Report: Navy Collisions With Cargo Ships ‘Avoidable’
The United States Navy released a report yesterday detailing the events and actions that led to the collision of USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan on June 17, and the collision of USS John S. McCain and the merchant vessel Alnic MC on August 21.
The collision between the Fitzgerald and the Crystal, a container ship, was avoidable and resulted from an accumulation of smaller errors over time, said the report, “ultimately resulting in a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices.” Specifically, Fitzgerald’s watch teams disregarded established norms of basic contact management and “leadership failed to adhere to well-established protocols put in place to prevent collisions.”
The collision between the John S. McCain and the Alnic MC, a tanker vessel, was also avoidable, according to the report, and “resulted primarily from complacency, over-confidence, and lack of procedural compliance.” “A major contributing factor to the collision was sub-standard level of knowledge regarding the operation of the ship control console,” the report concluded.
The McCain’s commanding officer disregarded recommendations from his executive officer, navigator, and senior watch officer to set watch teams to ensure the safe and effective operation of the ship. No one on the bridge watch team, including the commanding and executive officers, the report added, “were properly trained on how to correctly operate the ship control console during a steering casualty.”
“Both of these accidents were preventable and the respective investigations found multiple failures by watch standers that contributed to the incidents, said Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson. “We must do better.
“The vast majority of our sailors are conducting their missions effectively and professionally,” Richardson added. “We will spend every effort needed to correct these problems and be stronger than before.”
Seventeen US Navy personnel lost their lives during the two collisions, seven on the Fitzgerald and ten on the McCain.