The Navy destroyer the USS Fitzgerald collided with a much larger container ship off the coast of Japan.  Seven U. S. sailors are missing, and three sailors were medically evacuated due to injuries sustained in the collision.

Reuters reports:

Search and rescue efforts went on after dark for seven U.S. sailors missing after the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship more than three times its size off eastern Japan early on Saturday.

The Fitzgerald, an Aegis guided missile destroyer, collided with the merchant vessel some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, the Navy said.

Three aboard the destroyer had been medically evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, including the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, who was reported to be in stable condition, the Navy said. The other two were being treated for lacerations and bruises, while other injured were being assessed aboard the ship, it said.

The USS Fitzgerald sailed into port on Saturday evening but search and rescue efforts by U.S. and Japanese aircraft and surface vessels were continuing for the seven missing sailors, the Navy said. Their names are being withheld until the families have been notified, it added.

It is unclear how the collision happened or the true extent of the damage, though the following images were released via a Japanese news outlet.

Reuters continues:

It was unclear how the collision happened. “Once an investigation is complete then any legal issues can be addressed,” a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet said.

The U.S. Navy said the collision happened at about 2:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT), while the Japanese Coast Guard said it took place at 1:30 a.m. local time.

The Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline, causing “significant damage” and flooding to two berthing spaces and other areas of the ship, the Navy said.

The flooding was later stabilized, 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.

Back in Yokosuka, divers will inspect the damage and develop a plan for repairs, the Navy said.

The Commander of the U. S. 7th Fleet says “this has been a difficult day” and that the missing sailors may be trapped in the damaged portion of the ship.

CNN reports:

The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.

“This has been a difficult day,” Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the US 7th Fleet, said.

. . . . The missing sailors could be trapped in a damaged section of the destroyer, a statement from the 7th Fleet suggested.

“It remains uncertain how long it will take to gain access to the spaces once the ship is pier side … to methodically continue the search for the missing,” the statement said.

. . . . A Navy official said the point of impact was where crucial communications equipment was located, knocking out ship-to-shore and other forms of communication on the ship and forcing the crew to revert to the use of satellite phones.

President Trump sent his thoughts and prayers to the sailors and their families and thanked the Japanese for their assistance.

UPDATE:

The United States Navy reports that “a number” of USS Fitzgerald sailors’ remains have been found and are being transported to a nearby naval hospital where they will be identified.

A number of Sailors’ remains that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found.

As search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision this morning, the missing Sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments. They are currently being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified.

The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time. The names of the Sailors will be released after all notifications are made.

Stars and Stripes has a bit more:

An unknown number of sailors missing after a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a merchant vessel were found dead in a damaged compartment, Navy officials said Sunday.

A tweet from Commander Naval Forces Japan stated that “Divers were able to access the space and found a number of sailors. None alive. MTF. We will ID sailors after [next-of-kin] notification.”

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that all seven sailors have been confirmed dead.

On Twitter, there is a great outpouring of grief, of support for the deceased sailors’ families, and of gratitude for these sailors’ service to our country.