Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Collision at Sea

Seven US sailors are missing and the commanding officer of a US destroyer is among the injured after the warship collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, the US Navy said.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald suffered severe damage to its starboard side.

"The collision affected Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room," according to a statement from US 7th Fleet.
I'll predict that the captain of the tin can's going to take the fall for this. Which, to be blunt, comes with the job.

Colliding with the impact on the starboard side isn't a good sign.


CenterPuke88 said...

Comrade, care to expound on the starboard side comment...with the other vessel showing damage to the upper, port bow, just aft of the prow, what are you thinking might have happened? I mean that with it being 0200 or so must make the experienced mind go to something for a cause. It seems clear it had to be converging courses, probably less than 45 degrees.

Ten Bears said...

Indeed CP, the first thought to my mind is 'whose "merchant" ship?' The second thought is who initiated the (apparent) convergent course? Having investigated a number of car crashes, it appears to me the Fitz was trying to cut off the other.

Remember the Maine. Gulf of Tonkin.

w3ski said...

Can someone explain this to me. How can a Warship 'just collide' with another ship? I know Destroyers have Radar of many flavors, and lots of Glass to see out.
I can also figure there must be at least somebody designated "Night Watch", even if most of the crew was sleeping.
I just can't figure out how this happens to a Navy Ship.
It is Sad enough when our "Newest and Bestest" Destroyer gets broken during transit of the Panama Canal, but collisions in an open sea lane? I just can't understand to carelessness involved.

Comrade Misfit said...

CP88, in a crossing situation, the vessel to starboard hs the right of way and is considered to be the "privileged vessel". The vessel to port is the burdened vessel and must maneuver in a manner that is obvious to the privileged vessel to avoid the risk of collision. The privileged vessel is required to maintain course and speed until a collision is imminent.

On the photographic evidence (portside damage to the merchie, starboard-side damage to the warship), the warship likely was in the wrong.

There will be radar tracks and whatnot which should show what happened. But the Captain, the OOD, the JOOD and the CIC Watch Officer would be well advised to retain legal counsel. Same for the XO, maybe.

Bottom line: A bunch of guys have just executed a career-limiting move.

Tod Germanica said...

Confusing to the layman. Thanks for the info.

deadstick said...

Hey, Comrade--

TV coverage shows a guy in a litter being winched up into a helo. Any reason why they'd do that instead of landing on the ship's helipad?

CenterPuke88 said...

Right, Comrade...the right of way rules were a long time ago, but I vaguely recalled them. I was more thinking that you might have some knowledge of a Burke, and their bridge configuration, and an idea of what might have played into things.

W3ski, radar is only as good as the user/operator. It is entirely too easy to misinterpret radar data in a busy environment, and spurious returns also can cause confusion. On the glass front, a poster familiar with the Burke-class would have to answer that to be sure, but it looks like close to 360 visibility, IF you move around.

Thomas, Japanese ship, so no advantage there.

My $0.10 seems to focus on the late hour, the busy sea lane and negligence. With bags more manuverability, to be run over by a merchie in a Burke smacks of a crew zoned out or asleep. I just don't really see any other way this plays out, and with 7 likely dead, career-limiting had best be the minimum.

Comrade Misfit said...

The flight deck might not be certified for that helo, maybe.

Stewart Dean said...

My recall of maritime right of way has something in it about the less maneuverable (or more burdened) vessel having the right of way. Certainly a container ship is an utter pig to steer and stop....and never could have tagged a destroyer unless same got right in its way....
But what do I know.

CenterPuke88 said...

The chopper is a Japanese Air Self-Defence Forse Mitsubishi UH-60J with extended range tanks. There is a public domain picture from 2011 that shows the same type landing on the Fitz ( https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_110318-N-8288P-246_A_Japan_coast_guard_helicopter_lands_aboard_the_Arleigh_Burke-class_guided-missile_destroyer_USS_Fitzgerald_(DDG_62).jpg#mw-jump-to-license ). So the chopper apparently could have landed, but there are any number of reasons not to land...sea state, ship listing, ship control concerns, crew training, equipment, etc.

Leo Knight said...

The Fitzgerald looks to be listing to port, as well. Perhaps that's why they decided not to land the helicopter, and use the winch instead?

CenterPuke88 said...

Fitz docked with a 5 degree list, and the story is now they almost sank. Significant damage down to the keel, multiple compartments opened to the sea.

Correction on my comment above, ship was on a Japanese charter, but flagged in the Philippines, with a Philippine crew.

Comrade Misfit said...

I wonder if lack of sleep had anything to do with the collision.

CenterPuke88 said...

Rather interesting analysis of available data:


Posits a cargo vessel on autopilot and the Navy misreporting the collision time...but the evidence is interesting.