USS Fitzgerald-ACX Crystal fatal collision Investigation Report from the NTSB


( The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued the final report of the investigation of the 17 June 2017 collision involving the US Navy destroyer Fitzgerald and the container ship ACX Crystal off Japan’s Honshu Island.

Fitzgerald was southbound at a speed of about 22.1 knots and ACX Crystal was east-northeast-bound at a speed of about 18.5 knots. As the distance between the two ships continuously decreased, neither vessel radioed the other.

Seconds before the collision, the watch officers attempted to maneuver the vessels to avoid impact, but the actions were too late, and the ships collided.


Seven Navy sailors died in the accident and three others suffered serious injuries. The destroyer sustained extensive damage to its forward starboard side.

The container ship sustained damage to its bow; no injuries were reported. The probable cause of the collision between the destroyer and the container ship was the destroyer’s bridge team’s failure to take early and substantial action to avoid collision as the give-way vessel in a crossing situation.

Root cause

Contributing was ineffective communication and cooperation among the destroyer’s members on the bridge and in the combat information center (CIC), and the destroyer’s commanding officer’s (CO) insufficient planning for the hazards of the vessel’s intended transit.

Also contributing was the Navy’s ineffective oversight of the destroyer in the areas of operations scheduling, crew training, and fatigue mitigation. Also contributing to the accident was the container ship’s watch officer’s lack of early detection of the Navy vessel and insufficient actions to avoid collision once in doubt as to the destroyer’s intentions.

Marine Accident Report 20/02 contains 11 findings, seven identified safety issues, four safety recommendations and the probable cause of the accident.
Identified safety issues include:
  • the insufficient training of the Fitzgerald’s crew;
  • Fitzgerald crew fatigue;
  • the practice of US Navy vessels to not broadcast automatic identification system signals;
  • failure of both ships’ crews to take actions in accordance with the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea;
  • insufficient oversight and directive by the U.S. Navy;
  • the commanding officer’s inadequate assessment of the transit route’s hazards; and
  • the commanding officer’s decision to not augment bridge watchstanding personnel with a more experienced officer.

For more details, click on below image to download full report:



For more Marine Accident Investigation Reports, click here.

Source: NTSB



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