U.S. and Japan Search for 7 Missing Sailors Following Container Ship Crash w/ USS Fitzgerald

Following a puzzling crash between the American destroyer the USS Fitzgerald and an Philippine-flagged container ship Friday, U.S. Naval resources with assistance of the Japanese are searching for 7 missing sailors off the coast of Japan.

According to reports, while the reason for the collision is still unknown, the massive container ship struck the USS Fitzgerald severely damaging two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room of the destroyer with over 200 American personnel aboard.

Following the crash, the USS Fitzgerald began to take on water, however the ship has since been stabilized.

As reported by the Associated Press, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the captain of the USS Fitzgerald was airlifted early Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan and has been listed in stable condition with a head injury.

It is unclear how many other U.S. personnel were injured during the incident, but reports have surfaced stating that two sailors with ‘cuts’ and ‘bruises’ were medically evacuated as well.

Via AP

The USS Fitzgerald was back at its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday, its crew lined up on deck. The Philippine-flagged container ship was berthed at Tokyo’s Oi wharf, where officials began questioning crew members about the cause of the nighttime crash.

Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the pre-dawn crash.

“This has been a difficult day,” said Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the 7th Fleet. “I am humbled by the bravery and tenacity of the Fitzgerald crew. Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates.”

The Japanese coast guard said it received an emergency call from the container ship, the ACX Crystal, reporting the collision at around 2:20 a.m. (1720 GMT Friday). It was questioning crew members of the ACX Crystal, which is operated by the Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., and was treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, the coast guard said, much larger than the 8,315-ton Navy destroyer. The container ship’s left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage.

Nippon Yusen said all of the ACX Crystal’s 20-member Filipino crew members were safe.

We will continue to update on this story as new details surface.