So just so people don’t have to recreate this scenario in their minds, I wrote up what I think may have happened, as well as created a mockup of this scenario. Do I think I’m right? I don’t think it matters, just thought you would want to see what It appears to me happened, at least in terms of the where the damage is and what the course info we do have suggests.

Based on whats here, and a diagram I drew out to help me picture it, it appears to me that the Fitzgerald was always on a collision path with the Crystal. The fitz on a heading something like 100 degrees and the Crystal something like 85 degrees. My guess is that the crew of the Fitzgerald saw the plot of the Crystal and assuming it stayed on speed and heading that they would cross behind or in front of the Crystal safely.

Advertisement

What happened instead is that the Crystal changed course to, say, 45 degrees turning into the projected path of the Fitzgerald (which is still the giveway vessel) and the margin went to zero. Whether the course change was automated or commanded is up for debate. It appears on my maps as if the Crystal was following established shipping lanes, my guess is in full autopilot mode.

Why the Fitzgerald didn’t react at all (seemingly, with a lack of collision alarm) is a mystery as is the reason such a course was plotted in the first place (though there are explanations for that to a degree)

Both ships seems to have been in autopilot here, both literally and figuratively.