US Navy identifies all seven sailors killed in Japan collision

Frederick Owens
June 19, 2017

The ship's captain, Cmdr. Or was it a quiet night with so little to do that the crew became bored and complacent?

Aucoin said Benson, who is in stable condition with a head injury, "is lucky to be alive".

The Fitzgerald's bridge nearly certainly was crewed, by sailors and officers on the overnight "midwatch", and those are the watchstanders who may have made the critical decisions about what to do or not do before the collision.

Many of the Fitzgerald's crew were asleep when the incident happened.

On Monday morning in Japan, the Navy's 7th Fleet identified the seven sailors who died.

He also praised their colleagues for saving the USS Fitzgerald from further damage and bringing it back to port.

The ship, he continued, experienced rapid flooding of three large compartments that included a machinery room and two berthing areas for the ship's 116-member crew.

About 200 sailors were aboard the ship at the time of the collision.

He said he expected that officials would be punished once the navy had completed its "thorough" and "clear" investigation. "There was a big gash under the water", Aucoin said at the Yokosuka naval base, home of the USA 7th Fleet.

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"We're just heartbroken because we know that there's families out there that aren't receiving the good news that we have received, they're receiving the worst news possible for the Navy family", he said.

A "tremendous" amount of water flooded through the huge gash, in the words of Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US 7th Fleet.

Masayuki Obara, a Japanese coast guard official, said the coast guard was interviewing the crew of the ACX Crystal to determine, among other things, whether negligent piloting by either side contributed to the collision. 'We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance'.

Near where the sea lanes converge for the run into Tokyo Bay, the USS Fitzgerald was on a routine mission - though in these waters, mariners say, routine means always taking extra caution. "Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates". "The names of the sailors will be released after all notifications are made", the Navy said in a statement without specifying the number of bodies that had been recovered.

Although the collision occurred in Japanese waters, under a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that defines the scope of the U.S. military's authority in Japan, the U.S. Navy could claim it has the authority to lead the investigations.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 730 feet long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer.

Her grandson Jackson Schrimsher is a 23-year-old sailor aboard the USS Fitzgerald.

The collision happened 56 nautical miles (104 kilometres) southwest of Yokosuka, where the Fitzgerald is based, in a busy shipping channel that is a gateway to major container ports in Tokyo and nearby Yokohama.

Former State Department spokesman and Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Saturday that the Navy will likely hold to account whomever is responsible for a warship collision off the coast of Japan.

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