National

Japan drops charges against foreign crewmen in deadly USS Fitzgerald-ACX Crystal collision

Kyodo

Prosecutors dropped charges Friday against two foreign crewmen who were accused of failing to prevent the fatal collision between the USS Fitzgerald and the Philippine containership ACX Crystal last June.

The crewmen, one from the Aegis-equipped U.S. Navy destroyer and another from the Philippine-flagged freighter, were in charge of keeping watch at the time of the accident, which took place off Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on June 17.

The two were referred to prosecutors earlier this month on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in the deaths of seven U.S. sailors and injuries to three others from the destroyer.

But the prosecutors decided not to indict the crewman from the Fitzgerald in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, which gives the United States the primary right to exercise jurisdiction when an offense by a U.S. service member is deemed to have been committed while on duty.

The prosecutors said they also dropped charges against the crewman from the ACX Crystal because they could not determine if he was liable for the collision either.

The accident took place when the 29,060-ton container ship ACX Crystal, operated by Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K., T-boned the 8,315-ton Fitzgerald about 20 km southeast of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture.