Bodies of Missing Sailors Recovered from USS Fitzgerald

Danny Woods
June 19, 2017

The bodies of seven US sailors missing after a Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan were found in flooded berthing compartments, a defense official said.

On Sunday, the US Navy said a number of missing sailors were found dead in the ship's flooded compartments.

Abe wrote, "I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this hard time", praising US servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact. USA authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors, although Aucoin declined to say how many bodies had been recovered until relatives of the dead sailors are notified.

The U.S. Navy says the search is continuing for seven missing American sailors in the sea off Japan, after a collision between a Navy destroyer and a huge cargo ship.

USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Benson was flown off the crippled ship by helicopter after the accident and was being treated at the naval hospital at the United States naval base at Yosuka, Japan, said Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, 7th Fleet commander, as were two other sailors who were medevaced. Bryce Benson, was airlifted early Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition with a head injury, the Navy said.

At least three other crew members, including the captain, were injured in the crash, which damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room and exposed a mangled mid-right side of the ship.

On Saturday the ship returned under its own power to port in Yokosuka, Japan, though it sustained severe damage from its collision with the ACX Crystal, which is significantly larger than the Fitzgerald.

He also praised their colleagues for saving the USS Fitzgerald from further damage and bringing it back to port. There were 285 crew on board.

In a Twitter message issued yesterday, President Donald J. Trump said his "thoughts and prayers [are] with the sailors of the USS Fitzgerald and their families".

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Vice Adm. Aucoin wouldn't speculate on the cause of the collision in an area busy with sea traffic.

Benson reported as the ship's executive officer November 2015, the Navy said. They were transferred to a USA naval hospital for identification, it said.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander for the Navy's 7th Fleet, described the damage and flooding to the USS Fitzgerald, which included a big puncture under the waterline, as extensive.

Meanwhile, none of the 20 crew members aboard the Philippine-flagged container ship were injured. Aerial images aired on Japanese television appeared to show the bow on its left side was dented but the vessel did not appear to have any major damage. "It could have been much worse", he said.

However, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman said not all of the missing bodies were recovered.

"This was a severe emergency, but the ship's crew was swift and responsive and I can't tell you how proud I am of the crew for what they did to save the ship", Aucoin said.

Both Aucoin and the Japanese coast guard, however, said it was too early to determine what led to the collision.

At around 29,000 tons displacement, the ship dwarfs the 8,315-ton U.S. warship.

"An investigation will no doubt be conducted in weeks and months ahead." he said.

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