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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Initially Posted - 06/17/2017 :  09:56:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One motor vessel (USN Destroyer) T-boned on her starboard side by another motor vessel (Philipine cargo ship)... 7 USN sailors missing... Destroyer hull looks bent. Who would you suspect was at fault? (Hint: Looks shaky to me for the USN.)

Times Story

Keep your eyes open out there...


Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 06/17/2017 10:19:12

Dave5041
Former Mainsheet Editor

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USA
3559 Posts

Response Posted - 06/17/2017 :  20:38:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There will, no doubt, be countless armchair analyses. Not as much fun, but I will just wait for the report.


Dave B. aboard Pearl
1982 TR/SK/Trad. #3399
Lake Erie/Florida Panhandle
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Response Posted - 06/17/2017 :  21:12:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Let me add that I hope the seven missing are found alive and well in the destroyer where rescuers weren't able to get to them initially. But this impact was a "train-wreck" where the "train" was the cargo ship and the "car on the crossing" was the destroyer.

It's hard to imagine a USN crew allowing this to happen, but I have to admit (on a very different scale) to situations where I was not adequately aware of vessels around me. (I haven't hit anyone yet, but I've had a few "lessons".) Destroyers and container ships are not C-25s and ferries, but the principles are the same: At the first sign of uncertainty, don't do the "dance of death"--talk to each other!

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 06/17/2017 21:18:04
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jerlim
Master Marine Consultant

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1410 Posts

Response Posted - 06/19/2017 :  06:20:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
An excerpt from a current NPR report (http://www.npr.org/2017/06/19/533432845/how-could-the-navy-destroyer-collision-happen).

But when the sun came up and photos appeared of both ships, they revealed the Crystal had damage on the left or port side of its bow — suggesting it might have been traveling in the same direction as the Fitzgerald. It may have been trailing the smaller destroyer at a perpendicular angle that stayed relatively the same even as the distance between the ships closed: "constant bearing, decreasing range"

If the crew of the Fitzgerald was watching what was ahead of them and got used to the presence of the container ship on their starboard quarter because it didn't appear to be moving in either direction relative to the destroyer — even though it was getting closer all the while — the sailors might not have realized what was happening until they were in extremis.

Another similar possibility: the Fitzgerald wanted to sail east, say, and its course crossed over that of the Crystal, heading north. The destroyer might have been like someone trying to get across a busy street, thinking it could get out of the way of the oncoming cars in time — in this case, a miscalculation.

Jerry
Whisper
C-25, #1672,'80, SR/SK
S. Jamesport, NY
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Response Posted - 06/19/2017 :  06:42:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The angle of their "meeting" could have been the result of a last-minute maneuver by either or both ships to avoid collision. At a certain point (when the give-way vessel hasn't succeeded in giving way), they both are required to do anything they can. The Fitzgerald, having decided it couldn't cross successfully, may have tried to bear off--Crystal probably couldn't do much--too big.

One thing I learned many years ago about the ore boats on the Great Lakes is that it's very hard to judge the speed of a huge vessel from a distance. It will close on you much faster than it appears. But these guys all have electronics that can tell them exactly where and when they will reach their "closest point of approach" and how far they'll be from each other when they do. (Zero meters would be a bad sign.)

One report I saw said the Crystal had made some turns before the collision--tracked on AIS. It's possible they both engaged in the classic "shall we dance" maneuver, without communicating between themselves, when the Crystal should have held her course and speed. We'll find out eventually--there are no secrets left out there, and the USN will probably dissect it and turn it into a training exercise--a memorial to the sailors who died down below.

EDIT: The AIS track I've seen shows one slight turn to port by the Crystal before the collision, as if to let the Fitzgerald cross ahead. The half hour afterward raises some more questions.

