The damaged Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal is seen in the waters off Izu Peninsula on June 17. Photo: Japan's 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters via AP
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Japan investigates delay in reporting ship collision

23 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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.

The victims were Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump and the entire administration was sending their thoughts and prayers to the sailors' families. The incident was a "sobering reminder of the dangers" faced by the men and women of the U.S. military every day, Spicer said.

In a statement, acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said, "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates. ... As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port."

He thanked "our Japanese allies" for their swift assistance, and said the Navy will fully investigate the cause.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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The US Army probably won't be opening their records and details to the public on how this happened. I won't be holding my breath.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Obviously a general understanding of what happened has been established by now. Why the secrecy?

Let me throw out a wild card, even if the Philippine vessel were intent on ramming the Navy vessel, why couldn't the far nimbler Navy vessel either detect or evade the cargo ship.

Can anybody please explain that to me?

4 ( +10 / -6 )

thepersoniamnowToday07:12 am JSTThe US Army probably won't be opening their records and details to the public on how this happened. I won't be holding my breath.

I wouldn't either since the US Army doesn't have any. :)

13 ( +13 / -0 )

The US Army wasn't involved with this, so they probably don't actually know anything.

The vessels involved don't exactly change direction quickly. These aren't seadoos. They are more like a 20 car train and a 100 car train. It takes a while.

We are all probably assuming the US Navy ship was being run in a professional manner and the Philippine ship was not.

Without any facts, I'll hold judgment, for now. I can imagine a few reasons why the ships may get close.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I thought hulls of military ships use strong steels so that enemy gun fires do not damage the ships easily. The container ship proved tougher than the state of the art military ship. Send the container ship to Senkaku to kick Chinese ships out.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

We are all probably assuming the US Navy ship was being run in a professional manner and the Philippine ship was not.

Most of the articles are definitely slanted against the Philippine ship. I suspect the Navy is playing their cards close to the vest and the investigators only have full access to the Philippine crew. This was alluded to in the article by mentioning the Status of Forces regs. Another disparity is the cargo vessel is constantly referred to as a Philippine vessel, it is owned and operated by a Japanese company and flagged in the PI.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Another disparity is the cargo vessel is constantly referred to as a Philippine vessel, it is owned and operated by a Japanese company and flagged in the PI.

That's not a disparity, ships are always referred to by their registered port.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The Fu

As a navy destroyer, shouldn't you know of a massive container ship that is coming straight at you? Like you said, they are like trains, but with long distance radars, and several lines of communication, and supposedly 24/7 alertness and readiness.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

From what I'm hearing among naval experts, it doesn't matter if the container ship was at fault (and apparently not, since this was a portside t-bone). What matters is that a USN destroyer is equipped with plenty of and redundant detection systems that would have alerted the crew to danger ... and yet somehow did not.  

I don't care if the Crystal was on a suicide mission and ran dark. There is no excuse for a USN destroyer being "surprised" by a container ship. Full stop.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I thought hulls of military ships use strong steels so that enemy gun fires do not damage the ships easily. The container ship proved tougher than the state of the art military ship. Send the container ship to Senkaku to kick Chinese ships out.

Weight is the overriding factor here. 10K ton vs. 30k ton is a huge difference in energy.

Still, why was the Navy ship hit. Surely, it could have been avoided.

The last time I recall of a Navy ship (boat) collision was a submarine hitting a Japanese vessel. I believe failure to follow procedures was to blame.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Seems like the cargo ship made a U-turn after the 1:30 collision to see what they hit or perhaps offer assistance. I am sure the US ship must know the exact collision time, so I am wondering why they are sticking with the 2:20 collision time. Are they trying to convince us the cargo ship made a U-turn to intentionally hit the US ship?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Schopenhauer

It is a matter of simple physics. The mass of the container ship was 3 times that of the destroyer. Along with what ever speed the ships are traveling would created a huge impact more damaging that many weapons. Armor is meant to stop fast moving small projectiles not massive ships with tones of inertia.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If this supposedly advanced Navy destroyer can't even detect a slow moving 200m goliath slowly lumbering towards them, I have doubts about its ability to defend against actively hostile forces whose sole purpose is to destroy the ship

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I think the safety of the crew and making sure they are not sinking might take priority?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

All MSM is kind of blaming the container ship. Why didn't the stricken US ship immediately report this disaster? It was almost sinking and sailors were dead. Surely the first thing the US should of done is send out an SOS to all nearby ships and J Coast Guard. If it sank, at night, the death toll would be massive. Was it pride?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

My question is why the US Navy ship didnt report it as well when it happened. If anything the Navy has procedures in place in the case of emergencies and I wonder when they made their call?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Not only did they apparently wait about an hour to report it, but the US side is sticking with the 2:20 collision time. Do they not know when the collision occured? Are the lying, perhaps because they would get in trouble for not reporting it on time? Or was the collision really at 2:20? Something is fishy here.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The ship was on Auto pilot and you can bet so was the Navel vessel .

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Something not right here...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Since the crew is Filipino, the one hour difference can be explained. It sounds stupid but the specific crew member asked could have been tracking in Philippine Time, which is an hour behind Japan. It's plausible since it is the only disparity in the time of events.

Just something to consider.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/japan-investigates-delay-in-reporting-us-navy-ship-collision-1.474383#.WUimIao5WTw

Both US Navy and the ACX crews are saying that the collision time is about 2:20am, the Japanese coastguard got an emergency call from ACX around 2:25am. The coastguard first agreed it was around 2:20am until they changes their mind and said it was 1:20am.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

*changed

0 ( +0 / -0 )

After interviewing Filipino crewmembers,

The coast guard changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m. after interviewing the Filipino crewmembers. Plus, the vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic showed that the cargo ship "made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m."

Are we to believe that it was just a close call at 1:30, and the cargo ship returned an hour later and collided with the navy ship? Why would the cargo ship make a U-turn if they had not collided at 1:30?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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