ROYAL NAVAL SHIPS AS VIEWED THROUGH THE IMO AND ITU REGULATIONS

Imagine you are approaching the centre of London from the west travelling along the embankment on the south side of the river and by this time you have in sight Lambeth Bridge with its famous pineapples on the top of the bridge supports, and if you kept going at that pace you would very soon see Lambeth Palace down on your right and the Houses of Parliament across the river on your left - currently with the total potmess of Brexit and the the petulant manner of many, chiefly Corbyn whose thrown his toys out of his pram, enough to make even the most apolitical persons cry. So I decided to rid that name from my vocabulary from hereonin akin to ridding rats by applying poison, and found a suitable anagram in his name! I came up with 'Boncry'- no not Bonkry 'cos I don't think he has one in him, but Boncry meaning a GOOD CRY, and if he doesn't bring on that emotion within you it may well be you will need to pay a visit to shed 'wet' from another part of your body!   

But stop awhile where you are and look around. Both on your right,  you will see a large London fire station and further on towards the bridge,  a rather large building with lots of international flags placed upon it. That is the IMO Building = the International Maritime Organisation suitably established there in what was once the largest maritime nation on earth, and still is as far as maritime organisation, rules and regulations are concerned. If you continued heading for that bridge and continued on the south embankment you would eventually come to the City of London, the financial capital of Great Britain and one could argue the world but, certainly of Europe. There you would find Lloyds of London, an imposing metal building,  and they insure the maritime world against loss, pirates and ruined cargo's, and in that splendid building which has its own impressive museum/collection of Admiral Lord Nelson's items given and collected by him during his life time, is another maritime unique piece called the Lutine Bell. If you wish to know more about that and what it symbolises, then bring up that page from a search engine on the web.

The IMO issues directive which all ships must obey including warships of all nations [and that is why I have titled my page 'Royal Navy' as just one of the many adherents] the most important being the Rule of the Road, designed to ensure the safety of vessels in narrow and broad waterways the globe over. As a by and by, our country is also extremely famous for hydrography, another science which has saved thousands of ships from a watery grave by producing accurate sea charts which indicate the natural hazards and wrecks around the world.  We are a world leader in maritime affairs and skills and we are respected as such.

Both the IMO above and the ITU below  rules and regulations ASSUME that ships have the correct equipment fitted and it is serviceable, and that those who operate it are fully au fait with it and its application to safety, and diligently operate it having associated skills and awareness, and due regard for the environment in which the ship is placed/operating. It is a reportable offence to be reported immediately to the IMO/ITU by interested parties which might be a WEO, a weapons electrical officer for example, if for whatever reason the defective equipment remains defective for an excessively long period of time!

The following groups of letters/figures are for use by Great Britain when issuing radio callsigns to all or any British ship, with second characters and more, purposely omitted:  2AA to 2ZZ, GAA to GZZ, MAA to MZZ, VPA to VQZ, VSA to VSZ, ZBA to ZJZ, ZNA to ZOZ and ZQZ. Thus in the group GAA to GZZ for example, four letter callsigns could be GAAA, GBBB, GCCC etc and all the letter in between hence GABA, GABC, GACC; a vast permutation of choices.  Some of my readers will remember our only type 82 destroyer designed to escort the first planned HMS Queen Elizabeth [CVA-01] [the one now in commission is Queen Elizabeth {CVF-01} which was cancelled by the Harold Wilson's Labour Government in the mid 1960, namely HMS Bristol, for many years after decommissioning acting as a cadet training ship berthed on Whale Island [HMS Excellent] Portsmouth. Her first callsign was GYFE, but since those proud days of this ship with lovely lines when in commission, it has for sometime now being reallocated 2AIT7.

