Container Ship Collides With USS Fitzgerald, Seven Sailors Missing

The US guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald was struck last night off the coast of Japan by a Philippines flagged container ship. There was flooding on board and seven sailors have been reported missing. The Navy reports its vessel is able to make “limited propulsion” and is not in danger of sinking.

More

23 Comments on Container Ship Collides With USS Fitzgerald, Seven Sailors Missing

  1. OH nooo .
    I hope this doesn’t mean Gordon Lightfoot is going to do a two and a half hour song about the wreck of the USS Fitzgerald.

  2. “Neither ship had radar or competent crew manning it?

    That’s not the case at all. When the Fitzgerald started getting close to the Container ship the Container ship started steering erratically. The Fitzgerald was a sitting duck and basically got crashed into.

  3. Marine equivalent of 9.11 tactics.
    Surprised the Navy isn’t better prepared.

    Hijack any large commercial vessel.
    Continue normal telecommunications.
    Ram selected US military target at top speed for maximum damage.
    Explosives in bow are an optional enhancement.

    Same tactics as USS Cole attack, but with a lot more tonnage.

    Simple. Effective. Difficult to defend against. Easily executed by minimally trained expendables.

    We’ll see a lot more of this…like crippling a major Carrier.

  4. Bad_Brad it was a Philippines flagged ship.

    As an ex-Quartermaster in the Navy (Navigation specialist) merchant ships are notorious for being unpredictable and dangerous – quite a history of collisions. They usually run an auto pilot especially at night and don’t want to cut a quater-inch off their sailing route due to cost-containment.

    Usually if this happens it’s sadly the Navy vessel’s fault due to not staying far enough away and their watches are manned at all times. They probably charted the path of this ship for 25-30 miles on the Surface Contact board.

    All I can say is language may have helped, it was on the mid-watch (12am to 4am), and the ship has a fairly new captain. Remember it takes hundreds of yards to turn a 900 foot ship (if it wants to turn)

    The picture to me suggests a glancing blow on the starboard side as the Fitzgerald was turning to port.

    We’ll learn more. Please pray for at peril on the sea.

  5. Hans
    Curious, do Navy vessels stay in the shipping lanes? If the do that sounds like a bad idea.
    Never been in the Navy but I am a bass fisherman complete with 75 mph bass blaster and I’ve had a few incidents passing screw ball while on the pad and it’s damn hard to scrub speed when your in a boat. I’ve seen Jet Skiers get smacked twice.

  6. What – no headlights? Didn’t use their blinker to change shipping lanes? I mean, come on. How the hell do two ships collide without someone being extraordinarily incompetent? Arrrrgh….

  7. Bad_Brad:
    They observe the navigational rules of the road regarding shipping lanes although most Captains (at least mine did) get paranoid as heck when you do.

    Rules specify angles of approach, size (bigger you are the more “right” to the road because of maneuverability) and if you are overtaking or being passed by another.

    Generally most shipping lanes are like roads with a specific side for direction traveled. But again merchants are notoriously known for getting in the way and not having appropriately trained responders around when needed.

    Our Navy usually lives and dies by proactive behavior by its watch officers. Learning to figure CPA’s (closest point of approach) is the drill for jr. oficers on watch until they learn to do it in their sleep.

    Of course there is the old radio joke:

    Battleship: Surface contact bearing 000 (directly ahead) suggest you alter course. I am a Battleship with two admirals aboard.

    Surface Contact (radioed back): Battleship, suggest you alter course as I am a lighthouse.

    In the end it takes a serious lot of things to happen to cause a collision at sea with the most being bad luck.

    I was on a fleet supply ship that collided with an aircraft carrier once and it’s pretty exciting and creates tons of paperwork and ruined careers.

  8. The Fitzgerald was hit on the starboard side, which is illuminated by a green light. The container ship sees the green light and should have had the right of way, as the Fitzgerald was seeing the container ship’s port red light. Green go, red stop. If they were in a traffic scheme, then the Fitzgerald may have been in a ‘special sea detail’ which would mean extra lookouts and guarded measures for navigating. Just weird and tragic. They should have had enough time to make evasive maneuvers.

  9. What you don’t see…..The area in the photo damaged at the top
    is a portion of the CO’s stateroom, he’s lucky to be alive.
    Below the water line, the merchant’s stabilizer bow collided, entered
    and destroyed the radio room, two berthing areas, and a machinery room.
    They found seven dead sailors in the berthing compartments.
    The hoses you see in the picture are them dewatering the flooded
    compartments.
    All of the ship movements are recorded and on record. Both ships
    have and use AIS and it reports to satellites. We’ll see what the investigation reveals.

  10. Brad,

    Note the damage to the US ship. The container ship had the right-of-way. The Fitzgerald should have turned right to avoid, or even attempted a 180. Up to that point they had surface radar contact.

    Whomever was captaining that ship is probably gonna get court martialed.

  11. Reboot, thanks for the summary. Sadly, seven sailors lost their lives. I can only imagine the grief & anguish their families and friends are going thru right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.