The damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen near the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka Sunday. Photo: AP
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Navy confirms 7 died in USS Fitzgerald collision off Japan

38 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI and TAMMY WEBBER

The U.S. Navy has identified the seven sailors who died when their destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan on Saturday.

Seven crew members were unaccounted for after the collision flooded berths with seawater. Navy divers recovered the bodies after the severely damaged USS Fitzgerald returned to a Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan, aided by tugboats.

The Japan-based 7th Fleet identified the victims on Monday as Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.

Earlier, the mother of a U.S. Navy sailor who survived a direct hit to his sleeping berth during a collision at sea said her son kept diving to try to save his shipmates until the flooded berth began running out of air pockets, while others - believing the ship was under attack - hurried to man the guns.

Mia Sykes of Raleigh, North Carolina, told The Associated Press on Sunday that her 19-year-old son, Brayden Harden, was knocked out of his bunk by the impact, and water immediately began filling the berth, after their destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship four times its size off the Japanese coast.

The ships collided about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.

Sykes says her son told her that four men in his berth, including those sleeping on bunks above and below him died, while three died in the berth above his.

"They did what they were trained to do," said Sykes, who said she hopes her son, from Herrin, Illinois, can come home to be with family as he works through what happened. "You have to realize most of them are 18, 19 and 20-year-olds living with guilt. But I told him, 'There's a reason you're still here and make that count.' "

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the Navy's 7th Fleet, also described a harrowing scene as other sailors fought to keep the ship from sinking. Most of the damage is below the waterline, including a large gash near the keel, Aucoin said.

"So the water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea. And as you can see now, the ship is still listing, so they had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic," Aucoin said.

The Navy called off the search for seven missing sailors Sunday after divers found a number of bodies in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters, Aucoin said at a news conference at the 7th Fleet's home base in Yokosuka, Japan. He wouldn't say how many bodies were recovered, pending notification of next of kin.

He said one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew members were severely damaged from what he called a significant impact to its side. The destroyer returned to Yokosuka on Saturday evening with the help of tug boats.

The victims might have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell, who led the media on a visit to get a firsthand look at the mangled destroyer. "The damage was significant," he said. "This was not a small collision."

The Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted from the ship's deck after daybreak Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka with a head injury. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were also flown out by helicopter.

Aucoin wouldn't speculate on the cause of the collision and would order a thorough investigation. Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a high speed, raising questions about communication between the two vessels in an area where as many as 400 ships pass through every day, according to Japan's coast guard. Most congestion occurs in the early hours of the day, and fast currents make it a tricky area that requires experience and skill to navigate.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer.

The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.

But on Sunday, a group of accident investigators from the Japanese transport ministry found damage to the container ship that had been hidden under the waterline when it arrived in Tokyo the previous night. Footage from Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a sharp horizontal cut across the bow area, which looked like a shark's mouth. Many scratches were also seen in the frontal area.

The container ship was seen making a U-turn before the collision on some ship trackers, a move that has raised questions about what happened. Both Aucoin and the Japanese coast guard, however, said it was too early to determine what led to the collision.

The coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and is treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

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.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sympathy message to President Donald Trump on Sunday. "We are struck by deep sorrow," Abe said in the message. "I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this difficult time."

Jennifer Adkison of Granbury, Texas, whose 20-year-old son, Bruce Adkison, a fifth-generation sailor, survived the collision, said in a Facebook message that families are grieving for those who died and trying to get clothing and other items to survivors who lost all their possessions.

"The only other day I have been so overwhelmed with joy to hear my son's voice was the day he was born," Adkison said.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.


38 Comments
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The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.

If the Fitzgerald sustained hull damage below the waterline by the keel, clearly the bulbous bow of the ACX Crystal must have created it. Where else did was the water coming from. But so far don't see any reference to damage to the BB.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I just want somebody to fess up. How did this happen?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I feel very sad that the lives of these young sailors could not be better protected.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

How did this happen?

The container ship was seen making a U-turn before the collision on some ship trackers, a move that has raised questions about what happened.

It was a huge 180 degree U-turn going back on itself a long way before colliding with the destroyer. It then turned again to continue on the original course.

believing the ship was under attack

A boat from the Philippines you say...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Yesterday the US Vice Admiral stated that "legal issues will be addressed after the investigation is complete"

This basically means that NYK, the owner of the Philippine vessel has already requested compensation and the NAVY will pay out, but only after the final report is issued.

The NAVY is at fault and they know it.

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

@comrade rBush The NAVY is at fault and they know it.

Where are you getting your information, or are you just flaming again? You do deserve credit this post, though, for not mocking the deaths of the sailors like you had been. Thank you mods for deleting what he'd written; those posts were sick.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Where are you getting your information

PT

The AP reported the Vice Admiral's comments.

He said, and I quote "Legal issues will be addressed after the investigation"

What legal issues do you think he's referring to?

I reckon the NAVY has already received a call from NYK about compensation.

