Published: Tue, June 27, 2017
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

US Navy chief promises full probe of collision

US Navy chief promises full probe of collision

The bodies of seven missing sailors - found in the flooded wreckage of the navy destroyer.The commander of the seventh fleet revealing the damage you can see - the ship's mangled midsection - is relatively minor compared to what you can't see.

Aucoin, however, declined to say how numerous crew members were found.

The collision occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time about 56 nautical miles off the coast of Yokosuka, Japan, which is home to the 7th Fleet.

The crew were reported missing after Saturday's predawn collision, triggering a major US-Japanese search operation, with divers scouring damaged areas of the destroyer. Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell said the victims may have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding.

Marine tracking data showed the container ship, the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, which was sailing from the port of Nagoya to Tokyo, performed a sudden 180-degree turn in the busy shipping lane south of Yokosuka and doubled back along its path shortly before the crash.

The Navy said that the families were being notified and provided the support they need during "this hard time".

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

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, commander of the guided missile destroyer, was one of three injured personnel who needed to be flown to a naval hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, CNN reported.

The 500-foot Fitzgerald was pulled by a tugboat back to its base on Saturday, where divers searched the damaged areas of the destroyer that was deployed in the mid-90s. A news release from U.S. Seventh Fleet confirmed that two berthing spaces, an auxiliary machine room and the ship's radio room all flooded. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated.

"This has been a hard day", Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the Seventh Fleet, said.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families", President Donald Trump said on Twitter.

He thanked "our Japanese allies" for their swift assistance, and said the Navy will full investigate the cause.

The Navy has recovered some bodies of the seven sailors still unaccounted for after the collision tore a hole in the warship - but still hasn't said how many or named any of them.

The coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and is treating the collision as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

The Philippine ship is 29,060 tons and 730 long, the coast guard said, much larger than the 8,315-ton naval destroyer.

Nippon Yusen said all of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew members were safe.

Japanese media outlets were earlier reporting that all seven missing sailors had been found dead. The weather was clear with a swell of about 1.8m at the time.

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