The US Coast Guard on June 20 started interviewing the crew of the “ACX Crystal”, the ship that crashed against the USS “Fitzgerald”, the crew will also be interviewed on behalf of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. They will gather the electronic data and ship tracking information from both ships.
The investigation will look time discrepancies in the “ACX Crystal”‘s initial report about the incident. The Japan Coast Guard has already spoken to the Filipino crew and proved inconsistencies. It was in talks with the U.S. Navy for access to its crew members and data from the destroyer.
The “ACX Crystal” reported the collision at 2:25 a.m. (1725 GMT) prompting Japanese authorities to initially log the incident at 2:20 a.m. on June 17. The Japan Coast Guard subsequently revised the time to 1:30 a.m. meaning the container ship waited 55 minutes before contacting the coast guard, according to the Japan Coast Guard. Shipping data showed the boxship made a complete U-turn between 12:58 a.m. and 2:46 a.m. on June 17.
The USS “Fitzgerald” did not contact local authorities. The Japan Coast Guard radioed it after receiving the first report of the collision. Many of the crew on the U.S. ship were asleep when the collision tore a gash under the waterline on the warship’s starboard side, flooding two crew compartments, the radio room and the auxiliary machine room. Maritime rules suggest vessels are supposed to give way to ships on their starboard.
When asked on Sunday if the damage indicated the U.S. ship could have been at fault, Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin declined to speculate on the cause.
Complicating the inquiries could be issues of jurisdiction. Although the collision occurred in Japanese waters, international maritime rules, could allow the U.S. Navy to claim some authority over the investigations. The victims aboard the “Fitzgerald” were Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.