Cargo ship captain says doomed USS Fitzgerald didn’t respond to warning signals
The captain of the container ship that rammed the USS Fitzgerald, killing seven sailors, said in his account that the warship did not take evasive action or respond to warning signals before the collision, according to a report Monday.
The cargo ship’s captain said his vessel, the ACX Crystal, signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald “suddenly” began steaming on a course that would cross its path in Tokyo Bay, the incident report said, according to Reuters.
The Crystal steered hard to avoid the guided-missile destroyer but slammed into it around 1:30 a.m. June 17, Capt. Ronald Advincula’s report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation said, according to the news service, which saw a copy of it.
The collision ripped open a gash in the Fitzgerald’s side and sent water gushing into the berthing compartments where the sailors were sleeping.
The seven deaths are the greatest loss of life on a Navy ship since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen in 2000, killing 17.
The Fitzgerald’s captain was injured in his cabin, suggesting he had no indication that a warning had been sounded.
A spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, the Fitzgerald’s home port, said he couldn’t comment because of the ongoing investigations, Reuters reported.
There are currently six investigations into the crash, examining witness testimony and electronic data to determine how the Crystal could have collided with a warship outfitted with sophisticated radar systems.
The probes are also looking into why the Crystal did not report the crash to the Japanese coast guard until nearly an hour later.
Reports also say the container ship, three times larger than the Fitzgerald, continued steaming toward Tokyo for half an hour before turning around, suggesting the ship was on auto-pilot.