Published: Fri, June 23, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

'No. of missing' USS Fitzgerald sailors found dead

It's not clear if all of the seven missing sailors were found, or confirmed dead, when Navy divers searched the flooded parts of the ship after it had been escorted back to its base in Yokosuka, Japan. The fleet commander would not give an exact number of the bodies found because family notifications were still being made.

"This was not a small collision, it was right near the pilot's house and there was a big puncture, a big gash, underneath the water line", Aucoin told reporters at a press conference in front of the USS Fitzgerald, nicknamed the "Fighting Fitz".

The vice admiral added the water flow into compartments that were berthing areas for the crew was so "tremendous" that "there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea". "They had to fight this ship to keep it above the surface".

"We have found the remains of a number of our missing" sailors, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin said, per the Japan Times.

The bodies of seven Navy sailors - missing following a collision between a USA destroyer and a massive cargo ship near Japan - were found inside their submerged vessel, officials said.

Others injured were treated aboard the ship, the Navy said. "Once an investigation is complete then any legal issues can be addressed", a spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet said.

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USS Fitzgerald, aided by tug boats, returned to Yokosuka at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday.

He said he would order a full and thorough investigation.

Four sailors were medically evacuated by a Japanese coast guard helicopter, according to Cmdr.

"Our government expresses its heartfelt solidarity with the United States at this hard time, and will spare no effort in supplying any and all assistance", Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday.

The Navy identified Sunday the seven sailors killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippines-flagged merchant ship on Saturday.

The container ship has berthed at Tokyo's Oi wharf, where officials have begun questioning crew members about the cause of the crash.

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Much of the crew was asleep, he said, and one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew members were severely damaged, along with the captain's cabin. It's also been reported that the shipping company that operates the ACX Crystal, Nippon Yusen K.K., as well as the Japanese Coast Guard, have both stated that the collision occurred around 1:30 a.m.

The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a high speed.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sympathy message to U.S.

Marine tracking data showed the container ship, the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, which was sailing from the port of Nagoya to Tokyo, performed a sudden 180-degree turn in the busy shipping lane south of Yokosuka and doubled back along its path shortly before the crash.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump said: "Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families". "We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance".

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

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