Warship Collision: 7 missing US Navy sailors found dead

Abe wrote, "I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this hard time", praising USA servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact.

Yesterday, US authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors as they ended the search, but declined to say how many bodies had been found until the families were notified.

The remains are being taken to the Naval Hospital Yokosuka for identification.

The collision between the 10,000-ton USS Fitzgerald and the 29,000-ton merchant vessel ACX Crystal occurred early Saturday local time almost 60 miles from the coast of Japan. The area sees heavy maritime traffic, with 400 to 500 vessels crossing it daily.

The damage to the ship is extensive, the Navy Times reported.

The collision caused severe damage to the ship's starboard side above and below the water line and caused flooding in several parts of the ship, according to a statement obtained by CNN.

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

The Fitzgerald had left the base Friday for routine operations.

Three sailors were injured in the accident, including Commander Bryce Benson, USS Fitzgerald's commanding officer.

The bodies were being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka for identification, the statement said. He added that he "highly respects people involved in the U.S. military who every day make a big contribution for protecting peace for our nation and the region under the strong U.S. -Japan alliance".

"An investigation will no doubt be conducted in weeks and moths ahead..." he said. "This has been a hard day", Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the Seventh Fleet, said.

Japan's coast guard officials said the sea and air search was still continuing at the site of the collision, 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet. The vessel is 505 feet long.

The ship completed $21 million in upgrades and repairs in February and is now forward-deployed to Yokosuka, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the service said.

An injured crew member (C) of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, damaged after colliding with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is carried on a stretcher on the destroyer off Shimoda, Japan June 17, 2017.

No one aboard the Crystal was hurt, and no oil spilled from the vessel, NYK said.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley says the Navy is deeply saddened and promised a full investigation into a collision between a destroyer and a container ship off Japan that killed seven sailors.

"Our thoughts and deep concerns go out to all those directly affected", NYK said. Footage from Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a sharp horizontal cut across the bow area, which looked like a shark's mouth.

  • Salvatore Jensen