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USS Fitzgerald accident under investigation

The "Internet of Ships" has garnered a lot of discussion in the wake of the fatal boat accident between the USS Fitzgerald and the ACX Crystal in southwest Japan. That busy area is one of the most congested shipping lanes, and the tragic accident claimed seven lives aboard the USS Fitzgerald. A full investigation is underway -- but internet sleuths have already latched onto the Automated Identification System (AIS) data provided by the Crystal in an effort to figure out what went on during the fateful collision.

AIS has been called the "Internet of Ships." It was created in the late 1990s and it using radio-based location data so that ships can see where they are headed and where other ships are. In our source article, you can see screenshots of how AIS data can be used to locate ships and track their courses. Additionally, you can see just how crowded the shipping lane is where the accident occurred.

Two big points from this specific collision between the Fitzgerald and the Crystal. The first is that the Crystal had a disjointed and unorganized course in the moments prior to the crash. But the second is just as important: the USS Fitzgerald did not have its transponder on for AIS purposes, so the Crystal couldn't even see it via AIS.

There is still a lot of investigating that needs to be done in relation to this accident, but this is a reminder of how dangerous it is to be at sea and how many different forms of information are available to maritime workers.

Source: Ars Technica, "'Internet of Ships' tells tale of USS Fitzgerald tragedy -- or half of it," Sean Gallagher, June 20, 2017

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