03:48 GMT15 June 2021
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    Following the deadly collision between a merchant ship from the Philippines and the Aegis-equipped USS Fitzgerald, US officials are asking crew members about the events leading up to the tragedy as the US Chief of Naval Operations arrives in Japan.

    Adm. John Richardson’s visit to the US naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, where the Fitzgerald is undergoing repairs, won’t feature many photo-ops. “It’s an intimate meeting, very solemn grieving with families so we’re not even taking photos,” a spokesman for the US Navy said.

    Seven US sailors died in the incident, Sputnik reported, the largest death count in an incident aboard a US Navy vessel since suicide bombers killed 17 US sailors on the USS Cole in 2000.

    Tokyo and Washington have both launched investigations into the circumstances leading up to the collision, but it doesn’t appear as though the search will seek to pin down any malicious wrongdoing. Sputnik reported on Monday that the crew of the 29,000-ton ACX Crystal waited 50 minutes before alerting authorities of the crash, but US officials have stuck with the original timeline, which states that the crash occurred at 2:20 a.m. local time, instead of 1:30 a.m. as Japanese officials said on Monday.

    The US military and Japanese Coast Guard will seek to shore up their differences before the probe commences. “As to the chronological order of what happened and other details we are still investigating,” a JCG spokesman told the Japan Times.

    Lt. Scott Carr confirmed that “there is a contradiction,” and that it would be looked at as part of the investigation, in comments to Channel News Asia on Tuesday.

    One charge that could result from the probe is professional negligence, the Japanese Coast Guard said, but no accusations of criminal wrongdoing have been levied. The commercial ship’s operator claimed that, due to the emergency circumstances involved, “the crew members may not have been able to place a call.” 

    The US Navy said Tuesday, “we are scheduled to interview the crew members” of the ACX Crystal. 


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