Search goes on for seven US sailors after collision off Japan


They were later joined by Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

Planes, boats and helicopters scoured the seas off Japan's Pacific coast in a bid to find the crew who disappeared in the predawn accident, which also left the USS Fitzgerald's skipper injured.

(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann/U.S. Navy via AP). The USS Fitzgerald was flooded as a result of the damages it suffered, according to the Navy.

Several Japanese and United States boats and aircraft have been deployed, with the search continuing into the night. "1 sailor injured, 7 sailors still missing.please pray for my son and his shipmates", she tweeted.

An orange hose was visible on the ship's deck, with many crew members seen checking the damage.

The Navy said that the Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, a city south of Tokyo that is home to a major U.S. Naval base.

Twenty crew members were aboard the container and none was injured, a Japanese coast guard spokesman confirmed, adding that the vessel was sailing back to a Tokyo port.

The USS Dewey, another Navy destroyer, helped stabilize the USS Fitzgerald before joining in with American and Japanese rescuers to search for the sailors.

Fitzgerald's commander, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was evacuated by a Japanese naval helicopter while U.S. military copters evacuated two injured USA sailors.

"The collision affected Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room", the 7th Fleet's statement said. As the crash happened before dawn, most of the 200-plus sailors on the ship would have been asleep.

"It remains uncertain how long it will take to gain access to the spaces once the ship is pier methodically continue the search for the missing", the statement said.

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Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of US 7th Fleet, along with many family members, were present when the ship arrived, reports the Navy.

'Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families.

"This has been a hard day", Aucoin said, adding that the search for missing shipmates would continue now that the vessel was back in Yokosuka.

Three aboard the destroyer had been medically evacuated, including the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr Bryce Benson, who was reportedly in stable condition after being airlifted to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka.

The other two are being treated for cuts and bruises they suffered. It is unclear how many others may have been hurt.

The large size of the container ship - it's nearly three times as heavy as the Fitzgerald - may have left the smaller US destroyer vulnerable in the collision, said Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center and a Hawaii Pacific University professor.

President Donald Trump sent a message of encouragement to the crew on Saturday morning.

The Japan Coast Guard has confirmed that seven crew members of a U.S. Navy destroyer are missing after a collision with a Philippine-flagged merchant ship off the coast of Japan.

The collision occurred 65 miles off the Japanese coast, and the Fitzgerald sustained severe damage to its starboard side.

US and Japanese ships continued searching well after dark for the missing sailors.

"Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face".