USS Fitzgerald “Cloaked” and Unidentifiable to ACX Crystal at Time of Collision; 7 Sailors Sacrificed By Panicked Commanders of Fitzgerald

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)

ACX Crystal as she appeared on 13 Nov 2012. Credit: mgklingsick@aol.com via vesselfinder.com

 

The bourgeois press of the United States has been characterizing the bizarre collision at sea last month between an advanced US Navy destroyer and a 730-foot-long container ship as a result of human error – on the side of the cargo ship, of course – claiming that the cargo ship was running on autopilot at the time of the collision.  The seemingly inexplicable collision of the two ships – the Navy’s modern 505-foot-long $1.5 billion-dollar Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62)  and the 730-foot-long container ship  MV ACX Crystal  while operating in busy shipping lanes “about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan” at approximately 1:30 AM Japan time on June 17th – has naval experts around the world scratching their heads trying to figure out how such an incident could happen.

A Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, damaged by colliding with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, is seen off Izu Oshima island, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo June 17, 2017. Credit: Kyodo/via REUTERS

View of stateroom of USS Fitzgerald’s Commander Bryce Benson after the collision w ACX Crystal.   Credit: Photographer unknown

Multiple reports from international news agencies as well as from the captain of the cargo ship himself indicate that the US Navy version of how the accident occurred is a tissue of lies; that in fact he was on the bridge at the time of the collision cargo; that his ship had the right-of-way; and that he and his crew frantically tried to signal the USS Fitzgerald right up to the time of the collision. More importantly, it appears that the Fitzgerald’s second-in-command who was in charge of navigation of the ship at the time of collision (the captain inexplicably never left his stateroom to take command of the ship as the ACX Crystal approached on a collision course) appears to have panicked, and in a tragic decision to prevent what he or she believed to be the imminent sinking of the Fitzgerald – ordered the bulkhead doors locked – behind which 6 injured Navy sailors and one rescuer were desperately fighting for their lives. It was this decision that sealed their fate.

So once again it looks like the US military’s first impulse when responding to a scandal involving the deaths of US military personnel is to lie and lie again. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has paid any attention to the many blatant lies told by all branches of the US military for as long as it has existed. Their policy is to initially put out a self-serving exculpatory account of any incident involving US forces, only to later modify, and re-modify and retract and then finally months or years later to finally lie again that the original story was not an outright lie, but a result of honest mistakes under time pressure and pressure from the press and families of the victims to say something – which, for some strange reason always results in a monstrous lie being told initially. From the phony propaganda story about how Pat Tillman met his death, to the fake “rescue” of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, to the endless cover-ups of mass murders of civilians in Vietnam, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and so many other places – the first instinct of the US military is always to lie to cover up their crimes.  And the USS Fitzgerald incident is shaping up to be just like all the others.

It is widely understood – by people in the US Navy, veterans and commercial ship captains alike – that the Fitzgerald must have been at fault for a number of reasons.  First of all, according to reports of US Navy and commercial shipping professionals,  standard navigational practices require any ship overtaking another ship from the starboard side while both ships are in motion – as the ACX Crystal was doing when it approached the Fitzgerald – has the right of way, and it is incumbent upon the ship being passed to “give way” to the other ship.

Secondly, it is obvious that the much smaller and agile Fitzgerald – equipped as she is with all manner of advanced radar and navigational instruments – should not only have detected the Crystal but should have had plenty of time to maneuver out of the way of the much larger and less maneuverable vessel.  For just these two reasons alone it appeared to almost all observers that the incident was well-nigh unexplainable.

YOKOSUKA, Japan (July 11, 2017) – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel.  (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor/Released by FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office)

YOKOSUKA, Japan (July 11, 2017) – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands and 26,000 military and civilian personnel. (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor/Released by FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office)

However, our research into this incident has revealed a widely known “secret” about how US Navy vessels routinely operate in international waters that most likely goes a long way toward explaining why the collision – which cost 7 US sailors their lives, injured several others more or less severely and almost led to the complete loss of the $1.5 billion warship – occurred: it is the common experience of commercial ship captains that the US Navy has a policy of running their ships “incognito”; they routinely turn off their “Automated Identification System” (AIS) transponders that identify US Navy ships to other vessels so as to “cloak” their identity from enemy naval vessels – which also makes it impossible for commercial ships to identify and establish direct radio communication with US Navy vessels when they operate in close quarters on the busy sea lanes of the world.   Instead of the captain of the ACX Crystal seeing on his radar the “USS Fitzgerald” – all he saw – if anything – was an unidentifiable blip. And when he and his crew tried frantically to signal the Fitzgerald using lights he was unable to do so.  This fact is borne out by the captured AIS tracks of the ACX Crystal and all the other commercial ships in the area of the collision at the time: the USS Fitzgerald never reveals its location – even an hour after the collision, when the commanding staff of the Fitzgerald apparently believed that the ship was in such serious danger of sinking that they ordered the locking of the bulkhead doors leading to the berths where 7 sailors were desperately fighting for their lives.

