US Navy destroyer collides with PH ship
Seven crew members were reported missing while two others were injured
TOKYO — Seven crew on a US destroyer were missing and their commander injured Saturday after their Navy destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Japan, with the badly damaged US vessel partially flooded.
Two others were hurt along with the USS Fitzgerald’s commanding officer Bryce Benson, the military said in a statement.
“Two sailors, in addition to the commanding officer, have been medically evacuated from USS Fitzgerald to US Naval Hospital Yokosuka for lacerations and bruises,” it added.
The Japan Coast Guard said it received an emergency call from a Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal around 2:20 a.m. that it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka, Japan.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday said it was coordinating with US and Japan regarding the collision.
“The Department is closely monitoring reports of the collision that occurred early this morning between a PHL-flagged merchant vessel and US naval vessel near Yokosuka, Japan,” the DFA said in a statement.
It said it was still verifying if any Filipino nationals were involved in the incident.
“We are coordinating with the relevant authorities including the governments of the US and Japan to determine exactly the extent of damage and the number of casualties, especially if any Filipino nationals are involved,” the DFA said.
Aerial television footage showed an apparent victim on a stretcher and a Japanese rescuer being pulled up to a helicopter hovering over the huge destroyer.
The Japanese Coast Guard has sent five vessels, two planes and a team of specially trained rescue personnel to the area, a spokesman said.
The 154-meter Fitzgerald is based in Yokosuka on the Izu Peninsula and operates in the Pacific and the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
Relatives of crew members were awaiting news of their loved ones.
“Of course we’re nervous and scared and just praying,” Rita Schrimsher said by telephone from Athens, Alabama.
Her grandson Jackson Schrimsher is a 23-year-old sailor aboard the Fitzgerald. She said she last communicated with him via Facebook Messenger on Wednesday.
In a statement released on Twitter, US chief of naval operations Admiral John Richardson said: “As more information is learned we will be sure to share it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public.
“All of our thoughts and concerns are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families.”
Coast guard official Takershi Aikawa said the ship was partially flooded because of damage. So far no damage or injuries have been reported on the
container ship, he said. NHK reported that the merchant ship had scratches on the left side of its bow.
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