USS Fitzgerald 7 missing sailors found dead in flooded compartments
Posted: 2017-Jun-19 21.00.18 UTC+0800
TOKYO — All seven bodies of U.S. crew members missing after a collision between the U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine container vessel a day earlier have been found, the Navy's 7th Fleet said in a statement on Sunday.
The bodies were found in a living space aboard the Navy destroyer that along with a machine room, had become flooded after the collision, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said.
The U.S. military will now proceed to confirm the identity of the bodies, it said.
Three others were injured in the collision, local media said, including Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the Fitzgerald's commanding officer, who is in a stable condition in hospital. Two other crew members were airlifted to hospital also with non-life-threatening injuries, the Navy said.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, the collision occurred about 100 kilometers southwest of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, and was first reported by the Philippine container vessel at around 2:25 a.m. local time on Saturday.
Along with the U.S. Navy, the Japan Coast Guard is investigating the collision and has questioned crew members of the 29,060-ton Philippine ACX Crystal container vessel on suspicion of possible endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence, according to local media reports.
NHK said that a record aboard the Philippine ship shows that it took a sharp right turn southeast of the Izu Peninsula at around 1:30 a.m., about an hour before the collision was reported.
The vessel, which was carrying 1,080 containers, was recorded as traveling east for 30 minutes before making a U-turn and doubling back into the waters where the collision with the 8,315-ton Aegis-equipped Fitzgerald took place.
The 154 meter-long U.S. guided-missile destroyer, which suffered considerable damage to its right side in the collision, is part of the U.S. 7th Fleet and returned to the Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, about 50 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.
The 222.6-meter-long Philippine ship, which was sailing towards Tokyo, had scrape marks from the collision on the left side of its bow section. The vessel has docked at a port in Tokyo. (PNA)