In the early morning hours of Saturday (approximately 1:30 a.m. Tokyo time), the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in a collision with the Philippines registered container ship, ACX Crystal. As was to be expected, the Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald: 505-ft long, displacing 8,900 tons vs ACZ Crystal: 730-ft long, displacing 29,000 tons) got the worse of the encounter. The Fitzgerald suffered seven dead from the sudden and catastrophic flooding of a berthing area that caught sailors asleep.

The Fitzgerald’s crew stabilized the situation and limped into Yokosuka under reduced power.

Though early reports stated that the Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal that is only true in an abstract sense. The Crystal struck the Fitzgerald amidships. Both ships carried anti-collision warning gear but the track of the ACX Crystal is causing some questions:

Via New York Times

Records show the ship turned sharply to the right around that time. The route of the destroyer is not shown on these maps because commercial tracking data doesn’t include military ships, but damage to its starboard side indicates that it would have been bearing south at the time of the collision.

The container ship continued east for another half hour before reversing around 2:00 a.m. and returning to the scene. The Japanese Coast Guard and U.S. Navy initially said the collision happened at 2:20 a.m. because the ACX Crystal did not report it until 2:25 a.m.

fitzgerald-collision

This is the sharp turn the New York Times refers to:

The incident is under investigation by the US Navy and by Japanese authorities. It will be interesting to see what is finally revealed.