Between the IMO and the ITU they have laid down certain definitions which, despite what I have said are not imposed upon the Service, but for all intents and purposes are issued to mercantile mariners for guidance when the need to report an incident to say Lloyds of London for example is thought necessary. One of these definition we would certainly not accept, for it lessens the important of the type of ship is describes, namely the aircraft carrier. In my day, we used to have exercise serials called Gunex's. This involved either a Fleet Air Arm fixed wing jet aircraft operated by an outfit call the FRU [Fleet Requirement Unit] towing a target at which the ship would practice its system and aim to hole it with shells. I am not sure why all changed for I don't recall a shooting down tragedy, so I guess it was a money saving change, and we changed to shooting at a PTA [also courtesy of the FRU] where our gunners were encouraged to knock it out of the skies as it roared passed the ship. PTA stood for Pilotless Target Aircraft, what today we might call a drone. From my introduction to this part of the story, guess what an aircraft carrier is designated in international terms? Yes a PTA!

Here are a few more:-

NS = Naval
SUP Auxiliary = RFA
Despatch vessel = AVI

In the navy we had an AGI which stood for Auxiliary Gathering Intelligence, or more succinctly, a Russian trawler bristling with sensors and aerials, audaciously hove to in the middle of our exercising ships observing our every move.

Coastguard = CGT
Corvette = COR
Cruiser = CRO
Destroyer = DES
Diving ship = DIV
Minesweeper = DMN
Escort Ship = ESC
Survey Ship = EXP
Fast Patrol Ship = FPS
Frigate = FRT
Warship = GS
Hospital Ship = HOP
Hydrographic Ship = HYD
Minelayer = MOU
Naviplane [sic] = NVF
Pilot Tender = PLT
Helicopter Carrier = PTH
Sloop = SLO
Submarine = SMN
Patrol Ship = SRV

We used to have a TRV = Torpedo Recovery Vessel

and finally a Pusher colloquially known as a Tug = TUG

A tanker was known as a TNK and in a moment, I will be mentioning another leviathan one called the ACX Crystal, a mighty vessel, a container ship and how it spoilt the day of a lot of naval careers and caused the deaths of seven sailors.

Before that, I have just a couple of more things to add from IMO/ITU sources. In my day in the wireless office of a British warship, we were conscious of their regulations especially with RATT circuits obeying the rules of bandwidth, assigned frequencies and offsets, which with ultra modern kit today, I don't suppose that CIS personnel even are aware of the rules and as such don't worry about them. 

Another change I have noticed is that the expression and what it meant has gone, for no longer is there a UHF designation, the VHF band being stretched to give a much larger spectrum coverage than hitherto.

I also note that the ITU appears not to have made provision in the spectrum for a submarines buoy, a EPIRB [4340] = Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon, released from inside the submarine when it is in difficulties hoping that a surface unit picks up the signal to give it a line and bearing to run down to assist, or better still, for two or more ships can triangulate and get an accurate fix on the hapless submarine.

Other EPIRB's are still listed [in 2018] which includes:-

EPIRB A = 2182 kHz
EPIRB B = 121.5 MHz
EPIRB C = 243 MHz
EPIRB D = 156.525 MHz
EPIRB E = Satellite on 406 to 406.1 MHz
EPIRB F = Not assigned
EPIRB G = SART* 9.2 TO 9.5 GHz
EPIRB H = AIS# - SART Operating in the Channels AIS 1 and AIS 2

* SART = Search and Rescue Radar Transponder

#AIS = Auto Identification System = an automatic tracking system using transponders built into the ships sensors. At all times marine radar continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance.

The frequency band designators are very different from my time in submarines when we sparkers operated a device called a UA3 where S and X Bands were RADAR, and I'll mention just a few of them before I start my real story. Later on we were fitted with a UA4 which was operated in the wireless office but by radar personnel.