We discovered this “open secret” by reading the discussion that followed an article on the incident which was published on the public website of the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).  The very interesting discussion on the pages of the USNI website demonstrate to us that, to US Navy veterans of all ranks, this incident is a a case of egregious error largely on the part of the officers in charge – not of the Crystal, as the US bourgeois press would have us understand – but of the Fitzgerald.

The first two responses to the June 24 USNI article “Navy Names Former Destroyer Commander to Lead USS Fitzgerald Collision Investigation” by Sam LaGrone set the tone:

“NavySubNuke” leads off with: “There are a number of questions to be answered here – in my mind chief among them is how the Crystal got so close to the ship and yet the CO was still in his rack [in bed – IWPCHI] . That seems to suggest that the bridge team never viewed themselves as being in distress – at least until the collision occurred.”

The very next comment, responding to the first, by “OldSaltUSNR” replies: “Yep, agreed. It’s not that errors don’t occur, or perhaps in this case, a ‘forced error’ due to the unprofessional navigation of the Crystal, but REDUNDANCY should have prevented this. If you want to ask yourself ‘why didn’t the look out see the cargo ship’s navigation lights bearing down the the ship’, there’s are several understandable explanations for that. If you ask ‘why didn’t the technology detect and warn the Fitz’s bridge crew?’ Things happen there too, e.g. radar clutter, weather, mechanical problems, etc.. But there are also two bridge watchstanders (OOD/JOOD), and CIC tracking contacts. How in the world did all of these redundant systems and procedures fail? New, ‘stealth’ Cargo ships? I agree that they likely never knew it was coming, knew that it was anywhere nearby. I don’t know what the standing orders were, but 2.0NM [NM = nautical mile, equivalent to 1852 meters or 1.1508 statute miles – IWPCHI] to 5NM would be a common distance a Navy C.O. would allow any vessel to approach his ship without being notified. He would have likely been on the bridge if they knew this ship was near and CBDR.” [“Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range”: i.e. on a potential collision course – IWPCHI]

MarlinSpikeMate responds: “’due to the unprofessional navigation of the Crystal’
– Based on what? She collided at the 1630 (UTC) mark, and appears to have made a hard right turn and slowing according to AIS track, eventually to return to the area. A look at the live AIS recording over other traffic further clears up the following courses after the collision. They turn slightly to starboard to go around the Bai Chay Bridge. They wait for Kiso3 to clear their path and then turn 180 around the Bai Chay Bridge and return to the area of the collision. This is no secret or speculation, but observable via the Terr-AIS tracker.
1619 – 1627: SPD: ~18.4kts, Course: 070.
1630 (UTC): SPD: 17.3kts, Course: 088 (APRX Time of IMPACT)
1633: SPD: 11.2kts, Course: 135”

OldSaltUSNR then responds: “Based upon the likely fact that the bridge was unoccupied and the ship on autopilot until at least 30 minutes AFTER the collision in a busy sea lane in the middle of the night, and based on the conjecture that the Crystal was overtaking from abaft the starboard side. Regardless of where it’s plot puts that ship at crossing, it’s STILL burdened, and simply moving to starboard does not make it the privileged vessel. Both vessels, in fact, were equally burdened to avoid collision once they became CBDR, but the Crystal ‘iron mike’ is likely not programmed to understand all of this, which is why the cargo ship is supposed to have a bridge crew 24/7. This isn’t all that speculative, and will be borne out in the investigation – guaranteed. The Fitz’s bridge crew and C.O. will still pay the price for not detecting and avoiding the ‘navigational hazard’, which is what the Crystal for all intents and purposes, was in that shipping channel.”

