In this photo released by Japan's Defense Ministry, an injured USS Fitzgerald crew member is carried by U.S. military personnel, left, and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force members upon arriving at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka on Saturday. Photo: Defense Ministry via AP
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Aircraft, vessels search for missing U.S. sailors

30 Comments
By EUGENE HOSHIKO and KOJI UEDA

The U.S. Navy said Sunday that the search is continuing for seven missing American sailors in the sea off Japan, after a huge cargo ship collided with a Navy destroyer.

U.S. and Japanese vessels and aircraft have been looking for the missing crew members of the USS Fitzgerald, which crashed with a container ship four times its size in the pre-dawn hours Saturday.

In a tweet Sunday, the Navy said the search is continuing. The Navy said Saturday it remains uncertain how long it will take to gain access to the spaces inside the damaged destroyer in order to methodically search for the missing crew members.

The damaged destroyer was back at its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday, its crew lined up on deck. The Philippine-flagged container ship was berthed at Tokyo's Oi wharf, where officials began questioning crew members about the cause of the crash.

After helping stabilize the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer USS Dewey joined other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.

At least three other Navy sailors were injured in the crash.

Family members were frantically seeking news, appealing via social media for calls from sailors aboard the ship.

The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room. Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the pre-dawn crash.

Water was being pumped out of flooded areas, and it was unclear how long it would take to get into the crushed mid-right side of the ship once it was at the pier in Yokosuka, the statement said.

"This has been a difficult day," said Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the 7th Fleet. "I am humbled by the bravery and tenacity of the Fitzgerald crew. Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates."

The USS Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted early Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition with a head injury, the Navy said. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated. It was unclear how many others may have been hurt.

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

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

The Japanese coast guard said it received an emergency call from the container ship, the ACX Crystal, reporting the collision around 2:20 a.m. (17:20 GMT Friday). It was questioning crew members of the ACX Crystal, which is operated by the Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., and was treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families," President Donald Trump said on Twitter. "Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance."

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, the coast guard said, much larger than the 8,315-ton Navy destroyer. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage.

Nippon Yusen said all of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew members were safe.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though Yutaka Saito of the coast guard said the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

The names of the missing sailors were being withheld pending notification of their families. U.S. Navy personnel set up support and counseling services to help families as they sought updates on crew members.

"Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. He's okay. Thank you all for the prayers," Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted after speaking with her 23-year-old grandson, Jackson Schrimsher, via Facetime.

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

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

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.


30 Comments
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I think the manufacturer of the megatron quadrasonic super laserbeam flux capacitor billion dollar radar system has some explaining to do.

What a crappy radar system.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Difficult to tell precisely what happened on the bridge of the Fitzgerald and what the visibility was at the time of the collision. Judging from the photos, Fitzgerald was struck on the starboard side by the port bow of the container ship. That means that Fitzgerald appears to have been crossing the bow of the container ship. Under navigation rules the Fitzgerald should have at least seen the port navigation light (red) of the container ship. In a crossing situation like that the Fitzgerald was the "give way" vessel and was required to take whatever action may have been necessary to remain clear of the "stand on" vessel (the container ship). That simple fact, without all of the electronic devices and communications gear on both ships appears to put the Fitzgerald at fault. Much easier to stop (steer) a highly maneuverable destroyer than a fully laden container ship. The bottom line is that seven U.S. Navy sailors are missing at sea and a major warship has been badly damaged. It will require an exhaustive investigation to determine precisely what occurred. Hopefully, the missing men will be found and will have survived.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If this happened in a movie nobody would believe it.

Were it not for the 7 missing seamen this would be laughable.

The world's most "advanced" warship with a billion dollars worth (is worth the correct word here) of surveillance electronics failed to spot and track a 30,000 ton container ship.

The only logical way to explain this is Russian hacking, we already know from the Black Sea incident a few years ago that the Russians have countermeasures for the AEGIS, they can shut it off like a switch. Putin made a deal with Duterte and had this system tested yet again on the container ship, thus explaining the unusual course change of the container ship.

The NAVY will never publicly admit that their precious AEGIS is worthless though, they'll pin it on human error instead.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Burning BushToday07:17 am JSTI Putin made a deal with Duterte and had this system tested yet again on the container ship, thus explaining the unusual course change of the container ship.

The M/V ACX Crystal is a Japanese owned, Panama registered, Philippine flagged ship.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

CrazyJoe, I appreciate your comments on this, both from yesterday and this morning. Thanks.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The M/V ACX Crystal is a Japanese owned, Panama registered, Philippine flagged ship.

Indeed, and loaded with hundreds of large containers from all over the world.

