Seven sailors missing after U.S. destroyer collides with container ship

The US navy says seven crew members are missing and at least three injured after a destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel off the coast of Japan.

"Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors", said Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet.

The damage of Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal is seen in the waters off Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, on June 17, 2017 after it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

The Fitzgerald was still under its own power "although her propulsion was limited", the US Navy said.

"There are seven sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them". Two others also suffered lacerations and bruises and were flown by helicopter to the naval hospital, officials added.

The Philippine-flagged container ship was berthed at Tokyo's Oi wharf, where officials began questioning crew members about the cause of the crash.

Forces overnight intensified their search for the missing sailors and tried to get a handle on the cause of a crash in a busy maritime zone crossed daily by 400 to 500 ships.

"Once an investigation is complete then any legal issues can be addressed", the U.S. navy's Seventh Fleet spokesman said.

The Fitzgerald suffered damage on its starboard side above and below the waterline, but the full extent of the damage was still being determined.

Video footage showed relatively light damage to the ACX Crystal, a commercial container ship that, according to marine tracking websites, was on its way to Tokyo.

The ACX Crystal, which was carrying a crew of 20, including the captain, was "slightly damaged" in the crash, the department said.


The US P-8 Poseidon aircraft is working with two Japanese Navy helicopters and the P-3 Orion aircraft in an aerial search of the area.

"It remains uncertain how long it will take to gain access to the spaces once the ship is pier side ... to methodically continue the search for the missing", the statement said.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families".

According to one expert, there's a good chance the collision was caused by the errors of human crew, despite the presence of onboard systems meant to prevent deadly collisions at sea.

"So anxious. Just need to hear she is OK".

She says she spoke on Facetime with her 23-year-old grandson Jackson Schrimsher.

"It could have been worse, so we're grateful", she said by phone.

"As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public", read a statement from Adm. John Richardson. U.S. Navy personnel set up support and counseling services to help families as they sought updates on crew members.

Sailors also may have gotten trapped in compartments below deck, Schuster said, pointing out that container ships have a bulbous bow below the water line that could have plowed into the U.S. warship. 'We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance'. People were standing on various parts of the deck.

A U.S. Navy destroyer has collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, the U.S. military said, and there have been injuries.

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