Search team finds bodies of missing sailors inside US Navy shipwreck

Seven sailors were reported missing after Saturday's predawn collision between the USA navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a container ship, triggering a major search operation off Japan's Pacific coast.

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

Japanese media said all seven of the sailors who had been reported missing were found dead.

The Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a crew of approximately 330 sailors.

The seven sailors were thought to have been thrown into the sea or possibly trapped inside damaged sections of the destroyer, said Japanese coast guard spokesman Yoshihito Nakamura. He was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is said to be in a stable condition.

After the collision, with large volumes of water flooding into two berthing compartments, the radio room and auxiliary machine room, the crew "fought hard to keep the ship above the surface", Vice Admiral Aucoin said.

Search and rescue workers found the bodies inside the USS Fitzgerald after it returned to port at the Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo.

But Japanese media reported all seven had been found dead. Benson was taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka. He had previously commanded a minesweeper based in Sasebo in western Japan.

A number of sailors' bodies that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found.

The ACX Crystal, which was carrying a crew of 20, including the captain, was "slightly damaged" in the crash, the department said. "So it was traumatic", Aucoin said, calling the crew's efforts heroic.

The initial Navy investigation will gather facts about what happened, with the 7th Fleet commander eventually deciding what disciplinary action is warranted, the official said.

A U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft is working in concert with two Japanese military helicopters and a Japanese P-3 Orion aircraft to search the area, according to a release.

"The incident is now under investigation", the statement said.

"You can't see most of the damage, the damage is mostly underneath the waterline, and it's a large gash near the keel of the ship", he said.

The 10,000-ton guided-missile destroyer and the ACX Crystal, a 29,000-ton container ship collided off Japan's Izu Peninsula.

He said "a significant portion of the crew was sleeping" when the destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship, the ACX Crystal.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sympathy message to U.S. President Donald Trump, saying, "We are struck by deep sorrow".

NYK and the ship's owner are cooperating with a Japan Coast Guard investigation into the collision, the shipping firm said. The Fitzgerald's commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson, and two other crew members were reportedly injured in the crash as well.

  • Leroy Wright