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ACX Crystal: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

acx crystal

ACX Crystal. (VesselFinder.com)

The ACX Crystal, a container ship, collided with USS Fitzgerald, and seven U.S. sailors were found deceased inside a damaged berthing compartment.

Since the tragedy, the ACX Crystal has faced scrutiny from investigators, and there are questions about its trajectory.

“A number of Sailors’ bodies that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found,” the US 7th Fleet said in a news release on June 17, without specifying the number. However, CNN reported that all of the seven missing sailors’ bodies were tragically found in USS Fitzgerald’s flooded compartments.

The tragedy unfolded on June 16 and ignited a massive search effort by the Japanese Coast Guard and U.S. Navy. It’s not yet clear what caused the collision, but the ACX Crystal is being investigated for possibly making a sharp turn before the collision. However, that turn might have come after the collision, and ACX Crystal could have been operating on autopilot, one expert said.

The sailors who died were identified as Dakota Kyle Rigsby, Shingo Alexander Douglass, Ngoc T Truong Huynh, Noe Hernandez, Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, Xavier Alec Martin, and Gary Leo Rehm Jr.

The tragedy has many people wondering more about the ACX Crystal vessel.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The ACX Crystal Is a Container Ship That Sails Under the Flag of the Philippines

According to CNN, “The two ships collided about 2:30 a.m. local time in the Pacific Ocean about 56 nautical miles from the port of Yokosuka and 12 miles off the Izu Peninsula.”

The ACX Crystal sails under the flag of the Philippines, and its home port is Manila, according to MarineTraffic.

The Nippon Yusen Kaisha company lists a vessel schedule for ACX Crystal showing multiple stops in Japan. One of the world’s oldest and largest shipping companies, NYK was founded in 1885 with a fleet of 58 steamships. NYK says on its website that ACX Crystal is nine years old.

Maritime records have previously listed the ship as being registered to Sinbanali Shipping, Inc. The container ship was built in South Korea.

According to Maritime Bulletin, “Container ship ACX CRYSTAL though Philippines-flagged, said to be operated by Japanese NYK. Her damages though substantial, aren’t too serious, let alone critical.”

CNN reported that “the container ship was operating under charter to a Japanese shipping company.” Specifically, reported CNN, “The ACX Crystal container ship is chartered by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) and owned by Dainichi-Invest Corporation, NYK said.”

USS Fitzgerald Victims: Photos to Remember the Sailors’ Lives

Seven sailors who went missing on the USS Fitzgerald were found deceased. Learn their names and see photos of those missing to remember the lives of the collision's victims.

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2. The Ship Is Much Larger Than USS Fitzgerald & No One Was Injured on the ACX Crystal

USS Fitzgerald, a Navy destroyer, is a very large vessel. In fact, it’s 505 feet long. But the ACX Crystal is much larger.

“ACX CRYSTAL has 213m length overall and beam of 30m. Her gross tonnage is 29093 tons,” reports VesselFinder. The ship was built in 2008.

The ACX Crystal is “29,060 tons and 730 feet long, according to MarineTraffic.com. Destroyers like the Fitzgerald are roughly 8,230 tons and 505 feet long.”

Maritime Bulletin said the container ship was also damaged, to the bow, but continued on to Tokyo Bay. However, NYK said that no one on the ACX Crystal suffered injuries and added, according to CNN, “Our thoughts and deep concerns go out to all those directly affected.”

“Container ship was en route from Nagoya to Tokyo, while USS FITZGERALD understood to be sailing either to, or from, Yokosuka Naval Base. Container ship bow struck destroyer starboard in bridge area, destroying part of superstructure. Container ship suffered bow damages, reportedly bow stern was breached, but vessel remained seaworthy and resumed sailing towards Tokyo, at 1300 Tokyo time she was entering Tokyo Bay at some 12 knots speed,” wrote Maritime Bulletin.

Dakota Rigsby: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Dakota Rigsby was named as one of the seven missing sailors from USS Fitzgerald. Tragically, the Navy now says all of the sailors' bodies were found.

