Sailors Killed in Collision Off Japan's Coast Named


The rescue teams took all three individuals to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, where they were reportedly "alert and under observation".

An investigation into the deaths is now under way after Saturday's (June 17, 2017) collision just outside Tokyo Bay, but the US Navy has not yet fully explained how the US$1.5 billion warship was struck by the ACX Crystal.

Even though the vessel was listing badly on the starboard side, the crew was able to navigate the damaged destroyer into the heavily-trafficked Yokosuka port with a magnetic compass and backup navigation equipment, Aucoin said. Numerous crew on the USA ship were asleep when the collision tore a gash under the waterline on the warship's starboard side, flooding two crew compartments, the radio room and the auxiliary machine room. "It was right near the pilot's house and there is a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline", said Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin.

The commanding officer's cabin was directly impacted by the collision, injuring Commander Bryce Benson.

"Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors", said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

An official for Japan's Coast Guard said it is investigating why it took almost an hour for the collision to be reported, the AP reported.

When asked on Sunday if the damage indicated the USA ship could have been at fault, Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin declined to speculate on the cause.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, the case will be primarily handled by the U.S. side.

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This marks the greatest loss of life on a USA naval vessel since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen's Aden harbor in 2000, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39.

The Pentagon set up a hotline for families of the crew of the Fitzgerald to check on the status of loved ones. It was unclear whether that applied to the US ship or the Filipino one.

The USS Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr.

Gary, an Elyria native, was on the USS Fitzgerald or the "Fighting Fitz" as it's known.

Seven Fitzgerald sailors were reported unaccounted for after the collision, and the Japanese Coast Guard launched a search effort, according a release.

Their bodies were found a day later when the ship returned to port and divers scoured damaged areas of the 154-meter (500-foot) Fitzgerald, which was commissioned in 1995 and deployed in the Iraq war in 2003. Aucoin, speaking at a news conference at the base, wouldn't say how many bodies were recovered, pending notification of next of kin. He said he was doing so out of respect for the families. The family moved to Oklahoma a short time later. "Please keep them in your thoughts are prayers".

Four of the deceased sailors, he said, were in his berth. "You will see the USS Fitzgerald back", Aucoin said. "We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance". He said any differences would have to be clarified in the investigation.

The 26-year-old Hernandez, of Weslaco, Texas, had been stationed in Illinois, Italy, California and Japan since joining the Navy in 2009. Takeshi Aikawa of the Japan coast guard said that so far no significant damage or injuries were reported on the container ship.

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