gCaptain: The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault

This is an interesting, step by step outline of why the Captain of the USS Fitzgerald will be found at fault for the recent collision. The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why. – gCaptain

Lots of interesting points. Here is one that is worth noting. The amount of time a merchant captain spends on the bridge of a commercial ship, dwarfs the amount of bridge time that a naval office has.

But unlike the merchant captain and the enlisted specialists working on navy ships, the U.S. Navy Captain and his bridge officer (OOD) are generalists. A large percentage of their careers are spent working shoreside jobs and their shipboard time was spent rotating through positions: the engine room, the combat information room, in administrative positions and elsewhere.

In short, the merchant ship captain and bridge officers have significantly higher number of hours spent on the bridge then their naval counterparts.

The video is not of the “Fighting Fitz,” but it is of another Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer making a 180 degree turn.

And finally, specs on the ACX Crystal. (Compare this with the 100,000 HP of the USS Fitzgerald.)

She has a single 8-cylinder diesel engine capable of pushing one propeller with 29,200 horses for 3/10ths the amount of power of the destroyer. The acceleration of a ship like this is measured in miles, not minutes like the destroyer. Diesel engines like hers are the size of a modest house and are locked into a certain speed at night. The bridge officer can cut speed immediately but at the risk of damaging equipment. Changing speed safely requires that the engineers wake up, change into work clothes and walk down to the engine room to check the equipment before moving the throttle.

The USS Fitzgerald Collision and the Maritime “Rules of the Road”

I have been looking through the articles on the USS Fitzgerald collision. I can’t find anything about the conditions leading up to the collision.

It may sound odd to you landlubbers, but there are “rules of the road” on the water. They are meant to avoid exactly this kind of thing. COLREGS – International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972

Suffice it to say, that someone is responsible. It may be the case that both captains are responsible. (There isn’t always a vessel that has the “Right of way.”)

Rule 2
Responsibility

(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger

There is – especially among sailors (on sailboats) I’m sorry to say – the idea that some vessels have the “right of way.” While in some cases it may be that one boat is the “Stand on” vessel, and one the “Give way” vessel, in all situations, the skippers of both vessels have a duty to do everything to avoid a collision. The “limitations” of your average commercial container vessel, is that they don’t maneuver very well. It is best to stay the hell out of their way. Somebody failed to do something in this case. (See Rule 17 in the referenced document.)

It is hard to tell exactly what happened because reporters apparently know less about boats than they do about guns. But the bulk of the damage on the Fitzgerald SEEMS to be on the starboard side of the vessel. Though there is also damage on the port bow. If the initial collision hit the Fitzgerald on its own starboard side, that would imply that the US naval vessel was the “give way” vessel.

Rule 15
Crossing situation

When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.

Inquiries will go on for months, unless I miss my guess.