The US Navy on Monday identified all seven sailors killed after their destroyer was partially flooded following a collision with a container ship off Japan’s coast at the weekend, confirming their deaths for the first time.
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.
“Out of concern for the families and the notification process, I will decline to state how many we have found at this time”, Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet, said at a news conference. “And so the water flow was tremendous”.
I ask all of you to keep the affected families in your thoughts and prayers, and respect their privacy as we work to get them the answers they deserve regarding their loved ones.
Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin declined to say how numerous seven missing sailors had been recovered, but Japanese media said all had died. “A number” of missing American sailors have been found dead in flooded areas of the destroyer, the U.S. Navy says.
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“An investigation will no doubt be conducted in weeks and months ahead.” he said.
The Fitzgerald limped into port on Saturday evening, listing around 5 degrees, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Yokosuka said.
USA aircraft and vessels, as well as those from the Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Coast Guard, had been looking for the missing personnel since the two ships crashed in the pre-dawn hours Saturday.
The crew members went missing when the destroyer collided with a shipping vessel around 2:30am local time Saturday 56 nautical miles south of Yokosuka, Japan. A total of seven sailors had been missing since Saturday’s crash off Japan’s coast.
“The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this hard time”, the 7th Fleet said in a statement issued Sunday morning local time.
The navy said in a statement that searchers had gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision. The 7th Fleet has since confirmed the sailors are in stable condition and are being treated for lacerations and bruises at the Naval Hospital Yokosuka.
The ship, which handles general cargo, is manned by a captain and a crew of 20, NYK said.
The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 730 feet long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer.
Some ship trackers showed the container ship making a U-turn before the collision, a move that has raised questions about what happened.
The container ship’s left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.
US and Japanese aircraft and surface ships launched a search looking for the unaccounted-for sailors.
The ACX Crystal, which was carrying a crew of 20, was only “slightly damaged” in the crash, according to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, and no injuries were reported.
Abe said in his message to Trump on Sunday, “We are struck by deep sorrow”, expressing condolences and sympathy “straight from my heart” to the victims and the injured.