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Report: USS Fitzgerald Ignored Cargo Ship's Warnings Before Deadly Impact
The captain of the Filipino cargo ship that struck USS Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan, killing seven U.S. sailors, claims the Navy destroyer ignored his ship’s emergency signals before the fatal impact, Reuters reports.
The news service obtained an investigation statement from the skipper of the massive container ship ACX Crystal detailing the vessel’s account of the June 17 collision (emphasis added):
In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said the ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed onto a course to cross its path.
The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters.
The U.S. Navy declined to comment and Reuters was not able to independently verify the account.
There are now six active U.S. and Japanese investigations into the crash, and Japanese investigators have focused on the unusual hour-long delay between the accident and the Fitzgerald’s initial distress call.
Sailors from the Fitzgerald and other Navy officials told The Washington Post last week that the crew “had to make tough choices” in the immediate aftermath of the collision, like the decision to dog down all the hatches to compartments that were flooding the 505-foot warship — including the berthing spaces where the ship’s seven fatalities occurred.
The Navy has named Rear Adm. Brian Fort, a destroyerman who has commanded a squadron of ships like the Fitzgerald, to head its investigations. In a statement last week, chief of naval operations Adm. John Richardson said the Pentagon investigations would “unfold as quickly as possible, but it’s important to get this right."
“Our immediate focus is to do all we can to properly recognize our fallen shipmates, take care of the FITZ family, and begin to put the ship back together,” he said.
In a related development, a petition to name the Navy’s next destroyer after Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Rehm Jr., a Fitzgerald sailor who died saving more than a dozen of his own comrades from the flooding, has nearly all the 15,000 signatures it needs to be considered by the acting Navy secretary.
An Army veteran from Columbus claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a deployment in Afghanistan that earned him a Purple Heart and Silver Star.
As a result, he collected $76,000 in benefits for the mental condition.
He admitted Wednesday, however, that all of that was a lie.
He was not deployed to Afghanistan, never suffered PTSD and never received the two honors, which are among the highest bestowed for military service.
SAN DIEGO — Days after Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to a federal felony related to a yearslong campaign finance scandal, he has finally stated explicitly that he will resign from his congressional seat before the end of his term.
"Shortly after the holidays I will resign from Congress," Hunter, R-Calif., in a statement. "It has been an honor to serve the people of California's 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years."
A collision between a Coast Guard boat and a Navy vessel near Kodiak Island, Alaska on Wednesday landed six coasties and three sailors to the hospital, officials said.
The Navy has identified the two Defense Department civilians who were killed in a shooting Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.
A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has left four people dead, including the gunman, law enforcement officials said at a Friday news conference.
The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.