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3. Some Marine Trackers Say the ACX Crystal Veered Off Course & the Crew Is Being Questioned After the Ship Made a ‘Sharp Turn’

There is a discrepancy in the timeline, reported UK Daily Mail, with the company insisting the collision happened earlier than the Navy said it did. That’s critical because tracking sites show a sharp turn, but the earlier time frame would mean the ACX Crystal turned after the collision to see what happened, not before it. UK Daily Mail quoted one expert who said the ship may have been operating on autopilot.

According to The Guardian, ACX Crystal “berthed at Tokyo’s Oi wharf, where its crew was questioned by investigators.” The cause is not yet clear, but “Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said the ACX Crystal had made a sharp turn shortly before the collision,” reported The Guardian.

The news site added, “Japan’s coastguard and the US navy plan to question crew members from the ACX Crystal, and could treat the collision as a possible case of endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence.”

You can track the ACX Crystal in real time via maps on maritime tracking websites. However, some trackers on Twitter are claiming the ship veered off course before the collision.

The Navy has not confirmed this information. Nor has it explained why USS Fitzgerald did not see the ACX Crystal coming and vice versa.

You can also track the ACX Crystal in real time here. It was traveling at a speed of 12.4 knots and was still in motion in the hours after the collision.

The collision occurred at a time when sailors would have mostly been asleep in berths that have now flooded in some cases, reported UK Daily Mail, which added that the container ship struck the Fitzgerald’s sleeping quarters.


4. USS Fitzgerald Sustained Flooding & the Seven Sailors Went Missing

uss fitzgerald

The U.S.S. Fitzgerald. (US 7th Fleet/Twitter)

Wrote Maritime Bulletin, “USS FITZGERALD hull was breached above and below waterline, with water ingress in some compartments. The ship is under own power, though her propulsion is limited. Crew are pumping out water.”

“There are seven Sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them,” the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement on June 16.

Tragically, on June 17, the Navy said the sailors’ bodies had been found in a damaged area of the ship that divers accessed. “As search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision this morning, the missing Sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments. They are currently being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified,” wrote the US 7th Fleet.

“The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time. The names of the Sailors will be released after all notifications are made.”

The identified sailor, Rigsby, is from Virginia and was a volunteer firefighter back home.

U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship. As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public. Thank you for your well wishes and messages of concern. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.

The USS Fitzgerald ship suffered “damage on starboard side above & below waterline. Some flooding,” reported the Navy, but it was later running on its own power.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, was injured in the collision and “transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition,” according to the U.S. 7th Fleet.

In addition to the captain and those found dead, two sailors suffered injuries. “2 Sailors in addition to Cmdr. Benson have been medevac’d from FITZ to USNH-Yokosuka for lacerations & bruises,” reported the U.S. 7th Fleet.

USS Fitzgerald Victims: Photos to Remember the Sailors’ Lives

Seven sailors who went missing on the USS Fitzgerald were found deceased. Learn their names and see photos of those missing to remember the lives of the collision's victims.

Click here to read more

5. Japanese & U.S. Authorities Were Trying to Stabilize the Ship & Find the Crew Members

The Japanese Coast Guard and US Navy moved swiftly to stabilize the ship, which the Navy said took on some flooding, and to, most importantly, look for the missing sailors.

It turned out the sailors did not go overboard, but, rather, were inside a flooded berthing compartment in the ship.

According to CNN, “the area of the collision, 12 miles (20 kilometers) off the tip of the Izu Peninsula, is known for its heavy maritime traffic and has been the site of numerous past accidents.”

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39 comments

  1. From the AIS data:

    2017-06-16 10:31 on course 91.90
    34.50013,138.72145
    17.0 knots reported
    91.90 course reported
    |
    straight line to and picking up a little speed, 89.23 effective heading
    |
    2017-06-16 11:16 adjustment made 12 minutes before impact, heading adjusted slightly more northward to 78.44 effective heading (a 10.70 degree turn).
    34.50082,138.99330
    18.3 knots reported
    87.20 course reported
    |
    straight line to impact
    |

    3 minutes? Before Impact
    2017-06-16 11:25
    34.51483,139.04583
    18.5 Knots reported
    70.5 course reported

    2 minutes? After Impact
    2017-06-16 11:30
    34.52216,139.07225
    17.3 Knots reported
    88.20 course reported

