USS Fitzgerald Crash Was Navy’s Fault, Preliminary Findings Reportedly Suggest

Photo via Getty Images

Preliminary findings from the Navy’s investigation into the fatal collision between the destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal indicate the June 17 accident off the coast of Japan resulted from “multiple errors” and “a failure to take action” on the part of the Fitzgerald’s crew, CNN reported July 21, citing two anonymous Department of Defense officials.

One anonymous defense official told CNN that the Fitzgerald crew “did nothing until the last second.” The shocking collision left seven sailors dead.

The Navy and Department of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Task & Purpose, but Navy officials reached by Navy Times declined to confirm the CNN report, stating that it was "way too early" to analyze the initial findings of Pentagon investigators.

“Both officials said the initial investigation found that the Fitzgerald crew failed to understand and acknowledge the cargo ship was approaching and failed to take any action necessary to avoid the collision,” CNN’s Barbara Starr reported. “It's also not clear if the crew ever called the commanding officer to come to the bridge.”

If confirmed, the CNN report appears in line with the ACX Crystal skipper’s June claim to investigators that the destroyer “failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action,” as Reuters reported at the time. In his statement, the captain stated that the Fitzgerald “suddenly” changed course to cross the cargo vessel’s path despite signals from the latter.

Shortly after the June 17 collision, the New York Times reported that both Navy and Japanese investigators planned on interviewing every Fitzgerald crewman on duty to “assess their training, experience, competence and sleep schedule” and determine if human error contributed to the fatal collision. 

If human error was truly the cause, as the CNN report suggests, it’s a costly mistake. Not only were the lives of seven sailors lost in the crash, but the collision tore a monstrous hole in the starboard side of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, evidenced by stunning photos published July 12 of the vessel at the Navy’s dry dock facility in Yokosuka, Japan.

Chances are, those photos will serve as a grim reminder for sailors to never again, as CNN put it, do nothing until the last second.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official's biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.

Read More Show Less
Saturday Night Live/screenshot

President Donald Trump said that "retribution" should be "looked into" after this week's opening skit of Saturday Night Live featured Alec Baldwin being mean to him again.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. John Eller conducts pre-flights check on his C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 3 prior to taking off from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a local area training mission. Sgt. Eller is a loadmaster from the 535th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

CUCUTA, Colombia — The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure Saturday on beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, dispatching U.S. military planes filled with humanitarian aid to this city on the Venezuelan border.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

Read More Show Less
A pair of U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron VF-211 Fighting Checkmates in flight over Iraq in 2003/Department of Defense

Since the sequel to the 1986 action flick (and wildly successful Navy recruitment tool) Top Gun, was announced, there's been a lot of speculation on what Top Gun: Maverick will be about when it premieres in June 2020. While the plot is still relatively unclear, we know Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he'll be joined by a recognizable costar: The iconic F-14 Tomcat.

It looks like the old war plane will be coming out of retirement for more than just a cameo. A number of recently surfaced photos show an F-14 Tomcat aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, alongside Cruise and members of the film's production crew, the Drive's Tyler Rogoway first reported earlier this week.

Read More Show Less