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NFT: USS Fitzgerald collision

Steve L : 6/18/2017 1:14 am
This is by no means meant to be disrespectful to our great sailors.

How does something like this happen with modern technology? With radar, trajectory information and other things... I don't get it. Obviously the cargo ship is huge and can't turn or stop quickly, but still.

Can someone explain?
Well, to start, it was 2:30 in the morning  
BlackLight : 6/18/2017 1:26 am : link
And I think it was more a case of the merchant ship colliding with the destroyer rather than the other way around. If the people driving the merchant ship were asleep at the wheel, then maybe all the advanced technology that money can buy for the Navy isn't going to be much help
They are saying the Merchant ship  
montanagiant : 6/18/2017 2:10 am : link
Made a sudden U-Turn in a crowded shipping lane
It  
jtfuoco : 6/18/2017 2:15 am : link
Can happen for a million different reasons especially in that particular area. We will have to wait on the official report to really find out what happen
It's definitely a concerning situation  
bradshaw44 : 6/18/2017 2:17 am : link
To say the least. What if that had been a hijacked ship? Crazy. I would think they have measures to avoid accidents like this. It's perplexing how it happened. And I don't the time it happened would be an acceptable excuse.
RE: Well, to start, it was 2:30 in the morning  
M.S. : 6/18/2017 6:03 am : link
In comment 13503071 BlackLight said:
Quote:
And I think it was more a case of the merchant ship colliding with the destroyer rather than the other way around. If the people driving the merchant ship were asleep at the wheel, then maybe all the advanced technology that money can buy for the Navy isn't going to be much help

FROM THE NYT:

The cause of the collision was unclear. Under international maritime rules, a vessel is supposed to give way to another one on its starboard side, and the damage indicates that the Crystal was to the Fitzgerald’s starboard, and therefore had the right of way.

Sean P. Tortora, a veteran merchant marine captain and consultant who said he had sailed through the area of the collision many times, said that evidence suggested the Fitzgerald was at fault.

Captain Tortora described the collision as a “T-bone” in which the bow of the Crystal hit the starboard side of the Fitzgerald. “From what I’ve seen, the Fitzgerald should have given way and passed to the stern of the container ship,” he said.
What an awful tragedy.  
Maryland Giant : 6/18/2017 6:15 am : link
Cannot imagine being one of those parents/spouses getting that notification today.
Typically with these collisions  
rebel yell : 6/18/2017 6:56 am : link
it is a combination of faulty equipment (readings/data) and human error. As I'm sure you're aware, these large vessels can't stop or change course on a dime. In 1998, I was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) when she backed into the USS Leyte Gulf off Cape Hatteras causing $10 million in damage, but it wasn't nearly as catastrophic as this and there was no loss of life. I pray for my lost shipmates.
Having done that for nearly  
section125 : 6/18/2017 7:55 am : link
40 years, on face, it would appear that as stated above the Fitzgerald was the "give way" vessel and therefore at fault. But often times before a collision, the ships get into a "dance" trying to avoid collision, i.e., may make a series of turns and speed changes based on what they see which only confuses the other ship. If the Fitzgerald was the "give way" ship, then ACX Crystal is supposed to maintain course and speed until the point at which the action of the Fitzgerald alone will not avoid the collision. (BTW, All turns are supposed to be to starboard, right). This is called "in extremis". Of course, nearby traffic may have played part in the timing and extent of any turns for collision avoidance.
Folks, this is extremely complex....

But, there are lots of factors here. (just a few for example)

1.) Heavy traffic - especially heavy fishing boat (especially if mixed in with ship traffic) activity can totally confuse the situation. Fishing boats if in the area do not respect the rules - very often will charge at a ship to protect their nets causing radical course changes. Plus with so many lights, you can lose other traffic, especially if focus on a closer more dangerous threat. Radar can help but is pretty slow to show changes in course and speed especially when things are within a mile. (A mile is nothing to a 500 ft and 750 ft ship)

2.) The U-Turn - it seems to have been far away from the collision area. Sometimes ships will do a pre-calculated turn to kill time. The arrival at Tokyo pilot (Uraga, iirc) station is an exact time (within 15 minutes) due to traffic entering the bay. FYI, most merchant ships Diesel engines can only operate in a set range and operating below a certain RPM will load the exhaust trunk with unspent fuel possibly causing a fire in the exhaust trunk. More modern engines are more forgiving. Even on US Ships changing speeds may necessitate calling an engineer to the engine room to make changes to settings(won't go into details). And no, unless necessary, the engine room is not manned between 5pm and 8am. everything is automated.

