Yokosuka, Japan: In the dark of night, the weather was clear, with a swell of about six feet.
Near the point where navigation routes converge to reach Tokyo Bay, the USS Fitzgerald was a routine mission – although in these waters, sailors say, the usual routine is to take extra precautions.
One of the most advanced ships in the Navy, Aegis guided missile destroyer was equipped with the latest sophisticated radar technology. A crew of 300 people was aboard the boat with 8315 tonnes. On deck, a full complement of officers and enlisted personnel in service. The commander, commander. Bryce Benson was in his cabin on the starboard side. It was around 2 o’clock.
Right next to Shimoda, a popular tourist destination on a peninsula at the western entrance of the Sagami Sea, a container ship, Crystal ACX, driven by the Philippines, sailed east from the port of Nagoya to Tokyo. Four hundred ships a day pass through this void to Japan’s largest port, and the circulation, dispersal of the islands and lights on the ground can make sailing extremely difficult. It is a place where boats – night and day – must be careful to follow the established rules of the road and get ahead.
Early Saturday morning, Crystal – for reasons that were not explained – has stayed at about 180 degrees on this busy track and doubled on its journey, heading west.
Minutes later, just before 14:20, the much larger container ship hit the edge of United States warships, about half of the ship to starboard. The ship hit a large hole in the Fitzgerald, breaking two compartments under the waterline, where there were 116 berths for the sailors and an engine room.
An amount of “formidable” water was flooded by the huge gap, in the words of Vice Admiral. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet of the United States. Marina slept in her bunk beds awakened a mighty stream of sea water. September sailors have never understood.
“There was not a lot of time in areas that were open to the sea, and as you can see now, the ship is still making a list,” Aucoin said Sunday at the US naval base of Yokosuka in 50 miles northeast of the crash page Web. Gestures toward the destroyer, moored behind him with continuous pumps to carry the water out of the hull, added: “They had to fight against that vessel to keep it above the surface was traumatic.”
The collision rubbed parts of the ship over the bridge, too. Benson was injured his cabin was destroyed. “He’s lucky to be alive,” Aucoin said.
The damage could have sunk Fitzgerald, he said, but for prompt action by the crew.
Aucoin said the bodies of seven sailors who died were recovered in the docking bay after the wounded ship had been taken to the harbour.
When two ships converged, one that the other to starboard – right – is forced to yield. This suggests that the crystal had the right-of-way on Fitzgerald, who was hit on the starboard edge but the details of his collision have not been sufficiently studied.
The container ship is almost four times the size of the destroyer, and much more cumbersome. The warship is designed to be fast and agile.