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How is it Possible That a Container Ship Collided with a USN Destroyer Near Japan?

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Makes me kinda unsettled that this kind of thing can actually happen. Neither ships radar saw the other? Unlikely. The only plausible explanation is that the bridge crew on both ships weren't paying attention for an extended period of time. Don't modern ships have collision avoidance alarms?

 

If this could happen to a USN Destroyer, it's not out of the question that it could happen to a cruise ship. Makes one wonder.

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-naval-vessel-collides-merchant-ship-southwest-japan-n773521

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In the past 60 years the US Navy has had many more fatalities (completely removed from any hostile action) than the entire worldwide cruise industry.

 

We should be thankful that they are not allowed to drive or operate cruise ships.

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In the past 60 years the US Navy has had many more fatalities (completely removed from any hostile action) than the entire worldwide cruise industry.

 

We should be thankful that they are not allowed to drive or operate cruise ships.

They didn't see each other? Or neither one wanted to move from what they thought was their "given" route. Unbelievable!

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Hmmmm.

 

Nothing in this report gives us a clue as to who or what was at fault, so why the theorising from thousands of miles away.:rolleyes:

 

The fault of the destroyer captain?

Or the container-ship captain?

Or some other officer or a local pilot on either ship?

Or even some other ship which baulked one of those vessels.

 

A navigational or steering or other mechanical mal-function?

 

The weather?

We know it was dark, we don't know if it was foggy or stormy.

 

So how about we learn more before hypothesising.

Or better still, wait for the marine safety experts' report.

 

JB :)

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Hmmmm, One wonders, Where IS the OP: Navybanker when we need his honest and knowledgeable input when we need it. I hope they do find those missing sailors. I was always under the impression that actual collisions between ships, regardless of nations, were extremely rare, or possibly not given the news coverage.

 

Mac.

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Hmmmm, One wonders, Where IS the OP: Navybanker when we need his honest and knowledgeable input when we need it. I hope they do find those missing sailors. I was always under the impression that actual collisions between ships, regardless of nations, were extremely rare, or possibly not given any news coverage.

 

Mac.

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Hmmmm.

 

Nothing in this report gives us a clue as to who or what was at fault, so why the theorising from thousands of miles away.:rolleyes:

 

The fault of the destroyer captain?

Or the container-ship captain?

Or some other officer or a local pilot on either ship?

Or even some other ship which baulked one of those vessels.

 

A navigational or steering or other mechanical mal-function?

 

The weather?

We know it was dark, we don't know if it was foggy or stormy.

 

So how about we learn more before hypothesising.

Or better still, wait for the marine safety experts' report.

 

JB :)

 

Size dictate's.

 

The biggest ship has the right of way cuz it's the hardest to turn.

.

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Makes me kinda unsettled that this kind of thing can actually happen. Neither ships radar saw the other? Unlikely. The only plausible explanation is that the bridge crew on both ships weren't paying attention for an extended period of time. Don't modern ships have collision avoidance alarms?

 

If this could happen to a USN Destroyer, it's not out of the question that it could happen to a cruise ship. Makes one wonder.

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-naval-vessel-collides-merchant-ship-southwest-japan-n773521

 

This is pure speculation with no basis in fact at this point. The only ones who are in a position to know for sure what happened on these ships and provide a plausible explanation is their Captains - and I don't believe there has been any information released yet by either or them to the general public. How it was possible remains to be seen and will ultimately be a matter of fact and events, not speculation.

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Size dictate's.

 

The biggest ship has the right of way cuz it's the hardest to turn.

.

 

Yes, and because it takes the longest time to change speed.

 

But we don't know whether a decision not to give-way was the cause.

Shoot the navy captain now, ask questions later ????????????

 

JB :)

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Yes, and because it takes the longest time to change speed.

 

But we don't know whether a decision not to give-way was the cause.

Shoot the navy captain now, ask questions later ????????????

 

JB :)

 

I don't think the U.S. Navy investigators and senior command will be lurking here on CC in order to get information regarding the accident or find out what they should do with the Captain.

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I don't think the U.S. Navy investigators and senior command will be lurking here on CC in order to get information regarding the accident or find out what they should do with the Captain.

 

 

You misunderstand my post, Dawg ;)

 

"Shoot now & ask questions later" isn't my suggestion to the Navy brass.

It's my criticism of those on this thread who've already decided that the Navy captain was at fault.

