Navy confirms 7 died in USS Fitzgerald collision off Japan


Four sailors and the ship's commanding officer were medically evacuated by a Japanese coast guard helicopter, according to Cmdr. Both Aucoin and the Japanese coast guard, however, said it was too early to determine what led to the collision.

Relatives of crew members were awaiting news of their loved ones. "So it was traumatic", Aucoin said.

The Fitzgerald's bridge nearly certainly was crewed, by sailors and officers on the overnight "midwatch", and those are the watchstanders who may have made the critical decisions about what to do or not do before the collision.

The impact tore a huge gash in the Fitzgerald, sending gallons of water flooding into the berths where the crew were sleeping.

On Monday, the Navy's 7th Fleet identified the seven sailors who died.

After stabilizing the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer USS Dewey had joined other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.

Four hundred ships a day sail through this gulf toward Japan's biggest port, and the traffic, the scattering of islands, and the lights on land can make navigation extremely hard.

This was due to the Navy wanting to identify the bodies and let the next of kin know of the deaths before making a formal announcement, it said. Benson was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

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

Sykes says her son told her that sailors initially believed they were under attack and some immediately went to man the guns.

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The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning after the ship returned to its base in Japan.

Aucoin said at a press conference Sunday that the Navy has ceased its search and rescue operation.

Early Saturday morning, the Crystal - for reasons that have not been explained - swung around 180 degrees in that busy waterway and doubled back on its course, heading almost due west. Minutes later, just before 2:20 a.m., the much larger container ship hit the USA warship broadside, just about amidships on the starboard rail.

Aucoin said the Navy will launch an investigation into the collision because "we owe it to our families and the Navy to understand what happened". "But I told him, "There's a reason you're still here, and make that count".

He said the names of the deceased will be released pending notification of next of kin. "He's okay. Thank you all for the prayers", Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted after speaking with her 23-year-old grandson, Jackson Schrimsher, via Facetime.

A large dent clearly visible in its right mid-section, the destroyer limped back to Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo, home of the Seventh fleet, on Saturday evening.

Photos showed the container ship with minor damage to its bow, while the Fitzgerald appeared to have extensive damage midship on its right, or starboard, side, just below its bridge.

Shortly after the collision, the US made a request for support from the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG), which was the first agency to arrive on scene, said the US Navy.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 730 feet long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer.