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Uss Fitzgerald Collision


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A ship at sea is a floating city under weigh, providing complete sustenance while performing its given mission. However, one has to be trained and vigilant in order to succeed in the face of the many dangers, the most severe being fire and flooding. Like any workplace, the work areas are themselves potentially lethal to the unwary or unwitting.

 

At any moment, a sleeping crew [up to 2/3 of all hands] can be thrown out of their bunks and enter into a struggle to save the ship and the lives therein. In the case of collision, fire or flooding, a warship will go to general quarters and all watertight doors and hatches are closed, leaving precious little time for those caught in a flooding or fiery space to exit, because if the ship is lost, too many of the crew perish as well.

 

It can happen anywhere and at any time. The Summer Midshipman Cruise of the Atlantic Fleet in June 1965 saw cruisers and destroyers en route to the Caribbean. While standing watch at night on board a DDG while some of our ships refueled and replenished from a replenishment ship, I overheard the bridge talker pass word to the OOD that a sailor had been killed during the replenishment on the delivery ship. Nothing else had changed and all ships maintained formation and carried on. It was just one sailor, but it was a commonplace.

 

In peacetime, I'd say that ships at sea bear the greater continuous risk whereas most other branches and services see accidents take place on exercises, and fewer in the barracks. The surface ship is the barracks, though, and the crew are the first responders, all of them. If anyone of another service feels slighted, I retract this.

 

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

 

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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 off Japan's coast to authorities 50 minutes later.

The ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald off Japan's coast, killing seven of the destroyer's crew of nearly 300. The ships collided early Saturday morning, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping. Authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.

A track of the much-larger container ship's route by MarineTraffic, a vessel-tracking service, shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:30 a.m. to the area near the collision.

The coast guard initially said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. because the Philippine ship had reported it at 2:25 a.m. and said it just happened. After interviewing Filipino crewmembers, the coast guard has changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.

Coast guard official Tetsuya Tanaka said they are trying to resolve what happened during the 50 minutes.

He said officials are planning to get hold of a device with communication records to examine further details of the crash. Japan's Transport Safety Board also started an accident investigation on Sunday.

Adding to the confusion, a U.S. Navy official said it is sticking with the 2:20 a.m. timing for the crash that he said had been reported by the Fitzgerald.

Asked about the earlier time cited by the coast guard, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Flanders said, "That is not our understanding." He said any differences would have to be clarified in the investigation.

Nanami Meguro, a spokeswoman for NYK Line, the ship's operator, agreed with the earlier timing.

Meguro said the ship was "operating as usual" until the collision at 1:30 a.m., as shown on a ship tracking service that the company uses. She said the ship reported to the coast guard at 2:25 a.m., but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for nearly an hour.

"Because it was in an emergency, the crewmembers may not have been able to place a call," she said.

Coast guard officials are investigating the case as possible professional negligence, but no criminal charges have been pressed so far.

On Monday, the Navy's 7th Fleet identified the seven sailors who died. Navy divers recovered the bodies after the severely damaged Fitzgerald returned to the fleet's home in Yokosuka, Japan, with assistance from tug boats.

 

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/japan-investigates-delay-reporting-us-navy-ship-collision-48127236

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A ship at sea is a floating city under weigh, providing complete sustenance while performing its given mission. However, one has to be trained and vigilant in order to succeed in the face of the many dangers, the most severe being fire and flooding. Like any workplace, the work areas are themselves potentially lethal to the unwary or unwitting.

(...)

Thanks for that insight.

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From the article I linked:

"In a car accident, the point at which maneuvers by either car will be insufficient to avoid the collision happen in milliseconds before impact, but that point is reached in the tens of seconds or more before impact between ships. Without early action, all either ship can do is to try and minimize the angle of impact."

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Small forces, large masses, low accelerations, extended time...

 

Still, there is something iffy in this case, that could even be understood as hostile action.

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Looks like a COLREG assisted collision to me, one of the many that happen year on year. One ship interpretation differs from the other ship, add poor watchkeeping (a classic is to turn the alarms off because, at night, they annoy the bridge crew) and you get a collision.

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Where is captain's cabin / sea cabin on Burke? Somewhere in the impact area? His injury is probably the weirdest - if he was thrown by the collision, more sailors would probably suffer the same, but so far it seems that apart from the seven poor souls trapped by flooding, he is the only serious injury.

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The sea cabin is close to the bridge. No more than one level down. Specifics elude me for any given class.

 

 

A DDG remains far more agile than any merchantman, hence, has 'last clear chance to avoid.' This time it did not hold true. Explaining will be the story.

 

 

The sea lanes will be tricky. A passage of the Str of Gibraltar can cost twice the alphabet in registering contacts, and that was in 1971.

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http://www.businessinsider.com/this-sailor-sacrificed-himself-save-20-lives-the-uss-fitzgerald-2017-6

Navy sailor sacrificed himself to save 20 lives after the USS Fitzgerald collision

"The Fitzgerald was struck below the waterline, and [Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo] Rehm Jr.'s family was told by the Navy that he went under and saved at least 20 sailors, according to WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio.

