Bodies of missing Navy sailors found after collision near Japan

The U.S. Navy continues to search for seven missing American sailors off Japan's coast after a U.S. destroyer and a container ship collided before dawn Saturday.

The operators of the merchant ship, ACX Crystal, reported all of the 20-member Filipino crew were safe.

The sailors were found in a flooded berthing compartment after search-and-rescue crew members gained access to spaces that were damaged during the collision, the 7th Fleet statement said. Bryce Benson, who is a native of Green Bay, was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition, the 7th Fleet said in a statement.

A Navy official said the point of impact was where crucial communications equipment was located, knocking out ship-to-shore and other forms of communication on the ship and forcing the crew to revert to the use of satellite phones.

The names of missing sailors were being withheld until families had been notified.

The Navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles (103 kilometers) southwest of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet.

Most of the more than 200 sailors would have been asleep as the ship's radio room, a machinery room and two berthing spaces were damaged.

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

The other two are being treated for cuts and bruises they suffered.

The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.

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The Fitzgerald was struck by the Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal.

The Japanese coastguard said the Fitzgerald was experiencing some flooding but was not in danger of sinking, while the merchant vessel was able to sail under its own power.

"We can't comment on the accident as it's being handled by the Japanese coast guard", a company spokesman said. "We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance". After the collision crews worked to contain the flooding on the Fitzgerald.

'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. "So how such a ship was taken unaware and rammed by a merchant ship is very freaky", Penn said.

United States destroyer collides with Philippine-flagged vessel south of Tokyo Bay in Japan in rare incident on busy waterway.

The ACX Crystal is much larger than the 154m USS Fitzgerald, which has a capacity of 8,315 tons and has been patrolling Japanese waters to monitor North Korea after the latter conducted a series of ballistic missile launches.

It was unclear how the collision happened.

"Of course we're nervous and scared and just praying", Rita Schrimsher said by telephone from Athens, Alabama.

"It could have been worse so we're grateful", she said by phone.

Under global maritime rules, a vessel is supposed to give way to another one on its starboard side, and the damage patterns indicate that the Crystal was to the Fitzgerald's starboard and therefore had the right of way.

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