Bodies found in search of USA destroyer damaged in collision

Virginia Carter
June 19, 2017

The US Seventh Fleet said on Sunday that the bodies of a number of sailors who were missing after the US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container vessel were found in flooded compartments of the damaged ship.

The navy said that the families of those who were found were being notified and provided the support they need during "this hard time". "Divers were able to access the space and found a number of bodies", the Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

The coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and is treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

The Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a crew of approximately 330 sailors.

The crew members went missing when the destroyer collided with a shipping vessel around 2:30am local time Saturday 56 nautical miles south of Yokosuka, Japan.

Benson is one of three injured sailors who were transferred by helicopter to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka for treatment after the collision.

The damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen near the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, after the destroyer collided with a container ship off the Izu Peninsula June 17, 2017.

The collision badly damaged Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room.

Joseph Aucoin declined to say how many bodies were recovered from USS Fitzgerald after it returned to its home port in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The ship, which handles general cargo, is manned by a captain and a crew of 20, NYK said.

Aucoin said repairs to the ship could take months, and hopefully would be done in less than a year.

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An information center with available counselors has been set up at the US naval base in Yokosuka.

"The search and rescue is over", United States 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin told reporters Sunday.

Marine traffic records suggest the ACX Crystal, a 222-meter Filipino-flagged container ship, made a sudden U-turn roughly 25 minutes before the crash. "It could have been worse, so we're grateful", she said by phone.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sympathy message to U.S. President Donald Trump, saying, "We are struck by deep sorrow. Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates".

NHK also described the other vessel as a Philippine merchant ship, and the United States 7th Fleet tweeted that it was the ACX Crystal, a 29,000 ton container vessel.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of the crew and what they did to save this ship", he added.

Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell said the victims might have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding.

Under my authority, I am initiating a JAGMAN investigation into this collision, and I will appoint a flag officer to lead that investigation.

More information on any further investigations will be forthcoming, the admiral said.

Aucoin said that sea water gushed into sleeping compartments and that part of the ship's right side was caved in.

Other reports by BadHub

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