When transmitting telegraphy:-

'S' Band  is used in maritime mobile satellite systems -

'X' Band  when using frequencies between 415 and 535 kHz

'Y' Band when using frequencies 1.605 MHz to 4MHz

'Z' Band when using frequencies 4 MHz to 27.5 MHz

When transmitting telephony:-

'S' Band as above to telegraphy

'T' Band 1.605 MHz to 4 MHz

'U' Band 4 MHz to 27.5 MHz

'V' Band 156 MHz to 174 MHz

T-Dist Standard Satellite Systems - Inmarsat is a British Company

3 - INMARSAT B

4 - INMARSAT C

5 - Non assigned

6 - INMARSAT M

76 - INMARSAT  MINI - M

Inmarsat was used when I was in the navy which I left 36 years ago. Today [2019] it offers fantastic services to all users on land and at sea, and if in your retirement you have ever taken a cruise, you would have seen it an action, as you would crossing the channel or on a six hour ferry ride from Liverpool to Belfast. It offers conventional  Broadband with all services of internet, TV, Emails; High Speed Broadband plus Global Express; M2M Machine to Machine to monitor  and manage remote assets; Safety GMDSS Global  Maritime Distress and Safety Systems and ICAO International Civil Aviation Organisation global safety communications; Voice Fixed 'phone service and messaging for businesses; VSAT and TVRO. TVRO means 'TV Receive Only'  from all parts of the globe without nulls and despite the roughness of the sea, delivered on a special aerial suitable for cruise liners and deployed warships [if no military down link]  keeping in touch with home media, and VSAT, which I have recently played with on a live terminal, means 'Very Small Aperture Terminal'. It is a satcom system for private use in homes or businesses, using a box plugged between the computer and the satcom transceiver/external dish aerial, usually of the size of  75cm to 1.2 metres. Signals are exchanged with other VSAT's via satellite. It works the same as a Sky TV reception system only two ways instead of just a down link.

The ACX Crystal ship is mentioned soon. It would or should have used the Inmarsat Safety channel shown in the first para above, to signal its collision with an American warship.

These are the Inmarsat definitions of those covered above.

Inmarsat-B System

The Inmarsat space segment consists of 4 satellites orbiting above the equator at the same speed as the earth rotates. They thus remain fixed above the same location on the earth. A satellite orbits at an altitude of 35,700 km as it sees 1/3 of the earth’s surface. The satellites work as repeater stations between the coast earth stations (CESs) and mobile earth stations (MESs) on different channels for different services- Inmarsat-A, B, C and M.

 

Inmarsat-C and Mini C System

Inmarsat C is a two-way store and forward communication system that transmits messages in data packets in ship-to-shore, shore-to-ship and ship-to-ship direction.

Inmarsat C comprises of a small omnidirectional antenna, compact transceiver (transmitter and receiver), messaging unit and, if GMDSS-compliant or with a distress function, a Dedicated Distress Button to activate a Distress Alert.

Inmarsat Mini C terminals are the smallest models available, with some incorporating the antenna and transceiver in the same above deck unit and, depending on the model, supporting the same communication services as Inmarsat C terminals.

To protect crew and vessels, modern Inmarsat C and Mini C terminals include an integrated Global Navigational Satellite Services (GNSS) receiver, providing automatic terminal position updates and reporting when a distress alert is initiated. The vessel’s position data (position, course and speed) is shared with reporting applications.

Its coverage is global, rather like the DSCS USN Naval system and not as the RN Geostationary system

 

Inmarsat-M and Mini M System

 

Inmarsat-M: provides voice services at 4.8 kbit/s and medium speed fax/data services at 2.4 kbit/s. It paved the way towards Inmarsat-Mini-M. Service




 

Now all these things in a ship are there to assist in safe navigation plus others not mentioned , and if performing properly and manned correctly by competent operators and vigilance is the watch word,  all should be well. But in my following story they weren't  and mayhem followed.

Meet this monster, a Pilipino container ship called the ACX Crystal, operating in familiar waters trading with Japan and operated by Japan NYL. 

She is fully fitted as per IMO/ITU regulations, has ultra modern equipment, sensors and a competent crew [???] of 20 souls, and a perfect maintenance record on her hull fitting, steering, and engines. Her displacement is calculated as per all container vessels which use one container measuring 20' long by  8' tall assessed at 20 tons [weight of container plus contents] pre-weighed before loading and adjusted accordingly. One container is called  a TEU, and for those wanting confirmation and clarification of this, it is well described on the internet. The ACX CRYSTAL could carry 2858 TEU's which in normal times equates to 20 x 2858 =  57,160 tons loaded added to which is the sheer weight of the vessel fully loaded with fuel etc. We don't actually know but if we assume a chunk of metal coming at us at between 10 and 15 knots in confined water, weighing a modest 65,000 tons approximately, it's going to hurt if it hits! She was 764 feet long and her callsign is DYUG.

