Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Bodies found in search of U.S. destroyer damaged in collision

The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room.

Benson took command of the Fitzgerald on May 13. "You will see the USS Fitzgerald back", he said.

After stabilizing the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer USS Dewey had joined other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.

"Right now, we are focused on first things first, and that is the safety of the ship as we continue to damage control now that the ship is in port", Breckenridge said.

Seven sailors were reported missing when the collision happened, but not all of those missing were recovered, US Navy spokeswoman Yoko Kato said.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families". He wouldn't say how many, pending notification of next of kin.

United States 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.

There is some confusion over exactly how many bodies have been recovered: while the US Navy said "a number", Japanese reports said all seven had been found dead.

The Fitzgerald was operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, when it hit the container ship at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time.

The bodies were found in the berthing compartments, the navy spokesman said, suggesting they could have been asleep at time of collision.

"The water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea".

They are being taken to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified.

Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were also flown out by helicopter.

Benson's cabin was destroyed, Aucoin said.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though Yutaka Saito of the coast guard said the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

Vice Admiral Aucoin would not speculate on the cause of the collision.

NYK and the ship's owner are cooperating with a Japan Coast Guard investigation into the collision, the shipping firm said.

The 29,000 tonne container ship, ASX Crystal, dwarfed the 8,000 tonne guided missile destroyer.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Tokyo on Saturday, Michael Penn, a journalist with the Shingetsu news agency said it was "very bizarre" that such an incident had happened.

The ACX Crystal has docked at Tokyo's Oi wharf, where its 20 Filipino crew members are being questioned. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage.

Nippon Yusen KK, which chartered the merchant vessel, said it would "cooperate fully" with the investigation into the crash.

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