The U.S. Navy and Japanese coast guard reported seven missing Navy sailors and at two –up till now- were injured after a U.S. battleship collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan on Saturday’s dawn.
Critical damage to the mid-right side of the USS Fitzgerald and a person being lifted to a helicopter was showed by a footage from the Japanese TV network NHK. The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that first commander Bryce Benson was taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition and another injured person was being evacuated but gave no further details on the crew’s injuries.
The Navy said that the collision happened at the home of the 7th Fleet which is 103 kilometers southwest of Yokosuka. Footage showed the affected ship being flanked slowly by a tugboat.
The Fitzgerald had compromised propulsions after suffering damage on it’s side below the water line and a U.S. defense official said there was flooding in three compartments. It isn’t clear yet what caused the collision between the destroyer and the container ship four times its size. Most of the more than 200 sailors would have been asleep in their berthing, some of which were reportedly flooded.
“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 Japan coast guard received an emergency call from a Philippine registered container ship ‘ACX Crystal’ around 2:20 a.m. that it had collided with the Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka. Relatives of crew members are still awaiting for news from their beloved ones.
The Container Ship
The Philippine ship is 29,060 tons and is 222 meters long, the coast guard said. Takeshi Aikawa of the Japan coast guard said that so far no significant damage or injuries were reported on the container ship.
However, NHK reported that the merchant ship had some scratches on the left side of its bow. The fleet said the USS Dewey, medical assistance, Navy tugs and naval aircraft were dispatched.
The Japan coast guard dispatched five patrol ships and an aircraft carrying medics to the site for search and rescue operations. The Navy’s Pacific Fleet said the extent of damage to the Fitzgerald is being determined and the incident is under investigation.