Fil-Am sailor among 7 killed in USA destroyer collision


Seven US sailors are missing after a US Navy destroyer and a Philippine merchant ship collided early Saturday morning, the Japanese coast guard told the Kyodo news agency.

The Navy called off the search for seven missing sailors Sunday after divers found a number of bodies in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters, Aucoin said at a news conference at the 7th Fleet's home base in Yokosuka, Japan.

The family of a San Diego sailor who died in the collision between a Navy destroyer and a container ship off the coast of Japan said Monday he was an "adventurous young man" proud to be a part of his crew and of service to his country.

The response of the crew of the severely damaged USS Fitzgerald was swift and effective, and I want to point out - as we stand by the ship - how proud I am of them, Navy Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the USA 7th Fleet, said today at a press conference in front of the stricken ship thats now moored in Yokosuka, Japan.

He said judging from the Crystal's path, after the collision, it veered dramatically off-course after the impact, corrected itself, and continued to sail its course before making a U-turn to see what had been hit, arriving back near the USS Fitzgerald about an hour later.

"We set up a USS Fitzgerald Emergency Family Assistance Center within hours, and disseminated the phone numbers to their hotlines through social media and Navy websites".

"Our probe is still under way, and we are discussing" with the U.S. authorities over interviews with American sailors, a Japanese coastguard official told AFP Tuesday.

The Fitzgerald's captain, Commander Bryce Benson, suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka.

The destroyer is salvageable, but repairs will take months, Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the Seventh Fleet, told Reuters.

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"The Fitzgerald crew responded professionally as all sailors are expected to fight the damage sustained to their ship".

"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".

"The water flow is tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea...", he added.

"The damage was significant". Although the collision occurred in Japanese waters, worldwide maritime rules, could allow the U.S. Navy to claim some authority over the investigations.

Two other sailors were also evacuated and treated for lacerations and bruises, while crew were still assessing the other injured.

Although weather conditions were clear at the time of the collision, the fast currents and high-traffic area could make it tricky to navigate. After interviewing Filipino crew members, the Coast Guard changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.

A probe into the crash between a U.S. navy destroyer and a Philippine-flagged cargo ship was under way Monday, as the names of seven American sailors who died were made public. "Collectively, we mourn the loss of our seven shipmates".

The Japanese coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and officials may treat it as a case of professional negligence. While pictures taken after the accident show damage to the portion of the ship above water, it was the damage caused below waterline that was catastrophic - flooding two crew compartments, the radio room, and the auxiliary machine room.