Then MarlinSpikeMate drops the bomb: “I will address some of these issues but it seems to me you are trying to push a certain narrative of the ACX without much evidence.
“‘likely fact that the bridge was unoccupied’?
“- The evidence would point to the contrary, with the immediately slow down and course change at and immediately following the collision. In fact, I would say this proofs that narrative false. Being both a merchant officer and surface warfare officer, I can tell you that it is extremely unlikely the bridge was unoccupied on the ACX, just as it is extremely unlikely the bridge team on the Fitzgerald was sleeping on watch. I presume you base your reasoning from the 30minutes turn around time, but watch the AIS overlay, and you will see the reason for the track after the collision, as I iterated above.
“When the USS Porter was found almost 100% at fault, the tanker that it collided with did not turn around after it tried to avoid the collision. Why? What assistance did the warship need that a lumbering tanker could provide. If the ship was floundering, sure. But this is not the case in either. Certainly turning around wasn’t the first priority on the ACX Chrystal, as tanks and voids were sounded, and the situation assessed. How do we know this just isn’t another Porter incident? The location of the collision on the STBD side is almost identical. Maybe a BRM breakdown on the Fitzgerald. The ACX was traveling in a strait line for at least an hour before the collision.
“’Regardless of where it’s plot puts that ship at crossing, it’s STILL burdened, and simply moving to starboard does not make it the privileged vessel’
“- Not true, and it all depends on the warships track. It very well could be a crossing situation, placing the blame on the Fitzgerald, but we don’t know their track.
“’Crystal “iron mike” is likely not programmed to understand all of this, which is why the cargo ship is supposed to have a bridge crew 24/7. This isn’t all that speculative, and will be borne out in the investigation – guaranteed.’
“- Not sure you fully understanding ‘iron mike’ auto-pilot and auto-track. All iron mike does is keep the ships heading on a course that you tell it too, just like a helmsman. Without constant adjusting, the ship will not follow the track to make good its needed COG. Iron mike is a helmsman, and thats it. It must have a bridge team to keep it on track. Many warships today use iron mike regularly, such as LCS and Zumwalt. Of course it is not ‘programmed to understand all of this’. It simply steers a course.”
You never can be sure if people identify themselves honestly on discussion boards on any website; but obviously, these writers at the very least are well-versed in naval jargon and standard operating procedures; it would appear to us that they are, in fact, US Navy and commercial shipping vets with decades of combined experience at sea.

This last comment seems to put more than a few dents in the US Navy’s initial lie that the ASX Crystal’s captain was at fault for having no one on the bridge at the time of the collision. This Big Lie pushed by the US Navy is further expounded upon in this 21 June USNI article, also by Sam LeGrone: https://news.usni.org/2017/06/21/investigators-believe-uss-fitzgerald-crew-fought-flooding-for-an-hour-before-distress-call-reached-help
“Investigators now think Crystal was transiting to Tokyo on autopilot with an inattentive or asleep crew when the merchant vessel struck a glancing blow on the destroyer’s starboard side at about 1:30 AM local time on Friday. When the crew of Crystal realized they had hit something, the ship performed a U-turn in the shipping lane and sped back to the initial site of the collision at 18 knots, discovered Fitzgerald, and radioed a distress call to authorities at about 2:30 AM. U.S. Navy officials initially said the collision occurred at around the time of the distress call at 2:30 AM.”
The comments on this article are illuminating as well:
Topnife: “The Navy hasn’t admitted a lot of things about this collision yet:
>> The Fitz was the burdened vessel, according to all the descriptions. It was obliged to keep out of the other ship’s way. How did an Aegis warship maneuver in front of another vessel, against all the rules-of-the-road, with all her radars blazing and a CIC calculating closest point of approach every few seconds.
>> The Fitz’ CO was asleep in his stateroom, right behind the bridge, when the collision occurred! Why had he not been called to the bridge?
>> No word so far, if GQ was called, or a Collision Alarm was sounded. A collision warning might have allowed 7 dead sailors to wake up breathing air, rather than water.
>> Being run down by a 40,000 ton ship should not have been a total surprise to the OOD and bridge watch, or the CIC of a Aegis ship either. No way that someone would not notice a huge ship bearing down on them, even if only for 30 seconds or less, unless someone was asleep on watch.
>> It’s astonishing that all communications assets would be concentrated in just one area of the ship, such that the ship would have been rendered completely silent by a single “hit”.
>> That ship looks “bent”. The damage extended virtually to the keel, and a 40,000 ton ship rode up over it and bore down. Have a look at the pix: the line of the hull is visibly bent. Scratch one DDG.
>> What is happening to the Navy that I love???”
JohnnyG > Topnife
“I quite agree with your estimation of events concerning this tragic collision. Aegis radar touts 360 degree coverage. During normal Ops. “situational awareness” should not be a problem underway. During ANY closing or confrontational situation, the CO must be informed as per SOP. So, what happened?? The other ship had it’s own points of interest in that it’s bridge probably was not manned or had incompetent personnel on watch.”
Kapena16 > Johnny G:
“You’re a fool to make such a comment with no grounds or evidence to know this was the case. Cultivating the idea that civilian ships run around in a high density ship traffic area off the coast of Japan at night like a bunch of mindless robots all by themselves is utter BS and you should know better than to make such a claim. I don’t care how many years in the Navy you MAY have served, even if on the bridge, even if you were qualified OOD. To think this was the case is utter nonsense and you owe a lot more respect to civilian licensed watch standing officers everywhere. News reports today confirm that Captain of the cargo ship says they were attempting to signal and warm the navy ship off. The Navy ship is at fault. Deal with that reality.”