3.) I do know most modern non-US cargo ships operate with only the officer of the watch on the bridge. There is supposed to be a standby helmsman that can be called to the bridge to steer, but often is off doing other work in the house. Could the officer have fell asleep, missed his turn and then woke up and backtracked? Yes. But there are alarms that will go off if no motion is detected within 10 minutes. If the watch officer did not call the helmsman he would have been navigating, monitoring traffic and steering all by himself. Most modern ships have a "pilot's chair" where all the functions are readily accessible - I do not know what the ACX Crystal's bridge set up is.

4.)Having dealt with some non-US ships, all ships have a passage plan (routing saying when, where and what courses to steer) some ships will not deviate from said exact route. Meaning, these guys are steering for an exact spot and at said exact spot they will make their turn, even if you are there. There is no room for deviation by some captains. (Indian officered ships in my experience are the worst). I won't get into the ridiculousness of the passage plan's requirements - that is another story.

5.) On the Fitzgerald there would be a bridge team and a team in CIC (combat information center). Both have access to the radar(s). The bridge team with the Officer of the Deck(OOD) assisted by a junior OOD, the Quarter Master and his team and lookouts is in charge of the ship while CIC is offering advice. It is up to the OOD to make the decisions and he hopefully called the Captain when he saw there was a chance of imminent collision (likewise hopefully the 2nd officer on the ACX Crystal called his captian.) (Disclaimer - I may be slightly off on the bridge manning of the US Navy.)

I think the most likely outcome will be fault on both parties. It is often a very complex scenario that causes a collision, called an error chain - a series of steps and missteps that lead to the collision.

I would caution all not to speculate and affix blame. The ACX Crystal will have all it's data recorded on the VDR (radar, voice commands, engine orders, navigation devices, etc) for about 12 hours prior to the collision and the aftermath. So the Japanese Coast Guard will know exactly what happened on the ACX. The US Navy will know exactly what happened on the Fitzgerald.

We do know Cmdr Benson, the OOD, JOOD and the officers in the CIC on navigation detail careers are likely finished and seven sailors are likely dead.

Pray for the dead.
Section  
Maryland Giant : 6/18/2017 8:05 am : link
Thank you for that information and insight. List sailors and careers ended. Incredibly tragic.
*Lost not List  
Maryland Giant : 6/18/2017 8:06 am : link
Thanks again.
Section  
Steve L : 6/18/2017 8:38 am : link
Thanks for all this. It's such a complex and sad situation and this helps a lot. For people like me who have no experience with this sort of thing, it's just confusing.
Thanks, section.  
Klaatu : 6/18/2017 8:39 am : link
I was hoping you'd weigh in on this.
Sheeple  
Deej : 6/18/2017 9:13 am : link
it was the Deep State.
Thanks, Section  
MadPlaid : 6/18/2017 9:37 am : link
Appreciate the details. Tragedy on so many levels for so many people.
RE: They are saying the Merchant ship  
Blue21 : 6/18/2017 11:25 am : link
This seems the most obvious explanation
RE: They are saying the Merchant ship  
Blue21 : 6/18/2017 11:27 am : link
In comment 13503074 montanagiant said:
Quote:
Made a sudden U-Turn in a crowded shipping lane


This seems the most likely explanation. When I was in the Navy we had a near miss with a Freighter cutting across our bow. Happens more than we realize.
RE: RE: They are saying the Merchant ship  
section125 : 6/18/2017 11:35 am : link
In comment 13503195 Blue21 said:
Quote:
In comment 13503074 montanagiant said:


Quote:


Made a sudden U-Turn in a crowded shipping lane



This seems the most likely explanation. When I was in the Navy we had a near miss with a Freighter cutting across our bow. Happens more than we realize.


It is a possible explanation, but the U-Turn
BBC story with GPS positioning - ( New Window )
RE: RE: RE: They are saying the Merchant ship  
section125 : 6/18/2017 11:40 am : link
In comment 13503201 section125 said:
Quote:
In comment 13503195 Blue21 said:


Quote:


In comment 13503074 montanagiant said:


Quote:


Made a sudden U-Turn in a crowded shipping lane



This seems the most likely explanation. When I was in the Navy we had a near miss with a Freighter cutting across our bow. Happens more than we realize.



It is possible, but if you see the attached article and the printout of the GPS positioning from Marine Traffic, the U Turn was not really that close to the accident point.

