The Navy's Secret Investigation Into The USS Fitzgerald Collision Details A Disaster That Was Just Waiting To Happen

Bullet Points

A previously-undisclosed internal investigation into the 2017 collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Japan paints an disturbing portrait of operations aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, according to an explosive report by Navy Times.


  • Obtained by Geoff Ziezulewicz at Navy Times and published on Sunday, the dual-purpose investigation completed less than two weeks after the June 17, 2017 incident details alarming lapses by bridge watch-standers and flagrant violations of standing orders.
  • Nothing captures the disarray aboard the destroyer better than this detail of a visit by Rear Adm. Brian Fort, who oversaw the investigation, to the vessel's combat information center: "He saw kettlebells on the floor and bottles filled with pee. Some radar controls didn't work and he soon discovered crew members who didn't know how to use them anyway."
  • Fort's diagnosis of the Fitzgerald's condition reflects the concerns of enlisted sailors previously detailed by Task & Purpose — namely low morale and sleep deprivation stemming from a high operational tempo "that left exhausted sailors with little time to train or complete critical certifications," per Navy Times.
  • But the most damning part of the report is that nobody was ever supposed to see it: According to Navy Times, the results of the investigation were "kept secret from the public in part because it was designed to prep the Navy for potential lawsuits in the aftermath of the accident."
  • The full report from Navy Times is absolutely worth your time. Read it here.

SEE ALSO: Escape From Berthing 2: The Navy's Dramatic Timeline Of The USS Fitzgerald's Fatal Collision

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The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, June 17, 2017 (U.S. Navy photo)
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