Kapena16 is likely referring to the 26 June Reuters article that broke the story on the first reported account of the incident from the ASX Crystal’s captain:

“Exclusive: U.S. warship stayed on deadly collision course despite warning – container ship captain”
“TOKYO (Reuters) – A U.S. warship struck by a container vessel in Japanese waters failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action before a collision that killed seven of its crew, according to a report of the incident by the Philippine cargo ship’s captain:
[…]
“The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula’s report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters.
“The U.S. Navy declined to comment and Reuters was not able to independently verify the account.” [Emphasis IWPCHI].

But then Kapena16 reveals something else that has gone completely unreported – so far as we know – in the US press: that the Fitzgerald had turned off its AIS and was invisible to the ASX Crystal’s captain and crew at the time of the collision!
“I’ve long since been offended by those (and there are many of them) that make the general claim that the CRYSTAL’s bridge was unmanned or crew was all asleep and the ship was on iron mike or autopilot.
“This commentary follows with the presumption that…”This is a discussion of the facts as we know them, amongst experienced mariners….”
[…]
“We don’t know the all facts… yet. We don’t know squat about the activities aboard the FITZ because the Navy is keeping a tight clamp on their information. We already do know the “statement of facts” made by the vessel Master of the CRYSTAL and, in spite of his recorded statement and his AIS track details and general info the Japanese authorities have released, there are still those who allege the CRYSTAL crew was asleep.
“This allegation is based on pure speculation by (mostly) non-bridge watch standing deck officer qualified individuals who have (likely) zero experience aboard civilian cargo ships. Especially in this area of operation.
“It’s no surprise that commentary on this board leans heavily towards defending the FITZ and laying blame on the CRYSTAL and using the autopilot and being asleep as the primary cause of the collision and burden placed on CRYSTAL crew. No surprise.
“Other boards that are found on primarily civilian maritime industry websites and publications, readers weigh in the opposite direction, blaming the Navy. This would be expected as many (most) of those comments are from mariners with personal experiences at sea with situations involving their own ships and navy ships. So their thought process is obvious.
“Last word…the Navy needs to seriously review their policy of using AIS transponders. The idea that you are ‘cloaking’ your own ship and hiding it from foreign bad guys by simply turning off your AIS (transmit mode), but still using the info gained from it to assist your own bridge team…that thinking is criminal. The families of dead sailors should be looking at this if for no other reason to persuade the Admirals to rethink this policy. I’m not advocating lawsuits and money. I’m an advocate of prevention of real stupid thinking. [IWPCHI emphasis]
“Foreign entities monitor ship movement by simply anchoring their fishing boats outside Yokosuka and watching you guys come and go in broad daylight. Then , technology takes over and satellites overhead of places like Norfolk, Pearl Harbor, and elsewhere are keeping tabs on where you are and what you are doing. We do it. I assume they do it, too.
“Transmitting a basic name (you could use an “alias name” even!) and speed and course (nothing else) would be far better than running around at night (and reduced visibility by day) with no ID to assist other ships that see you, in collision avoidance.
“If nothing else, the collision of the FITZ and the CRYSTAL should prove that point. Seven dead US sailors underscore the importance of changing this ludicrous policy by Navy command.”

