Collision Caused Significant Damage To US Destroyer: Seventh Fleet Commander

Those who did not survive might have killed by the impact of the crash or drowned by the flooding, Navy spokesman Lieutenant Paul Newell said.

The navy said in a statement that searchers had gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision.

"The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this hard time", the Seventh Fleet told Reuters.

"Unfortunately, we don't have the details regarding the conditions during the final moments, but hope that the investigation may shed some light on that matter", Aucoin said. "The damage was significant".

"The search and rescue is over", United States 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said, describing huge amounts of water that gushed into the sleeping compartments after part of the ship's right side was caved in.

The Fitzgerald is salvageable, he said, but repairs will likely take months. "Hopefully less than a year".

Sixteen hours following the predawn Saturday collision, the destroyer was pumping out water as it limped back to its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday, its crew lined up on deck.

"As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public", Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson said in a statement.

Japan's coast guard officials said the sea and air search was still continuing at the site of the collision, 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet.

The waterways surrounding Tokyo Bay are busy with commercial ships sailing to and from Japan's two biggest container ports in Tokyo and Yokohama.

"Navy officials say they're notifying the families of the deceased and will officially release names of the dead sailors at a later date", John Matthews reports from Tokyo for our Newscast unit.

Two berthing rooms and the skipper's cabin were damaged, Aucoin said, adding that the captain, who was airlifted to hospital with a head injury, was "lucky to be alive". There were 285 crew onboard.

Three sailors were injured in the accident, including Commander Bryce Benson, USS Fitzgerald's commanding officer. He had previously commanded a minesweeper based in Sasebo in western Japan.

"I'm not going to speculate on what happened". He said he would order a full and thorough investigation.

The Japanese authorities are looking into the possibility of "endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence", Japanese media reported, but it was not clear whether that might apply to either or both of the vessels. Navy divers found the bodies of missing sailors Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday i.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer. None of the 20-member crew on the Philippine-flagged container ship was reported injured.

The other two are being treated for cuts and bruises they suffered. In the area of incident there arrived the ships of the Japan coast guard and the U.S. Navy.

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