NPR

How Could The Navy Destroyer Collision Happen?

How could an advanced combatant crash into a container ship in the middle of the ocean? Investigators begin to look for clues about what happened.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. Source: MC1 Peter Burghart

The headline shocked the close-knit world of the surface Navy: Seven sailors aboard the destroyer USS Fitzgerald were killed, and other crew members injured, when the warship collided with a cargo vessel off Japan.

As the Navy family grieves, both it and the wider world are asking the same question: How did this happen?

The short answer is that no one knows — yet. The official inquiries into what led up to the encounter could take months or more. The Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard both likely will eventually issue reports that describe what happened and could make recommendations for preventing another such accident.

"I will not speculate on how long these investigations will last," said Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the Navy's 7th Fleet. The Fitzgerald and the other

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