A look into what caused the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a Filipino cargo ship that killed seven U.S. sailors suggests the Navy is at fault. It appears the crew failed to properly assess just how close they were to the ACX Crystal, and how quickly the two ships were approaching one another, in a heavily trafficked area. Though further investigation is needed, those involved in this initial fact-finding phase have already hinted at where the blame will lie. As one defense official said, this “will wind up being our [the U.S. Navy’s] fault.”
This assessment will now be forwarded to the 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, who will continue the investigation. Two other inquiries by the U.S. Coast Guard, and a third by the Japanese Navy, are also being conducted. The goal of these investigations is not only to find out what happened, but to determine if anyone involved should to be charged or penalized. For not only did the crew failed to judge where the USS Fitzgerald was in relation to other ships, but they also didn’t take action until it was too late. “They did nothing until the last second,” one defense official said.
The collision occurred June 17th, about 56 nautical miles from Yokosuka, Japan. The Japanese Coast Guard helped tow the boat back to shore, as it was badly damaged on its starboard side. “Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading which could have caused the ship to founder or sink,” Aucoin said at a press conference following the accident.