The current Mad King in Washington, D.C. is such a person. But IMO based on personal observation and experience, those stinky rotting fish are the exception not the rule.


I agree it can happen, but as I said, that’s the exception, not the rule.

As a matter of public policy, developed nations do not criminalize simple negligence. E.g., here in the U.S. if you get into a traffic accident that causes fatalities, where there’s no evidence your acts were intentional, grossly negligent, or in reckless disregard of life or danger to others, you cannot be charged with a crime.


You may not be aware and digress as much as you want, but it is a fact that it has become all to common to assume guilt until proven innocent when there is an accident at sea.
The Master of MT Prestige is a case in point: https://www.vesselfinder.com/news/1628-Captain-of-the-Split-in-Two-tanker-ship-MV-Prestige-was-found-Not-guilty-after-11-years

There are cases from USA as well, but mostly because of suspected MARPOL offences happening far from US waters, and/or based on accusations made by disgruntled crew member(s), mostly involving foreign ships and foreign Chief Engineers.

I believe other Mariners on the forum have already pointed out a few, but if you need more proof, I can recount one where I was involved myself:

I was appointed to investigating the capsizing of a tug in India, where 4 people died,( incl. the Master) The tug was registered in Singapore but fully manned by Indonesians and was assisting an Indian flag tanker while berthing at an SPM when the accident happened.

The tug’s surviving crew members were detained, “in case they had done something to cause the accident”, while the tanker was free to leave before I could get to the scene. (I did catch up with her later)

It was found that the tanker had been moving at too high speed and both the Master and Mooring Master lacked an understanding of the limitations of an Anchor Handling Tug.

If you want more examples, please give me some time.


[quote=“Louisd75, post:30, topic:45260”]
I was on board a vessel that very nearly ran over an SSBN that decided to cross into oncoming traffic off of Port Angeles while running submerged. [/quote]

Ah, shipmate, now you’re discussing my area of expertise. I don’t know as much about the surface, but I do know about submarines. First of all, what makes you think it was an SSBN? You can’t distinguish SSN from SSBN/SSGN just from the periscope. I couldn’t, and I’m Qualified in Submarines. So you definitely could not.

Fortunately my capt and the bridge team was on the ball and realized that it was indeed a periscope on what appeared to be a collision course. [/quote]

ok, You don’t realize how quickly we can go deep. Here is a video that shows an SSBN going from surfaced to submerged in about one minute:

YouTube video of SSBN submerging

That’s a normal submergence process; if the OOD sees a surface ship too close while looking through the periscope he can call “EMERGENCY DEEP!” and the boat will go deep FAST. Much faster than in the above video, especially since they would already be submerged at PD.

So, trust me, as a submarine veteran, you were in no danger here. Assuming what you saw was actually a submarine transiting at PD, the OOD knew exactly what he was doing. We’re trained to do that, and we are elite units.

(I would also point out the discipline of that submarine crew and the lack of “pandemonium” aboard. I have never served on a surface ship, so I don’t know what their bridges are like, but on submarines, even though we are a lot more “laid back”, in many respects, than the surface, when it comes to the Control Room, people are quiet and make as little unnecessary conversation as possible. Like I said…elite units.)

But look…the way you guys do things in the Merchant Marine and the way we do it in the Navy are going to be different. We have different missions, ok? You might say right now “oh I would have done this” or “I would have done that”, but if you’re actually the OOD on a Naval surface combatant, you might not do it that way. You would instead do it the way the Navy does. And the way the Navy does things might not work for a civilian container ship, just like the way the container ship does things might not work for a Navy Destroyer.

Having said that…obviously both ships made mistakes in this USS Fitzgerald incident. Both of them should have seen each other, both of them should have been able to take the appropriate actions to avoid collision.

lol…look, Submarine operations are classified. We don’t say that to be flippant. I really do mean SUBMARINE OPERATIONS ARE CLASSIFIED. Or as one of the instructors in Submarine Sonar “A” school said, “guys, this isn’t a movie. We really DON’T want other countries to know this stuff.”

