Thursday, 24 August, 2017

Search goes on for seven United States sailors after collision off Japan

Howard Terry | 18 June, 2017, 01:12

The large size of the container ship - it's nearly three times as heavy as the Fitzgerald - may have left the smaller US destroyer vulnerable in the collision, said Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center and a Hawaii Pacific University professor. All three were in stable condition at the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, said Cmdr. The vessel has since docked at a port in Tokyo.

"The ship itself was slightly damaged from the incident".

"The ship is being ported back to Tokyo Bay and all crew have been instructed to remain onboard pending their interview by Japanese authorities later today", it added in a statement.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families", Trump posted on Twitter. "We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance".

U.S. and Japanese crafts scoured the spot where the collision happened, about 56 nautical miles southwest Yokosuka and 12 miles off the Izu Peninsula. 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.

One injured sailor has been evacuated from the Fitzgerald, The Associated Press reports, while the Navy's 7th Fleet says it is still determining the "number of personnel injuries" and the extent of structural damage to the vessel.

Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said: "Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors".

The USS Dewey and several Navy aircraft will work with the Japanese Coast Guard to find the missing crew members.

Benson took command of the Fitzgerald on 13 May.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said that at the time of the collision the weather and therefore visibility should have been clear and the waves were at a height of around 2 meters.

Vice Admiral Joseph P Aucoin, the commander of the 7th Fleet, said: "This has been a hard day".

The impact affected "Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding" in multiple areas, said a statement from the US 7th Fleet.

The USS Fitzgerald received $21 million in upgrades in February.

The navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles south-west of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet.

None of the 20 Filipino crewmembers were injured, and the ship was not leaking oil, Nippon Yusen said. Japanese and US search vessels and aircraft fanned out across waters off Japan's Izu peninsula south of Tokyo.

The USS Fitzgerald destroyer is an Arleigh Burke-class Flight I guided missile destroyer.

The United States has primary jurisdiction regarding incidents involving members of US forces under the bilateral status of forces agreement.

Seven Navy sailors were reported missing and the captain and at least two others were injured in the crash which happened just before dawn.

The ship also took part in the USA forces' "Operation Tomodachi" relief efforts after the March 11, 2011, natural disaster and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Two Japanese coast guard cutters with helicopters were helping.

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