US Navy identifies 7 sailors who died in destroyer collision

"The remains of seven Sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces, June 18, that were damaged when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal", the statement read.

The U.S. Navy released the names of the deceased sailors on Sunday night.

The sailors were found in the berthing compartments of the ship that flooded after the collision, which occurred on Saturday.

Local investigators are probing whether the massive Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal and the far smaller USS Fitzgerald collided Saturday morning in a case of "endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence", Reuters reports.

"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 U.S. Pacific Fleet. Cmdr. Bryce Benson was the first to be evacuated from the damaged vessel and is being treated at the USA naval hospital at Yokosuka. Two additional personnel have been medevac'd from Fitzgerald to USNH-Yokosuka by Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 (HSC-12) for lacerations and bruises.

"It's a large gash near the keel of the ship, so the water flow was tremendous", Aucoin said.

He said one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew members were severely damaged from the impact to the ship's side. "They had to fight this ship to keep it above the surface". The weather was clear with a swell of about 1.8m at the time.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Ohnami, JS Hamagiri, and JS Enshu joined the Japanese Coast Guard ships Izanami and Kano and USS Dewey (DDG 105) in the search for survivors.

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Those who did not survive might have killed by the impact of the crash or drowned by the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell, who led reporters for a first look at the mangled vessel.

The container ship ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters - 730 feet - long, much larger than the 8,315-ton Navy destroyer. Images show that the ship had taken on massive amounts of water.

A significant portion of the crew was asleep at the time of the collision, Aucoin said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a sympathy message Sunday to President Trump.

The U.S. Navy says the search is continuing for seven missing American sailors in the sea off Japan, after a collision between a Navy destroyer and a huge cargo ship.

"I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this hard time", he wrote, praising US servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact.

It's still unclear exactly what happened, but Japanese media reported that the ACX Crystal made a "sharp turn" shortly before the pre-dawn crash, per The Guardian.

"The only other day I have been so overwhelmed with joy to hear my son's voice was the day he was born", Adkison said.

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