Published: Mon, August 21, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

USS Fitzgerald Commander Dismissed Over Deadly June Collision

USS Fitzgerald Commander Dismissed Over Deadly June Collision

The Navy relieved the USS Fitzgerald's two senior officers and a senior enlisted sailor Friday and held a slew of officer and enlisted watch standers accountable for the deadly June 17 collision between the destroyer and a merchant ship.

On the cause of the accident, which left seven crewmen of the destroyer dead, Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations, told a news conference, "We don't know yet whether the Fitzgerald is exclusively responsible", while noting that mistakes were made by crew members of the ship.

The collision occurred in June off the coast of Japan, and the Navy has been faulted for the incident, according to CNN.

It was before dawn, and most of the ship's crew lay asleep in their berths aboard the Fitzgerald, a US destroyer, when suddenly the ocean flooded in on the starboard side and disaster loomed. This is not the first time the U.S. Navy has taken a strict action against commanding officer or other crew members after they were found guilty of contributing to a tragedy or not reacting appropriately to the situation. The 7th Fleet also said several junior officers were relieved of duty.

The crash carved a 13-by-17-foot gash into the Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below the water line. The report found that the sailors responded to flooding, structural damage and reports of a fire as they worked to restore the ship's power, propulsion and guidance. Water quickly flooded a large room where 42 sailors lay asleep in their berths, as well as a machinery space and the radio room. From the top of the ladder, the sailors continued looking for survivors and, reaching into the dark water, were able to rescue two crewmembers who were completely submerged.

"Still other Berthing 2 sailors did not realize what had happened". Benson is being reassigned to Naval District Washington at the Washington Navy Yard, where he will have access to medical facilities in the area.

The preliminary report described in detail the bad moments after the collision and the rescue efforts aboard the ship. The investigation into what caused the crash continues, but it has so far determined that there was "plenty of evidence to determine that serious mistakes were made" by members of the crew, said Admiral William Moran, vice chief of staff of the Navy.

The sailor said he took some breaths in a small air pocket and began to swim to the exit, according to the report.

Sailors woke up fellow crew members, and senior sailors checked beds to account for their shipmates, it said. By the time one sailor jumped from his top bunk, the water was chest high, the Navy says. Navy divers recovered the bodies of the seven drowned sailors on June 18.

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