On Saturday morning, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald entered in a collision with a Philippine merchant ship off the coast of Yokosuka. The Philippine vessel was four times bigger than the American carrier. Therefore, the starboard side was completely crushed, and its superstructure was penetrated. Seven sailors succumbed to death in a case of flooding. Japanese authorities have just retrieved a data recording device that contains more details about what really happened.
The Retrieved Data Recording Device Had Key Information about the Accident
Authorities on both sides are still investigating the collision that put in jeopardy the lives of almost 100 American sailors. Japanese transport safety officials announced that they managed to recover a data recording device. This tool acts similarly to what airplanes have as a black box.
According to data discovered by Japanese investigators, the impact the USS Fitzgerald suffered from its collision with the ACX Crystal merchant ship cut off their communications for about one hour. At this time, the crew aboard the Philippine-flagged vessel was unaware of what was the cause of the crash. They had to pull back to discover the damaged American warship.
The current scenario finds Crystal heading to Tokyo on autopilot. Japanese authorities believe the Philippine sailors were dormant at the time of the collision. They needed a full hour until they noticed the vessel in distress. At 2:30 a.m. local time they announced the authorities about the accident.
The Seven Sailors that Tried to End the Flood Had to Seal a Watertight Door
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier was operating a routine transit off the coast of Japan. The collision perforated several spaces including the stateroom of the officer Bryce Benson. Therefore, Benson was caught out of the hull until his colleagues rescued him. A Japanese helicopter transported Benson and two other sailors to a Navy hospital in Yokosuka.
At the same time, the collision caused 10-feet-by-10-feet to the 14-feet-by-14-feet hole. As the point of penetration was bellow the waterline, seven sailors fought to overcome an inevitable flooding. However, they had no other solution than to seal a watertight door to save the entire ship. The investigation of the accident is ongoing.
Image source: 1