Saturday, 17 June 2017
7 reported missing after U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Seven Navy sailors were missing on Saturday after a United States destroyer collided with a Philippine merchant vessel off the coast of Japan, the Navy said. Several crew members were injured, including the officer in command of the guided missile destroyer, the Fitzgerald. The officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was evacuated from the ship by helicopter to a nearby United States naval base and was in stable condition, the United States Seventh Fleet said in a statement. The Navy said two other sailors had been evacuated by helicopter and were being treated for lacerations and bruises
Japanese television showed extensive damage to the Fitzgerald, which the Navy said had taken on water but was still capable of moving under its own power. The other vessel, the container ship ACX Crystal, appeared to have sustained somewhat less damage. There were no immediate reports of injuries on the Crystal.
The Fitzgerald’s hull was partially caved in on its starboard, or right-hand, side, while the Crystal showed deep gashes in its bow. The pattern of damage suggested that the Crystal — a much larger vessel, laden with shipping containers — had collided nose-first with the Fitzgerald’s side. Masayuki Obara, an official with the Japanese Coast Guard, which was aiding the Fitzgerald and helping to search for its missing crew members, said that a sailor on the destroyer had sustained a head injury and was unable to walk. Mr. Obara did not identify the sailor.
The Fitzgerald had recently participated in military exercises with two American aircraft carriers and ships from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The Seventh Fleet said the collision occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time about 54 nautical miles south of Yokosuka, Japan, where the United States maintains an extensive naval base.
“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet.