Japan Safety Board Backs Navy’s Findings on Cause of Deadly USS Fitzgerald Collision (excerpt)
(Source: Stars And Stripes; published August 30, 2019)
By Caitlin Doornbos
The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald sits inside a dry dock in preparation for launch after repairs at the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. (US Navy photo)
YOKOSUKA, Japan --- The Japanese government has issued its report on the fatal USS Fitzgerald collision, more than two years after the destroyer ran into a commercial container ship.

Released Thursday, the Japan Transport Safety Board’s findings echo a U.S. Navy report from late 2017 saying the accident was “preventable” and that the destroyer’s watch standers contributed to the incident.

Seven Fitzgerald sailors were killed June 17, 2017, when the destroyer ran into the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal about 60 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, where the warship is based.

“It is somewhat likely that USS Fitzgerald … was not properly on the lookout for ACX CRYSTAL,” Japan’s report said.

Watch standers paid more attention to another container ship sailing “parallel in the north of ACX Crystal,” distracting them from focusing on the Philippine ship, the report said.

ACX Crystal signaled the Fitzgerald with a daylight signaling lamp prior to the collision, Japan’s report said. The Navy report said the Fitzgerald’s officer of the deck “fail[ed] to sound the danger signal and fail[ed] to attempt to contact Crystal on bridge-to-bridge radio.”

ACX Crystal’s crew “expected that the USS Fitzgerald would recognize them and avoid ACX Crystal,” so it did not change its course or speed, Japan’s report said. (end of excerpt)


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