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

Ossan

Was going to say the same thing. The pictures of course don't show the bulbous bow (under water) of the ACX Crystal and of course that sticks out at least as far as the visible part of the bow.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese people must take this accident seriously. We still relies our defense largely to U.S. Forces in Japan and this time young Americans sacrificed their lives for us during their duty. We Japanese are spoiled very much after the war under the peace constitution. People became nonchalant about the security of the country. Many think peace comes automatically so long as we keep our peace constitution and they get very nervous when they have to send JSDF to a dangerous place of the world. This is a very selfish thing. And some are even hostile to U.S. Forces in Japan. Someday, we will have a time we have to pay the price about our selfishness. Deep condolence to those who sacrificed their life for us.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Everything is basically a legal issue from negligence resulting in death and damage to both ships to incompetence of commanding officers or worse. There will be an investigation to determine the disposition of the case: non-judicial, court-martial, dismissal of charges.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Burning BushToday07:40 am JSTYesterday the US Vice Admiral stated that "legal issues will be addressed after the investigation is complete"

This basically means that NYK, the owner of the Philippine vessel has already requested compensation and the NAVY will pay out, but only after the final report is issued. The NAVY is at fault and they know it.

While that is a possibility, there's no way to be 100% certain if the USN is entirely at fault until the USN and JSG investigations are completed. Furthermore, neither the manager nor owner of the M/V ACX Crystal will be contacting the USN. Their insurance underwriters will be sending their marine adjusters to both vessels. BTW, NYK is not the registered owner, they chartered the vessel from a Panamanian registered owning company.

SchopenhauerToday08:37 am JSTJapanese people must take this accident seriously. We still relies our defense largely to U.S. Forces in Japan and this time young Americans sacrificed their lives for us during their duty. We Japanese are spoiled very much after the war under the peace constitution

The JSDF has had it's share of accidental deaths, far greater than US forces in Japan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Where are you getting your information, or are you just flaming again? 

The Navy is at fault in this instance. A ship as sophisticated as modern, US Navy destroyer should know at all times how many ships are in the area, their courses, and their speeds. That something as large as a container ship could go unnoticed by a Navy crew with all the modern tools they possess is absurd.

Amazing that a first-class warship can be taken out by an unarmed container ship. Heads are going to roll over this incident. The captain and every officer on the Fitzgerald have just seen their careers end.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

It seems that the Fitzgerald was running with all of their electronic navigation systems in automatic mode.

They were thus operating a skeleton command and with a carefree attitude due to their total confidence in their onboard technology.

But it seems as though the electronic system totally failed them, as if the Philippine cargo ship was somehow cloaked.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

The Navy is at fault in this instance. A ship as sophisticated as modern, US Navy destroyer should know at all times how many ships are in the area, their courses, and their speeds. That something as large as a container ship could go unnoticed by a Navy crew with all the modern tools they possess is absurd

Pinning blame this soon is based off of nothing but conjecture.

Have you been on the open ocean at night? Generally, naval vessels don't fully light their ships and it is pitch black on the seas. Radar systems give you a piece of the picture but not the full thing. In an area as complex as the seas those ships were in it's possible for a lot of things to go wrong for both parties.

Have you seen the transcripts of the communication logs between both ships? That could give some clues, we don't even know if both ships were able to communicate.

The random U-turn and the damage being on the port side of the bow of the ACX Crystal begs a lot of questions. It almost looks as if they were moving parallel to one another before the Crystal turned into the USS Fitzgerald

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Every officer at fault? So are you saying the Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) is at fault? As long as he/she provided the proper response to orders from the bridge, they are not at fault. There is a bridge watch, and a watch in CIC (combat information center). We know in combat, automatic systems can fail, so they are constantly backed up with manual system. Normal situation at sea, if a Navy ship see another contact, that contact is avoided. In a closer situation, with two ships, the rules of the road are used, and one ship is required by the rules of the road to maintain course and speed, and the other ship must change course to avoid collision. If the ship that is required to maintain course and speed does not, then the ship with the burden to maneuver is put at a great disadvantage not knowing what the ship that is required to maintain course and speed is doing! So now in a congested area, you are on the ship that is required to maintain course and speed, and there is now a third ship that is approaching you, and the rules of the road for this additions situation requires you to maneuver. So you now have one situation where you must maintain course and speed, and a new situation that requires you to maneuver. What do you do? I don't have a simple answer for that, and you don't! At least on the Navy ship, there will be a significant amount of recorded information, and that will be used to figure out first, what happened, and then later if the people involved acted correctly or not. I have served on the bridge of many Navy ships, and it is never carefree or over trust in automated system. In war, automated system fail, and then trained people take over. If you have not qualified as OOD (Officer of the Deck) on a warship, you are second guessing without any background or knowledge. I have been OOD on warships including an Aircraft Carrier going into and out of Yokosuka, Japan.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The Japanese launched massive rescue operation to save US sailors. Thank you.

Answers in this case will require a very careful investigation. Meanwhile, one thing is extremely clear: the U.S. Navy's long history of maintaining superb damage control response capabilities saved this catastrophically damaged ship and most of her crew from a far more tragic outcome. 

Hats off to those fine sailors and condolences to them and the bereaved families for the loss of their shipmates.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

These poor kids were sleeping peacefully only to be violently woken up to drown horribly, it doesn't get much worse than that..

