Japanese Coast Guard officials are investigating the circumstances immediately after the deadly collision between the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal and USS Fitzgerald that caused the incident to go unreported for nearly an hour.
Nanami Meguro, a spokeswoman for NYK Line, the ship’s operator, said the ship was “operating as usual” until the collision at 1:30 a.m. local time, as shown on a specialized ship tracking service that the company uses.
She stated that the ship reported the collision to the Japanese coast guard at 2:25 a.m. local time, but said that she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for nearly an hour beforehand.
“Because it was in an emergency, the crew members may not have been able to place a call,” Meguro said.
The Japanese Coast Guard said initially that the crash occurred at 2:20 a.m., since the Filipino cargo ship had called in the report at 2:25 a.m. But after conducting a thorough review with crew members aboard the cargo ship, it was concluded to be closer to 1:30 a.m. than previously thought.
To make matters more confusing, U.S. officials are still sticking with the 2:30 a.m. timeframe for the collision.
Navy Spokesman Cmdr. Ron Flanders said that “[an earlier collision time] is not our understanding.”
He also said that any differences between the two agencies would have to be clarified during the investigation.
Japan’s Transport Safety Board also recently started an accident investigation, while Japanese Coast Guard officials continue to investigate the case for possible professional negligence. No criminal charges have been pressed so far.