Published On: Sat, Jun 17th, 2017

Seven sailors missing after US warship collides with container ship off the coast of Japan

The USS Fitzgerald, an Aegis guided missile destroyer, is believed to have suffered a hole below the waterline which caused “significant damage” and flooding.

The collision with the merchant vessel happened in busy shipping lanes 56 nautical miles south-west of Tokyo Bay at 2.30am local time on Saturday.

and Japanese aircraft and ships have been searching for the missing sailors. Among the injured was Commander Bruce Benson, who was taken with two others by helicopter to a US Naval hospital.

He took over command of the warship last month having previously commanded a minesweeper in Japan.

He is said to be in a stable condition. Other US sailors were treated by medics on board. None of the 20 crew members on the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, which was carrying 1,080 containers to Tokyo, were injured.

At around 29,000 tons, the ship dwarfs the 8,315-ton warship.

The crew of the USS Fitzgerald managed to stabilise the flooding before the destroyer was towed to its base at Yokosuka in Tokyo Bay, which is home to the US 7th Fleet.

Two berthing spaces were flooded and it is uncertain how long it will take to gain access to those spaces to search for the missing.

It was not known yesterday how the collision happened but a 7th Fleet spokesman said: “Once an investigation is complete then any legal issues can be addressed.” 

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