Pilothouse audio released from USS Porter’s collision with supertanker

Posted at 10:42 AM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-14 10:50:09-04

Norfolk, Va. – A newly released recording reveals the chaos on the bridge of the USS Porter before it collided with a supertanker in the Strait of Hormuz in August. The impact can be heard starting at the 3:10 mark.

The recording was obtained by the Navy Times via a Freedom of Information Act request.

On the recording, the Porter’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Martin Arriola, can be heard ordering an unusual turn to the left.

Meanwhile, the destroyer was on a course to dart through tankers headed in the opposite direction.

Arriola returned to the bridge. He and his watchstanders saw a ship ahead that seemed to show the international signal warning other ships to stay clear. Porter turned to port, an unusual move, and crossed ahead of it. Then they spotted something a mariner never wants to see: the bow of another ship, which had been hidden behind the other vessel.

The officer of the deck recommended turning right immediately, the standard maneuver. Arriola disagreed. The ship slowed instead, the crew weighing their options. But the supertanker continued bearing down. The OOD recognized that the merchant was crossing ahead of them but didn’t press the issue. In the confusion, Arriola made a fateful choice — turn left and streak across a vessel’s bow for the second time.

“Hard left rudder!” Arriola bellowed, according to a pilothouse recording. Arriola ordered five whistle blasts, the danger signal, and full speed to try to make it across the tanker’s path.

“All engines ahead flank,” Arriola ordered. “Let’s go. Get me up there, flank!”

Porter did not make it clear in time.

Read more at the Navy Times

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