Investigators obtain data recorder in USA warship collision

The Philippine-flagged cargo ship that hit a high tech U.S. destroyer was under control of a computerized navigation system when the incident occurred in the sea off the coast of Japan, U.S. Navy officials said.

The probes are also looking into why the Crystal did not report the crash to the Japan Coast Guard until almost an hour later.

Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way into how the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the much larger ACX Crystal container ship collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay in the early hours of June 17.

The USS Fitzgerald sailed into port on Saturday evening but search and rescue efforts by US and Japanese aircraft and surface vessels had been continuing for the seven missing sailors, the Navy said. Japanese transport safety officials said they obtained the voyage data recorder, similar to an airplane's "black box", from the ACX Crystal, which is now docked in Yokohama near Tokyo.

Numerous sailors lost personal items - everything from clothing to debit cards - in the early Saturday incident between the Yokosuka-based destroyer and a Philippine-flagged cargo ship.


Transport safety authorities and coast guard investigators in Japan on Thursday announced the data recorder from the Crystal had been secured, the Associated Press reported.

The hull of the destroyer was penetrated below the waterline, causing water to flood into the radio room, machinery, and two sleeping quarters for the crew.

There are several investigations into the incident, according to Reuters.

We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates as a result of Friday's collision between USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

"Certainly one of the conclusions one has to consider that this was a purposeful act to ram the Fitzgerald", observes James "Ace" Lyons, who commanded the Pacific Fleet during the 1980s.


The official said it may never be known if the order to close the watertight hatch to the berthing area came while the two men were still alive.

"They requested our help in the rescue operations", he said.

Another focus of the probes has been the length of time it took the ACX Crystal to report the collision.

Te Kaha is near Japan as part of the Royal New Zealand Navy's Naval Task Group deployment throughout Asia and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says the USA has accepted the offer of help.

"There are multiple USA and Japanese investigations underway to determine the facts of the collision", said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.



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