"But when he went back down to get the other six sailors, the ship began to take on too much water, and the hatch was closed, WBNS-10TV said."

Edited by shep854
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I had a similar thought when seeing the crew outside on deck as their ship came to port.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk1BN_zxMOw

It was interesting to see signal flags being used. What is the message they are making?

 

 

The 8 flags hoisted along the mast seem to mean the following:

 

Flag that follows is from the International Code of Signals.

I have a pilot on board.

Absence of flag officer or unit commander (Inport)

All personnel return to ship; proceeding to sea (Inport).

 

No or negative.

I am disabled; communicate with me.

Do not pass ahead of me.

I require a tug.

 

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/communications/flags/flags.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Code_of_Signals

Edited by JasonJ
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Looks like a COLREG assisted collision to me, one of the many that happen year on year. One ship interpretation differs from the other ship, add poor watchkeeping (a classic is to turn the alarms off because, at night, they annoy the bridge crew) and you get a collision.

 

I can't say anything for the causes of other collisions on the yearly basis, but, it seems to me that the destroyer violated rule 15 in here on page 27 of 74. The container ship was in the right to keep cruising as it was. The destroyer should have changed course ahead of time.

crossing.jpg

Edited by JasonJ
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http://www.businessinsider.com/this-sailor-sacrificed-himself-save-20-lives-the-uss-fitzgerald-2017-6

Navy sailor sacrificed himself to save 20 lives after the USS Fitzgerald collision

"The Fitzgerald was struck below the waterline, and [Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo] Rehm Jr.'s family was told by the Navy that he went under and saved at least 20 sailors, according to WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio.

"But when he went back down to get the other six sailors, the ship began to take on too much water, and the hatch was closed, WBNS-10TV said."

 

 

Well thats one to name a warship for if you ask me....

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Not sure about a destroyer been more manoeuvrable than any merchantmen. A lot of merchant vessels have bow and.or podded thrusters. I don't think destroyers typically have these.

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Not sure about a destroyer been more manoeuvrable than any merchantmen. A lot of merchant vessels have bow and.or podded thrusters. I don't think destroyers typically have these.

Those are generally only effective at extremely low speeds in port, not at cruise speed, and generally are only on ships that have to routinely maneuver during a normal day - like ferries and landing craft (tugs?). I don't think any bulk frieghter, tanker, or container ship would have them and I don't think they'd have any effect at 18 knots.

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Not sure about a destroyer been more manoeuvrable than any merchantmen. A lot of merchant vessels have bow and.or podded thrusters. I don't think destroyers typically have these.

For a given tonnage, naval vessels usually have lots more power than civilian vessels in order to achieve the 30 knots needed for formation keeping with carriers, etc. Hydrodynamic resistance scales with the cube of the speed, so that 30 knots+ requires easily double or even triple the power than for a cargo ship that only needs to reach 20 knots.

 

Naval vessels have bigger rudders that, coupled with the bigger propellers and more power, gives them quite good maneuverability.

 

Most of current cargo ships only have one screw. With exceptions like the O. H. Perry-class FFGs, and some OPVs, naval vessels have twin screws (big carriers, and the like, 4), and twin rudders. That allows to steer with the engines even if the rudders are damaged.

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Looks like a COLREG assisted collision to me, one of the many that happen year on year. One ship interpretation differs from the other ship, add poor watchkeeping (a classic is to turn the alarms off because, at night, they annoy the bridge crew) and you get a collision.

 

I can't say anything for the causes of other collisions on the yearly basis, but, it seems to me that the destroyer violated rule 15 in here on page 27 of 74. The container ship was in the right to keep cruising as it was. The destroyer should have changed course ahead of time.

crossing.jpg

 

 

Could have been an overtaking situation, though

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Timeline wise it seems the cargo ship reported the collision some 50 minutes after it happened and may have even taken some time to realise something happened. The collision also seems to have damaged comms on the Fitzgerald.

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/22/politics/uss-fitzgerald-investigation-update/index.html

 

 

Washington (CNN)Five of the seven Navy sailors who died aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a cargo ship off the east coast of Japan may have been almost instantly "incapacitated" and died quickly, according to a preliminary Navy analysis, a defense official told CNN.

