According to a statement provided by a Defense Department official under the condition of anonymity, the crew of the USS Fitzgerald appear to be to blame for their vessel colliding with a Philippine cargo ship last month.
Per the initial findings of the Defense Department led investigation into the incident, the crew of the Fitzgerald were “not paying attention to their surroundings” during the early morning hours of June 17th, ultimately resulting in the guided missile destroyer colliding with the significantly larger ACX Crystal despite clear weather conditions in the southern portion of the Tokyo Bay that night.
The ACX Crystal struck the USS Fitzgerald on its starboard, or right-hand, side, tearing a large gash in the ship’s hull below the water line and flooding two of the crew compartments on board. Seven sailors died in the incident, but the Fitzgerald was ultimately able to limp back to its home port in Yokosuka, Japan under its own power, with some assistance from tug boats.
The crash compromised the Fitzgerald’s navigation suite of electronics, one of the props used to the propel the vessel, and its communications systems. The commanding officer’s cabin was also impacted, causing serious injuries to Navy Cmdr. Bryce Benson. Benson first reported to the bridge with the help of sailors from his crew, before ultimately being airlifted for medical attention along with two other sailors injured in the crash.