Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Collides with Container Ship — Seven Missing

Seven crew members are reported to be missing after the US guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine flag container ship, ACX Crystal, early Saturday morning. Three others aboard were injured, including the commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and were evacuated from the ship by helicopter. The collision took place at around 2:30 AM local time about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.  

USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was struck on the starboard side near the bridge and was damaged above and below the waterline. Flooding on the ship was stabilized with the assistance from the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey and the Fitzgerald returned to the Yokosuka Naval Base, assisted by tugs, around 6 AM local time on Saturday. 

ACX Crystal suffered bow damage but was able to proceed to Tokyo Bay unassisted.  US and Japanese rescue teams continue the search for the missing sailors. 

USS Fitzgerald  is based in Yokosuka as part of the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group, although was operating independently at the time of the collision. The Fitzgerald at 505 feet long and a displacement of 8,900 long tons is considerably smaller than the 730 foot long, 39565 DWT ACX Crystal. The destroyer, capable of speeds over 30 knots, is, however, faster and more maneuverable than the container ship. 

How did the two ship’s collide? Based on photos from Japanese television showing damage to the Fitzgerald’s starboard side and the ACX Crystal‘s bow, the collision appears to have taken place in a crossing situation where the container ship would have the right away. On the other hand, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said the ACX Crystal had made a sharp turn shortly before the collision. AIS tracking from the ACX Crystal  is inconclusive. 

US Navy Ship USS Fitzgerald Crashes Into Merchant Vessel South Of Japan

Thanks to Irwin Bryan, Phil Leon and Alaric Bond for contributing to this post.

This entry was posted in Current, Lore of the Sea, Ships and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Collides with Container Ship — Seven Missing

  1. Phil says:

    The seven sailors were
    thought to have been
    thrown into the sea or
    possibly trapped inside
    damaged sections of the
    destroyer, said Japanese
    coast guard spokesman
    Yoshihito Nakamura.

  2. Phil says:

    1. Bodies found in ship
    following collision

  3. Andy Hall says:

    The AIS track of ACX Crystal showed her on a steady, easterly course at 18.5 knots until she made a sharp, 90-degree turn to starboard at 1630 UTC, and slowed suddenly. Whether that turn was to *avoid* collision, or put her on a path that *led to* the collision, I don’t know.

  4. Bob Koski says:

    More indications of how badly damaged Fitzgerald is, coming from media reports out of Japan. The worst of the damage appears to be below the waterline, and in one report described the hull as open to the sea down near her keel. That had to have been a very high-energy impact.

    From pictures of the ACX Crystal, it appears she had a bulbous bow. Considering the visible damage to the Fitz above the waterline, it sure looks like Crystal’s bow may have punched right through Fitzgerald’s starboard hull, or at least crushed it in bad enough to flood very quickly. Japanese divers have apparently found more damage to ACX Crystal below her waterline as well.

    I would not be surprised if Fitz has to be dry-docked before all of the bodies can be recovered. God be with those divers and shipyard workers. Just a horrible tragedy. All of our prayers should be with all of the Fitzgerald families.

  5. leo huff says:

    i was a fleet od back in the old days. it doesn’t matter that the burdened ship changed course. the destroyer, under any circumstance, should have been no closer that 1000 yards. that why a collision is impossible. it happened so i can only assume negligence on the part of the od and jood. too bad for the captain who made commander but will loose command and be allowed to retire.