The Collision between the USS Fitzgerald, DDG 62 and the ACX Crystal, a container ship, that resulted in seven sailor’s deaths and nearly sunk the US Navy ship is a continuing mystery. The great mystery is still the time it happened. There is a one-hour discrepancy. The really big story is how the container ship was able to approach the Fitzgerald give that ships array of detection devices that are designed to detect approaching missiles let alone a 39,000 ton deadweight container ship that was ten stories high above the water line.
I was a sailor and was a forward lookout and helmsman as part of my underway duties. As a forward lookout, I scanned the sea from my perch above the bridge from port to starboard forward, that is the direction we were steaming. On a clear night, such as the one during the collision, visibility was excellent. The ACX Crystal could not be missed as shops are very well illuminated. I once sighted a masthead light 11 miles away, even before radar detected the ship it was attached to. That was a light bulb 11 miles away. AS helmsman, I executed the orders from the Officer of the Deck. On the Fitzgerald, that would have been a “Rudder hard left” or right, to avoid a collision. Didn’t happen on the Fitzgerald.
The attached article gets to that point as an early report said the ACX Crystal was running dark. That still does not answer the question of why the Fitzgerald did not see the ACX Crystal on the radar. The warship had several systems to protect it. That suggests a systems failure on the Fitzgerald. We’ll hear more about that later.
Here is the message from the mother of a Fitzgerlad sailor.
Was the ACX Crystal running dark and silent before collision?