Next meet this little baby packed solid with sensors, aerials, weapons and  at the time of the meet she has been commissioned since 1995 and we are now 2018 - 23 years old - Oops lets go back to 2017 the date of the prang, so 22 years old.  She was 505' long and displaced 6900 tons - her name USS Fitzgerald. He complement was 33 commissioned officers, 38 CPO's and 210 enlisted personnel. Her callsign is NFTZ

All looks good, but now for the story, although the following picture shows USS Fitzgerald after the event in a USN base in Japan. Because it is not a part of this story let me jump ahead and tell you that the operator of the Crystal had to pay the US Government $27M for the damaged caused to Fitzgerald including a payment for each deceased sailor.

When Navy Rear Adm. Brian Fort stepped aboard the guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the 2017 collision with a commercial cargo ship, everything was off.

Any warship would seem a little off after a catastrophe that claimed the lives of seven sailors, but this was different.

“It didn’t look right, smell right, sound right,” Fort said during a hearing last year for a Fitzgerald officer facing court-martial in the wake of the June 17, 2017, disaster.

After gazing at the gash in the hull through which gushed the seawater that drowned the Fitz’s dead, Fort and his team of investigators walked to the destroyer’s electronic nerve center, the combat information center everyone calls the “CIC.”

It hadn’t taken a direct hit from the bow of the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, but it was trashed nonetheless and smelled like urine.

He found a pee bottle that had tipped and spilled behind a large-screen display. Fort’s eyes started to take over for his nose, and he took it all in.

“There was debris everywhere,” Fort said under oath. “Food debris, food waste, uneaten food, half-eaten food, personal gear in the form of books, workout gear, workout bands, kettlebells, weightlifting equipment, the status boards had graffiti on them.”

“I’d never seen a CIC like that in my entire time in the Navy,” the surface warfare officer of more than 25 years recollected.

The more Fort looked, the worse it got: broken sensors that were reported for repairs but never fixed, schedule changes ordered by superiors high above the Fitz’s command triad that delayed crucial maintenance, taped-up radar controls and, worse, sailors who had no idea how to use the technology.

About six weeks after the Fitzgerald collision, Fort signed and submitted his damning internal report to superiors.

Designed in part to help federal attorneys defend against a wave of lawsuits from the owners and operators of the ACX Crystal and, indirectly, the families of the Fitz’s injured, traumatized and drowned, the Navy sought to keep Fort’s findings from the public.

But Navy Times obtained a copy of it and began stitching his details to a growing body of court testimony by the crew of the Fitzgerald to reveal just how much worse conditions were on the destroyer than the Navy previously shared with the public.

What it all reveals is that a mostly green crew joined the Fitzgerald shortly after the warship left dry dock maintenance in early 2017.

They learned to make do with broken equipment, a lack of communication between departments and, especially in the CIC, a world in which failure had become “systemic across the board,” as Fort put it at last year’s hearing.

Or as his secret report described it, a lack of training in basic seamanship fatally combined with material deficiencies to create “a culture of complacency, of accepting problems, and a dismissal of the use of some of the most important, modern equipment used for safe navigation.”

The crew were simply "living in a world that had been accepted,” Fort said.

The CIC runs a warship’s weapons systems and provides an extra set of electronic eyes for the bridge team, but that never happened throughout the night of the collision.

Although Fort’s report detailed a team of bridge watchstanders that were growing increasingly perplexed, then panicked, while trying to track multiple vessels inside a bustling maritime superhighway, CIC sailors told his investigators that it was a quiet night down there.

Fort found the CIC had “zero communication” with the bridge team before the Crystal loomed seemingly out of nowhere to spear into the Fitz’s starboard hull.

