USS FITZGERALD vs. ACX CRYSTAL collision: is there a mystery?
there seems to be no mystery
Speculations on USS FITZGERALD vs. ACX CRYSTAL collision developed into conspiracy theories, based on if not doubtful expertise, then at least, incorrectly stated – I refer to Steffan Watkins, an information technology security consultant who writes for Janes Intelligence on ship tracking, version of the collision. He believes or presumes, that nobody was on container ship’s bridge at the time of collision, basing his speculation on 55 minutes lapse between time of collision and time, when ACX CRYSTAL turned back.
Another story told us, that “A defense official has confirmed earlier reports that there are indications that the Philippines-flagged cargo ship was on autopilot when the pre-dawn collision occurred, CNN reports”.
In both statements there is no assertion, both are assumptions, but media already converted them into facts, adding to them, in some hopeless cases, conspiracy theory, just to make the whole story spicy.
Speaking about Mr. Watkins’ version, I’d like to point out, that ACX CRYSTAL isn’t a Navy frigate or some trawler, it’s a 30,000-ton freighter, which technically, can not reverse engine while in high seas as simply, as Navies and fisheries do it. In fact, for cruising merchant ship, reverse in itself is kind of an accident, prone to risk of engine breakdown. My point is, Mr Watkins should unequivocally emphasize, that he’s talking version, not fact, in a way, which leaves no latitude for misinterpretations by sensations-hungry media.
Whether the above statements are true or not (more so if true), I assume, that some basic factors, which lead to collision, are becoming more and more obvious:
Navy ship navigating in heavy traffic zone, with many merchant ships around;
Lack of USS FITZGERALD’s AIS identification, due to, understood, secrecy considerations, as it is the case with the majority of all Navies ships;
Merchant marine officers having obvious flaws in training and experience – they grew accustomed to AIS identified radar targets to such an extent, that they’re confused by unidentified radar blips, or – if we assume, that there were no people on the bridge – they rely on electronics too much, i.e. they don’t exercise good seamanship;
Electronic devices and programs, at least on ACX CRYSTAL bridge, couldn’t process unidentified targets, recognize them as threat, and warn the watch and Master.
And of course, USS FITZGERALD faults and flaws:
“…a number of Navy veterans who joined a lively online debate said that even the most distracted performance by the Crystal's crew could not justify or explain the Fitzgerald's failure to get out its way.
"That ship can really accelerate and maneuver. It doesn't mean they caused the collision, but they're at fault for not avoiding it."
The same is true, mostly, in LIMAN vs. YOUZARSIF H case.
June 25, 2017