If an advanced USN destroyer can't even detect a massive 200m container ship until it plows into it and almost sinks it, one must question what purpose this ship even serves and what it's duties are.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Condolences and fair winds and following seas to the families and shipmates of those lost.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Condolences to the families of the lost sailors.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The photo and course map in the paper showed the container ship doing damage with its massive port-side anchor hanging down. I bet some ship designers in the US are going to study that.

The container ship's course looks drunken. Still one wonders what an on-target torpedo or missile is going to do to a 'state-of-the-art-technology' loaded warship. I think a few heads are going to roll with this one.

I bet off-duty officers and enlisted personnel all through the US Navy are going to lose a bit of sleep at sea tonight. Seven dead and several injured - so sad and not a terrorist in sight.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

All of the sailors are so young and died while serving their country and Japan too. I hope their families will be able to find peace.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Over two days have passed, with no word about the cause of this accident. If it were something simple like engine failure or rudder failure it would have been disclosed by now.

The Americans were clearly asleep at the wheel, but perhaps that's normal procedure at night if all their navigation and radar systems are activated.

Their systems seem to have failed them.

The erratic behavior of the Philippine vessel and the apparent systems failure on board the US ship suggests that one of America's adversaries has developed a sophisticated countermand to the AEGIS system, possibly something electronic, magnetic or software based, and this was either a test run or a warning to America to back off in another theater.

More likely than not, the loss of life was unexpected.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Burning Bush

so many ill formed comments and Ruskie propaganda while knowing how many advanced Russian nuclear sub have sank killing their crews without a public enquiry or compensation to the families.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

@DCog and Burning Bush

How about you show us your Surface Warfare pin to prove your qualified to make the comments, accusations, and assumptions that you've been throwing out.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

You're*

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What a tragic accident. Condolences to the families of the lost sailors.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I am not a trained sailor, nor do I profess to be.

I am merely postulating as a layman of sorts, this is after all a public discussiom forum.

These rumors would end very quickly if either party merely explained what happened. I'm sure they know by now.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

naval vessels don't fully light their ships and it is pitch black on the seas. Radar systems give you a piece of the picture but not the full thing

so there are nuclear warships sailing around at night and its only luck they don't collide or worst?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Condolences to families and friends. A tragic loss.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Um. I never expected things were so worse that I was saddened to hear of the fatalities related to the collision this time. My condolences to the families of the deceased sailors.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If an advanced USN destroyer can't even detect a massive 200m container ship

And just where does this information that the Fitzgerald didn't even detect the container ship come from? Or is it just a WAG based on nothing but a fertile imagination?

These rumors would end very quickly if either party merely explained what happened. I'm sure they know by now.

I am sure that they don't. Nobody, not the US NAvy, the JCG or the owners of the container ship will say anything one way or the other until the investigation is completed, which could take weeks. I doubt the answer is a simple as the OOD decided not to change course even though radar showed the approaching container ship.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As for "fault"? Still too early to call it. And probably not this thread. Condolences to the families affected.

We Japanese are spoiled very much after the war under the peace constitution.

How so? Do all Japanese believe that?

And some are even hostile to U.S. Forces in Japan.

Well, that's understandable. I doubt they want to see young lives cut tragically short, do you? One can be opposed to an occupation without renouncing pacifism or applauding loss of lives.

Someday, we will have a time we have to pay the price about our selfishness.

Again; how so - and what will this price involve, exactly?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

RE: The random U-turn and the damage being on the port side of the bow of the ACX Crystal begs a lot of questions. It almost looks as if they were moving parallel to one another before the Crystal turned into the USS Fitzgerald

Hmm. isn't strange that this ship had all Philippino's , suppporters of Duarte.. Based on a lot of the blogs out there that point to the anti -US Duarte.  Terroristic covert ops made to look like an accident, I smell Russians helping out from behind the curtains..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Interesting theory there bjohnson23, however it doesn't explain why the NAVY ship didn't take any evasive action. Surely the smaller destroyer could easily out maneuver a much larger civilian container ship.

To me, it seems that they NAVY ship was blindsided.

Either way, I think you're looking at gross incompetence or serious systems failure.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

People are now asking why the Fitzgerald's navigation and communications systems were turned off.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It was supposed to protect SKorea and Western side of Japan from N Korean Nuclear Missile tests.  But it is at crowded Merchant ship area in Yokosuka.   Japan needs to stop depending on US military decision to protect commercial ships.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It was supposed to protect SKorea and Western side of Japan from N Korean Nuclear Missile tests.

And yet it was on the eastern side of Japan. Are you sure about your information?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

toshikoToday12:49 am JST It was supposed to protect SKorea and Western side of Japan from N Korean Nuclear Missile tests. But it is at crowded Merchant ship area in Yokosuka.  Japan needs to stop depending on US military decision to protect commercial ships.

The Fitzgerald's home port is Yokosuka. As is the entire US 7th Fleet. Japan does not rely on the US to protect commercial ships, that task belongs to the Japan Coast Guard  海上保安庁.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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