FITZGERALD investigation

| June 19, 2017 | 70 Comments

Those seven sailors who were found below decks on the USS FITZGERALD after it’s collision with the Filippino-crewed container ship ACX Crystal have been identified as Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, CA; Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, VA; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, CT; and Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, CA; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., from Elyria, OH; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, MD; and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, TX.

The investigation being conducted by the Japanese Coast Guard has uncovered some odd inconsistencies. For example, they think the collision happened at about 1:30 in the morning, but the crew of the Crystal didn’t report it until 2:30. From the Associated Press;

The coast guard initially said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. because the Philippine ship had reported it at 2:25 a.m. and said it just happened. After interviewing Filipino crewmembers, the coast guard has changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.

Coast guard official Tetsuya Tanaka said they are trying to resolve what happened during the 50 minutes.

The Daily Mail speculates that the Crystal was on “autopilot” at the time of the collision and that no one on the bridge knew how to turn it off;

Steffan Watkins, an IT security consultant and ship tracking analyst for Janes Intelligence Review…stated; ‘I suspect, from the data, that the Crystal was running on autopilot the whole time, and nobody was on the bridge. If anyone was on the bridge, they had no idea how to turn off the autopilot.

‘The ship taking off from the collision and resuming course, to me, is 100 per cent proof the ship was on autopilot. Nobody speeds away from that.’

According to the the tracking data 15 minutes after the presumed 1.30am collision with the Fitzgerald, the ship righted it’s course, and increased speed, readjusting for the change in course the collision had made.

Atkron sends us this photo of the casualties;

Category: Navy

Comments (70)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    Autopilot? Oh, dear God – at night, and no one on the bridge, with a ship that size and moving mass….

    At least all the missing are now accounted for. Rest in peace.

    • Vexatious Defendant says:

      Very common in civilian world. Navy bridges are always staffed with full Watch.

      I want to see the data from the Navy for 30 mins on closest point of approach (CPA) for the freight liner target.

      If it remains constantly decreasing, CPA distance gets closer over 30 minutes, this is the Navy’s fault. Either way, the ODD and CIC Watch Officer and several other parties should have caught this.

      • QM1 says:

        Is it really so common in the civilian world of shipping to maintain autopilot when leaving a port and in restricted maneuvaribilty?

        That just seems crazy and downright dangerous to me.

        • Graybeard says:

          They are talking about full-auto shipping – no crew at all. Unmanned cargo ships.

          What could go wrong?

          • David says:

            and just say to yourself: “Self-driving cars”. Well, at least the ‘driver’ wouldn’t be texting.

            • Graybeard says:

              Yep. But following the technical discussions, there are big worries that bicyclists and pedestrians will not accurately register on the lidar systems.

              And what about children playing in the street or front yards?

              These things are going to kill some innocent people.

              • David says:

                Dude, you’re in Houston… I’m not sure cars with faulty radar won’t be SAFER for me than soccer moms texting in their Suburbans.

                • Graybeard says:

                  Or high school/college kids texting in their pickups.

                  Makes my blood boil. ‘Specially since we’ve lost several folks on our little FM to people with their nose in their phones.

              • Slick Goodlin says:

                Could have said the same in 1896 and it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

                The first person killed by an automobile was Bridget Driscoll (UK), who received fatal injuries when she walked into the path of a car moving at 4 mph (6.4 km/h), as it was giving demonstration rides in the grounds of Crystal Palace, London, UK on 17 August 1896.

        • MustangCryppie says:

          From the article I read, they were 56 nm from shore. Is that still considered leaving port and most importantly, requires restricted maneuvaribility?

          • QM1 says:

            No, I suppose not, if it was 56 NM from shore…

            I just glanced at the map, and was under the impression that they were within the territorial waters of 12 NM.

          • MustangCryppie says:

            Now that I look at the container ship track in the BBC article, definitely looks like the ship was closer than 56 nm and that their movements were restricted. But I rely on the QM1’s expertise for that answer.

            • QM1 says:

              Yeah, that’s the same chart I looked at earlier.

              Definitely looks like it was in restricted waters and should in no way be on any kind of autopilot. Lot of Navigation Detail 101 stuff goes into play at that point.

        • Deckie says:

          On merchant ships we maintain hand steering and a bow lookout until passed and clear of all traffic and dangers. This means anchors ready to let go with a seaman on the bow, an officer in charge of the watch on the bridge, a helmsman and even an extra lookout or two on the bridge.

