Navy releases report on McCain and Fitzgerald collisions

Written by Nick Blenkey
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NOVEMBER 1, 2017 — The U.S. Navy today released a report detailing the events and actions that led to the collision of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and the ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan June 17, and the collision of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21.

“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.”

“We will spend every effort needed to correct these problems and be stronger than before,” said Richardson.

Though three U.S. Navy investigations concerning each of these incidents are complete, collisions at sea between U.S. registered vessels and foreign registered vessels are also subject to a Marine Casualty Investigation, conducted independently on behalf of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). These investigations are ongoing in each case and the results of each will be published by the NTSB when complete.

Meantime, the Navy report issued today finds, among other things:

USS FITZGERALD: The collision between Fitzgerald and Crystal was avoidable and resulted from an accumulation of smaller errors over time, ultimately resulting in a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices. Specifically, Fitzgerald’s watch teams disregarded established norms of basic contact management and, more importantly, leadership failed to adhere to well-established protocols put in place to prevent collisions. In addition, the ship’s triad was absent during an evolution where their experience, guidance and example would have greatly benefited the ship.

USS JOHN S. MCCAIN: The collision between John S. McCain and Alnic MC was also avoidable 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. In particular, McCain’s commanding officer disregarded recommendations from his executive officer, navigator and senior watch officer to set sea and anchor watch teams in a timely fashion to ensure the safe and effective operation of the ship. With regard to procedures, no one on the Bridge watch team, to include the commanding officer and executive officer, were properly trained on how to correctly operate the ship control console during a steering casualty.

Download the report HERE


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