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Navy names lead investigator into USS Fitzgerald collision that killed 7 sailors
27 June 2017, 12:58 | Dawn Berry
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Instead, a routine cruise in good weather ended in the most lethal Navy accident in years.
The much-larger cargo ship's crew - who were not injured - apparently took almost an hour to report the collision.
As the incident was unfolding, the world was given an nearly immediate look at part of the story behind the collision thanks to data from the Automated Identification System (AIS) aboard the Crystal. He added that the container ship steered hard to starboard to avoid the American warship but was unsuccessful. Bryce Benson was airlifted by Japanese coast guard helicopter.
But none of that happened. So far, the investigators have found no evidence the collision was deliberate.
There are now six investigations into the crash, examining witness testimony and electronic data to determine how the Crystal could have collided with a warship outfitted with sophisticated radar systems. But one sailor, contacted via social media, offered what may endure as an epitaph for the accident.
The officials said Benson was in his stateroom at the time of the collision.
The time element will be part of the Navy's investigation, a 7th Fleet spokesman told Stars and Stripes.
Investigative teams from the Coast Guard and Navy have started to search for answers and find out how the ship's crew responded.
There were no crew members on duty in the pilot house of the Crystal at the moment the freighter collided with the Fitzgerald, the Washington Free Beaconreported. Fuller took command in Hawaii in June 2015. A machinery room, the communications center, and several berthing compartments were wrecked in the collision. Sailors fought the flooding for an hour before sending distress calls, the institute said. The bodies of seven drowned sailors were pulled from the areas of the ship that had been cut off. "That's going to have to be found out during the investigation".
It is not known why the two vessels did not immediately contact the coast guard, Japanese officials say. Damage to the container ship is concentrated on its bow area, including a sharp horizontal cut across it, scratches and dents on the port side fence and hull.
"Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life on the USS Fitzgerald, I ask all of the faithful to remember in prayer the victims and their families", said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. The container ship might have failed to spot the destroyer and rammed into it, or the destroyer somehow might have made a sudden move to the right.
In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said the ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed on to a course to cross its path.
Initial reports suggest that the collision occurred at 1:30 a.m., but the container ship crew did not automatically realize it had happened.
"It looks very much like the computer was driving", he said. He said route decisions are up to the captains.
"They requested our help in the rescue operations", he said. "I will not speculate on how long these investigations will last". And in the wake of the news of the collision on Saturday, posts from those sources rapidly fueled speculation about what caused the collision. "That ship can really accelerate and maneuver".
The rarity of such crashes has also raised questions about what caused the collision, and who might be at fault. "If you didn't wake the captain when you were supposed to, you were toast". They included Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, and Firecontrolman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37. "We got to get to the bottom of this".
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