          The Masters I sailed under always required the ship be in hand steering mode with fixes put on the chart at 6 minute intervals while operating near coastal or in the vicinity of other traffic (CPA’s at 2 miles or closer.) If at any point you even THOUGHT you were confused or overwhelmed you called his ass up there and used his extra eyes and experience to assist. Better to be called for nonsense than to be told to brace for collision…

          We also never made course changes with autopilot. Ever.

    • Just An Old Dog says:

      I worked on some of the newer product carriers ( basicially an oil tanker that can carry anything). The size of the crew is only about 40, and most of them don’t deal with navigation or handling the ship.
      The huge auto carrier ships have even smaller crews.
      As to the difference in the time of reports count it merely be a matter of being in or near a different time zone?

      • Martinjmpr says:

        As to the difference in the time of reports count it merely be a matter of being in or near a different time zone?

        I was thinking the same thing. Either a transcription error or a time zone error. It’s hard to imagine a Navy ship waiting almost an hour after a major accident like that.

        It’s easier for me to believe that there was either an error on the part of the person who recorded what time the transmission was received or an error involving the wrong time zone.

  2. OldSoldier54 says:

    If accurate, sounds like the Captain of the Crystal is going to fry. On the other hand, how was a US Destroyer not able to evade no matter the situation? Shoals nearby, Bridge Watch asleep at the wheel?

    I don’t know much about Naval and Maritime issues, but seems to me that a destroyer should be able to run rings around a container ship.

  3. Green Thumb says:

    Sad.

    Rest in peace, Sailors.

  4. Graybeard says:

    Dang.
    People don’t seem to realize that when you make a mistake in an environment like this, folks die.

    I hope the investigation corrects everything that went wrong that caused the loss of these young men’s lives.

  5. HMC Ret says:

    Rest in Peace, Brothers. The loss of such fine young men brings a tear to this old Sailor’s eyes.

  6. thebesig says:

    I could see a commercial ship running on auto pilot with minimal to no human presence on the bridge in the open ocean with no anticipated cross or parallel traffic.

    But, hugging the coastline like that, you would have traffic going both ways parallel to the coast. Too close to land, as well as to other traffic and navigation hazards, to not have a human team presence on the bridge ready to quickly take over if even that. being on “manual” would make perfect sense in situations like these.

    On the Navy side of the house, in that situation, depending on how many vessels are out there traveling in the same path, and the opposite path, restricted navigation conditions could be implemented where “Dog Zebra” is set below the main deck.

    Situations like that were normally nerve-racking, as every station in Combat Information Center, on the bridge, as well as in the engineering spaces, were more alert and ready to take action. It normally was hectic.

    I’m curious to why many of the basic things that happen in each of the stations, specifically the bridge and CIC, didn’t appear to work or appear to not have been implemented.

    I’m curious to see what actually happened on both ships that led to this.

    • thebesig says:

      Large bodies of water are dangerous places, even without human on human disasters. The Edmund Fitzgerald SP from Superior Wisconsin, city across from Duluth, MN, my hometown, collectively called “Twin Ports”. It never made it to its RP:

    • Deckie says:

      On commercial ships I ran a watch with just myself on the bridge and a lookout who also acted as helmsman when required.

      One company allowed me that lookout/helmsman at night only. During the day I was alone unless visibility or traffic concerns changed. It was an eye opener for a new Mate fresh out of school.

  7. IDC SARC says:

    The Daily Mail speculates that the Crystal was on “autopilot” at the time of the collision and that no one on the bridge knew how to turn it off;

    The U.S.S. Guam (LPH-2)sunk a commercial ship that hit her running on autopilot back in the 80s. All the civilian crewmen were recovered and the Guam just suffered a dent to her bow. That was the only time in my career I actually woke to a bona fide collision at sea alarm.

    • IDC SARC says:

      Sorry GUAM was LPH-9…Iwo Jima was LPH-2. I was on both at different points in time.

      • MustangCryppie says:

        Yeah, all those ships get a little “hazy” after a time.

      • thebesig says:

        LPH = Large Hotel for Diplomats. 😀

        • TDG says:

          More like LHD, amirite? Not sure what fun backronym we can come up with for LPH.

        • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

          LPH was Landing Platform Helicopter. The Iwo Jima was LPH 2, the first of it’s class. The Okinawa LPH 3 was next. These LPH’S were a Mc Namara boondoggle in that they were supposed to be 1 hundred feet longer with 2 screws but were built 1 hundred feet shorter with a 22 foot diameter screw. At my first Iwo Jima class ship reunion in 2007, the vets whom served on the other LPH’S all had a story about the ships “listing” problems.

          • IDC SARC says:

            the Guam also had a bent shaft…bitch oscillated and shook us around continuously at faster cruising speeds.

            It was cool to hang on the fantail in clear water and watch that one screw turning lazily though when we were going slow enough not to cavitate and throw off significant screw wash.

            • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

              Every time the 1MC message came over for all hands to stand clear of the weather decks, sailors would run to the fantail and watch the stern of the ship go up a few stories then go down into the trough looking at the 2 or 3 story wave up in the air. Yea when the screw came out of the water, you would get the vibrations. The fantail was also used for fire arms quals. using the B.A.R, Garand,Thomson sub and .45 pistol. Targets were the large cans from the galley that they dumped down the fantail garbage chute.

              • IDC SARC says:

                The vibrations on the Guam were almost continuous if we were trying to do do over like 12 knots, the sea could look like glass…didn’t matter….it was fukking annoying.

                No other Gator Freighter I was ever on oscillated like that.

  8. AW1Ed says:

    Seeing the AIS* track from yesterday’s post, I have a difficult time believing the container ship was on autopilot. But that will come out during the investigation.

    As for the Navy crew, one can do everything right and still run out of luck, time, and options. Again, this will come out during the investigation.

    *Automatic ID System, sort of an IFF for ships.

    • Tom Huxton says:

      the container ship seems to have run a very strange course

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40323069

    • thebesig says:

      Originally posted by AW1Ed:

      As for the Navy crew, one can do everything right and still run out of luck, time, and options. Again, this will come out during the investigation.

      Something like this, given the basic steps that would be taken in CIC, the bridge, as well as the lookouts as questions hammer them over the JL sound powered line, this doesn’t appear to be one of those types where everything could go right and something like this happens anyway.

      I have a feeling that negligence was involved in one or both ships based on what has been put out so far.

      There was enough time to come up with an avoiding course and to take appropriate action. I remember one time where our ship pushed outside well beyond the traffic lane because it got too hectic. In another instance, I remember being on the maneuvering board, computing avoiding course in response to two or three ships closing ranges on us, in order for us to avoid collision. I ended up getting us away from another group coming towards us (thick traffic), as well as avoiding the two ships that were tracking to be dangerously close to us.

      These ships were picked up and placed on our tracks as soon as they showed up on the radar horizon. As soon as the minimum plots were able to provide a track projection, we computed tracks and kept updating those tracks specifically to come up with avoiding course solutions if those tracks continued to track dangerously close to us.

      I’m curious about what the surface conditions were, as well as other factors in play, that contributed to this happening despite SOP that is in place for something like this.

      I do agree that there’s something fishy about the claim that the ship was on autopilot, given its proximity to land, in an area that would have maritime traffic flows like what we’d see with airplane traffic flows in our skies along the east coast.

      • Deckie says:

        Regardless of how far offshore they were, that part of the world is extremely busy with shipping. The norm for us would have been 6-12 minute fixes and acquiring and monitoring of all traffic of concern, even those who MIGHT be of concern. Autopilot may be in use, but when CPA’s narrow down and the need for quick course changes to maneuver become necessary or even a possibility it gets turned off immediately by any prudent watch officer… I might even give the Master a courtesy call so he knows we will be deviating from the approved voyage plan for traffic.

        It’s strange that the ship changed course so sharply before correcting. On most vessels now it seems the IMO standard is for a BNWAS system, which is basically a series of sensors on the bridge which, when they do not detect any movement (due to say, everyone being asleep, on the bridge wings screwing around or not on the bridge in general) in 6-12 minutes or so it begins to alarm. If no one passes beneath a sensor to reset the alarm in under 30 seconds or so, the alarm passes down to the Master’s stateroom to let him know of a potentially dangerous situation. Can it be turned off? Sure, but if it is it would be easy to find out and usually requires a password or some kind of code to override. The last few Military Sealift Command vessels I was on had it deactivated because the sensors in the overhead did not work. I’m curious to know what their VDR will show the watch officer and his lookouts as doing to occupy their time on the bridge.

        Even if a massive course change like that was ordered by an alert officer, he should know to “look over his shoulder” and hail all stations to let them know.

