Navy at fault for USS Fitzgerald crash, initial probe finds: report

Navy at fault for USS Fitzgerald crash, initial probe finds: report
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The collision between the USS Fitzgerald destroyer and a Philippine cargo ship off the coast of Japan last month appears to have been the Navy ship’s fault, CNN reported.

Two defense officials told CNN that preliminary findings in the accident’s investigation suggest that the Fitzgerald's crew did not take action in the minutes leading up to the crash that killed seven U.S. sailors.

“They did nothing until the last second,” one official told CNN. “A slew of things went wrong.”

A second official said the crash “will wind up being [the Navy’s] fault.”

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Navy Chief of Information Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler said in a statement that it is “premature to speculate on causation or any other issues.”

“We are in the early stages of the investigation process to develop a comprehensive picture of what caused the collision and do not have any definitive information to release at this time,” Cutler said.

“Once we have a detailed understanding of the facts and circumstances, we will share those findings with the Fitzgerald families, our Congressional oversight committees and the general public.”

The June 17 accident occurred 56 nautical miles off the coast of Japan in the early hours of the morning. The ACX Crystal, a merchant ship, collided with the Fitzgerald on the vessel’s starboard side, next to the berthing area, where sailors sleep.

An incident report by the ACX Crystal's captain said the Philippine cargo ship flashed lights warning the Fitzgerald that it was on course to cross its path, Reuters reported.

There are several investigations into the incident, including two internal Navy hearings and a probe by the United States Coast Guard. In addition, the Japan Transport Safety Board, the Japanese Coast Guard and the Philippine government are also investigating the collision.

Both officials said the initial investigation found that the Fitzgerald crew failed to understand and acknowledge the cargo ship was nearing and did not take any actions needed to avoid the hit, according to CNN.

The officials also said it's possible that the ship was traveling at a high rate of speed to attempt to reach the location it was due to arrive at the next day.

The preliminary findings will now be reviewed by Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet commander.