April 26, 2018

Seven sailors missing after United States destroyer collides with container ship

18 June 2017, 02:31 | Darrell Baldwin

The Navy said that the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

'We are coordinating with the relevant authorities including the governments of the USA and Japan to determine exactly the extent of damage and the number of casualties, especially if any Filipino nationals are involved, ' it said.

No casualty or injury from the Philippine vessel was reported as of yesterday afternoon. None of the crew members were injured in the incident.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families", Trump posted on Twitter.

The crash involving the USS Fitzgerald guided missile destroyer occurred in a busy waterway about 100km south-west from its home port of Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo.

The USS Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr.

Three of the destroyer's crew members, including Commander Bryce Benson, were medically evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka.

Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated, it said.

Forces overnight intensified their search for the missing sailors and tried to get a handle on the cause of a crash in a busy maritime zone crossed daily by 400 to 500 ships.

The ship's commanding officer was among three people aboard to be hospitalised.

"My daughter is on the Fitzgerald", a parent wrote on the 7th Fleet's Facebook page.

The cause of the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and the 29,000-ton ACX Crystal is now unknown, but container ship collisions are not unknown.

The 7th Fleet later said the destroyer was sailing under its own power but on limited propulsion.

Sailors also may have gotten trapped in compartments below deck, Schuster said, pointing out that container ships have a bulbous bow below the water line that could have plowed into the U.S. warship.

The Japanese Coast Guard said it received an emergency call from a Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal at around 2:20 a.m. that it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka, Japan. At around 29,000 tons displacement, the ship dwarfs the 8,315-ton USA warship, and was carrying 1,080 containers from the port of Nagoya to Tokyo.

"The embassy said that they are ready to extend all necessary assistance to Filipino seamen onboard the ship", he added.

The US P-8 Poseidon aircraft is working with two Japanese Navy helicopters and the P-3 Orion aircraft in an aerial search of the area.

It was not clear where the missing sailors were when the collision happened.

Global maritime rules for collision avoidance do not define right of way for any one vessel, but provide common standards for signaling between ships, as well as regulations on posting lookouts.

"It could have been worse, so we're grateful", she said.

"(We) were sailing in the same direction as the U.S. destroyer was and then collided", he was quoted as saying by Jiji Press news agency.

The U.S. 7th Fleet says on its Facebook page that it is working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medical evacuation for a sailor by helicopter, and that there are now no reports of deaths. They were later joined by Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

The search continues for the seven sailors missing.

Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted: "Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. Thinking of all of our sailors and their families!"

The crash destroyed two berthing spaces, a machinery room, and the radio room, according to the USA 7th Fleet.

Photos of the Crystal showed damage to its bow. The ship had left the base on Friday for routine operations. The Japanese Coastguard told CNN that the United States destroyer and the merchant ship collided off the coast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. "We will fully cooperate with authorities investigating the case".

The USS Fitzgerald, flanked by two tug boats and other support vessels, was listing to its right as it slowly approached Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo.

The Fitzgerald suffered damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline. Images broadcast by NHK showed it had been struck next to its Aegis radar arrays behind its vertical launch tubes. The US Navy said the destroyer was taking on water in the aftermath of the incident and was trying to keep the ship stable by pumping flooded water out of the hold.

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

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