        I was never in the Navy, but I imagine the bridge teams are much larger and data and information is constantly being fed to the officer in charge of the navigational watch.

        • thebesig says:

          Thanks for your perspectives, I was never involved with commercial ships/merchant marines, but your descriptions on what happens with the navigation team are similar in concept to what happens navigation wise on Navy ships. Different number of people, types of equipment, but many similar concepts.

          This incident has people with relevant experiences scratching their heads.

  9. NavyCWORetired says:

    I have a hard time believing the FITZ didn’t see this vessel coming at them at between 15-18kts. CO’s standing night orders always indicate waking him/her up when CPA is less than xxx yards (varies by CO). It’s almost as if no one saw the CRYSTAL until it was too late to maneuver. Frequently, ships at night will run at trail shaft in “night steam boxes” to conserve fuel. Single shaft reduces speed and therefor maneuverability. Being in a heavily trafficked maritime corridor requires extra vigilance. I, too, will be very interested in the final report, but regardless I believe the CO/TAO/OOD will lose their jobs. That’s just common practice.

    • thebesig says:

      Definitely, I do remember the CO’s standing night orders requiring his being woken up when a CPA got within a certain number of yards.

      Even if we were steaming in a box, or going at minimum speed, we maintained plots and stood ready to do things like pass avoiding course recommendations to the bridge. Both the bridge and CIC would be asking the lookouts for additional information on a ship doing what that merchant ship was doing. Being in areas like this, with heavy traffic and being relatively close to land, to include reduced depth hazards, were always a pucker factor with everybody and his brother zeroing in on surface contacts that could threaten the ship.

      • Deckie says:

        I would often monitor the radar contact and order my lookouts to feed me information about aspect, because many accidents in our business are caused by either not lookout out the windows at all or burying your face into the electronics and over reliance on aids to navigation instead of the real world outside. I want to know what side we’re seeing, if he is changing course and what type of vessel it is.

        Even then, I’ll walk out with my own binoculars to verify what the lookout has told me.

        Our night orders were usually to maintain 2.0nm CPA and call the Master when in doubt. Never in my career did I ever get shit for waking the old man… something that it is rumored foreign ship’s officers and crew have an issue with, and deviating from the courses their Master orders.

  10. Steve 1371 says:

    thebesig, nice video of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

  11. Steve 1371 says:

    I wonder how many close calls happen in the open ocean with smaller sailing vessels. I’me not a sailer but like to read about sailing adventures.
    A big ship like that wouldn’t even feel a thing if it hit a 50 foot Yaught.

    • David says:

      and I hear that the big ships are damn near dead silent…all the prop/engine noise is almost 1/4 mile downwind of the bow. You don’t see it or hear the bow wave – unless you are in something pretty healthy size, they will never notice you as they roll over you. Like a semi and a go-kart.

  12. charles w says:

    Having been in the old Navy in the 1980’s do they even do any manual back ups like maneuvering boards any more? Being an OS we were in constant contact with the bridge. Everything was double if not triple checked. Sometimes the fancy shit goes down and the old ways are used.

  13. H1 says:

    “More disturbing, is a message a Navy mother purportedly received from her son, a sailor aboard the stricken tin-can. No identities have been revealed, but several Internet sites claim the Navy enlisted man reported when the container ship struck the Fitzgerald, she had neither her running lights or transponder on.”
    http://www.militarycorruption.com/USSFitgerald.htm

  14. Sparks says:

    God rest these sailors and comfort their families.

    I was not in the Navy so my questions are appropriately dumb. But I still do not understand how a US Destroyer, with all of its detection capabilities could be surprised by a ship of that size on radar. And being, according to the map someone posted, in such busy waters, why were they not in a higher state of navigation alert? As I wrote I know nothing of these nautical matters. But I do understand from all I have read, the defense and navigation capabilities of such a warship.

    My comments and questions are not meant to offend any here who understand far, far more than I ever will. I am simply saddened by this loss of life when its seems it could have been avoided. No matter how poorly the cargo ship was handled, the lives of US Sailors are the responsibility of the Officers in charge of their ship. Neither an I calling for anyone’s head. I just hope they will find out what happened so this will never be repeated.

  15. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    I will offer the cautionary observation that while it may feel better to believe that some sinister and active malice causes misadventure, human pride and foolishness are far more often the cause of seemingly inexplicable events.

    Not to say that fools are incapable of teamwork, though. Sometimes it is their one real skill.