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 06/19/2017 21:09:15
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TCurran
Admiral

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USA
529 Posts

Response Posted - 06/20/2017 :  03:31:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Down towards the bottom of this article is a couple of interesting quotes http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=72869

Tom Curran
1981 Capri #101 currently named "Debbie June"
1985 Watkins 25 "Comfortably Numb"
PAFB, FL
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Response Posted - 06/20/2017 :  07:25:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Interesting comment about auto-pilot... That could explain the Crystal returning to its course after the collision, although it might not explain the slight course change a while before the collision. And if nobody on the Crystal saw the situation developing, the havoc following could explain the delay in reporting as the ship sped away on its own. "What the hell was that? Are we OK?..." It was apparently a busy shipping lane, so there may have been confusion over what other vessel was involved as the Crystal automatically regained her course and speed. (????)

But in a way, that would seem to increase the culpability of the Fitzgerald, which sure looks like the give-way vessel in the meeting--especially if the Crystal was not changing course and speed. The old joke about the radio byplay between the carrier and the lighthouse is almost analogous--Crystal being the lighthouse. (Or we could bring in the mythical "rule of tonnage" that definitely applies between a container ship and a C-25.)

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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Arlyn Stewart
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2972 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2017 :  12:26:48  Show Profile  Visit Arlyn Stewart's Homepage  Send Arlyn Stewart an AOL message  Send Arlyn Stewart a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Dave and all, a long time since checking in.
I figured there might be some discussion here regarding the collision.

All is well with me, except I've not sailed since a 2003 summer Great Lakes Cruise. Still have my boat, kept it in case things change but for now, I'm doing model airplanes.

Best regards to all

Arlyn


Arlyn C-250 W/B #224

N/E Texas and Great Lakes
Arlyn's Sailing Site
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2017 :  14:36:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
ARLYN!! Great to hear from you! Glad things are going well! But it''s hard to imagine R&R sitting on a trailer all this time!

To newer members (since it's been a while): Arlyn has been THE C-250 guru here--especially the WB version, which he has towed from TX and sailed across Great Lakes, where you can go for some time without seeing land, and Mother Nature can humble you! Take a look at his site.

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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Arlyn Stewart
Master Marine Consultant

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2972 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2017 :  16:03:47  Show Profile  Visit Arlyn Stewart's Homepage  Send Arlyn Stewart an AOL message  Send Arlyn Stewart a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
As long as I've been away from it, I still receive occasional mail with either question or comment. About half are regarding the steering conversion kit I offered for many years and the group may find it interesting that about 75 C250's were upgraded to my design by my kits and a few self constructed using the design.

Dave, I hope all is well with you and that the association continues in good health.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.... there could always be another Great Lakes cruise. If there isn't, the memories remains strong of the many that were enjoyed and the great times and experiences.

The destroyer collision reminded me of the close encounter with the ore freighter in 2003 and prompted a review of that story,

I've thought about that encounter a great many times over the years and it becomes more vivid rather than less, if that can make sense.

That storyhttp://pages.suddenlink.net/arlyn/sailing/fogencounter.html

Fair sailing to all
Arlyn

Arlyn C-250 W/B #224

N/E Texas and Great Lakes
Arlyn's Sailing Site
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Russ.Johnson
Commodore

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USA
641 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2017 :  19:16:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Arlyn,

It's nice to hear from you again.
I used your C250 wheel steering conversion, as well as your balance 2nd gen. rudder mod.
Both projects worked out great.

Russ

Russ Johnson
2009-2016 Commodore - Catalina-25/250 and Capri-25 International Association

Edited by - Russ.Johnson on 06/22/2017 20:47:50
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Response Posted - 06/22/2017 :  19:55:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Arlyn, I remember reading your "encounter" when you first wrote it... As I was reading this time, I was perplexed all over again. Did he deviate out of the lane to pass behind you? (This might be appropriate for two ships in a crossing situation, he being the give-way vessel in that case, but rare for a 1,000' ship and a small pleasure craft.) Was he sounding so you could realize your bearing to him was moving aft, indicating you were crossing his path. (Constant bearing = trouble.) Although in that situation, it would have taken some extraordinary ears! The "port-to-port" statement is also puzzling, but that would sort of be the case after you crossed, which I wouldn't call a "port-to-port pass". If he preferred that you cross, I think he should have asked you to adjust from a northeast to an east course until you had crossed, for a quicker crossing at a greater distance.

