The ACX Crystal, a container ship, collided with USS Fitzgerald, and seven U.S. soldiers are now missing at sea.
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 which ship was at fault and what caused the collision.
That has a lot of people wondering more about the ACX Crystal vessel.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The ACX Crystal Is a Container Ship That Flies 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 flies 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.
Maritime records list 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.” Sea Quest Ship Management, Inc. has been listed as its manager, according to Maritime Bulletin and other marine tracking sites.
CNN reported that “the container ship was operating under charter to a Japanese shipping company.”
2. The Ship Is Much Larger Than USS Fitzgerald
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.
“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.
3. Some Amateur Marine Trackers Say the ACX Crystal Veered Off Course
You can track the ACX crystal in real time via the map above. 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. The lack of details was because the Navy was focused on stabilizing the ship and rescuing crew.
4. USS Fitzgerald Sustained Flooding & the Seven Sailors Went Missing
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.
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 missing, 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.
5. Japanese & U.S. Authorities Are 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.
How they went overboard, if they did, is not yet clear.
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.”