Much of Fort’s report explores how a state-of-the-art warship outfitted with expensive electronic sensors could go blind, but a key finding soon emerged: It wasn’t merely that they didn’t know they were blind. They didn’t know how to see.

Beyond the human waste and garbage collecting in the CIC, Fort’s investigators found CIC watchstanders who “demonstrated a lack of knowledge about radar functionality and material condition.”

Although the Fitz’s SPS-67 radar was listed as operational on the eve of the collision, it had actually fallen into a “degraded status,” according to the report.

CIC watchstanders couldn’t use their remote control to guide it because it also was broken.

A dead radar control button had been “covered by a piece of masking tape,” but Fort’s investigators couldn’t locate a casualty report chronicling the malfunction.

A work order had been generated to order, install and test new control buttons.

That was 194 days before the collision, Fort found.

And that long delay was far from unusual on board the Fitz.

Fort’s investigators interviewed a watchstander who told them that a SPA-25G radar console had been broken for at least four months before the collision.

Then there was the ship’s Voyage Management System.

Used to navigate the destroyer without relying on paper charts, the Fitz’s VMS [Voyage Management System] - critical aid to safe and timely navigation - was so freighted with problems that technicians cannibalized the set in the CO's quarters for parts to keep the system running. One of the major 'machine' inputs into the VMS and AIS [Automatic Identification System] was the GPS Plot [Global Positioning System]. If, as stated, the ships seamanship and understanding of the rules of the road were virtually non existent, how then, if their on board GPS was a contributory reason for navigation failure, could we have expected bridge staff to use tools like sextants, horizontally or vertically and compasses for azimuth bearings to obtain a fix, which could have been applied to a sea chart carried for that emergency event.  

But the Fitz’s VMS [Vessel Monitoring System] had started acting up while the destroyer was in dry dock in 2016 and early 2017, Fort found. The bridge unit would lock up and take several minutes to reset.

Technicians were supposed to peek at it in April of 2017 but “that visit was cancelled due to FTZ’s schedule change requiring the ship to be underway,” Fort wrote.

A “Bright Bridge” console also was listed as operational before the ACX Crystal accident.

But like the VMS, one console had been cannibalized for parts to fix another console and no casualty report was found for any of that, the report states.

A work order repair number, however, had been generated — 135 days before the collision, Fort found.

The inside of the destroyer Fitzgerald after it collided with a merchant vessel on June 17, 2017, killing seven sailors. (U.S. Navy photo)
The inside of the destroyer Fitzgerald after it collided with a merchant vessel on June 17, 2017, killing seven sailors. (U.S. Navy photo)

The ‘ghost in the machine’

On the night of the ACX Crystal disaster, the SPS-67 radar seemed plagued with gremlins but no one was available to fix it and sailors didn’t talk to each other about the electronic “clutter” they watched on the display, according to Fort’s report.

Beyond talking to each other inside the CIC or conversing with the bridge during their watch, the sailors there also had “zero communication” with other onboard departments for vital tasks like turning the radar, Fort later testified.

“Most of these folks we interviewed were not even aware that the radar-set controller was out of commission or what functionality they did or did not have, or what ability they had to even control it,” he said.

While the crew could’ve turned to an auto-track feature on the SPS-67 radar, they didn’t use it “because they ‘don’t want to mess it up,’” the report states.

“It was generally accepted that using the auto-tracking feature caused problems with the radar, and so it was just turned off,” Fort added during the hearing. “And folks accepted that.”

That’s why a CIC petty officer worked in manual mode, punching a button 1,000 times in an hour just to track four of five vessels, when the radar could’ve auto-tracked 50 contacts for him, Fort testified.

“That’s a lot of activity, but it’s not really what I would call vigilant activity,” Fort said.

Fort’s report found that other sailors barely fathomed the rudiments of radar.

“One watchstander said he has routinely seen the radars poorly adjusted to the point that visible targets would not show up,” Fort wrote. “One watchstander stated seeing other watchstanders seek out (a supervisor) for help on radar tuning, and receiving the response, ‘do it how you like it.’”

