U.S. Navy vessel collided with a merchant ship southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, on Friday. The collision caused flooding aboard the USS Fitzgerald, a 505-foot destroyer, after the collision with a Philippine container vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday local time (1:30 p.m. ET Friday), about 56 nautical miles of Yokosuka, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.
Two defense officials reported that a full account of all sailors that were on board has not yet been received. The 7th Fleet released a statement saying that the number of personnel injuries is being determined.The U.S. Navy was working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medevac for one sailor, the Fleet said.
It was confirmed by one U.S. Navy official that naval officials are aware of a report by Japanese broadcaster NHK that claimed seven sailors from the Fitzgerald were unaccounted for, however, the reports are yet to be confirmed.
Despite the damage caused by the collision, Fitzgerald continues to operate under its own power. The 7th Fleet said that the full extent of damage is being determined, adding that Fitzgerald suffered damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline.
Unfortunately, a U.S. Navy official said the bridge was damaged in the collision so communication with the ship is limited and difficult.
Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said in a statement that the US and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship.
The U.S. Navy official reported that the ship was conducting routine operations in Sagami Bay when the collision occurred. He also reassured the Fitzgerald families that the Navy would share any additional information that is learned.
Navy tugs and the USS Dewey were being dispatched to help as Navy aircraft were being prepped. The Japanese Coast Guard was also requested for help in regard to the collision.