That assessment is based on an examination of the point of impact and the berths in which the sailors were likely sleeping.
The two ships collided on the Fitzgerald's starboard side directly next to the berthing area, where sailors sleep. The impact ripped the Fitzgerald open and caused water to pour in.
The official also noted the Navy is trying to corroborate accounts which suggest that the two sailors who weren't almost instantly "incapacitated" attempted to help the other five escape the incoming water.
"But at some point the ship somehow lost communication," with the two sailors and they also perished, according to the official. All seven were found dead in the flooded area.
Seven missing sailors from the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments following the warship's collision with a merchant vessel, a US military official said.The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning, Japan time, after the guided-missile destroyer returned to its base in Japan.<br />Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia.
Photos: The seven sailors who died in USS Fitzgerald collision
Seven missing sailors from the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments following the warship's collision with a merchant vessel, a US military official said.The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning, Japan time, after the guided-missile destroyer returned to its base in Japan.
Seven missing sailors from the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments following the warship's collision with a merchant vessel, a US military official said.The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning, Japan time, after the guided-missile destroyer returned to its base in Japan.<br />Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia.
Photos: The seven sailors who died in USS Fitzgerald collision
Seven missing sailors from the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments following the warship's collision with a merchant vessel, a US military official said.The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning, Japan time, after the guided-missile destroyer returned to its base in Japan.
It also appears that the collision caused part of the berthing compartment to collapse inward, making it difficult for survivors to get out.
The official said It may never be known if the order to close the watertight hatch to the berthing area came while the two men were still alive.
The formal investigation will determine who gave that order, but the initial sense is the decision was necessary because water had not only flooded the berthing area but was flowing into other locations including a deck below.
The official emphasized that the Navy will wait for all the investigations to be completed before coming to any conclusions about the actions of the crew and decisions over citations for heroism or potential disciplinary action.
The official also strongly emphasized that no judgments are being made about the timing of the decision to shut the watertight hatch. It is also not clear if those on the bridge called the commanding officer as the crisis unfolded.
The collision occurred very close to the cabin of Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and he was briefly unable to get out. The crew helped him to the bridge, but he was so badly injured that he had to be medevaced off the ship and the second in command took over.
The US Navy, the US Coast Guard, and Japanese naval and maritime authorities are all conducting investigations.
An early assessment suggests the container ship might have been on some type of autopilot system at the time of the collision, the official said.
However, that does not explain how and why the crew of the Fitzgerald did not see the other ship coming, or why they were unable to maneuver away from it, the official said.
Initial reports suggest that the collision occurred at 1:30 a.m., but the container ship crew did not automatically realize it had happened. The container ship turned back, and it appears the collision was then formally reported around 2:20 a.m.
To help determine what happened, investigators will download radar data from the ship's Aegis weapons system, which records routine details on position, course, speed and any nearby ships or aircraft. Navigation and radar data will also be gathered from the cargo ship.
Another factor being examined is the impact of the destruction of the Fitzgerald's communications gear on the ability of the crew to call back to shore to inform commanders they needed help.
Preliminary analysis indicates the collision occurred where the ship's communication nodes are housed and the official said the crew had to resort to using satellite based cell phones to communicate both on board and back to shore.
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Apologies if this has already been posted.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/freighter-autopilot-hit-us-destroyer/

The deadly collision between a U.S. destroyer and a container ship June 17 took place while the freighter was on autopilot, according to Navy officials.

The Philippines-flagged cargo ship ACX Crystal was under control of a computerized navigation system that was steering and guiding the container vessel, according to officials familiar with preliminary results of an ongoing Navy investigation.

Investigators so far found no evidence the collision was deliberate.

Nevertheless, an accident during computerized navigation raises the possibility the container ship's computer system could have been hacked and the ship deliberately steered into the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.

A more likely explanation is that collision was the result of an autopilot malfunction, or the autopilot's warning signals, used to notify the ship's operators, were missed.

The destroyer was severely damaged when the protruding undersea bow of the cargo ship struck Fitzgerald on the right side. Seven sailors died as a result and the captain and two others were injured. It was the Navy's worst accident at sea.

The two ships hit about 64 miles off the coast of Japan.

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Apologies if this has already been posted.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/freighter-autopilot-hit-us-destroyer/

The deadly collision between a U.S. destroyer and a container ship June 17 took place while the freighter was on autopilot, according to Navy officials.

The Philippines-flagged cargo ship ACX Crystal was under control of a computerized navigation system that was steering and guiding the container vessel, according to officials familiar with preliminary results of an ongoing Navy investigation.

Investigators so far found no evidence the collision was deliberate.

Nevertheless, an accident during computerized navigation raises the possibility the container ship's computer system could have been hacked and the ship deliberately steered into the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.

A more likely explanation is that collision was the result of an autopilot malfunction, or the autopilot's warning signals, used to notify the ship's operators, were missed.

The destroyer was severely damaged when the protruding undersea bow of the cargo ship struck Fitzgerald on the right side. Seven sailors died as a result and the captain and two others were injured. It was the Navy's worst accident at sea.

The two ships hit about 64 miles off the coast of Japan.

Wow. Russian hackers again?
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You know, I knew exactly what you were going to post Gargean before I read the thread. It was funny the first half dozen times, but....

 

 

If hacking is an option, I would suggest North Korea first. Its just the kind of dumb fuck think they would think about doing.

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I don't want to be the one to say it, I have total respect for the USN, especially those that serve on this side of the pond, and I immediately recognized this destroyer's name because it has been part of the many joint trainings that occurred in the past couple of months. http://www.tank-net.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=41612&page=33&do=findComment&comment=1303849

 

But if the destroyer was paying attention, it should have been able to dodge a container ship, even if the container ship was hacked and deliberately trying to hit it. A mistake with no forgiveness. Also I still think it violated rule 15. Of course, is not may final judgement as there is of course more information to gather, and what I'm thinking likely to be the case may be wrong. Could it be hacking, I guess it's possible, but I find it highly unlikely. Is it worth throwing in the idea, sure it is, but of course, it's going to cause the knee jerk reaction against the idea.

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