Electronic technicians said users reported problems that really were just operator errors.

“Another watchstander called to complain that the radar was not acquiring targets, when in fact the watchstander did not know what actions were necessary to acquire a target,” Fort wrote. “Watchstanders will use the rain adjustment features when there is no rain.”

At last year’s hearing, Lt. Cmdr. Ritarsha Furqan, a former Fitz officer who left the ship before the collision, attributed some bugs in the SPS-67’s auto-tracking system to “a ghost in the machine.”

But she said when the Fitzgerald got back to port in Japan, technicians couldn’t replicate the problems and it was never fixed.

The warship Fitzgerald suffered catastrophic damage both below the water and above it, where the ACX Crystal commercial vessel directly struck the skipper's quarters while he slept on June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo)

When photographs can be misleading and suspect. Another picture of the Fitzgerald widely published showing the damage on the Port side instead of the correct side, the Starboard side

The warship Fitzgerald suffered catastrophic damage both below the water and above it, where the ACX Crystal commercial vessel directly struck the skipper's quarters while he slept on June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo)

Shorting out

All of this matters because how the Fitzgerald was described in public reports often doesn’t tell the full story, or at least a fuller version that emerges in the Fort report and the accumulating testimony of investigators and former sailors on the warship.

For example, Navy leaders have publicly stated that the crew was not using the ship’s Automatic Identification System, or AIS, to gather information on nearby vessel traffic.

But Fort determined that Fitz’s sailors avoided the AIS laptop because it constantly crashed. It couldn’t be moved because jostling a cable would short out the array.

Fort found it tucked behind other consoles in the CIC. Onboard technicians had told their shipmates not to budge the laptop “because the cables were sensitive,” he wrote.

Furqan testified that when she served on the Fitz, the AIS had been loaned to the warship so they were limited in the upgrades and maintenance they could perform on it.

“During my tenure, the laptop failed at least once so we had to…wait for a new laptop to be mailed out to us,” Furqan said. “It would periodically lock up, and we would be unable to unlock it even with the correct password, so we’d have to reboot the entire laptop and try again.”

A division has developed within the Navy over what all this means when it comes to finding fault and dispensing justice.

Fort’s testimony and his report often seem to be grappling with how to parse out the blame.

When should shipboard leaders be held to account for failures? How much can those failures be ascribed to bad superiors on board the Fitz, at the destroyer squadron and 7th Fleet, even higher up the chain of command?

There are real world consequences for these distinctions.

Lt. Natalie Combs, the senior CIC officer during the collision, “was derelict in the performance of her duties,” Fort’s report states.

But Cmdr. Anthony Johnson, the investigating officer presiding over her Article 32 hearing, heard the same evidence and recommended that she skip court-martial proceedings and go instead to a board of inquiry to determine if she should remain on duty.

Johnson was overruled by Adm. James Caldwell, the Navy’s Consolidated Disposition Authority in charge of meting out justice in the Fitzgerald and McCain cases.

