U.S. Coast Guard interviews container ship crew after warship collision | Reuters

By Tim Kelly and Kiyoshi Takenaka
| TOKYO

TOKYO The United States Coast Guard will on Tuesday start interviewing the crew of a Philippines-flagged container ship which collided with a U.S. warship in Japanese waters killing seven American sailors.

The U.S. coast guard investigation is one several into the incident on Saturday involving the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the much larger ACX Crystal. The cause of the collision at night and in clear weather is not known.

“We are scheduled to interview the crew members,” said U.S. Lieutenant Scott Carr told Reuters, referring the crew of the merchant ship. The USS Fitzgerald crew will also be interviewed.

The U.S. coast guard, which is undertaking the investigation on behalf of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, will gather electronic data and ship tracking information from the USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal.

The investigation will also look into a time discrepancy in the ACX Crystal’s initial report of the incident south of Tokyo Bay, said Scott. “There is a contradiction. It will be part of the investigation,” Carr said.

The Japan Coast Guard has already spoken to the Filipino crew and is also probing the inconsistency. It is in talks with the U.S. Navy for access to its crew members and data from the destroyer, a spokesman for the organization said.

The U.S. Navy did not immediately respond when asked if it would release tracking data to the Japan Coast Guard.

The ACX Crystal reported the collision at 2:25 a.m. (1725 GMT) prompting Japanese authorities to initially log the incident at 2:20 a.m.

The Japan Coast Guard subsequently revised the time to 1:30 a.m. meaning the container ship waited 55 minutes before contacting the coast guard, according to the Japan Coast Guard.

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