ACX Crystal's Captain Alleges No Response from Fitzgerald
In his after-accident report, the captain of the ACX Crystal alleged that the destroyer USS Fitzgerald failed to respond to multiple warnings of an impending collision, according to Reuters. On June 17, the Crystal struck the Fitzgerald on the starboard side, penetrating three compartments below the waterline and killing seven sailors, one of the worst U.S. Navy non-combat casualties in years.
The wire agency's account is based on Capt. Ronald Advincula's after-accident report to Dainichi Investment Corporation, the owner of the ACX Crystal. Advincula's account could not be confirmed, but he asserted that:
- USS Fitzgerald was on a crossing course;
- ACX Crystal tried to signal the Fitzgerald with flashing lights;
- Fitzgerald did not respond to light signals or take evasive action;
- ACX Crystal steered hard to starboard to avoid collision;
- ACX Crystal struck the Fitzgerald ten minutes after taking this evasive action;
- the time of impact was about 0130 hours;
- there was "confusion" on the Crystal's bridge after the collision;
- and the Crystal turned around to return to the scene of the accident after proceeding for another six nm.
His account may conflict with AIS records of the ACX Crytal's trackline: this data shows that the Crystal altered course slightly to port about ten minutes before the collision – not hard to starboard. Just after the reported time of impact, the Crystal's AIS heading swung sharply to starboard.
The U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Japan Coast Guard and Dainichi Investment all declined to comment to Reuters. On Friday, Navy officials speaking to the Washington Free Beacon said that the Crystal was on autopilot at the time of the collision, with no crew member "manning the controls."