‘There was nobody in charge’: Japanese cargo ship was on AUTOPILOT when it collided with the USS Fitzgerald says defense expert and no one knew how to turn it off after accident which claimed the lives of seven US Navy sailors

Monday, June 19, 2017
By Paul Martin

Seven US sailors died as a result of Saturday’s collision just outside Tokyo Bay
Defense expert says that he believes the Japanese ship was on autopilot
He claims this explains the discrepancies both sides have on timing
The cargo ship’s Japanese owners say it happened at 1.30am on Saturday
The US Navy says that the collision occurred at 2.20am – an hour’s difference
The defense expert says he does not know why the US Navy is sticking to this
He says that the abrupt U-turn of the cargo ship was to examine what it hit

19 June 2017

There was nobody on the bridge of a Japanese cargo ship when it struck the USS Fitzgerald on Saturday and the vessel was operating on autopilot, claims an expert with defense industry bible Janes.

As the investigation into the collision which claimed the lives of seven US Navy sailors got off to a shambolic start – with neither side agreeing what time it happened – one expert says it was computer error which caused the fatal crash.

‘I suspect, from the data, that the ACX Crystal was running on autopilot the whole time, and nobody was on the bridge. If anyone was on the bridge, they had no idea how to turn off the autopilot,’ said Steffan Watkins, an IT security consultant and ship tracking analyst for Janes Intelligence Review, to DailyMail.com.

He bases this opinion on the real-time tracking data available via maritime websites – which he also says explains the discrepancies between the time the US Navy claims the accident occurred and the time which the ACX Crystal’s owners say.

The owners of the Japanese cargo ship claim the accident occurred at 1.30am, while the US Navy says it happened at 2.20am
He adds that at this moment in time he is unsure why the Navy is sticking to its version of events.

Watkins says that a sudden and unexplained U-turn observed on charts was performed to see what had been hit – after human control was re-established on the bridge.

The Japanese authorities confirmed to DailyMail.com that they received the distress call from the Crystal container ship – which is crewed exclusively by Filipinos – at 2.25am local time.

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