Seven American sailors are still missing after a U.S. Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan Saturday. The USS Fitzgerald ship was damaged during the collision with the Philippines-flagged merchant ship more than three times its size, but managed to make its way to port at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. The 20-person crew of the Filipino vessel is all safe and accounted for following the incident.
Many of the details of the nighttime collision remain unknown. Three sailors, including the ship’s commanding officer, were medevaced off the destroyer and to a nearby naval hospital. A handful of other crewmembers were treated aboard the ship for minor injuries. Seven sailors, however, were missing following the collision. A ship like the Fitzgerald, an Aegis guided missile destroyer, will often have as many as 250 to 300 crew aboard at any one time. From Reuters:
The Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline, causing “significant damage” and flooding to two berthing spaces and other areas of the ship, the Navy said. The flooding was later stabilized, but it was uncertain how long it would take to gain access to those spaces once the ship docked, to continue the search for the missing, it said. Back in Yokosuka, divers will inspect the damage and develop a plan for repairs, the Navy said.
According to CNN, those Navy statements “hinted that the missing sailors could be trapped in the damaged area of the destroyer.” Japanese and American search and rescue crews continued to scour the area where the collision took place looking for the seven missing crewmembers.