    Veered to
    2017-06-16 11:38
    34.51190,139.09441
    13.1 knots
    41.90 course

    Looks like Auto-Pilot still on, ship automatically recovered course .. or just turning off

    20 minutes after collision
    2017-06-16 11:48
    34.53923,139.15724
    12.9 Knots
    70.40 Course

    Turns around
    2017-06-16 12:06 .. 36 minutes after collision
    34.56187,139.19898
    7.6 Knots
    305.90 course

    Then looped back to (probably location of Fitzgerald)
    2017-06-16 12:57 .. 1:29 after collision
    34.52776,139.06042
    3.3 Knots
    13.00 course

  2. From AIS data, looks like ACX Crystal was on unsupervised auto pilot, crossed a waypoint 12 minutes before impact and steered toward the impact point more than 8 km distant. At this time the ships were probably 16 to 20 km apart. It doesn’t look like the ACX Crystal was under manual control until 20 minutes after impact. Someone did force a hard right manual turn, but possibly did not have an effect until after impact or was the cause of the impact. The impending closeness of the 2 ships would not have been noticed until a minute or two after they were within 12 km of each other, depending on the speed of the Fitzgerald, this would have been as little as 6 minutes before they collided. The Fitzgerald should have been able to avoid the collision given 6 minutes notice, suspect they were paying attention to other, closer ships in this busy shipping channel. It is possible that the Fitzgerald decided the best course of action was to pass the ACX Crystal to port rather than the conventional starboard and the ACX Crystal made a too late turn to port in order to pass on starboard resulting in the ACX Crystal ramming the Fiztgerald on the port side.

    • The international rules did not recommend a turn to port in any situation to avoid a collision. To non of the participants!
      The Colregs recommends always a turn to starboard, for the give-way vessel and the stand-on vessel (rules 15, 16 and 17).

      For the fact that the position of the US Navy vessel is not known at any time (due to lack of AIS informations), any conclusion is a guess!

    • I agree with your analysis. USS Fitzgerald was passing in front of a ship headed southwest. It was roughly running parralel to Crystal, who at the same time made a turn to port (left) putting it on a collision course. It was slightly behind Fitzgerald and possibly in their visual blind spot on the bridge. It appears it did not have it’s navigation lights on. And 6 minutes from the time of the course change to point of impact is not very long.

    • The hard right turn by the Crystal was caused by the two ships locked together for a short while, the Crystal pushing the Fitzgerald to port, while the FItzgerald was pushing the bow of the Crystal to starboard. The forward motion of Crystal holding it against the Fitzgerald not to mention the bulk of Fitzgerald pushing against the side of the Crystal. As it appears there was no one on the bridge of the Crystal at the time, it would have just kept going. It would have been up to the Fitzgerald to alter course and or speed to get the ships to parts ways.

  3. You always make it a pint to posts pictures of a deceased sailor BEFORE the US Navy can properly release names and notify families. Has reporting lost all common sense of grief and mourning. Disgusting!

  4. Anybody know the nationalities of the crew of the ACX Crystal, and/ or how many? Also, what was its last port, before the incident? Thank you.

  5. Regardless of who hit who. How were they “Both” Blind?….. radar,watch,pilots…. How do either NOT see each other???

  6. SHARP TURNS HAHAHAHAHAHA Oh and that Navy Ship BRISTLES with RADARS and TRUST ME …….. SOMETHING Deeply Hugely Massively SMELLS. That Navy Commander SAW the Cargo Ship LONG LONG LONG Before and COLLISION. A Nuclear War Ship has ADVANCED Navigational Systems END OF STORY

    • you are no where near the truth. you know absolutely nothing. please don’t speak as if you know something when clearly you do not, and here is why. a destroyer is not a nuclear warship, it does not have a nuclear power plant. 2) that CO did not see anything…. he was asleep in his cabin there was most likely a junior officer on watch in charge of the bridge. 3rd they don’t always run radar which is about all I can say on that. and lastly they were in a highly trafficked area they could either have been a) been tracking a perceived threat and assumed that the ACX was functioning as it should have been and passed off that ship as a near miss while they continued tracking a threat as in the Chinese cruiser not far away from them. b) hyper focused on the tons of traffic nearby. c) had equipment down. d) been asleep. my guess is a). whatever the case actually was… you will still be wrong by calling it a nuclear warship.