Anyways, what's your explanation for this? You're either looking at Abott and Costello level human error or the AEGIS is not the famed Death Star but more of a Millennium Falcon.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Anyways, what's your explanation for this? 

I'm guessing whatever the explanation, it will be similar to what happened in April this year when a Russian navy surveillance vessel collided with a freighter carrying sheep in the Bosphorus strait and sank. The sheep freighter continued on its way with minimal damage. Unfortunately, these things happen in busy shipping lanes.

https://www.rt.com/news/386326-russian-navy-ship-crashes/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's funny that the Philippine crew are all detained and interrogated while as mentioned by crazyjoe, and logic, it should be the whole crew of the worlds most advanced ship who should be also detained.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

when a Russian navy surveillance vessel collided with a freighter carrying sheep in the Bosphorus strait and sank.

That ship was ancient, equipped with analog Soviet era equipment and staffed by a skeleton crew of near retired vodka imbued sailors.

We're talking about the cream of the crop of the US navy, their latest and greatest.

These things don't "just happen", both the NAVY and contractor of the radar contraption have some explaining to do.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Burning BushToday07:53 am JSTThe M/V ACX Crystal is a Japanese owned, Panama registered, Philippine flagged ship.

Indeed, and loaded with hundreds of large containers from all over the world.

Anyways, what's your explanation for this? You're either looking at Abott and Costello level human error or the AEGIS is not the famed Death Star but more of a Millennium Falcon.

Ship collisions occur far more frequently than generally reported in non-maritime related news sources. No point in speculating, current investigations by both USN and JCG will provide an answer. It shouldn't be all that surprising though that such unbelievable accidents occur, the Ehime Maru case being one.  A few years ago I recall a JDMSF DDG I think it was JS Kirishima that cut a fishing boat in half on her way back from exercises in Hawaii.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ship collisions occur far more frequently than generally reported in non-maritime related news sources.

This is true, but when large ships collide it is usually due to one or both vessels not keeping a proper bridge watch. Ships have proximity warning devices in their radar systems that keep track of vessels, along with an AIS that describes the other ships in range right down to the number of rivets in the hull. I have one in my humble sailboat that is a mere 17 tons. I have an autopilot that takes care of the mundane steering task on long voyages. I have spent a significant amount of time on the high seas as well as crowded coastal waters. I can tell you ships do not keep a proper watch for other traffic. These warning devices do not work if the alarms are turned off or down. Too many of the collisions are the result of the ship being on autopilot, the annoying warning buzzer turned down or off and the bridge watch asleep or surfing Facebook. Can't happen on a front line Navy ship? Well we are speculating on just that right now aren't we? If i had to make an educated guess, i would say that both ships are guilty of poor watch keeping and one panicked.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage".

This statement appears to be incorrect. The Crystal appears to have major structural damage to her bow, (a gapping 2 X 4 meter wide hole). The anchor is a good reference for the size of the hole. The anchor is approximately 3 meters or greater in length and size. We have know idea what is going on under the water line.

To armchair quarterback this when 7 seamen are unaccounted for is premature and insensitive to the next of kin who will be notified that there child paid the ultimate price for America.

Let's wait for the official report to come out and see what they say and then pass judgment. Remember this ship is operating in friendly waters and the Aegis system may not have been active at the time of the collision.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I pray the seven sailors are found safely and they recover from their trauma. I pray the injured sailors recover from their injuries. I pray for the familes and loved ones of the injured and missing, that they may find comfort and solaise. I pray for the crews searching for the missing. I pray for all seamen and sailors that they may return home safely.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Someone's getting fired no doubt about it.,  Billions of dollars of equipment but question is was it working? Hmmm, what do the US enemies think about this, a vulnerability, the US taxpayer spent money yet again to some Contract company for worthless junk, and finally the media itself for posting information that does its own ally no good "The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room. Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the pre-dawn crash:", if was an enemy of Japan and the US, best way is too always look for vulnerabilities, and thank you for posting such information that can be used against you...seems the weakness is everyone on board is just about asleep at pre dawn hours...predawn in Japan meaning 3-4 am......the crash happened at 2-3 am.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No point in speculating, current investigations by both USN and JCG will provide an answer.

I'm betting when get the typical drawn out "still under investigation" line for the next few weeks until media interest dies down. Then they'll come out with their typical cascade of unfortunate mishaps explanation.

The public will never get a proper explanation as to how a 30,000 ton civilian vessel traveling at moderate speed breached this billion dollar radar system.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

It’s quite simple actually, but for those people suffering from gloating induced ignorance, I’ll state the bleed’n obvious: the Aegis system has nothing to do with navigational radar systems.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I’ll state the bleed’n obvious: the Aegis system has nothing to do with navigational radar systems.