 

JB :)

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You misunderstand my post, Dawg ;)

 

"Shoot now & ask questions later" isn't my suggestion to the Navy brass.

It's my criticism of those on this thread who've already decided that the Navy captain was at fault.

 

JB :)

 

Agree. Or are drawing assumptive conclusions as to cause without any factual information yet available.

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Size dictate's.

 

The biggest ship has the right of way cuz it's the hardest to turn.

 

Yes, and because it takes the longest time to change speed.

 

They're both power driven vessels, offshore where neither was constrained by draft. That means vessel on the right has right-of-way. It has nothing to do with size.

 

This is in no way a judgement of fault but at first glance....since the container ship has bow damage and the destroyer has starboard side damage...the indication is the container ship had right-of-way.

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Makes me kinda unsettled that this kind of thing can actually happen. Neither ships radar saw the other? Unlikely. The only plausible explanation is that the bridge crew on both ships weren't paying attention for an extended period of time. Don't modern ships have collision avoidance alarms?

 

If this could happen to a USN Destroyer, it's not out of the question that it could happen to a cruise ship. Makes one wonder.

/quote]

 

The "only" plausible explanation....NO. There could have been a mechanical failure of some sort on the DDG.

 

The container ship could have been on auto pilot with a minimum crew on the bridge at that hour. (it happened around 2-3am) while the Navy vessel would have had a full watch crew on the bridge, cic as well as topside lookouts. someone would have seen or noticed a large container ship of her starboard side and thus could have taken an emergency course change. (2 screws and 4 gas turbine engines those destroyers are fast and quite nimble. Especially compared to a cargo ship) Having been on a navy ship that had mechanical failures it is a viable reason.

 

Just tossing that out there before some folks start blaming the crew of the navy ship before any facts are known.

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Size dictate's.

 

The biggest ship has the right of way cuz it's the hardest to turn.

.

 

Other things being equal, yes the less maneuverable has right of way-- but there are a number of other governing conditions: in an overtaking situation, the ship being passed has right of way, in a crossing situation the one to starboard of the other has right of way - among many others.

 

It is pointless to speculate right now, given the lack of information.

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You misunderstand my post, Dawg ;)

 

"Shoot now & ask questions later" isn't my suggestion to the Navy brass.

It's my criticism of those on this thread who've already decided that the Navy captain was at fault.

 

JB :)

 

But John, who cares what those people think? The Navy sure as shooting doesn't, so why should we? Those posters have every right to be judgmental twits whose opinions are meaningless.;)

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Other things being equal, yes the less maneuverable has right of way--

 

Only if the ship had a declaration of Restricted Ability to Maneuver. It's very unlikely that a container ship at sea was restricted.

 

But John, who cares what those people think? The Navy sure as shooting doesn't, so why should we? Those posters have every right to be judgmental twits whose opinions are meaningless.;)

 

I don't think there's anything wrong with discussion. I don't agree with mnocket's "only plausible" comments but for those who have experience in this field, discussion is healthy. I was a Deck Watch Officer and I still conduct maritime investigations today, so I welcome healthy discussion...as long as its somewhat educated...on a topic like this.

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I don't think there's anything wrong with discussion. I don't agree with mnocket's "only plausible" comments but for those who have experience in this field, discussion is healthy. I was a Deck Watch Officer and I still conduct maritime investigations today, so I welcome healthy discussion...as long as its somewhat educated...on a topic like this.

 

I agree, have an educated discussion and just ignore the uneducated comments because in the end, those posters' uneducated comments are meaningless.

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OK, having read the comments my "only plausible" comment reflects a degree of ignorance regarding the situation. That said, I was under the impression that modern seafaring was at the point where ship-ship collisions in open seas was virtually impossible - even if one ship had some sort of malfunction. Even if on autopilot, I had thought 1) The bridge would be manned and radar monitored, 2) The autopilot or a separate collision avoidance system would monitor radar and warn of a collision. Could two ships actually collide without either one being aware of the situation? If they were aware of the situation and in communication with each other, how is it possible that the collision couldn't be avoided?

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Just asking, do USN ships normally run with the AIS transponder off? If it was on, the container ship would (or should) have been alerted to the proximity of the navy ship (unless of course it wasn't AIS enabled.)

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OK, having read the comments my "only plausible" comment reflects a degree of ignorance regarding the situation. That said, I was under the impression that modern seafaring was at the point where ship-ship collisions in open seas was virtually impossible - even if one ship had some sort of malfunction. Even if on autopilot, I had thought 1) The bridge would be manned and radar monitored, 2) The autopilot or a separate collision avoidance system would monitor radar and warn of a collision. Could two ships actually collide without either one being aware of the situation? If they were aware of the situation and in communication with each other, how is it possible that the collision couldn't be avoided?

