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Special Report: USS Fitzgerald Collision

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Below is a statement released July 21 by U.S. Navy Chief of Information, Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler on the investigation into the collision:

“We are in the early stages of the investigation process to develop a comprehensive picture of what caused the collision and do not have any definitive information to release at this time. It is premature to speculate on causation or any other issues. Once we have a detailed understanding of the facts and circumstances, we will share those findings with the Fitzgerald families, our Congressional oversight committees and the general public.”

In ALNAV 045/17, Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley ordered the National Ensign to be flown at half-staff in honor of the seven Sailors who died onboard USS Fitzgerald:

The United States Navy and Marine Corps Family continues to mourn the loss of our fellow shipmates. In honor of the seven Sailors who perished onboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) on 17 June 2017, the National Ensign of the United States shall be flown at half-staff from sunrise until sunset on 27 June 2017. As the Fleet strives to work through these trying times, we come together to honor the heroic efforts of our brave Sailors and international partners and support those currently standing the watch.

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Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia. Rigsby was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California. Douglass was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut. Huynh was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas. Hernandez was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California. Sibayan was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland. Martin was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2017) File photo of Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. Rehm was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

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USS Fitzgerald Involved in Collision

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Read more on Navy.mil.

U.S.-Japan SAR Efforts Continue for 7 Missing Fitzgerald Sailors

Search and rescue efforts continue by U.S. and Japanese aircraft and surface vessels in the hopes of recovering seven USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) Sailors.

Read more on Navy.mil.

USS Fitzgerald Returns to Yokosuka

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), aided by tug boats, returned to Yokosuka at 6:15 p.m. June 17.

Approximately 16 hours earlier, it was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. Seven of Fitzgerald’s crew remain missing.

Read more on Navy.mil.

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YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) Sailors watch pier-side as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) Sailors watch pier-side as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

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Good Evening USS Dewey Families and Friends,Early this morning, USS Dewey (DDG 105) was called upon to render immediate…

Posted by USS Dewey (DDG 105) on Saturday, June 17, 2017

Number of USS Fitzgerald Sailors’ Remains Found

A number of Sailors’ remains that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found.

Read more on Navy.mil.

Vice Adm. Aucoin Holds Press Conference about USS Fitzgerald Collision

The following are U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin’s prepared remarks for a press conference held June 18 at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, about the collision of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) with a merchant vessel June 17.

Thanks for coming today.

USS Fitzgerald experienced extensive damage and flooding after a collision with the Filipino container ship at 0220 local time, 17 June, approx. 56 nm off the coast of Honshu, Japan.

The damage included a significant impact under the ship’s pilothouse on the starboard side and a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea.

The ship suffered severe damage rapidly flooding three large compartments that included one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew. The commanding officer’s cabin was also directly hit, trapping the CO inside.

The crew’s response was swift and effective, and I want to point out – as we stand by the ship – how proud I am of them.

Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading which could have caused the ship to founder or sink. It could have been much worse.

The crew navigated the ship into one of the busiest ports in the world with a magnetic compass and backup navigation equipment. One of two shafts were locked.

Because of the tireless damage control efforts of a resolute and courageous team, the ship was able to make its way back to port safely on its own power last evening.

The Fitzgerald crew responded professionally as all Sailors are expected to fight the damage sustained to their ship. They are known as the “Fighting Fitz” and the crew lived up to that name.

We owe it to our families and the Navy to understand what happened. Under my authority, I am initiating a JAGMAN investigation into this collision, and I will appoint a flag officer to lead that investigation. There will also be a safety investigation.

The U.S. Coast Guard is to take the lead on the marine casualty investigation.

We recognize that there are other organizations who have equities in this incident, and we expect they will conduct their own separate investigations. More information on any further investigations will be forthcoming.

I will not speculate on how long these investigations will last.

As you are aware, we have found the remains of a number of our missing shipmates. Our deepest sympathies are with the families of these Sailors.

Out of concern for the families and the notification process, I will decline to state how many we have found at this time. We owe that to the families and friends of these shipmates and hope you can respect this process.

We will update you after all notifications have been made.

We have transferred remains to Naval Hospital Yokosuka. The families are being notified and will be provided the support they need at this difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts are prayers.

Their loved ones are what makes this Navy great, so this loss is something we all do feel. The names of the deceased will be released soon.

Unfortunately we don’t have the details regarding the conditions during their final moments, but hope that the investigation may shed some light on that matter.

At the same time, I want to express my most heartfelt appreciation to our Japanese allies for their swift support and assistance.

Japanese Coast Guard ships and helicopters were the first on scene and our first medevac, the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was accomplished thanks to a JMSDF helicopter.

A second medevac was performed for two Sailors with minor injuries. All three patients are alert and under observation at Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

We set up a USS Fitzgerald Emergency Family Assistance Center within hours, and disseminated the phone numbers to their hotlines through social media and Navy websites.

This support center remains open for chaplain and counselor care indefinitely, 24/7, on the Fleet and Family Support Center’s 4th floor.

But to be clear: my sole focus now has shifted to helping the grieving family, crew and friends of the Fitzgerald.

The Navy family comes together during a tragedy, and I want to thank the entire Yokosuka community rallying their support in these difficult days. Fellow Sailors, family members and civilian members of the Navy team were all out here last night to welcome Fitzgerald home and provide the crew and grieving families with food, blankets, clothes and emotional support. MWR, Port Operations, NEX, USO, the Chief Petty Officer Mess and many others pulled together to help out.

I ask all of you to keep the affected families in your thoughts and prayers, and respect their privacy as we work to get them the answers they deserve regarding their loved ones.

Editor’s note: These remarks are also posted on Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet’s website.

U.S. Navy Identifies 7 Deceased Fitzgerald Sailors
The remains of seven Sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces, June 18, that were damaged when USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.

Read more on Navy.mil.

Statement from Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley

We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates as a result of Friday’s collision between USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

Read more on Navy.mil.

CNO Adm. John Richardson Statement on Recent Trip to Japan

On Tuesday [June 20], MCPON (Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy) and I visited Japan where we attended the outbound dignified transfer of our seven fallen shipmates and spent time with [USS] Fitzgerald Sailors and families.

Read more on Navy.mil.

Navy Identifies Lead for USS Fitzgerald JAGMAN Investigation

The Navy has identified Rear Adm. (lower half) Brian Fort as lead for the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) investigation being conducted pursuant to the Manual of the Judge Advocate General (JAGMAN) to gather evidence.

Read more on Navy.mil

Fleet Activities Yokosuka Honors USS Fitzgerald

The Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka community showed their respect to the families and crew of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) during a memorial ceremony June 27, for the seven Sailors who died tragically June 17 when their ship collided with a merchant vessel southwest of Yokosuka.

Read more on Navy.mil

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YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Family, friends and shipmates attend a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Family, friends and shipmates attend a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks during a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks during a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Sailors fold seven American flags during a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Sailors fold seven American flags during a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka honoring the seven Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) fold American flags during a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka for their seven shipmates who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 27, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) fold American flags during a memorial ceremony at Fleet Activities Yokosuka for their seven shipmates who were killed in a collision at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

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