So if a 30,000 ton Russian battleship were moving directly toward the AEGIS at 20 knots, the billion dollar system would fail to notice?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Aegis radar and navigational radar are separate systems with different purposes

Is what he is saying.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So if a 30,000 ton Russian battleship were moving directly toward the AEGIS at 20 knots, the billion dollar system would fail to notice?

From what I have read, this US Navy ship was returning to base after routine exercises/patrols and not exactly at battle stations so to speak. The scenario you describe would be impossible, unless Japan was at war with Russia, in which case the 30,000 ton Russian battleship would have been blown out of the water. But just going along with your story, the navigational radar would have picked up any vessels from far way and the Aegis system would (hopefully) detect and destroy incoming missiles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

he navigational radar would have picked up any vessels from far way and the Aegis system would (hopefully) detect and destroy incoming missiles.

"would" is the key word there, because they didn't.

I'm not a radar systems expert, so whoever out there is, please explain how this 30,000 ton Philippine cargo vessel evaded whatever system this billion dollar warship should have on board.

Or is it standard procedure for billion dollar warships to float blind in the dead of night in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Just read on CNN, the 7 missing sailors have been found dead in the flooded berthing areas. God bless these sailors, they died in the service of their nation.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/17/us/missing-sailors-found/index.html

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A tragic event and one that frequently happens daily with several ships just "disappearing" without even knowing the locations or the survival of the crews. Nonetheless this accident involves an advanced US military ship which underwent an extensive refit in Feb. and the command of the ship was only given to its captain last month.

For whatever reason the accident happened he will lose the command and probably court marshalled too. One of the shortest terms. The captain was one of two sailors air lifted to Yokosuka. Seven sailors are missing and each hour passes their chances of survival become less. Sad for the families who at least I hope have been notified otherwise all the families of the 350 crew will have concern. Sad for all of those and all the families will rally together to give support and love.

The accident was the fault of the USS Fitzgerald which was struck on the starboard or right side while the container ship was damaged on the port or left side of its bow. The container ship is about five times bigger than the USS Fitzgerald and therefore gives way and also the ship on the port or left side gives way to a ship on the starboard or right side.

At least seven advanced Russian nuclear subs have sunk and disappeared with their crews.

Perhaps the worst submarine disaster in recent memory was Russia’s loss of K-141 Kursk, which was a Project 949A Antey-class (Oscar II) nuclear-powered guided missile submarine. The massive 16,000-ton submarine was destroyed in a massive explosion on August 12, 2000—which killed all 118 members of its crew.

I'm not Christian but when sailors lose their lives at sea I think about "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" 

https://youtu.be/1KCiMdR1ox0

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's been announced they've found the bodies of at least some of the missing inside the Fitzgerald.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

zichi, I have heard the same news as Yuri above you, but different source. Another sad day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seven sailors are dead and is it just me or is the US media kinda quiet about this whole incident?

It's not the main headline on any of the major news outlets, although it should be.

Somebody is hiding something, cue the comedy of cascading unfortunate mishaps explanation.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

zichiToday11:51 am JSTA

The accident was the fault of the USS Fitzgerald which was struck on the starboard or right side while the container ship was damaged on the port or left side of its bow. The container ship is about five times bigger than the USS Fitzgerald and therefore gives way and also the ship on the port or left side gives way to a ship on the starboard or right side.

A very reasonable and highly possible scenario based on what we all know from the damage. But that doesn't tell us what happened and why on the bridge of both vessels at the time. I'll wait to hear the USN and JCG report.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The seven missing sailors have been recovered.

OssanAmerica

But that doesn't tell us what happened and why on the bridge of both vessels at the time. 

According to the "Rules of the Sea" the container ship had the right of way. The only excuse for the command of the USS Fitzgerald is if it had lost control of the ship but would still rain in the wrong.

When a car jumps a red light it will always be in the wrong. The USS Fitzgerald jumped a red light.

Burning Bush

Seven sailors are dead and is it just me or is the US media kinda quiet about this whole incident?

Nope, its in the MSM and also all the navy military sites. But no word from you on the sinking of those advanced Russian subs?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Burning Bush:

The only logical way to explain this is Russian hacking,

LOL, with all the ridiculous "Russia ate my homework" baiting going on in the legacy media and the political establishment, I am actually waiting for that. Lets see how long it takes for some CNN clown to claim that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@OssanAmerica

A few years ago I recall a JDMSF DDG I think it was JS Kirishima that cut a fishing boat in half

That was Atago in Feb.2008.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"the Aegis system has nothing to do with navigational radar systems."

Thank you forzaducati.  It's about time someone pointed that out.  The Aegis system is  a defense system against missiles and its radar is used for that purpose.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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