The US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald was breached after collision with container ship ACX Crystal in Tokyo Bay on 55 nautical miles off Yokosuka, Japan. The both vessels were proceeding during the night on crossing routes in heavy traffic area, but did not manager to maneuver accordingly and collided, in which the bow of container carrier stuck in the starboard of US warship. Following the accident several US soldiers are missing, while three other were injured, including the USS Fitzgerald’s commander Bryce Benson. The injured commander was airlifted by helicopter and transported to Yokosuka Naval Base hospital, but without life-threatening injuries. Other two people were slightly hurt during the accident.
The Japanese Coast Guard initiated large-scale search and rescue operation for the missing seamen. Nearby vessels were also engaged with searching for the US soldiers.
The container carrier suffered slight damages and breaches in the bow section, but without danger for her seaworthiness. The US warship’s hull was breached in the starboard, suffering water ingress, but without immediate danger of sinking. The crew succeeded to stabilize the vessel USS Fitzgerald, which proceeded by own power to Yokosuka Naval Base.
“The USS Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline”, the Navy said in a statement. “Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors”, adds the statement.
The local authorities initiated investigation for the root cause of the accident. The merchant ship was detained in the area of collision until further investigation. On first reading and according to maritime navigation experts, the US warship seriously violated the ColReg rules do not giving priority for the container ship, which they saw from starboard. Often warships violate the ColReg rules, expected to being treated as special vessels. However, during the night and in such heavy traffic area, such violation might cause serious accident, as it happened.
The container ship ACX Crystal (IMO: 9360611) has length of 222.60 m, beam of 30.10 m and draft of 9.60 m. The deadweight of the vessel is 39,565 DWT and the gross tonnage is 29,060 GRT with capacity to carry 2,900 TEU. During the accident the container carrier was en route from Nagoya to Tokyo.
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