[6/17/17] Seven U.S. sailors are unaccounted for after a Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, early Saturday local time, the Navy said.
The USS Fitzgerald, a 505-foot destroyer, collided with a Philippine container vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday local time (1:30 p.m. ET Friday), about 56 nautical miles of Yokosuka, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.
The ship, which had experienced some flooding after the collision, and the Japanese Coast Guard were searching for the seven missing sailors, the Fleet said.
“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors,” Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement. “We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.”
The Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was injured and transported by helicopter to the U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition, the Fleet said. Two other were also injured and flown by helicopter to the naval hospital. the Navy said.
The Fleet said earlier that some flooding was reported on the Fitzgerald, but it remained under its own power but propulsion was limited.
The Fitzgerald suffered damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline, the Fleet said earlier. A U.S. Navy official said after the collision that the bridge was damaged and communication with the ship was limited and difficult.