What I do see in that screen pic is that the Crystal appears to have turned to port some where in the vicinity of the collision - the real tight little group on the left.

But as I said previously, the authorities will get it right and it is all circumstantial evidence to us amateurs at this point.
RE: Sheeple  
njm : 6/18/2017 2:09 pm : link
In comment 13503111 Deej said:
Quote:
it was the Deep State.


We have Section trying to provide a detailed unbiased analysis and then we have this.
Great  
AcidTest : 6/18/2017 2:35 pm : link
analysis Section. Extremely informative. Always good to hear from an expert.

Casualties and injuries have been reported. Prayers to them and their families and friends. RIP. God bless.
RE: Having done that for nearly  
Boatie Warrant : 6/18/2017 11:25 pm : link
In comment 13503092 section125 said:
Quote:
40 years, on face, it would appear that as stated above the Fitzgerald was the "give way" vessel and therefore at fault. But often times before a collision, the ships get into a "dance" trying to avoid collision, i.e., may make a series of turns and speed changes based on what they see which only confuses the other ship. If the Fitzgerald was the "give way" ship, then ACX Crystal is supposed to maintain course and speed until the point at which the action of the Fitzgerald alone will not avoid the collision. (BTW, All turns are supposed to be to starboard, right). This is called "in extremis". Of course, nearby traffic may have played part in the timing and extent of any turns for collision avoidance.
Folks, this is extremely complex....

But, there are lots of factors here. (just a few for example)

1.) Heavy traffic - especially heavy fishing boat (especially if mixed in with ship traffic) activity can totally confuse the situation. Fishing boats if in the area do not respect the rules - very often will charge at a ship to protect their nets causing radical course changes. Plus with so many lights, you can lose other traffic, especially if focus on a closer more dangerous threat. Radar can help but is pretty slow to show changes in course and speed especially when things are within a mile. (A mile is nothing to a 500 ft and 750 ft ship)

2.) The U-Turn - it seems to have been far away from the collision area. Sometimes ships will do a pre-calculated turn to kill time. The arrival at Tokyo pilot (Uraga, iirc) station is an exact time (within 15 minutes) due to traffic entering the bay. FYI, most merchant ships Diesel engines can only operate in a set range and operating below a certain RPM will load the exhaust trunk with unspent fuel possibly causing a fire in the exhaust trunk. More modern engines are more forgiving. Even on US Ships changing speeds may necessitate calling an engineer to the engine room to make changes to settings(won't go into details). And no, unless necessary, the engine room is not manned between 5pm and 8am. everything is automated.

3.) I do know most modern non-US cargo ships operate with only the officer of the watch on the bridge. There is supposed to be a standby helmsman that can be called to the bridge to steer, but often is off doing other work in the house. Could the officer have fell asleep, missed his turn and then woke up and backtracked? Yes. But there are alarms that will go off if no motion is detected within 10 minutes. If the watch officer did not call the helmsman he would have been navigating, monitoring traffic and steering all by himself. Most modern ships have a "pilot's chair" where all the functions are readily accessible - I do not know what the ACX Crystal's bridge set up is.

4.)Having dealt with some non-US ships, all ships have a passage plan (routing saying when, where and what courses to steer) some ships will not deviate from said exact route. Meaning, these guys are steering for an exact spot and at said exact spot they will make their turn, even if you are there. There is no room for deviation by some captains. (Indian officered ships in my experience are the worst). I won't get into the ridiculousness of the passage plan's requirements - that is another story.

5.) On the Fitzgerald there would be a bridge team and a team in CIC (combat information center). Both have access to the radar(s). The bridge team with the Officer of the Deck(OOD) assisted by a junior OOD, the Quarter Master and his team and lookouts is in charge of the ship while CIC is offering advice. It is up to the OOD to make the decisions and he hopefully called the Captain when he saw there was a chance of imminent collision (likewise hopefully the 2nd officer on the ACX Crystal called his captian.) (Disclaimer - I may be slightly off on the bridge manning of the US Navy.)

I think the most likely outcome will be fault on both parties. It is often a very complex scenario that causes a collision, called an error chain - a series of steps and missteps that lead to the collision.

I would caution all not to speculate and affix blame. The ACX Crystal will have all it's data recorded on the VDR (radar, voice commands, engine orders, navigation devices, etc) for about 12 hours prior to the collision and the aftermath. So the Japanese Coast Guard will know exactly what happened on the ACX. The US Navy will know exactly what happened on the Fitzgerald.

