Investigators have only begun their search for answers into what caused a Philippine container ship to collide with a U.S. Navy destroyer over the weekend, which led to the death of seven U.S. sailors. One of the biggest questions is why it took the container ship’s crew nearly an hour to report the collision.
Each country is leading its own investigation into the crash, and neither would speculate at this point who might have been at fault. The container ship, the ACX Crystal, is about three times the size of the destroyer, and location-tracking data shows it made a sudden U-turn at about 1:30 a.m. This is around the time the Japanese coast guard says the vessel collided with the U.S. destroyer. The ship then made another U-turn an hour later, about the time it reported the collision, and circled back toward the site of the crash. A spokeswoman for the container ship’s operator, NYK Line, agreed with this timeline of events, and said the reason for the delay could have come from confusion after the crash. “Because it was in an emergency,” Nanami Meguro told the Associated Press, “the crew members may not have been able to place a call.”
The Japanese coast guard said it’s still trying to understand what happened during this hour, and investigators have asked for communication records. They have said the case may involve possible professional negligence, but it’s not clear which side this is directed toward. Japan’s Transport Safety Board has started its own investigation, as has the U.S. military, which, because of an agreement signed with Japan, could lead the inquiry.