Was The Ramming Of The USS Fitzgerald Intentional?

It’s starting to look that way. A crewman on the Navy Destroyer wrote to his mother. She relates this much:

My son is assigned to the USS Fitzgerald. I am unable to share his rate with you.

The information is short and not so sweet. The implications are disturbing.

The ship is registered in the Philippines. We do not know who the owner is. The container ship neither had its running lights or transponder on. That is an action taken willfully. Furthermore, for the container ship to strike with such accuracy is troublesome. Given what some have done with cars in Europe, what a feather in the cap it would be to sink a U.S. Navy warship. Think on that.

My son missed being washed out to sea by the blink of an eye. He was on his way to one of the berthing areas that was rammed.

Yes, language is important. “Rammed” is the perfect word.

Loving and Concerned Navy Mother”

From here

The bow of the ACX Crystal after ‘Ramming’ the USS Fitzgerald

Also,

Japan’s coast guard is investigating why it took nearly an hour for a deadly collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a container ship to be reported.

A coast guard official said Monday they are trying to find out what the crew of the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal was doing before reporting the collision to authorities 50 minutes later.”

From here

The USS Fitzgerald

And this:

The upshot of the way the navigation rules are written is that if there’s a collision it is almost never the case that either master is absolved. The only real way you avoid some responsibility is if you’re properly anchored (and dayshaped/lit) or tied to a pier.

If you’re legally underway (moving or not) you’re going to get some percentage of the fault, in short.

But then this showed up and calls into question exactly where the split of fault lies.

This is how the ACX Crystal changed course

Boy that looks suspicious. First, the freighter doubled back at speed and then altered course again just before the impact.

Remember, this happened in clear weather, at night. There is no reason to believe visibility was impaired or anything of the sort. The first violent, unsolicited maneuver (doubling back) looks suspicious standing alone given that the vessel’s intended path was northeast if it was proceeding as-planned. The second course adjustment southward just before the impact looks even worse.”

More here

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8 Responses to Was The Ramming Of The USS Fitzgerald Intentional?

  1. Rich says:

    According to Vice Admiral Aucoin:

    “Most of the damage is below the waterline, including a large gash near the keel, Aucoin said. ‘So the water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea,’ he said adding that the accident was ‘traumatic’ … .”

    The Daily Mail.

    It was bulbous or ram bow on the ACX Crystal that did the damage below the waterline and killed 7 sailors. Attached is a pic of a ram bow.

  2. C. L. says:

    I found a better picture:

    • C. L. says:

      Kidding aside, what do you make of the course changes, Rich? To me, the uneducated in such things, it looks damning.

      • Rich says:

        It is tough to tell CL without seeing the Fitzgerald’s track along with that of the ACX Crystal. So far I have not seen any track for the Fitzgerald. That the Crystal seems to have doubled back after colliding with the Fitzgerald does not seem odd to me. You would want to do so to offer assistance following a collision. If that’s why it doubled back, radio traffic should confirm that. There are, however, reports that the ASX Crystal had its running lights out and transponder off. It also seems clear that the Crystal waited nearly an hour before reporting the collision. The latter assertions are, at this point, unconfirmed officially. But if true, then the actions of the Crystal take on a much more sinister hue. Right now I agree that the Crystal’s actions are odd at best. Time will tell … I hope.

        • C. L. says:

          Well, seeing the point of collision on the course (your graphic) changes things. The way the description is written in the course graphic in the original post, it leads you to believe that the collision occurred at a much different point on the course. I assumed the collision was at the point after it turned to the southwest, then an abrupt turn to the northeast after the impact.

          • Rich says:

            I agree CL, your course graphic was unclear. Then again, mine could be off too – it is early on yet for much to be factually determined.

            FYI, here is a link to a YouTube from vesselfinder.com/ giving a better idea of the Crystal’s track as well as other (non-military) traffic in the area (it was pretty congested – which does make the Crystal’s 2 180 degree post-collision course changes seem quite odd).

            Going with the collision time of 1:30 AM (just at that 90 degree starboard turn about 1:00 into the video), if you squint really hard, you’ll see that the Crystal was going about 18 knots (~ 20 mph) when the collision occurred. Looking at the damage I’d guess the Crystal’s port bow hit the Fitzgerald’s port side roughly midships at around a 30 degree angle.

    • Rich says:

      You punny guy CL. πŸ™‚

  3. Rich says:

    The NY Times has a picture of the damage to the bow of the ACX Crystal, which caused the superstructure damage to the USS Fitzgerald, where its ram bow can be seen.

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