Missing US sailors found dead in ship damaged off Japan, Navy says

Seven U.S. sailors went missing after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship early Saturday off Japan's coast.

The first, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.

Aucoin said 116 crew members were in two berthing rooms, majority likely resting at the time of the collision.

Fitzgerald's commander, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was evacuated by a Japanese naval helicopter while USA military copters evacuated two injured U.S. sailors.

The victims might have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell, who led the media on a visit to get a firsthand look at the mangled destroyer.

"As search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision this morning, the missing sailors were located", the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

He had previously commanded a minesweeper based in Sasebo in western Japan.'PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE'It was unclear how the collision happened.

The collision badly damaged Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room.

The Navy says the remains are being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified. Because the collision happened at night, most of the ship's crew were asleep in their berths.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, U.S. 7th Fleet Commander, speaks to media, June 18, 2017.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, damaged by colliding with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen next to a tugboat (R) off Shimoda, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo June 17, 2017.

The Pentagon set up a hotline for families of the crew of the Fitzgerald to check on the status of loved ones.

Japan's coast guard officials said the sea and air search was still continuing at the site of the collision.

Two other sailors were also evacuated and treated for lacerations and bruises, while crew were still assessing the other injured.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump said: "Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families". "Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance".

The container ship ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters - 730 feet - long, much larger than the 8,315-ton Navy destroyer.

All Filipino crew members aboard the merchant ship that collided with the USS Fitzgerald are safe, but several American sailors were confirmed to have died from the incident. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, and it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.

The ACX Crystal container ship is chartered by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) and owned by Dainichi-Invest Corporation, NYK said.

  • Zachary Reyes