      • – ” …near miss while they continued tracking a threat as in the Chinese cruiser not far away from them.” –> within japanese waters??
        – “c) had equipment down.” –> in a so high traffic area? irresponsible
        – CO asleep in high traffic area -> unusual

        But you are right -> guessing is not professional

      • It is a nuclear capable ship – not nuclear power. Doesn’t matter if it was a knox-class WWII frigate, and the capt of other ship was intent on hitting her. There is no way any capable watch crew should have ever allowed that ship to get within 5 miles of her. I’m sure there is blame on both sides, but who ever had the con on our ship better get court-marshalled. There is no excuse for letting our shipmates die and bringing embarrassment to the Navy and our Country.

  7. History shows incidents like this ARE the forerunner of imminent war. Or, maybe IT WAS A CYBER ATTACK BY THE VERY SYSTEM THEY USE? MAYBE IT WAS THE UN OR EU BEHIND IT OR THE SPACESTATION ORDER? WHO REALLY KNOWS, ALL THE CHIEFS DON’T.

  8. let me ask one question: how long does it take to get all sailors out of their cabins after a collision alarm? I assume there is some kind of alarm on a military vessel….

    • The bulbous bow of the container ship rammed the destroyer below the water line, just where the sailors were sleeping. No time to evacuate.

      • After the latest Informations…. a sailor said he was knocked out of the bunk by the impact – this means: no alarm, not event 10 seconds bevore impact…. hard to believe

  9. A hired crew from the Phillippines ?

    This seems quite obvious to me. Have you ever been to the Phillippines ?

  10. Is it ‘possible’ that the USS Fitzgerald was using the AIS ‘Phantom’ mode so beloved of Coast Guard cutters, and was creating ‘virtual AIS targets’ as they would on active service in the Caribbean to corral the high-speed launches of the drug runners who’d be monitoring AIS but not broadcasting? That would explain the abrupt course changes made by the containership, especially if it was on ‘Autopilot.’ In any case, surely there would have been crew members on the bridge, especially with the density of traffic in the area? Most professional mariners would have investigated why the ship changed course so abruptly and unexpectedly. Hard to blame the containership for this accident, such ships have limited maneuverability due to their size. The USS Fitzgerald always had the ability to avoid this accident, being much faster and more maneuverable, so I wonder what they were doing? Were they in International waters attempting to intercept the ACX Crystal? Why? Somebody should be answering such questions. What really matters here are the sailors who’re the fatal victims of this apparently avoidable incident. God bless them and their families.

  11. A boat approaching from your starboard (right) side has right of way. From the damage, wasn’t the Fitzgerald damaged on its starboard? Shouldn’t it have yielded?

  12. The main damage was done by ACX Crystal’s bublous bow that rammed Fitzgerald below the water line. A diagram will be helpful. Curiously, the captain and crew of ACX Crystal remains anonymous. Not a single interview with the crew of the ship that rammed the US navy ship. DC Guru

    • Someone with an engineering eye should cast an eye over the bow/bulb design of the Damaged ACX Crystal and the photos of the ACX Crystal photographed previously.
      The damaged Ship is not the same ship as the ship shown in any other photos of ACX Crystal ????

    • The ACX Crystal did not ‘ram’ the warship. The warship was either a crossing vessel or overtaking vessel under the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea and as such was required to keep clear. That being said the container ship should also have taken avoiding action when it was clear that a close quarters situation had arisen. However it is a very busy area with a lot of fishing vessels around so it may have been difficult for the container ship to keep clear. Let’s wait for the official inquiry. Yanks need to stop thinking everything they do is right!!!

  13. Are large ships now to be now to be terror weapon of choice , as ISIS has recently suggested use of vehicles? Did crew of ACX Crystal have jihadist intent?

  14. You can not run down or ram a USN war ship … with a cargo ship … not possible… there is no rational way this could rationally happen … IF you think so… you failed physics. … it would be impossible for the cargo ship to get with in 1/4 mile …USN is very fast and can turn very quickly…USN struck the cargo ship for some reason … PERIOD !