Search for 7 US Navy sailors ends after bodies found on ship

Patrice Gainsbourg
Junho 19, 2017

The bodies of several missing USA sailors were found in the flooded berthing compartments of the damaged naval destroyer Fitzgerald on Sunday, a day after it was rammed by a container ship four times its size off the Japanese coast, the Navy said in a statement and a Twitter post.

Personnel from the US Navy confirmed that 4 seamen were injured and 7 others went missing when a merchant vessel hit the american destroyer the USS Fitzgerald, the accident took place in Japan, Fox News confirmed that one of the deceased victims was the captain. Aucoin, speaking at a news conference at the base, wouldn't say how many bodies were recovered, pending notification of next of kin.

USS Fitzgerald, aided by tug boats, returned to Yokosuka at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Search crews found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the ship that were damaged in the collision.

Two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room were damaged and began taking in water after the destroyer was rammed mid-right side of the ship.

"His cabin was destroyed, he is lucky to be alive", Aucoin said of Benson.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

"Families of the deceased are now being alerted and provided the help they need during this challenging time", the 7th Fleet stated.

The container ship appeared to have hit the Aegis class destroyer nearly square on, severely damaging the berthing compartments where the sailors were sleeping.

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Two others were airlifted off the ship and treated in the hospital for lacerations and bruises.

The Navy's statement did not say how numerous seven missing sailors had been found, whether any had been found alive, or whether a search was continuing for some of the missing in the Pacific around the area where the accident took place, some 60 miles off the coast.

The collision occurred about 2:20 a.m. Saturday about 50 miles southwest of the U.S. Navy base at Yokosuka. Most of the damage is below the waterline, including a large gash near the keel, Aucoin said.

Aucoin said, "I'm not going to speculate on what happened".

The fully loaded Crystal is almost four times the size of the Fitzgerald, and photos from the scene showed scrapes to the port side of its bow.

The container ship ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 metres (730 feet) long, much larger than the 8,315-ton Navy destroyer.

USA and Japanese aircraft and surface ships launched a search looking for the unaccounted-for sailors after the collision. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, and it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.

Japan's Nippon Yusen KK, which charters the container ship, ACX Crystal, said in a statement on Saturday it would "cooperate fully" with the Coast Guard's investigation of the incident.

The container ship was seen making a U-turn before the collision on some ship trackers, a move that has raised questions about what happened.

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