"The search and rescue is over", United States 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin told reporters, describing huge amounts of water that gushed into the sleeping compartments after part of the ship's right side was caved in.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, the collision occurred about 100 km southwest of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, and was first reported by the Philippine container vessel at around 2:25 a.m. local time on Saturday.
It was unclear how many others may have been hurt, but they remained on board for the 16-hour journey back to port in Japan following the collision, officials told Fox News. Naval officials said the collision caused a "big gash" under the warship's waterline. That suggests that the Crystal had the right of way over the Fitzgerald, which was struck on the starboard side, but the details of their collision have not been fully investigated. The freighter punched a wide hole into the Fitzgerald, breaching two compartments below the waterline where there were berths for 116 sailors, as well as a machinery room.
There were also three others injured in the collision including the destroyer's captain, Commander Bryce Benson.
All three patients are alert and under observation at the hospital, he said.
Seven U.S. Navy sailors died after the collision. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) vessels also attended.
The warship was towed to Yokosuka Naval Base on Japan's east coast, where the full extent of the damage is still being assessed.
The Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a crew of approximately 330 sailors.
When two vessels converge, the one having the other to starboard - to the right - is required to yield. "You will see the USS Fitzgerald back", Aucoin said. Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.
"They are known as the "Fighting Fitz" and the crew lived up to that name".
The Navy identified the seven sailors who died in the accident on Sunday evening. It was inside those flooded berthing compartments that search teams found the bodies of seven sailors Sunday morning, Japan time.
Aucoin said he would appoint a flag officer to conduct one of several investigations that will seek to establish exactly what happened and to apportion responsibility.
On Sunday, US authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors as they ended the search, but declined to say how many bodies had been found until the families were notified. They were transferred to a USA naval hospital for identification, it said. "Please keep them in your thoughts are prayers".
The names of the sailors were being withheld pending notification of their families. "The Navy family comes together during tragic events such as this and I want to thank those who continue to provide around-the-clock assistance to the affected families during these hard days". The Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard both likely will eventually issue reports that describe what happened and could make recommendations for preventing another such accident.
"As more information is learned, we will be sure to share it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public", he added.
The three USA investigations include a JAGMAN command investigation often used to look into the cause of major incidents, which can be used as a basis to file lawsuits against the Navy. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. Please consider contributing to Eurasia Review, as we are truly independent and do not receive financial support from any institution, corporation or organization.
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