  16. Old 1SG, US Army (retired) says:

    Interesting that we haven’t figured out the actual time of collision, I’m sure the Navy ship has electronic devices, someone on duty filling out a logbook… something, geez.

    Hopefully they’ll get to the bottom of this… not a conspiracy theorist, but we may never know the full truth.

    RIP sailors…

    • OWB says:

      Yeah, this totally ignorant of Navy stuff thought that at least someone or something would have noted, “0230: Big Boom.” Or something. Maybe the collision bounced all the clocks and watches into a different time zone?

  17. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    Does the Navy still utilize forward and aft look outs?? I’ve been out for 51 years now and do not know ditily squat about the 21st century Navy ship ops pertaining to the above.

  18. MAC(SW) (RET) says:

    Yes, the Navy still uses forward and aft lookouts.

    The scenarios are many and the speculation is rampant…….

    A few things though.

    Even on a lowly FFG-7, DD-976 or CG-47 class ships, some watch stations remain constant.

    For normal underway steaming in non-restricted waters, not during sea & anchor or any other “special evolution” (Flight Quarters, UNREP/VERTREP/CONREP, e.g.)

    On the bridge: Officer Of the Deck (OOD), Junior Officer Of the Deck (JOOD), Quartermaster Of the Watch (QMOW), Boatswains Mate Of the Watch (BMOW), Signalman Of the Watch (Used to be!) Messenger Of the Watch, Helmsman, JL Phone Talker and last but not least, lookouts. (These watch stations can vary depending on size or capability of ship, especially the amount of lookouts)

    In Combat Information Center (CIC): Tactical Actions Officer (TAO), Combat Information Center Watch Officer (CICWO), Surface Tracker, Air Tracker, NAVPLOT, Logkeeper. You will also have Electronic Warfare systems being manned as well as some Fire Control consoles/systems.

    These are not ALL of them as I’m sure that I’m missing some.

    On watch on the bridge of the ACX Crystal at the time of the collision? more than likely only 1 or maybe 2. But, more than likely 1 for nighttime manning and 2 for daytime and as was mention before was probably on autopilot AKA:Iron Mike (Educated guesstimate)

    Even if the ACX Crystal had no visible running lights, had turned off whatever transponder it was equipped with and it was the inky-est black, foggy, moonless night, even an old, “ghetto” FFG-7 equipped with a mediocre SPS-55 surface search radar (Non-SPY)with an antiquated SPA-25E/H display and an old OJ console manned by the most junior, but qualified, Operations Specialist (OS)sitting Surface Track would have detected that ship and it would have had a CPA done on it, possibly with a paper Maneuvering Board (MOBOARD) and that info would have been passed to the bridge via the JL phone talker:

    (JL Phone Talker gets notification from Surface Tracker and records all info on status board in white grease pencil and then makes this announcement)

    JL Phone Talker: OOD, JL Phone Talker!
    OOD: Go ahead JL!
    JL Phone Talker: OOD, new surface contact – designated Skunk Kilo! Range, 25NM. Bearing, 250 degrees, Course, 195 degrees. Speed, 16KTS, Closest Point of Approach, 5KYDS.
    OOD: (repeats back all info) Aye!

    With the contact being logged & tracked everybody that would need to be notified of it would be.

    Yes, back in the day, I was a lowly Sonar Technician on a couple of ghetto frigates but I was also a lowly STG that spent A LOT of time out in CIC and was PQS qualified to stand: CIC Log keeper, NAVPLOT (manning the DRT) and Surface Tracker. I also was pretty darn good at running MOBOARDS and solving for CPA faster than most OS’s which really tripped them out. Reason? As ST’s we always ran our own MOBOARDS during ASW/USW exercises as a “redundant” plot with CIC.

    I also had the pleasure of standing the JL watch on the bridge and occasionally stood lookout. All this because some higher up determined that SONAR didn’t need to be turned on and Sonar Control didn’t need to be manned during my multiple times in the good ole’ Persian Gulf.

    Very thankful for those cross-training opportunities though as it gave me a ton of awesome training as well as the ability to apply that knowledge later down the road.

    • sj says:

      MAC(SW): Very Interesting. Would probably be even more interesting if I understood Navyese. You folks are like the old Navajo Code Talkers. Salute.

