Probe: USS Fitzgerald crew likely to blame for crash

July 21 (UPI) — Preliminary findings indicate crew members of the USS Fitzgerald are to blame for the guided-missile destroyer’s deadly collision with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan in June, U.S. defense officials said Friday.

Unnamed defense officials told CNN and The Wall Street Journal that the crew on board the ship failed to take proper measures to avoid a Philippine-flagged cargo ship that crashed into it June 17.

“They did nothing until the last second,” one source said. “A slew of things went wrong.” Another official said the crash “will wind up being [the U.S. Navy’s] fault.”

The crash crushed Cmdr. Bryce Benson’s cabin, injuring the captain, and flooded sailors’ sleeping quarters. Seven sailors died.

The USS Fitzgerald entered a dry dock in Yokosuka, Japan, last week for evaluation. It arrived at the Yokosuka naval base within hours after the collision, with a 12-by-17-foot hole ripped in its starboard side below the waterline.

The impact crushed the ship’s superstructure, twisted its hull and ruined onboard electrical equipment worth tens of millions of dollars.

The U.S. Navy said it is continuing to investigate the crash.

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