We do know Cmdr Benson, the OOD, JOOD and the officers in the CIC on navigation detail careers are likely finished and seven sailors are likely dead.

Pray for the dead.

This is broken down very well for the average person. Great job Section.
I would like to add a couple things:
Maritime law is not like regular driving laws for those who don't know. There usually is no such thing as NO Fault, so some blame will be cast in both directions.
As for the Navy watch officer in some cases the OOD is not the most navigation knowledgable on the bridge and could contribute to delayed decisions.
As for the commercial ship, many times they use the technology on the bridge to alert them to danger while they.......do.....other....things...zzzz. Not many crew and that guy on the bridge at 2:30 am probably worked all day then stood watch.

my 2 cents
List of the lost Sailors  
montanagiant : 6/18/2017 11:37 pm : link
"Fair winds and following seas!"
RE: RE: Having done that for nearly  
section125 : 6/19/2017 6:34 am : link
In comment 13503533 Boatie Warrant said:
Quote:
In comment 13503092 section125 said:


Quote:

This is broken down very well for the average person. Great job Section.
I would like to add a couple things:
Maritime law is not like regular driving laws for those who don't know. There usually is no such thing as NO Fault, so some blame will be cast in both directions.
As for the Navy watch officer in some cases the OOD is not the most navigation knowledgable on the bridge and could contribute to delayed decisions.
As for the commercial ship, many times they use the technology on the bridge to alert them to danger while they.......do.....other....things...zzzz. Not many crew and that guy on the bridge at 2:30 am probably worked all day then stood watch.

my 2 cents


Morning Boatie - thanks for the Navy side. I was hoping somebody might clean up that portion in case I was wrong. Long time since my Naval Science classes at school.
You are right about fatigue on merchant ships and the bridge watch falling asleep(it happens, but is not the norm) - it is possible and it is the reason for the BNWAS (bridge navigation watch alarm system). Watches falling asleep is more prevalent in coasters because of the intensive arrival and departure schedules. I always believed that the two man watch system the US still clings to is far safer than the one man with alarms allowed by law. Alarms can be defeated. I'm too old school to believe IMO's bullshit.
Dakota Rigsby is from here...  
Dunedin81 : 6/19/2017 7:27 am : link
Was a volunteer firefighter before he enlisted. Sad, sad story.
RE: RE: RE: Having done that for nearly  
Boatie Warrant : 6/19/2017 9:54 am : link
In comment 13503550 section125 said:
Quote:
In comment 13503533 Boatie Warrant said:


Quote:


In comment 13503092 section125 said:


Quote:

This is broken down very well for the average person. Great job Section.
I would like to add a couple things:
Maritime law is not like regular driving laws for those who don't know. There usually is no such thing as NO Fault, so some blame will be cast in both directions.
As for the Navy watch officer in some cases the OOD is not the most navigation knowledgable on the bridge and could contribute to delayed decisions.
As for the commercial ship, many times they use the technology on the bridge to alert them to danger while they.......do.....other....things...zzzz. Not many crew and that guy on the bridge at 2:30 am probably worked all day then stood watch.

my 2 cents



Morning Boatie - thanks for the Navy side. I was hoping somebody might clean up that portion in case I was wrong. Long time since my Naval Science classes at school.
You are right about fatigue on merchant ships and the bridge watch falling asleep(it happens, but is not the norm) - it is possible and it is the reason for the BNWAS (bridge navigation watch alarm system). Watches falling asleep is more prevalent in coasters because of the intensive arrival and departure schedules. I always believed that the two man watch system the US still clings to is far safer than the one man with alarms allowed by law. Alarms can be defeated. I'm too old school to believe IMO's bullshit.


I spent 21 years in the Army (just retired earlier this year), most of that time on Army Vessels traveling the world. I have had a good bit of interaction with the Navy with most of it being positive. I did find that many of their watch officers (at least from the small pool I dealt with) were smart at their day job but not the most versed in navigation. They leaned heavily on the Boatswain's mate's knowledge of the route plans. Plus, depending on the Personality of the Captain, they have a tendency to think because they are a warship others need to stay clear of them. Most of which should come out in the investigation. General public will never hear all the facts and rightfully so most of the time.
FWIW  
x meadowlander : 6/19/2017 11:52 am : link
Isn't it kinda bad luck to name a ship "Fitzgerald"?
RE: RE: RE: RE: Having done that for nearly  
RC02XX : 6/19/2017 2:19 pm : link
In comment 13503632 Boatie Warrant said:
Quote:
I spent 21 years in the Army (just retired earlier this year), most of that time on Army Vessels traveling the world. I have had a good bit of interaction with the Navy with most of it being positive. I did find that many of their watch officers (at least from the small pool I dealt with) were smart at their day job but not the most versed in navigation. They leaned heavily on the Boatswain's mate's knowledge of the route plans. Plus, depending on the Personality of the Captain, they have a tendency to think because they are a warship others need to stay clear of them. Most of which should come out in the investigation. General public will never hear all the facts and rightfully so most of the time.


