News:Americas

US Navy relieves three officers over USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal fatal collision

The US Navy is relieving three senior officers from the USS Fitzgerald which collided with the containership ACX Crystal off Japan leaving seven dead and three injured onboard the warship.

The US Navy released a report into the collision on Thursday and Admiral Bill Moran, deputy chief of naval operations, said the USS Fitzgerald's commander, executive officer and master chief petty officer would be removed.

"We've lost trust and confidence in their ability to lead," Moran told reporters. Another nine sailors from the USS Fitzgerald would face administrative punishments and further actions could yet be taken.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, however, the US Navy found enough evidence to take initial action.

"Serious mistakes were made by members of the crew, and there was no benefit to waiting on taking accountability actions," Moran told reporters.

The USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged containership at 1-30am on 17 June 56 nm southwest of Yokosuka in Japan. The containership only sustained light damage to its bow in the accident.

There are multiple investigations into the collision underway.

According to previous reports the Master of the ACX Crystal blamed the US warship for the collision.

In a report to the Japanese owners of the ACX Dainichi Investment Corporation Captain Ronald Advincula said the USS Fitzgerald steamed suddenly across its path and ignored warning lights, Reuters reported.

The report said the containership steered hard starboard to warship but the vessels collided 10 minutes later at 1-30am.

As to why the containership took nearly an hour to report the accident to the Japan Coast Guard at 2-25am Advincula said there was “confusion” on the vessel's bridge with it making a u-turn to return to the scene of the collision 6 nm further on.

Posted 18 August 2017

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Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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