Navy crew missing, skipper hurt after collision off Japan

Crew members from the destroyer USS Dewey had helped stabilise the damaged destroyer after it collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan, leaving at least three sailors injured, in addition to the seven missing.

Japanese news agency NHK reported, citing the coast guard, that in addition to seven missing USA sailors, one was injured in the crash.

Takeshi Aikawa of the Japan coast guard said that so far no damage or injuries were reported on the container ship, he said.

Among the three injured sailors is the destroyer's commanding officer, Cmdr.

Three crew onboard the USA ship were evacuated, including the vessel's commanding officer. Two additional personnel have been medevac'd from Fitzgerald to USNH-Yokosuka by Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 (HSC-12) for lacerations and bruises.

The Fitzgerald was damaged above and below the water line on the starboard side near the bridge, a Navy official said.

It is not clear what caused the collision or how much notice the crew had before the collision. Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths, some of which were reportedly flooded. The Japan coast guard dispatched five patrol ships and an aircraft carrying medics to the site for search and rescue operations.

US 7th Fleet Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin said the search was continuing in a statement released almost 24 hours after the USS Fitzgerald, an Aegis guided missile destroyer, collided with the much larger Philippine-flagged merchant vessel 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.

The commanding officer of the USS Fitzgerald, Commander Bryce Benson, had to be medically evacuated after the collision, which took place at approximately 2:30 A.M. local time Saturday while the ship was sailing 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, according to a Navy statement.

The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet says two crew members, including the captain, have been evacuated from the Navy destroyer.

Her grandson Jackson Schrimsher is a 23-year-old sailor aboard the USS Fitzgerald. She last heard from him a few days ago.

The 7th fleet said the collision was with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.

The U.S. Navy Japan has set up hotlines for families of crew members.

"We're just pretty anxious", she said via phone from Wausau, Wis. The Japanese Coast Guard was at the scene assisting. NHK also showed footage of the container vessel and said it was heading towards Tokyo under its own power.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK showed aerial footage of the destroyer, which had a large dent in its right, or starboard, side. No one on the container ship has been reported injured.

The Navy's Pacific Fleet said the extent of damage to the Fitzgerald was being determined and the incident was under investigation.

The 7th Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, thanked the Japanese Coast guard in a post on the fleet's Facebook page, adding: "We are committed to ensuring the safe return of the ship to port in Yokosuka".

  • Leroy Wright