US warship crash site known for congested nighttime traffic

The US and Japan launched a major search operation to find seven missing American sailors on June 17 after their navy destroyer collided with a container ship, crushing the side of the military vessel.

Seven sailors were later found dead in flooded compartments on the ship.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the USA 7th Fleet told reporters the Fitzgerald suffered extensive flooding and damage caused by a large puncture below the waterline on the starboard side underneath the pilot house. Others, including the ship's captain, were hurt.

It also appears that the collision caused part of the berthing compartment to collapse inward, making it hard for survivors to get out. "Many of them pass through the area during the night", said Hiroshi Ando, an official in the Japanese coast guard's navigation safety department.

When the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald was struck by the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal merchant ship Saturday, 37-year-old Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr.

The official also strongly emphasized that no judgments are being made about the timing of the decision to shut the watertight hatch. The commanding officer's cabin was also directly hit, trapping him inside. Those movements are easier to understand if they occurred immediately after the collision than if they occurred before it. Bryce Benson airlifted when he got hurt, along with the other two injured crewmen.

The US Navy, the US Coast Guard, and Japanese naval and maritime authorities are all conducting investigations. "This is troubling to me that more determined evasive action was not taken".

However, that does not explain how and why the crew of the Fitzgerald did not see the other ship coming, or why they were unable to maneuver away from it, the official said.

How the collision occurred is still under investigation, but experts generally agree the Philippine-flagged container ship was likely trying to pass the destroyer from behind when the two collided. As per the report, there are 300 crewmen were sleeping when the accident took place, and it also make a straight damage in the berthing areas, which have the total count of 116 crew members, added by Aucoin.

In coming days, the Navy will download data from the Fitzgerald's Aegis Weapons Systems to help investigators with the reconstruction of the incident, according to Navy documents provided to The Washington Post. AIS has been extended further by the addition of satellite monitoring of AIS traffic and the integration of AIS data into navigational beacons and local vessel traffic services (VTS)-think air traffic control for ships.

Another factor being examined is the impact of the destruction of the Fitzgerald's communications gear on the ability of the crew to call back to shore to inform commanders they needed help.

  • Leroy Wright