Saturday, June 17, 2017

Seven US sailors missing off Japan

Seven US naval personnel are missing & many injured in a major shipping collision that happened in clear & calm weather conditions off Japan at about 2AM local time this morning.

[ Update: the seven Americans were found dead in a flooded segment of the warship. Tragedy; Rest In Peace ]

Collision was 10 nautical miles SE of Shimoda, Japan (vicinity 34 32N, 139 05E) involving United States Navy guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (154m / 505ft) vs. ACX Crystal  (222m / 730ft) - an NYK / Nippon Yusen-operated Filipino-flagged container ship traveling between Nagoya & Tokyo. Tonnage reports estimate the USS Fitzgerald at approx. 9000 tons, less than one-quarter the dwt 39,565 ton ACX Crystal.

The USS Fitzgerald, with its highly-advanced navigation, warfare & defense systems valued upward of US$1.5 billion, has a normal complement of 281 naval personnel. The ACX Crystal crew of 20 reportedly escaped injury, and their ship was comparatively lightly damaged.

Top-level liaison is said to be complicated (as the Trump administration hits its half-year mark) by continuing lack of a US Ambassador to Japan, nor is the Secretary of the Navy job finalized. Reports now claim the container ship was 'doing doughnuts' in the hour before the crash. But such a ship turns very slowly due to huge mass and length (730 feet), with limited visibility. Bullshit story? Is it even relevant? 

The USS Fitzgerald was hit in the quadrant termed "the danger zone" where oncoming shipping typically has the right-of-way. (Specifics of this accident, however, remain to be determined).

Cause unknown, but basic seamanship rules don't favor the Fitz.