Saturday, June 17, 2017

Messing About in 'Boats'

There are news reports of a collision between a Japanese container ship and a U.S. destroyer - the USS Fitzgerald. Several sailors were injured, including the Captain, and others reported missing and presumed drowned.

Some writers are making much of the fact that the container ship sustained bow damage while the destroyer was hit in the side, meaning the destroyer was hit and did not ram the container ship. Don't be confused, it is likely our destroyer was at fault. How do I reach this conclusion when they hit us? Let me explain.

Large container ships are anything but nimble, mariners know they plow along at a moderate speed and take miles to make a turn or slow to a stop. Destroyers are among the more nimble largish warships, they can turn relatively sharply and are much faster than cargo ships.

It isn't like you wouldn't notice a container ship, they are the size of a city block or two and loom high. They have a radar signature the size of Texas. Night or day they cannot be missed by mariners paying attention and doing their job properly.

Most likely scenario: the container ship was plowing along on a predictable path and the destroyer somehow turned in front of it or crossed its bow. The container ship was unable to dodge out of the way or stop.

Whether the misjudgment was in calculating relative speeds, trajectories or something else is unknown. The crash will be the subject of a Naval inquiry and the Captain (and others including the helmsman) will likely lose commissions and/or careers over it. Apologies to Wind in the Willows for the sarcastic title.