Yokosuka: Missing USS Fitzgerald sailors found dead in flooded compartment
A number of U.S. Navy sailors reported missing following a collision between U.S. destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Filipino merchant vessel ACX Crystal were found dead in a flooded berthing area of the destroyer.
Overall seven sailors were reported missing in the collision that took place at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.
Not all of the seven sailors were accounted and the navy did not specify the number of sailors still missing.
The 30,000-ton ACX Crystal hit Fitzgerald’s forward starboard side above and below the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room, which damage control teams quickly began dewatering.
Approximately 16 hours after the collision, USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returned to Yokosuka on June 17, aided by tug boats.
This is when divers were able to access flooded berthing compartments and find a number of the missing sailors. They were transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka for identification.
Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, along with many family members, were on the pier when the ship arrived.
“This has been a difficult day,” Aucoin said. “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.”
“I want to highlight the extraordinary courage of the Fitzgerald Sailors who contained the flooding, stabilized the ship, and sailed her back to Yokosuka despite the exceptionally trying circumstances,” said Rear Adm. Charles Williams, Commander, Task Force 70.