 

Obviously two ships can "actually collide";

 

Failure to avoid close approach;

Failure to follow rules of the road;

Failure to communicate intent;

Failure to comprehend other vessel's intent;

Mechanical failure;

 

are just some of possible contributing causes. And, there can be any number of prior factors contributing to each of the above possible immediate causes.

 

The old OOD's adage applies: "A collision at sea can ruin your whole day".

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Just asking, do USN ships normally run with the AIS transponder off? If it was on, the container ship would (or should) have been alerted to the proximity of the navy ship (unless of course it wasn't AIS enabled.)

 

Sometimes. They may even have been operating darkened ship and without nav lights depending on what maneuvers they were engaged in. BIG maybe though. I'm not suggesting that's what they were doing.

 

One thing I do know is, ACX Crystal's AIS was on. You can see it on Marine Traffic. They had a consistent course and made a last minute turn to starboard, which accounts for there being more damage to their port bow.

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Sometimes. They may even have been operating darkened ship and without nav lights depending on what maneuvers they were engaged in. BIG maybe though. I'm not suggesting that's what they were doing.

 

One thing I do know is, ACX Crystal's AIS was on. You can see it on Marine Traffic. They had a consistent course and made a last minute turn to starboard, which accounts for there being more damage to their port bow.

 

A last minute turn to starboard just prior to colliding with the starboard side of the destroyer suggests that the two might have been approaching virtually head on - about to pass starboard to starboard, obviously at close range - but it is surprising how quickly range can evaporate.

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Obviously two ships can "actually collide";

 

Failure to avoid close approach;

Failure to follow rules of the road;

Failure to communicate intent;

Failure to comprehend other vessel's intent;

Mechanical failure;

 

are just some of possible contributing causes. And, there can be any number of prior factors contributing to each of the above possible immediate causes.

 

The old OOD's adage applies: "A collision at sea can ruin your whole day".

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

I understand your first 4 examples which I would categorize as "human error" (which my original post's "only plausible explanation" comment inarticulately attributed to bridge crew not paying attention). I understand that in any scenario human error can really screw things up. I'm really interested in your fifth example - "Mechanical Failure". What sort of failure(s) would have to occur in order for alert crews on both ships to find collision unavoidable? If we set aside human error, this is at the heart of my question "How is this possible?".

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A last minute turn to starboard just prior to colliding with the starboard side of the destroyer suggests that the two might have been approaching virtually head on - about to pass starboard to starboard, obviously at close range - but it is surprising how quickly range can evaporate.

 

The damage is on ACX Crystal's port bow. The starboard to starboard meeting wouldn't make sense.

 

Now, if ACX Crystal was overtaking Fitzgerald on the starboard side and Fitz altered to starboard, that would be a scenario in which Fitz was the stand-on and with the right of way.

 

Just playing these out in my head. Based on the damage I'm seeing, the overtaking scenario is really all I'm coming up with that would put ACX Crystal at fault.

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Thanks for the reply.

 

...

 

- "Mechanical Failure". What sort of failure(s) would have to occur in order for alert crews on both ships to find collision unavoidable? If we set aside human error, this is at the heart of my question "How is this possible?".

 

Conceivable (although unlikely) catastrophic failure in hydraulic ram(s) causing rudder to go hard over. Human error (including lack of proper maintenance) is virtually always the root problem - but not always the immediate cause.

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The damage is on ACX Crystal's port bow. The starboard to starboard meeting wouldn't make sense.

 

Now, if ACX Crystal was overtaking Fitzgerald on the starboard side and Fitz altered to starboard, that would be a scenario in which Fitz was the stand-on and with the right of way.

 

Just playing these out in my head. Based on the damage I'm seeing, the overtaking scenario is really all I'm coming up with that would put ACX Crystal at fault.

 

Your overtaking scenario seems most likely explanation of damage to port bow vs. starboard side - but that also could be due to ACX Crystal swinging to port while passing. Outside possibility might be my head on passing - with ACX Crystal swinging so far around to explain damage to port bow.

 

What seems inexplicable, given my understanding that collision occurred in open sea with ample maneuvering space, that the two ships ever closed sufficiently to permit extremis situation to exist. They should have kept miles apart- and the destroyer (at least) would have been monitoring closest point of approach.

