Japan investigates delay in reporting US Navy ship collision

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Japan US Navy Collision - Japan investigates delay in reporting US Navy ship collision
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on Saturday, June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The ships collided about early Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.(Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO/June 19, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Japan’s coast guard is investigating why it took nearly an hour for a deadly collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a container ship to be reported.

A coast guard official said Monday they are trying to find out what the crew of the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal was doing before reporting the collision to authorities 50 minutes later.

The coast guard initially said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. on Saturday because the Philippine ship had reported it at 2:25 a.m. and said it just happened. After interviewing Filipino crewmembers, the coast guard has changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.
The ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald off Japan’s coast, killing seven of the destroyer’s crew of nearly 300.

A track of the container ship’s route by MarineTraffic, a vessel-tracking service, shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision.

Coast guard official Tetsuya Tanaka said they are trying to resolve what happened during the 50 minutes.

He said officials are planning to get hold of a device with communication records to examine further details of the crash. Japan’s Transport Safety Board also started an accident investigation Monday.

Nanami Meguro, a spokeswoman for NYK Line, the ship’s operator, agreed with the revised timing of the collision.

Meguro said the ship was “operating as usual” until the collision at 1:30 a.m., as shown on a ship tracking service that the company uses. She said the ship reported to the coast guard at 2:25 a.m., but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for nearly an hour.

“Because it was in an emergency, the crew-members may not have been able to place a call,” she said.

Coast guard officials are investigating the case as possible professional negligence, but no criminal charges have been pressed so far.

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By MARI YAMAGUCHI , Associated Press
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Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this story.