Her trial is stated to start Feb. 25 2018

 I am not privy as to the outcome of these courts martials although note the comment about handling things with a PC approach, and the women officers did not come out of it well, indeed, not many of the complement did, for various reasons. The CO was sacked and many careers were blighted even terminated. It was known that the ships was well maintained dockyard-wise with several scheduled refits and updates during her long life to that point. Note the regular mention of the failure of the AIS system which I have covered  in great detail [See EPRIB H above], and how it was switched off and also its controlling laptop was ignored and unused. The AIS system had inputs from several radars and sensors which together with other equipment  formed the ships VMS system designed to navigate safely in congested seaways in all weathers tides, currents and winds. That it didn't work and moreover few knew how conventional radar would have at least displayed each and every target, allowing manual CPA [closest point of approach] calculations to be used. The filthy state of the ship especially in the CPC, the gross incompetence of the OOD at the time of the collision, a very young, inexperienced and tenderfoot  Lieutenant J G [junior grade or a sub lieutenant in our naval speak] and she must have been absolutely petrified, and the captain, fast asleep in his cabin in a known busy seaway when his place should have been as a sounding-board dishing out advice and orders, giving confidence to his bridge staff and a great morale booster. That he just about lost his life nearly falling overboard was saved by brave  diligent crew members and then casevaced by helicopter to hospital, and there is something to be cheered, and that is the act of HQ1 in rapidly shutting watertight compartments and the skill of the damage control teams who alone obviously didn't panic, thereby saving the guided missile destroyer, a fine ship but ill-disciplined, with up to 50% CJC defects, some of them serious, but nothing is mentioned to say that other departments on the ship were as dysfunctional.  The delay in rectifying these electronic defects cannot surely be blamed on the radio electricians aboard, for I am sure the cannibalisation was ordered, even necessary given the situation and that A&A 's [alterations and additions] almost certainly would have required dockyard assistance under a scheme we have [and I am sure the USN has] called an AMP [assisted maintenance period] or a DED [docking and essential defects] which Fitzgerald's severe defects would have warranted.  Clearly, as you will read, the commitment of the US 7th fleet [their Far East fleet] was so heavy, that a booking date was probably not possible! Unbelievably,  the admiral in command of the 7th fleet also paid the price {?} and was sacked, the first flag officer to be so in USN history.

The end of a terrible cock-up ended in seven young people drowning by a huge ingress of water,  many others being discharged from the navy and the loss of a fine ship for the 7th fleet whilst away in the States being repaired. It traumatised a great number on board, several I expect thereafter asked for a voluntary discharge from the navy.  What I don't have to hand is why the operators/owners of the Crystal paid $27M. Might it have been proved that the master of the vessel  broke the rule of the road and caused or part caused the collision, although why would the navy come on so strong with its courts marshals of the warship if the merchant ship was at fault? As you will read, the navy came on heavy against the Fitzgerald holding it to account for total inertia of the bridge staff, leaderless by the absence of the CO throughout the collision and the build up to it.  Vice Chief of the Navy Admiral William Moran told CNN that the CO, the executive officer [XO] and the senior non-commissioned officer had been removed from their positions and won't be coming back. We have lost trust and confidence in their ability to lead; others will also leave! In a moment I will show you my movie taken from an old -2017 - CNN Clip.

That the collision could so easily have ended in a sinking threatening the whole complement, but that it didn't, is credit to the crew. On arrival back in its Japanese base it was inspected and declared a part write-off requiring major hull structural repairs, and the 're-build' could only be done back home in the States. The USN called forth a transporter ship to give it a piggy back ride all the way to Mississippi to its repair facility in the Gulf of Mexico, a trip through the Panama Canal. 

Washington.  The USS Fitzgerald, a Navy destroyer that was damaged in June 2017 after a deadly collision with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan, suffered two punctures to its hull on Sunday while being loaded onto a transport ship destined for the US, according to the service.

Already crippled as a result of the June 17 collision that killed seven US sailors, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer was headed to Mississippi for repairs but was forced to return to its home port in Yokosuka, Japan, when it sustained additional damage in an incident involving a heavy lift transport vessel called the Transshelf.

We in the Royal Navy will remember the destroyer HMS Nottingham, which collided with an underwater obstacle 'Wolf Rock ' 370 miles off Australian east coast 7th July 2002 and was badly and severely holed, having to be transported back to Portsmouth UK  in a similar ship to that below,  for major repairs to its hull and fittings. 

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald is loaded onto heavy lift transport MV Transshelf last week off Yokosuka, Japan.




The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald is loaded onto heavy lift transport MV Transshelf last week off Yokosuka, Japan. Looking at this picture, the damage to the starboard side looks minimal.



"Fitzgerald returned to repair two punctures in her hull caused by the heavy lift vessel's steel support structure during on load at anchorage," the US Navy 7th Fleet said in a statement.



"Repairs are expected to extend the on load process by a few days, after which Transshelf will transport Fitzgerald to Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi, for further repairs and upgrades," the statement said.




The warship was towed to deep water last week to begin the loading process while en route back to the US for repairs,  after the collision earlier in 2017 caused significant damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline.