    • Silentium Est Aureum says:

      My .02 worth of “speculation”, and that’s it:

      IF, and it’s a big IF, the merchie was seaward of the Fitzgerald AND was “running blind” with no running lights or transponder, even if the Fitzgerald was “rigged for black”, seeing anything not using at least running lights would be nearly impossible, even if the lookouts had been out there for some time. Even the phosporescence of the merchie wake would have been difficult, but not impossible, to spot depending upon angle on the bow.

      Doesn’t account for lack of (or ignoring/dismissing) radar contact in CIC, but does account for why lookouts might not have been able to warn until b it was too late.

  19. Silentium Est Aureum says:

    I love people who have never been to sea so sure there’s something sinister going on. Makes me want to dump my entire 401 (k) into Reynolds Wrap.

    That being said, I understand Petty Officer Rehm entered the berthing compartment to seal the door, knowing full well he probably wouldn’t make it out, and saved the ship, or at least many lives, in the process.

    If so, holy moly.

    • Fyrfighter says:

      Wells said SEA, and BZ to PO Rehm if that’s the case. I’m not going to add to your Reynolds wrap profits, as a non-Navy type, I’ll just say something seems odd, not sinister.. obviously, something out of the ordinary happened for a destroyer to be hit by a ship it should have been able to run rings around. Hopefully the investigation will determine what that was, so it can be prevented in the future.

    • 11b-mailclerk says:

      His story is finally making the news.

      To reenter a rapidly-flooding compartment, knowing full well that at any moment they would have to close the hatch to save the ship, just because he -might- save a man .

      And he went anyway, willingly, to a horrifying fate.

      We are blessed beyond measure to be defended by such men. May we always be worthy of such valor.

  20. OSC(SW) Retired says:

    I really hate seeing all of the speculation that Fitzgerald’s watch teams were negligent. I hate to speculate myself, but I seem to have to.

    Terrorism – The story about a Sailor’s mother getting information that the ACX Crystal was running with her transponder and lights off is bunk. We have had Crystal’s AIS data since day 1.

    Many folks are asking why CIC and the Bridge didn’t see ACX Crystal or report her to the CO. Without looking at logs it is premature but I can tell you from the visible damage and the available AIS data for Crystal, I can assure that CIC was tracking them, and that the CO had almost certainly been notified that they were being overtaken on their starboard by a container ship.

    The area that Fitzgerald and Crystal were steaming through is heavily trafficked and is at the eastern exit of the Japanese Captain’s Association’s recommended traffic separation scheme. The idea that Fitzgerald would place a night steam box at that spot is pretty implausible.

    The visible damage tells me that Crystal hit Fitzgerald at a fairly shallow angle. The bulbous bow split the hull below the waterline, but you cannot see that. All of that visible damage is when the two ships heeled over into the impact and the Crystal’s hurricane bow came in contact with Fitzgerald’s superstructure.

    In shipping lanes it is pretty common for ships to overtake each other and when not in a channel it is common to overtake to starboard. I believe that ACX Crystal was overtaking Fitzgerald to starboard and made their planned 20 degree port turn within the JCA traffic scheme.

    I have no way of knowing whether or not the CO was notified, but experience says that he probably was and that the overtaking CPA was probably around 1 nautical mile. Close but not reason for panic. However at that range Fitzgerald would have had little time to react when Crystal made their planned turn to port. I don’t have a mo-board to figure up the closure speed, but we know ACX was between 18 and 20 knots, and we can assume Fitzgerald was somewhere between 10 and 15 knots. Both vessels were heading east-north-east, so when Crystal turned the closure rate increased. Even at 20 knots 1nm is covered in just under 3 minutes.

    3 minutes. CIC and Bridge teams will take up part of that time just recognizing the maneuver.

    But 3 minutes for a DDG? Ocean going sports cars right?

    Wrong.

    Remember that overtaking situation they were in? Fitzgerald was actually the stand-on vessel in this case (COLREGS Rule 13), and oncoming traffic ahead would expect Fitzgerald’s avoiding maneuvers to be to starboard. So Fitz really only had her engines to respond and as others have suggested, she might have been steaming in trail shaft, so their ability to speed up and/or crash back would have been limited.

    All of that of course is just speculation and we will have to wait of the investigation. But I will always give CIC and the Bridge the benefit of the doubt.

    • Graybeard says:

      Thanks OSC(SW) Retired.

      As should be SOP, awaiting the full investigation to know for sure what happened.

      If the Crystal was a fault, I wonder if the sailor’s families will get a settlement? Or are there other rules at play here?

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