I always assumed you were a Navy warrant officer based on your handle. But since I do know that Army has many sea vessels, this does make sense...:)
RE: RE: RE: RE: Having done that for nearly  
section125 : 6/19/2017 3:36 pm : link
In comment 13503632 Boatie Warrant said:
Quote:
In comment 13503550 section125 said:

I spent 21 years in the Army (just retired earlier this year), most of that time on Army Vessels traveling the world. I have had a good bit of interaction with the Navy with most of it being positive. I did find that many of their watch officers (at least from the small pool I dealt with) were smart at their day job but not the most versed in navigation. They leaned heavily on the Boatswain's mate's knowledge of the route plans. Plus, depending on the Personality of the Captain, they have a tendency to think because they are a warship others need to stay clear of them. Most of which should come out in the investigation. General public will never hear all the facts and rightfully so most of the time.


Yep, the Army actually has more vessels than the Navy - most inland, but may seagoing.

I actually think the details will come out, they have to come out. There were 7 sailors killed in a collision with a commercial ship and it may involve a criminal trial if the Crystal's captain and watch officer were criminally negligent. In that case, not only will the Company by involved, but the US Navy and all details will be argued in court. Even if the Fitzgerald was mostly at fault there will be a lawsuit for damages, etc.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Having done that for nearly  
Boatie Warrant : 6/20/2017 7:44 am : link
In comment 13504076 section125 said:
Quote:
In comment 13503632 Boatie Warrant said:


Quote:


In comment 13503550 section125 said:

I spent 21 years in the Army (just retired earlier this year), most of that time on Army Vessels traveling the world. I have had a good bit of interaction with the Navy with most of it being positive. I did find that many of their watch officers (at least from the small pool I dealt with) were smart at their day job but not the most versed in navigation. They leaned heavily on the Boatswain's mate's knowledge of the route plans. Plus, depending on the Personality of the Captain, they have a tendency to think because they are a warship others need to stay clear of them. Most of which should come out in the investigation. General public will never hear all the facts and rightfully so most of the time.



Yep, the Army actually has more vessels than the Navy - most inland, but may seagoing.

I actually think the details will come out, they have to come out. There were 7 sailors killed in a collision with a commercial ship and it may involve a criminal trial if the Crystal's captain and watch officer were criminally negligent. In that case, not only will the Company by involved, but the US Navy and all details will be argued in court. Even if the Fitzgerald was mostly at fault there will be a lawsuit for damages, etc.


Yeah, you wont find many Navy folks calling themselves Boaties! :) I spent about 4 years in the High Speed Craft program sailing with a mixture of Army and Navy when we where testing the Vessels out for US Military use. Army also has plenty of other Ocean going Vessels. (and some not completely designed to do so but still do). Flat bottom boats are fun in anything over 4 foot seas.

I am sure that those involved in any court case will get the majority of the information but I doubt all of the information will be made available to the general public. Especially if the Navy is mostly to blame
Now there is confusion on  
section125 : 6/20/2017 8:11 am : link
the time of the incident. Originally was 02:20. US Navy still says 02:20. Japanese CG now saying 01:30. So question as to why ship may have waited 50 minutes to call in the incident. This is not a big deal, they had other more important things to do, like assessing damage, activating emergency procedures, calling the owners etc. Remember everything now is by the approved procedure manual which MUST be followed, so calling coastal authorities may have been lower on the check list (especially as there were no injuries to the Crystal's crew, ship not in danger of sinking and no pollution threat.)

The U-Turn was one hour prior to incident according to latest news - so in affect as I suspected - the u-turn was not an immediate cause of the accident, except to put the ship at that exact spot at that exact time (coincidence.)

FYI, website Marine Traffic will have the incident and positions with times at each update (maybe 6 minute increments), so the time of the accident is already known, or at least readily available. Each of the little triangles represents a position update and will have an associated time. if it was live, you could hover on each triangle and get position, course, speed etc.
ABC News Report - ( New Window )
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