USS Fitzgerald: Navy Stops Search for 7 Missing Sailors After Bodies Found

YOKOSUKA, Japan — The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with a merchant ship in waters off Japan was called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship’s flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, addressed reporters at a Navy base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, but wouldn’t say how many bodies were recovered, pending notification of next of kin.

The USS Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the collision with the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal around 2:20 a.m. Saturday. Aucoin paid tribute to the crew’s efforts to save their ship, saying they prevented it from sinking.

The U.S.S. Fitzgerald returned to Yokosuka Naval Base with the help of tugboats after its collision with the container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Yokosuka, Japan. Credit Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency

“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 so the water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea,” he said. “And as you can see now the ship is still listing, so they had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic.”

Much of the crew was asleep, he said, and one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew members were severely damaged, along with the captain’s cabin. About 300 crew members were on board.

United States military personnel preparing to transfer an injured person on board the U.S.S. Fitzgerald on Saturday off Izu Peninsula, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship.CreditJapanese Defense Ministry, via Associated Press

“His cabin was destroyed, he is lucky to be alive,” Aucoin said of Cmdr. Bryce Benson, who was airlifted by helicopter from the ship after daybreak for medical treatment.

Navy divers found “a number of” bodies in the ship Sunday, the Navy said, a day after it returned to the base in Yokosuka with the help of tug boats.

The victims might have killed by the impact of the crash or drowned in the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell, who led news media on a visit to get a first-hand look at the mangled vessel.

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God Bless all who go to sea.

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One Response to “USS Fitzgerald: Navy Stops Search for 7 Missing Sailors After Bodies Found”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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