Search for 7 US Navy sailors ends after bodies found on ship

Search for 7 US Navy sailors ends after bodies found on ship

The hunt for missing U.S. Navy sailors has come to a halt Sunday after bodies were retrieved from flooded berthing partitions on the #USS Fitzgerald.

"The search and rescue is over", U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin told reporters Sunday. The crew fought to keep the vessel from foundering or sinking so they could make it back to base.

A Japan Coast Guard ship, foreground, navigates the damaged USS Fitzgerald near the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, after the U.S. destroyer collided with the Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal in the waters off the Izu Peninsula Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The container ship appeared to have hit the Aegis class destroyer nearly square on, severely damaging the berthing compartments where the sailors were sleeping. The bodies were found in flooded berthing compartments after divers were able to reach the areas, the Fleet said.

Seven U.S. sailors went missing after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship early Saturday off Japan's coast. Yoko Kato, a spokeswoman for the US Navy in Yokosuka, said not all seven were recovered. Both Aucoin and the Japanese coast guard, however, said it was too early to determine what led to the collision.

USS Fitzgerald, aided by tug boats, returned to Yokosuka at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday. US authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors, although Aucoin declined to say how many bodies had been recovered until relatives of the dead sailors are notified.

"You can't see most of the damage, the damage is mostly underneath the waterline, and it's a large gash near the keel of the ship", Aucoin said.

"The water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea".

The Fitzgerald's commanding officer, Cmdr. Those injured were transferred by a helicopter to the Naval Hospital Yokosuka. Bryce Benson, and two other crew members were injured but conscious, the Navy said.

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"He's lucky to be alive", Aucoin said.

The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, and accident investigators from the Japanese transport ministry found further damage below its waterline.

It is believed that the 222-metre container ship ACX Crystal, made an unexpected U-turn 25 minutes before the collision with USS Fitzgerald.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell said the victims may have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding.

The incident is now under investigation, the Navy said.

Asked about the mechanics of the collision and any maneuvers that preceded it, Aucoin said he did not know full details yet, but said "they were hit on the side by the tanker, a 29,000-ton merchant freighter".

All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew was safe, according to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the ship.

The U.S. Navy said the collision happened at about 2:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT Friday), while the Japanese Coast Guard said it was 1:30 a.m. local time.

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