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What seems inexplicable, given my understanding that collision occurred in open sea with ample maneuvering space, that the two ships ever closed sufficiently to permit extremis situation to exist. They should have kept miles apart- and the destroyer (at least) would have been monitoring closest point of approach.

 

That's a great point. Regardless of right of way, all ships have a duty, per the nav rules, to take action to avoid collision. The fact these 2 ships even closed to such a short distance is a head scratcher.

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Other things being equal, yes the less maneuverable has right of way-- but there are a number of other governing conditions: in an overtaking situation, the ship being passed has right of way, in a crossing situation the one to starboard of the other has right of way - among many others.

 

 

 

It is pointless to speculate right now, given the lack of information.

 

 

 

Plus 1.

Interesting side note here: the undergraduate education at neither the US Naval Academy nor USCG Academy includes training or experience sufficient to qualify their graduates as USCG unlimited licensed deck or engineering officers. For that, a "young" mariner would need to attend one of the state academies (e.g., Cal Maritime, Maine, Mass., et al.) or the Kings Point federal merchant marine academy.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Hmmmm, One wonders, Where IS the OP: Navybanker when we need his honest and knowledgeable input when we need it. I hope they do find those missing sailors. I was always under the impression that actual collisions between ships, regardless of nations, were extremely rare, or possibly not given any news coverage.

 

Mac.

 

oNE NEWS report I heard said this is the second collision this DESTROYER HAD IN RECENT MONTHS? aLSO.... i WAS HALF ASLEEEP but I think I heard the Commander was not on the bridge AT THE TIME. . real or fake news :eek: I don't know.

Edited by sail7seas

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oi WAS HALF ASLEEEP but I think I heard the Commander was not on the bridge AT THE TIME. . real or fake news :eek: I don't know.

 

Doesn't really matter. There's nothing unusual about that.

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Doesn't really matter. There's nothing unusual about that.

 

Of course the CO cannot be on the bridge at all times - his Officer of the Deck is entrusted to maneuver the ship pursuant to CO's standing orders - which include those situations - such as very close approaches - when the CO is to be advised. The CO is responsible for only qualifying (and trusting) competently trained OOD's.

 

Whatever happens is always the CO's fault - except when in the Panama Canal and after having entered a dry dock.

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some observations from one who's sat in the Captain's Chair and run an investigation of two:

 

1) when you get hit on your starboard side, be prepared to explain why rule 15 did not apply. This rule says when 2 ships are crossing the one with the other to starboard stays out of the way .... when the impact is starboard side to port bow .... hmmmmmmm ("shall keep out of the way" IS the wording in the international rules .... it continues "avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.")

 

2) when a starboard side impact is due to another vessel overtaking on the starboard side, the impact is typically at a very shallow angle IME ... more of a side to side scrape ... impact suggests this was nearly 'crossing the T'

 

3) I'm not sure what folks are reading into the AIS track of the civilian vessel but here's the track surrounding the time of the incident if you are curious. Note that the direction of the icon may not indicate the heading of the vessel as the track denotes movement ... a drifting vessel (stopped after an incident) my 'move' very different from their heading.

 

acx%20crystal%20trak%201_zpsqfknkqf3.png

 

zoomed in

 

acx%20crystal%20trak%202_zps1ozyccw6.png

 

some one asked about AIS on the USN vessel. Yes they have AIS but for obvious reasons they have 'permission' to turn it off, as does for example Coast Guard vessels, for obvious reasons. Fitz was 'on maneuvers' according to reports so it is safe to say they had the AIS off (not broadcasting their info, but they WOULD be receiving not to mention 'combat' watches)

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Not knowing where the Captain's cabin is located and not asking for information that ought not to be known to the general public, since the Commander (CO) of the Fitzgerald was severely injured and the Bridge does not seem to have been impacted by the collision, maybe he was not on the Bridge and the OOD was in charge. If that is the case, the Bridge Team has many questions to answer, I think.

 

Prayers for the 7 missing sailors!

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3) I'm not sure what folks are reading into the AIS track of the civilian vessel but here's the track surrounding the time of the incident if you are curious. Note that the direction of the icon may not indicate the heading of the vessel as the track denotes movement ... a drifting vessel (stopped after an incident) my 'move' very different from their heading.

 

The abrupt course change from a northerly? heading (no compass shown) to port looks strange to me, but then I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to such matters. My question is What Do You Think About the AIS track?

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