Slartibartfast wrote:But didn't the Crystal try to signal the Fitzgerald with lights? In any case, the Fitzgerald is smaller, more maneuverable, has better sensors, and, one would like to think, more alert (and presumably larger) crews. Seems like there had to have been a lot of screw-ups for this to have happened.
It may be more maneuverable, but warships aren't in the habit of altering course for civilian craft. This whole thing may be as simple as an inexperienced bridge crew saying "Hey, we kept telling the Crystal to alter course, but she never did. By the time we realized she was too close it was too late to take evasive action."
That seems absurd to me. COLREGS do not give any special exemptions for naval vessels. And with no AIS signal, a merchant vessel could not identify the status of a blip on a radar screen or distant navigation lights. A bridge team has an absolute duty to keep an effective watch and to avoid collisions. I find it implausible that the Fitzgerald's bridge watch would monitor its radars and AIS display, see a fully identified large and cumbersome vessel on a collision course, and engage in a pointless, misjudged and wholly unprofessional game of chicken. Or are US Navy sailors* that incompetent and derelict in their duties?
The Crystal would also be under no obligation to heed any radioed instruction from the Fitzgerald, and the Fitzgerald would not be able to use any such signal as a defense, especially if the Crystal had not acknowledged the signal and also confirmed that they understood and would comply. Even then, the Fitzgerald's commander retains the duty to maintain an effective watch, including monitoring the Crystal's actions on radar, and to take all necessary action to avoid a collision.
Slarti's conspiracy theory of a deliberate act on the Fitzgerald to cause a collision does not seem worthy of anyone who claims to follow a Bayesian approach! Inattentiveness, multiple misjudgements and bad luck are the root causes of almost all peacetime collisions. At this stage there is no good reason not to expect something similar here, and the maxim that exceptional claims require exceptional evidence applies. Of course, it could
be correct, just as Trump could
have a really great healthcare plan in his pocket.
Until more information comes out, I cannot see how the Fitzgerald's bridge team can evade a large dose of responsibility; the question is how much mitigation can be found. How much blame is attached to the Crystal's crew I can't guess; it could be a lot, it could be almost none. Of course, I will be happy to be proven wrong, and I am no expert on avoiding huge ships.
* Please don't mention Walter Fitzpatrick! But he didn't crash his ship, did he?