Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

Multiple Sailors Missing After US Destroyer Collides With Container Ship

The U.S. Navy says the USS Fitzgerald suffered damage below the water line on its starboard side after it collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant ship.

"This has been a hard day", Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the USA 7th Fleet, said in a statement.

(Japan's Defense Ministry via AP).

The guided missile destroyer recently took part in a training exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, along with the aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan.

The missing sailors could be trapped in a damaged section of the destroyer, a statement from the 7th Fleet suggested.

(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann/U.S. Navy via AP). The USS Fitzgerald is an Aegis guided missile destroyer, and is based in an area where many fear that World War 3 could begin.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, damaged by colliding with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is towed by a tugboat upon its arrival at the US naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan June 17, 2017.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families".

Seven Navy sailors were reported missing and the captain and at least two others were injured in the crash which happened just before dawn.

Two other sailors were also evacuated from the ship and treated for lacerations and bruises.

Family members were frantically seeking news, appealing via social media for calls from sailors aboard the ship.

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A spokesman for the USA 7th Fleet said the ship was heading back to Yokosuka under its own power at three knots.

Vice Admiral Joseph P Aucoin, the commander of the 7th Fleet, said: "This has been a hard day".

The severely damaged Fitzgerald limped into Yokosuka harbor, and the Pentagon confirms that search efforts are underway for the Fitzgerald's seven missing crew members.

The ship completed $21 million in upgrades and repairs in February and is now forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the service said.

Benson took command of the Fitzgerald on 13 May. Bryce Benson, who was reportedly in stable condition after being airlifted to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, the Navy said. It is unclear how many others may have been hurt.

The U.S. destroyer collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged 730-foot container ship, around 2:30 a.m. local time some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

"Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors", said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal is seen in the waters off Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, after it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

The Japanese Coast Guard is on the scene and a U.S. official said that United States tugboats and other Navy assets, including aircraft, are on the way. The damage to the Fitzgerald resulted in some flooding. "Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance", US President Donald Trump tweeted.

Nippon Yusen said in a statement, "We are collaborating with the ship owner and fully cooperating with the investigation by the coast guard".

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