A video produced by the website  VesselTracker

seems to confirm what Kapena16 says:  it tracks and displays the AIS information broadcast from every commercial ship in the world’s oceans.  It’s recording of the movements of the ACX Crystal and all nearby ships reveals that the USS Fitzgerald did NOT have her AIS transponder on – not at the time of the collision, and at no time after the collision occurred, either!  [The collision occurs at approximately 1:07 into the video]:

Kapena16 has a lot more to say, and US Navy vets generally agree with him:

“A single tool that has been in place several years now that has made a monumental positive difference in the safe navigation of ALL ships at sea is the Automatic Identity System (AIS) Transponder. Its proper use has removed the necessity to call out on VHF 16 that familiar and desperate sound “Vessel on my port bow, this is the vessel on your starboard bow, Come in!” You’ve just grabbed the attention of probably a dozen ships within 20 miles of you, in a ridiculous effort to avoid a collision. It is likely you have established contact with someone you didn’t intend to and now have set up another vessel for a close call. Or a collision. [Emphasis IWPCHI]

“THIS is why the Captain of the CRYSTAL was shining his light towards the FITZ. An attempt to hail on VHF 16 a vessel that should be giving way, is a last ditch desperate measure.”
“However, when done with the definitive information gleaned from using the AIS and being able to call out a ship by her specific name, it certainly makes hailing one another on VHF 16 a completely different effort.
“The Captain of the ACX CRYSTAL did not have that luxury, since the FITZ chose to leave her AIS transmitter turned off. Like most Navy ships.

“However….the FITZ bridge team likely knew and was monitoring the movements of the CRYSTAL (since so many other navy folks have already told us in numerous commentaries all over the internet) on an AIS screen on her bridge. The Navy chooses to use the AIS system to see others, but NOT reveal her own presence.

“I find it fascinating that the US Navy leadership condones this practice of selective use of the AIS system, under the circumstances that confronted the FITZ that night. In other words, its good for the Navy to receive knowledge that helps Navy ships as the Navy deems fit to do so. But is is a bad policy to allow civilian ships around US Navy ships to have information gained from an AIS signal that may help in safe navigation and collision avoidance.

“What?

“The loss of 7 great American sailors, while they slept, is a tragic waste, given the otherwise peaceful, routine transit their ship was on as they headed back to port at Yokosuka. To be clear, there was no military activity happening at the time of the collision, to warrant the FITZ traveling in ‘stealth mode’. I mean really, do you guys genuinely believe turning your AIS off is really going to prevent the Chinese, Russians, and NORKOS from monitoring your ship’s activities???? Never mind the satellites spying from overhead or the fishermen in boats anchored off Yokosuka Harbor watching the daily arrivals and departures in broad daylight. Its incredulous the Navy still thinks this is an effective method of cloaking your ship’s movements.

I cannot help but wonder if the FITZ had been transmitting some basic data on her AIS…her name, course, and speed… that the officer on watch aboard the CRYSTAL could have routinely called her out on VHF 16 and inquired about her intentions and come to a mutual agreement for safe passage. We wouldn’t have seen a collision, we wouldn’t be discussing the matter. The navy ship and the cargo ship would have passed like thousands of others that early morning. Free and clear by each other.
But that didn’t happen.
What will the US Navy’s Admiral’s staff conclude in an honest ‘lessons learned’ review here?”  [Emphasis throughout by IWPCHI]

 

 

The pro-US military press has also downplayed and obscured the fact that the commanders of the Fitzgerald apparently decided that it was more important to save their ship – and thus, perhaps, their careers – than to save the lives of seven sailors.  Seven men were seemingly deliberately sacrificed by the Fitzgerald’s commanders when they ordered the bulkhead doors sealed and locked, trapping the sailors, who were presumably alive at the time, inside the rapidly flooding berths housing them.  One of the seven dead sailors – identified by the New York Times as “Fire Controlman First Class Gary Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio” – had been in the process of rescuing his fellow sailors trapped in that berth when the decision was made to seal the bulkhead doors behind him; he and 6 of his fellow sailors were later found drowned inside the sealed compartment; there are already well-justified calls for him to be awarded medals of honor for his courageous and selfless actions.  According to a USNI article, “Rehm was set to retire from the Navy this summer”.  The NY Times quotes one of Rehm’s grieving family members as saying: ““Something ain’t right about what they’re saying… we got to get to the bottom of this.” [Source: NY Times,  23 June 2017: “Maritime Mystery: Why A US Destroyer Failed to Dodge A Cargo Ship” by Scott Shane]

