Letter to the editor on the USS Fitzgerald

Published 12:24 am Saturday, June 24, 2017

To the editor,

I read with interest your article on the terrible collision of the USS Fitzgerald and a merchant ship. This incident should not have happened.

As a radarman responsible for navigating a ship very similar to the Fitzgerald, I feel responsibility to explain why those seven sailors died needlessly.

All warships have a minimum of three radars going at all times — including a scope on the bridge, which shows all ships and planes approaching the warship within 100-plus miles.

As the object (plane or ship) gets closer to the warship, the radar operator reports every minute to the officer in charge. When the plane or ship gets on a collision course with the warship, all radar operators call attention to the possible collision. Immediately, the officer in charge gives the order to change course. The alarm should have been given at that time.

There is a written record of the courses of the Fitzgerald and the merchant ship, which rammed it. This info is found on the DRT-Dead Reconning Tracer. In addition, sailors stand watch with binoculars on the warships bow 24/7. Without speculating the variables, it appears that there was human error by the radarman advising the officer in charge or that the merchant ship which had made a U-turn did intentionally ram the USS Fitzgerald — terrorism?

I have the utmost confidence in the U.S. Navy and its radar system, it is my hope this can be avoided in the future. Human error is understandable, but not acceptable. Our country and the families have lost seven honorable sailors, so it is my hope a full investigation is given the American people.

God bless the souls of our lost seamen.

Joseph L. Loviza

Radarman, RD-2, USS Mitscher (DL-2)