Where the other vessel has radar and you don't, and he doesn't have the maneuverability you have, I guess you need to follow his instructions (hoping he's identifying your target correctly). His turning radius and stopping distance can probably be measured in miles. The best news is you were talking to him! I have to suspect the same wasn't the case with a USCG vessel had a "meeting" with a ferry a little off Block Island here a few years ago. (One USCG officer's career ended.)

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 06/22/2017 20:01:04
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Arlyn Stewart
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
2972 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2017 :  06:01:10  Show Profile  Visit Arlyn Stewart's Homepage  Send Arlyn Stewart an AOL message  Send Arlyn Stewart a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Dave,

I don't think I'd considered him the give way vessel. He had starboard and I had port. Though I was under sail, I was far more maneuverable.

When he was sounding, the only sense I had was that he was somewhere N by NE. He stopped sounding a good bit before the encounter.

The ore freighter was two miles west of the westerly limit for down bound traffic. It would have taken me an additional 20 min to cover the 2 miles, so if he'd been where he should have been, he'd been well south by the time I reached the down bound lane.

I gotta believe he wanted a visual encounter in the fog for some reason. I had identified myself as a 25' sailing vessel making a passage across the lake at this widest point, which was a rare crossing point. Harrisville is a harbor of refuge and to be putting out from there as a starting point on a crossing passage may have seemed so far out of the norm for the freighter watch, that it simply invited curiosity that needed satisfied.

I simply don't know why the encounter happened other than ore freighter watch wanted it to and set it up.

When he stopped sounding, I assumed he did so because he was assured of clear steaming ahead and at that point, I was yet 30 min from reaching the down bound lane's westerly limit. In retrospect, it is almost certain that he stopped sounding because he didn't want me to alter my course or speed.

I've always thought that his words, "we are good for a port / port passing" were well chosen to avoid coast guard ears hearing that a sailboat who had timely requested navigation assistance had been directed to cross narrowly in front of a huge freighter.

It is of course impossible to know what the freighter watch was thinking but the encounter has provided a lot of wonder what it was.

Arlyn C-250 W/B #224

N/E Texas and Great Lakes
Arlyn's Sailing Site
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Arlyn Stewart
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
2972 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2017 :  06:08:55  Show Profile  Visit Arlyn Stewart's Homepage  Send Arlyn Stewart an AOL message  Send Arlyn Stewart a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
One more thought... there is the possibility that the freighter watch never intended the intersection to be close enough that I got visual and as he passed my stern he would have sounded, causing me super surprise.

Arlyn C-250 W/B #224

N/E Texas and Great Lakes
Arlyn's Sailing Site
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
7296 Posts

Response Posted - 06/23/2017 :  06:25:37  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Arlyn: If you had been another commercial vessel in a crossing situation with that 1000 footer, he would have been the burdened, or give-way vessel because you were approaching from his starboard side. Although hopefully you would have negotiated a crossing where the much larger vessel would have held course and speed rather than diverting from the shipping lane (since you weren't in one). I hear those negotiations all the time between ships, subs, ferries, etc., out in The Race approaching/leaving New London and Long Island Sound. There's frequently deference to size and to the down-current vessel.

Now I'm thinking he simply miscalculated your speed and course relative to his, diverted from the lane to pass behind you, and realized his miscalculation a little late. The sounding may have been as he was leaving the lane--stopping it so you wouldn't be alarmed and would continue course and speed since he was committed passing behind you--the radio silence and "port-to-port", as you suggest, to avoid USCG ears.

We'll never know...

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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