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    Re: USS Fitzgerald collision with container ship
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2017 Jun 24, 11:46 -0700

    Lu Abel, you wrote:
    "Why can't people just wait for the official investigations (there are at least four of them that are going on) to announce their results rather than insisting on "facts" that are no more than pure speculation."

    In fact, I don't agree with that. People will speculate, and intelligent, analytic speculation exists and serves a purpose. There is also nonsensical, incompetent, and conspiratorial speculation (sometimes all three at once) which I personally find rather revolting. I think most of us do. What I was calling out last night with respect to Gary's post is that this ultra-right website's coverage was really just a re-hash of the same, admittedly speculative, but quite insightful analysis which we had already seen direct from the source.

    To elaborate on this, Stephen Davies posted a message, just two days after my original post describing the collision (which was about 8 hours after the event), in which he called out two competing interpretations of the AIS data that were making the rounds: 1) the "ship acted crazy" story which claimed that the ACX Crystal was making confusing, arbitrary course changes which must somehow have led to the collision, versus 2) an analysis from a blog at vesselofinterest.com proposing an idea that radically simplified the course change data by proposing that the Crystal was on autopilot with no one on the bridge or an indifferent watchkeeper on the bridge (not at all unusual on large commercial vessels) and also proposing that the "official" reported time of the collision was wrong by about an hour. This was intelligent, useful speculation. I myself had reached much the same conclusion by recognizing that times and locations reported in early media accounts can easily be mistaken and are often repeated by official spokespersons who are usually rather far removed from the official investigations themselves (of course I did not in any sense "publish" my speculations before similar conclusions appeared in Watkins' vesselofinterest blog, so who cares, right?).

    Meanwhile, the link which Gary posted last night was from a far-right website claiming to have uncovered something new when, in fact, it was merely quoting the same blogger at vesselofinterest.com, now named by this website as "private naval analyst Steffan Watkins". It's exactly the same source with exactly the same analysis which Stephen Davies had pointed us to fully five days earlier.

    For an example of the opposite pole of speculation, consider some of the speculative rants that were built around the AIS data by assuming that the first reported time of the collision was correct. There were lots of these including speculative theories that some "jihadist" was at the helm and was chasing the Fitzgerald and others suggesting that they could see yet further evidence of some sort of "steering trouble" aboard the Crystal. An example of this was, unfortunately, posted here by Bill B the day after the collision. That blogger was rather shamelessly peddling an AIS analysis tool and claiming that he could see, using his special analysis tool, that there was some other "trouble" hours after the collision. His imaginary trouble appears to be nothing more than the Crystal anchoring in the bay before dawn before heading into Yokohama/Tokyo after daybreak.

    The evidence available on this collision is extremely limited, and current "intelligent" speculation seems to have run its course. We have the AIS data from ACX Crystal subject to the usual concern that this data may have gaps (which may be innocent due to reception drop-outs). We also should have records of radio traffic though I haven't heard of anything like that so far. The records from the recording devices and from the crew on the bridge of the Fiztgerald will, of course, be extensive but unfortunately this information will also be controlled by the US Navy and released as they see fit and for their purposes. We are fortunate that there are multiple independent investigations of the collision. As we have seen, this has already persuaded the USN to drop its original claim that the collision occurred at 2:30 local time. 

    Frank Reed

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