Containership captain: USS Fitzgerald stayed on collision course despite warning

(TOKYO) — The captain of a containership that collided with USS Fitzgerald said the guided-missile destroyer failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action before the accident that killed seven Navy sailors, Reuters reported.

Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way into how the destroyer and the much larger Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay in the early hours of June 17.

In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed on to a course to cross its path. The containership steered hard to starboard to avoid the warship, but hit Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Capt. Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese shipowner Dainichi Investment Corp. that was seen by Reuters.

The collision tore a gash below Fitzgerald's waterline, killing seven sailors in what was the greatest loss of life on a U.S. Navy vessel since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen's Aden harbor in 2000.

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By Professional Mariner Staff