They aren’t going to tell you, “oh yes, there was a submarine transiting by the port of Los Angeles while submerged. They were on a counter-terrorist mission. Here’s all the details: they were headed south to hunt a ship which we believed to be carrying a nuclear weapon, in order to prevent terrorists from smuggling it onto US soil. That ship was located 300 nautical miles southwest of Los Angeles, traveling at 15 knots on a heading of 060 degrees. We always tell civilians exactly what submarines are doing, because that would not put our national security in any danger. After all, what we’re doing is not that important. And of course, we need permission from random Merchant Mariners, since they know more about Naval operations than the Navy does.” lol :joy: :rofl:

lol…Yeah, they’re not going to tell you, man. :smile: Assuming the Command you called even knew. That’s like calling the nearest Army base to complain about how a Delta Force member didn’t use his turn signal on the highway, and trying to get his contact information so you can sue him, and expect they’re going to discuss it or acknowledge that he’s Delta Force. :rofl:

I missed out on meeting with a woman I knew in college because of submarine secrecy: she wanted to know if we were going to go into San Diego, and if so, what date and time, because she was interested in meeting up. I told her I can’t tell her because it was classified information. I knew we were going into San Diego, and I knew when…but it was classified.

Let me put it this way…if someone asks me if I know anything about the Russian submarine Kursk, all I am allowed to say is “as a matter of national policy, the United States Navy does not discuss submarine operations”.

Hence the phrase “the Silent Service”. (well, that and other reasons.)


[quote=“neutrino78x, post:99, topic:45260, full:true”]

Never said I knew it was a missile sub at the time, but it turns out that it was the USS Kentucky.

Umm… yeah… about that::


Having friends and classmates who have served on various subs out of Bangor, I do know that after relieving the sub skipper and breaking up the crew a bit that the USN now uses the incident as a training scenario.

But please feel free to go on about how awesomely good you guys are and I’ll stick to “if it’s gray stay away”


That video illustrates one part of what is wrong about the Navy system of doing things. How many people did the order to dive have to go through to be carried out? That’s seriously impractical.


What are you talking about, sir? He told the OOD to submerge the ship. One person. It is extremely practical; we submerge submarines dozens of times every day, and have had nary a problem.

The civilian way is fine for what you guys do. The Navy goes into harm’s way.

Regardless, my point stands. That submarine can go deep very quickly.


You said it was an SSBN and implied that you knew this because of the periscope. You wouldn’t know that from looking at the periscope.

We are. Most people couldn’t do what we do. You have to pass a psychological exam. To become Qualified takes a year of training and is required for all personnel, officer and enlisted (same standard for both). It is considered “arduous duty”, which is why we get submarine pay in addition to sea pay. Merchant mariners don’t stay awake for four days at a time.

Again, the way we do things is different from the way a surface sailor would do them. We have different missions. A submarine can get very close to a surface ship and quickly submerge underneath.

Submarine crews are elite units. Even elite units with years of training and experience make a mistake from time to time. I guess by your logic, the SEALs are horrible at what they do because they were shot down during the mission to capture Osama bin Laden.

People make mistakes, even the most professional and most experienced people. “Elite” doesn’t mean “incapable of making a mistake”. You guys don’t seem to know what you’re talking about when you talk about submarines, but you haven’t seen me post about “stupid skimmers” on here, because that isn’t professional.

I’ll just explain how it really works, and explain that you are incorrect, and leave it at that. Just as I expect you to listen to what someone says who is Qualified in Submarines, I too would listen to what you say with regard to the Merchant Marine.


You obviously watched a completely different video.

  1. Captain tells OOD to dive, then
  2. OOD tells the Dive Officer to dive, then
  3. Dive Officer tells the Chief of the Watch to dive, then
  4. The Chief of the Watch actually dives the ship.

It took TEN seconds to pass that order through all those people. If that sub were in the civilian world either the captain would have just completed the dive himself or the OOD would have done it.

(And they’re all standing 5 feet from each other.)


[quote=“Capt_Phoenix, post:104, topic:45260”]
You obviously watched a completely different video.[/quote]

Sir, respectfully, because of your rank in the Merchant Marine, your interpretation is incorrect. I am Qualified in Submarines, and I am qualified Helm/Planes watch (the people who move the sticks). I stood Helm/Planes watch for two weeks after qualifying the watch, then returned to sonar, but went back to the helm from time to time.


  1. Captain tells OOD to dive, then
  2. OOD tells the Dive Officer to dive, then
  3. Dive Officer tells the Chief of the Watch to dive, [/quote]

Incorrect. DOOW told COOW to announce “dive dive”. DOOW is the one who is submerging the ship.

Incorrect. DOOW is the one who actually dives the ship. COOW follows the orders of DOOW in terms of how much water to take on the boat etc.


I don’t know what the acronyms you’re using mean, I’m going directly off the video you linked and what was said.

Also, the last guy in the chain, who sounded the alarm, also appeared to perform the dive.

Are you saying the source you provided is wrong?