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The Mystery Of The USS Fitzgerald - ACX Crystal Freighter Collission

The destroyer USS Fitzgerald didn't dodge and the fully loaded freighter ACX Crystal continued on for miles after their collission off the coast of Japan. The American destroyer lost 7 sailors and some of its compartments below took water. In fact the crew of the Fitzgerald had to do damage control to prevent the ship from sinking and most of those who lost their lives were found inside the ship.

Initial reports indicate that the captain of the Fitzgerald wasn't in the bridge or combat information station. Investigation of this incident will take some time but human error hasn't been ruled out. Commander Bryce Benson of the Fitzgerald is one of those injured in the collission with ACX Crystal.
damaged starboard side of the USS Fitzgerald

The ACX Crystal is a Philippine-flagged container ship crewed by 20 Filipinos. It's a 29,000 ton ship fully laden with steel boxes and travelling at 17 knots when it collided with the destroyer. Its Automatic Identification System (AIS) is turned on all throughout the incident. Commercial vessels 300 tons or more and all passenger ships are required by international convention to be fitted with AIS for safety of navigation in international waters. The primary tool for ship navigation today is the marine radar. The marine radar is supplemented by AIS which contains the identification of the vessels around a ship, positions, course and speed. To further help ships, there are land-based AIS controllers and satellite-based AIS controllers. Basically, these are networked systems providing data to any ships who need them. Of course being a military combat ship, the USS Fitzgerald do not "broadcast" their position and course in the open. Is this a case of the ACX Crystal crew heavily relying on AIS, a system that do not have the Fitzgerald on their database? But what about the old system of watch officers? Both ships should have watch officers with their binoculars able to warn of an impending collission.

The collission happened on the 17th of June 2017 early morning. The investigation is being conducted by the US Navy, US Coast Guard, Japan Coast Guard and Japan Transport Safety Board.
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