Confusing and contradictory reports are surfacing regarding the timing of the collision between the U.S.S. Fitzgerald and container ship, ACX Crystal. Additionally, a peculiar track taken by the ACX Crystal makes it look like the collision may have been deliberate.
According to ABC News, “the route of the container ship ACX Crystal, provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic, shows that the ship made a sudden turn around 1:30 a.m., as if possibly trying to avoid something, before continuing eastward. The ACX Crystal then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision.”
Good Morning America (GMA) discusses this odd u-turn on Monday:
Further, Japan’s Coast Guard has updated the estimated time of the collision from 2:20 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Initially, the ACX Crystal said “the collision had just happened” when they called in the accident at 2:25 a.m., according to ABC News. However, after “interviewing crew members,” they believe the collision occurred nearly an hour earlier.
The Atlantic reports that “the U.S. Navy has ignored the Japanese coast guard’s latest timeline. Instead, it says the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m., a full hour later.”
The Atlantic adds:
The USS Fitzgerald was damaged on the right side — the starboard side — and maritime law requires ships to give way to the vessel on their starboard side. When asked about this Sunday, the Seventh Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, declined to answer.
One side seems to be claiming the ACX Crystal made a sharp turn at approximately 1:30 a.m. — possibly following the collision — then sailed eastward before making a u-turn at 2:20 a.m., circling back to the site of the accident. The other side is claiming the accident occurred after the u-turn, as if the ship hit the U.S.S. Fitzgerald intentionally.
Interestingly, both parties might have reason to lie. If the Fitzgerald didn’t give way to the ACX Crystal, that could show negligence. If the ACX Crystal hit the naval vessel after making a sharp u-turn, that shows the possibility of intent to strike the ship.
Speaking with GMA, reporter Matt Gutman concluded: “The investigation will hinge on two major questions. How such a ship with some of the best radar in the world, and multiple officers tasked with watching it, failed to notice a stadium-sized cargo ship approaching, and why this happened — military officials telling me everything is on the table, including the possibility that this may have been intentional or even a terrorist attack.”