Friday, 22 June, 2018

Senior officers removed from duty after Fitzgerald collision

The US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship on June 17 in the Sea of Japan resulting in the death of seven American sailors Senior officers removed from duty after Fitzgerald collision
Sammy Stanley | 18 August, 2017, 05:44

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka, Japan, on June 17, 2017, following a collision with a merchant vessel.

Naval Sea Systems Command engineers determined the Fitzgerald needed to be repaired in the United States. Sean Babbitt and Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin would also be removed after the Navy "lost trust and confidence in their ability to lead".

In all, The New York Times reported 12 sailors, including the two top officers aboard and the top enlisted sailor, will face administrative actions that will likely end their careers after an investigation revealed the collision was the result of poor navigation practices by the Fitzgerald, and not the shipping container the Crystal.

Aucoin ruled that "serious mistakes were made by the crew", Moran said. Further sanctions are possible, Moran said.

The sailors tied themselves together with a belt and rescued Benson, who was hanging from the side of the ship.

The vessel attempted to get out of the path of the Fitzgerald, but hit it about 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to the report.

The ship's entire leadership, Moran said, will be relieved, and about a dozen sailors face some punishment, including all of the destroyer's watch.

Map locating the collision site involving a US destroyer and a Philippine-registered container ship off Japan on June 17
Commanding officer of Navy warship in deadly collision relieved of duty

The warship USS Fitzgerald crashed into Filipino cargo ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Honshu, on June 17, claiming the lives of seven American sailors.

Those sailors were Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, and Firecontrolman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37.

Navy officials who wrote the report praised the heroism of the sailors in the damaged portion of the ship for helping their crewmates. Of the 35 remaining Sailors in Berthing 2, 28 escaped the flooding.

The collision knocked out external communications and cut power in the forward portion of the ship.

The report confirms one sailor said Rehm pushed him out from under a falling locker.

The Navy's report on the immediate aftermath provides a harrowing account of USA sailors attempting to escape a rapidly flooding sleeping area that filled with water within minutes after the cargo ship's bow tore a hole in the side of the Fitzgerald. Sailors ran through the sleeping area, attempting to awaken their still-sleeping crew members.

Two sailors stayed at the foot of the ladder in the compartment to help others escape. "At least one sailor had to be pulled from his rack and into the water before he woke up". The sailors "pulled him from the water, red-faced and with bloodshot eyes".

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