Bodies Of US Sailors Found In Flooded Compartments Of Damaged Ship

A number of the seven US Navy sailors missing after a collision between a destroyer and a container ship have been found dead, the Seventh Fleet said.

According to the USA 7th Fleet and a defense official, the missing sailors were located by dive teams in flooded berthing compartments.

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

The guided missile destroyer was hit amidships by a Philippine-flagged container ship - more than three times its size - south of Tokyo Bay in Japan early on Saturday.

It is believed that the 222-metre container ship ACX Crystal, made an unexpected U-turn 25 minutes before the collision with USS Fitzgerald.

Seven sailors were previously reported missing, although officials have not yet said how many bodies were recovered from the USS Fitzgerald.

Several other U.S. crew members were injured in the accident and had to be evacuated by air to hospital, including the vessel's commanding officer Bryce Benson, who is "undergoing treatment", Aucoin said. "There was a big gash under the water", Aucoin said at the Yokosuka naval base, home of the US 7th Fleet. The destroyer is salvageable, but repairs probably will take months, he said. Bryce Benson, were injured in the collision and were transported by helicopter to a naval hospital in Yokosuka.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a message to U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday saying he was "in deep sorrow" over the Fitzgerald incident.

The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a high speed, raising questions about communication between the two vessels in an area where as many as 400 ships pass through every day, according to Japan's coast guard.

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"They had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface".

"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.

"Unfortunately, we don't have the details regarding the conditions during the final moments, but hope that the investigation may shed some light on that matter", Aucoin said.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, damaged by colliding with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen next to a tugboat (R) off Shimoda, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo June 17, 2017.

Aucoin would not speculate on how the accident occurred, but said there would be multiple investigations into the collision, including one by the Navy's Judge Advocate General and one by the US Coast Guard.

Rear Admiral Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, in a statement earlier praised the "extraordinary courage" of the Fitzgerald's sailors in stabilizing the ship and sailing the vessel back to Yokosuka under "exceptionally trying circumstances". Aerial images aired on Japanese television appeared to show the bow on its left side was dented but the vessel did not appear to have any major damage. "You will see the USS Fitzgerald back", he said.

Aucoin also offered "heartfelt thanks to our Japanese allies" for coming to the ship's aid.

At a press conference in Japan on Sunday, Aucoin would not confirm how many remains had been found so far.

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