Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

Search goes on for seven US sailors after collision off Japan

The U.S. Navy is searching for seven sailors after a destroyer collided with a merchant ship more than three times its size near Japan, according to the military.

The US warship - part of its right side caved in as crew members pumped water from flooded areas - was pulled by a tugboat as it limped back to base in Yokosuka, where the navy said divers were trying to reach parts of the vessel smashed in the accident. The crew belonged to USS Fitzgerald of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, and it's commanding officer Bryce Benson, had successfully been evacuated to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, home base of the 7th Fleet, said the Navy.

Rescuers forged ahead with their search for seven missing Navy sailors on Saturday as the damaged destroyer Fitzgerald limped into its home port.

"Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face".

The Japanese Coastguard said that between 400 and 500 ships operate in the area the collision occurred in each day.

NHK footage on Saturday morning showed a person in a stretcher being taken up to a helicopter from the deck of the USS Fitzgerald.

The US 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room.

A crew member from the container ship told the coast guard the vessels were sailing in the same direction when they collided, according to a source close to the investigation.

The Japanese Coast Guard arrived at the scene and the US Navy stated that the number of injuries and amount of damage were determined at the scene.

An Alabama woman, Rita Schrimsher of Athens, said on Twitter that her grandson was on the ship and is safe.

U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said four sailors were medevaced.

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

In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is closely monitoring reports of the collision between USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal at around 1:30 a.m. (Manila time).

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tonnes and is 730ft long, the coast guard said, much larger than the 8,315-ton Navy destroyer.

Three crew members have received medical evacuation, including Cmdr. The search party has also been joined by a USA aircraft, the coast guard said.

Aikawa said the United States ship is partially flooded because of damage.

Neither of the vessels involved in the collision were in danger of sinking, the Japan Coast Guard said earlier.

The flooding was later stabilised, but it was uncertain how long it would take to gain access to those spaces once the ship docked, to continue the search for the missing, it said.

Several U.S. Navy aircraft, as well as Japanese Coast Guard and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters, ships and aircraft were deployed to render assistance to the Fitzgerald, a release said. Now working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medevac via helicopter for one Sailor. The U.S. ship also carried out another drill earlier this month in the Sea of Japan with the MSDF, together with the U.S. carriers Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson.

The guided-missile destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged 730-foot container ship some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan around 2:30 am local.

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