Japan investigates delay in reporting US Navy ship collision

The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on Saturday, June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The ships collided about early Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.(Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Japan's coast guard is investigating why it took nearly an hour for a deadly collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a container ship to be reported.

A coast guard official said Monday they are trying to find out what the crew of the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal was doing before reporting the collision to authorities 50 minutes later.

The coast guard initially said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. on Saturday because the Philippine ship had reported it at 2:25 a.m. and said it just happened. After interviewing Filipino crewmembers, the coast guard has changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.

The ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald off Japan's coast, killing seven of the destroyer's crew of nearly 300.

A track of the container ship's route by MarineTraffic, a vessel-tracking service, shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision.

Coast guard official Tetsuya Tanaka said they are trying to resolve what happened during the 50 minutes.

He said officials are planning to get hold of a device with communication records to examine further details of the crash. Japan's Transport Safety Board also started an accident investigation Monday.

Nanami Meguro, a spokeswoman for NYK Line, the ship's operator, agreed with the revised timing of the collision.

Meguro said the ship was "operating as usual" until the collision at 1:30 a.m., as shown on a ship tracking service that the company uses. She said the ship reported to the coast guard at 2:25 a.m., but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for nearly an hour.

"Because it was in an emergency, the crewmembers may not have been able to place a call," she said.

Coast guard officials are investigating the case as possible professional negligence, but no criminal charges have been pressed so far.

Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this story.

Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017.  Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
U.S. military personnel work on board the damaged USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with a merchant ship in waters off Japan was called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
U.S. military personnel work on board the damaged USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with a merchant ship in waters off Japan was called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula earlier in the day, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula earlier in the day, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)

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