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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 20 - 26  > MSDF Aegis destroyer collides with fishing boat; 2 fishermen missing
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2008 February 20 - 26 [SDF]

MSDF Aegis destroyer collides with fishing boat; 2 fishermen missing

February 20, 2008
The Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyer Atago (7,750-tons) collided with the fishing boat Seitoku Maru (7.3-tons) and cut it half in the Pacific Ocean about 40 km off Chiba Prefecture around 4:07 a.m. on February 19. Two fishermen, a 58-year-old father and 23-year-old son, were missing.

The Atago, the MSDF’s fifth and newest Aegis destroyer that was commissioned just one year ago, was on its way back from a missile testing exercise conducted off the coast of Hawaii. At the time of the accident, visibility was good with the range of about 20 km. The warship had guards on duty at both sides as well as its stern, and about ten crew members were on the bridge. Its sea radar was also functioning.

The Atago’s damage at its bow suggests that the warship hit the fishing boat hard at a right angle. In accordance with the Law for Preventing Collision at Sea, a ship which sights another ship coming from the right direction must take measures to avoid collision, so the Atago was responsible to take such measures.

In July 1988, the MSDF submarine Nadashio, which was surfacing, collided with a leisure fishing boat near Yokosuka Port resulting in 30 deaths. The High Marine Accidents Inquiry Agency acknowledged that in addition to the submarine’s inadequate monitoring, it failed to take evasive measures and pulled the rudder too late due to the failure to convey the steering order when approaching the boat.

It is doubtful if the MSDF has learned from its past accidents. The government and the Japan Coast Guard must conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the Atago’s collision.
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