Missing Fitzgerald sailors found in flooded compartments

"Prayers go out to their families and all their friends and all their fellow sailors who are also feeling a range of emotions right now", Cormier said.

"The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this hard time", the Navy said.

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). The damaged USS Fitzgerald, right, is seen near the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, after the U.S. destroyer collided with the Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal in the waters off the Izu Penins.

The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning, Japan time, after the guided-missile destroyer returned to its base in Japan.

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

The ACX Crystal, which was carrying a crew of 20, including the captain, was "slightly damaged" in the crash, the department said. They are safe. The ship itself was slightly damaged from the incident, added DFA. It is operated by Nippon Yusen KK, a Japanese shipping company, and was on its way from Nagoya port at the time of the collision.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said the country's embassy in Tokyo had been advised by Japanese authorities "that there are no Filipino casualties so far".

"There was a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline" along the bottom of the ship, Aucoin said.

USA 7 Fleet announced the discovery of bodies in the flooded crew quarters, saying the bodies were being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka for identification. Two other crew suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated, it said.

The sailors have been missing since Fitzgerald collided early Saturday morning with a merchant ship almost four-times its size off the coast of Japan.

The Fitzgerald was damaged above and below the water line on the starboard side near the bridge, a Navy official said Saturday. He had previously commanded a minesweeper based in Sasebo in western Japan.'PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE'It was unclear how the collision happened.

"Japanese investigators have questioned the crew of the ACX Crystal about the collision, and they say they'll be cooperating with USA officials in determining why it happened, which is still unclear".

It wasn't clear what caused the crash. The bodies are being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

Search crews found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the ship that were damaged in the collision.

Naval commanders praised the sailors for containing flooding caused by the collision, stabilizing the ship and sailing it back to port at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka.

"It's been a tough day for our Navy family".

As of 2 p.m. local time on Sunday, Aucoin said they had discontinued search and rescue.

The area is particularly busy with sea traffic, said Yutaka Saito of the coast guard.

U.S. President Donald Trump thanked Japan for its help, which involved multiple vessels and planes being deployed to search for the missing sailors following the pre-dawn collison.

The Fitzgerald, with around 330 crew members, is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, among the largest and most advanced built by the US.

  • Leroy Wright