 

There are investigations of the “accident” being carried out by US, Japanese and Filipino authorities;  however, the US Navy is refusing to cooperate with the investigations being undertaken by the allied states.   The English-language version of the top Japanese bourgeois press newspaper Asahi Shimbun has reported a Reuters story saying that “[t]he United States will likely bar Japanese investigators from interviewing USS Fitzgerald crew manning the guided missile destroyer when it was struck by a cargo ship in Japanese waters killing seven American sailors, a U.S. Navy official said […] the U.S. navy official, who declined to be identified, said warships were afforded sovereign immunity under international law and foreign investigators were not expected to get access to the U.S. crew.”  [Source: Reuters, via Asahi Shimbun,  30 June 2017: “Official: U.S. may bar Japan from interviewing warship crew”]

If this turns out to be the case, it would be just another example of the arrogance of the military forces of US imperialism as they bludgeon their way across the world’s land, sea and airspaces acting as the self-appointed “world’s policemen”.

The tragic death of 7 US sailors due to the obvious incompetence and panic among the commanders of the Fitzgerald is without parallel in “peacetime” US naval operations.  To callously order the deaths of 7 sailors in order to save a ship that was – in hindsight – in no serious danger of sinking is an error of judgment almost beyond comprehension.  This action of the Fitzgerald’s commanding officers, which has barely been alluded to in the propagandistic US press, will undoubtedly be the most serious charge brought against the commanders of the Fitzgerald.

It will be interesting to see how the US Navy investigation handles this extreme case of official incompetence, misconduct and wanton sacrifice of the lives of US Naval personnel.  There are many questions that remain unanswered – or even unasked by the completely housebroken US press. Was there any attempt made by the central command of the US Navy which presumably monitors all world shipping located near US Naval vessels in real-time to warn the Fitzgerald that it had a huge container ship bearing down upon it?  Were they asleep again, as the U.S. Air Force NORAD command was when the 9/11 attacks unfolded?

It has been reported that the collision caused the complete collapse of the communications infrastructure of the Fitzgerald in a manner so severe as to preclude the Fitzgerald’s crew from issuing any kind of distress call! Incredibly, it is the crew of the Crystal that is being pilloried in the press for not reporting the collision until an hour after it occurred.  How is it possible that a modern US Naval vessel could have all of its communications gear destroyed as a result of an impact on just one side of the vessel?  Aren’t these ships supposed to be ready to fight WWIII?  What did the US taxpayers get for their $1.5 billion: a floating joke?  Was the Fitzgerald – which its commanding officers were so sure was in danger of imminent sinking that they sacrificed the lives of seven crewmembers to “save” her – ever able to send even a simple “S.O.S.”?  If they were, neither the Japanese Navy nor any of the many commercial vessels in the area were apparently able to hear it.

We expect the results of the investigation to be the usual exercise in ass-covering by the U.S. Naval brass, throwing the careers of many lower-ranking personnel overboard.  The commander of the Fitzgerald is certain to be cashiered for this  incident – as well he should be – but the policy of allowing US Naval ships to operate in busy shipping lanes with their identities cloaked to all non-US Navy vessels – which either heavily contributed to or was the primary cause of this in the first place – is not a policy created by the Fitzgerald’s skipper but by the top brass of the US Navy.  According to the experienced commercial ship captain Kapena16, that policy has been causing panic among the crews of cargo vessels all over the globe for years.  It is a miracle that more incidents like this one have not occurred.  It appears to us to be largely a tribute to the skill of the world’s commercial shipping captains and their crews that this insane US Navy policy of allowing its vessels to operate “incognito” in international waters has not led to more collisions like this one.  That policy of the US Navy must be rescinded immediately; in a rational world those who have ordered the US Navy’s commanding officers to follow it would be severely punished.  But in the final analysis, only a workers socialist revolution in the USA can takes these weapons of mass destruction out of the blood-soaked hands of the US capitalist class and their often clueless lackeys once and for all.  We look forward also to a post-capitalist world in which the need for imperialist war machines will cease to exist; a world in which they youth of the USA will not be forced to slaughter their fellow workers just to keep a roof over their and their families’  heads and food in their bellies –  or to obtain a college degree.

Capitalism must die so that the working class may live!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

 

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