The 7th Fleet was seemingly under great stress coping with a vast number of operations covering much of the humongous sea areas of all parts of the Far East including China's theft of part of the China Sea which is now a fortified base of great consequence and concern  to the area, and if President Trump has curtailed, to his credit, the hitherto wild ambitions of the North Korean leader Kim Johg-Un, China's ambitions are probably the next great challenge to world peace and a prime target for the US President's wrath. In trying to achieve that challenge the Commander of the 7th fleet had reportedly cut corners on procedures [ashore and afloat] and within 2017 two of his most sophisticated destroyers, the Fitzgerald and the McCain had had collisions with merchant ships.


These resulted in 17 US sailors dead and the two warships needing hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs.


The accidents, off Japan and Singapore respectively, also left the Navy wondering how two of the most sophisticated ships on the seas couldn't even navigate crowded shipping lanes.

In total, the 7th Fleet has clocked up five major non-combat incidents in 2017 involving ships and an additional two involving aircraft, including a crash in the Philippine Sea of a plane taking personnel to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.




A US Government Accountability Office report from September 2017 warned that lengthy deployments of US ships based in Japan as both the Fitzgerald and McCain had been at the time of their collisions,  often result in key training requirements being neglected due to the demands of operational duties, something the report describes as a "problem."

Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee as part of an investigation into the series of fatal crashes and collisions at sea, the Navy's No. 2 officer, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran, said the Navy is trying to do too much with too little.


"We continue to have a supply-and-demand problem which is placing a heavy strain on the force," said Moran.
The Navy has launched multiple investigations, a safety pause, and reviews in the wake of the recent accidents.
The service has also taken several personnel actions, including sacking the commanders of the Fitzgerald and the McCain, several other senior officers, as well as the commander of 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the first time a fleet commander has been relieved of duty in the history of the US Navy.

Both the deadly summer collisions were 'avoidable'

The Navy's internal report on the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions, released in early November 2017, said cutting corners to meet demands on 7th Fleet ships had become the norm.

"The risks that were taken in the Western Pacific accumulated over time, and did so insidiously," the report said. "The dynamic environment normalized to the point where individuals and groups of individuals could no longer recognise that the processes in place to identify and assess readiness were no longer working at the ship and headquarters level."


And now for a video clip which I have taken from an old CCN News Clip which reveals something quite ironic. The following points should be noted before or whilst viewing my media clip.

1.     It is know from Rear Admiral Brian Fort's personal visit to the ship shortly after it arrived with an undesirable list in its Japanese Base, where he sees and tells us about the chaotic and defunct CIC, told to you near the  beginning of this story. Because of that the Fitzgerald was virtually blind to ships using the same seaway, but now we know that the radio room was wrecked in the collision so all external communications were lost and she couldn't alert the shore authorities of her plight to assist in the fight to save the ship from sinking. Compounding that fact was that the Containers Carrier waited a full hour before she reported it.

2.     The video shows the commander of the 7th fleet and he was the first Flag Officer in USN history to be fired after the losing two of his ships. He was Vice Admiral Aucoin - a hapless officer doing his duty, trying continuously  to get a quart out of a Federally given pint pot!

3.    Manifestly the the IMO rules and the ITU rules, largely equipment- based were not applicable to USS Fitzgerald - callsign NFTZ.

4.      The video has shown the ACX Crystal's gross tonnage straight from the book as 29,000 tons. That is the weight or more correctly its carrying capacity, so to that figure has to be added its cargo which I have shown you is 2868 TEU's weighing in at  36,150 tons, giving the vessel a package of 29,000 plus 36,150 tons = 65,150 tons.

5.     In the video we see a single male parent briefly interviewed about the loss of his son and a fireman about the loss of a former fireman in his division. The parent, a handsome coloured man
, is also filmed at the funeral of his son but it is too personable and harrowing to show in this story. He laments heavily that he will never be a grandfather.


AND NOW TO THE VIDEO

   

 USS FITZGERALD  DEAD AND RAMIFICATIONS.wmv R A M being the operative word