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17 Jun 2017

US Navy warship collides off Japan's coast, 7 sailors missing

At least seven US Navy personnel are missing after their ship, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with merchant vessel ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan.

The Fitzgerald's commanding officer and two other sailors were injured in the collision and had to be airlifted to hospital.

The warship, one of the world's most advanced ones, suffered heavy damage on its starboard side.

In context

7 US navy sailors missing after warship collision

Area around ship being searched for missing sailors

Japan has sent four of its coast guard vessels and a helicopter to help assess damage on the USS Fitzgerald. The area around the ship is also being searched to determine if any of the missing personnel fell overboard into the ocean.

Warship's injured commanding officer in stable condition


Warship's injured commanding officer in stable condition

The two vessels collided at about 2:30am local time, around 56 nautical miles south-west of Yokosuka.

US Navy officials said the Fitzgerald's commanding officer Cmdr Bryce Benson was in stable condition after being transferred to a hospital in Yokosuka.

Two more sailors were taken to hospital by helicopter to receive treatment for "lacerations and bruises," the navy said.

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Damaged US destroyer headed to Yokosuka under own propulsion

The US Navy had earlier said the collision had caused flooding in some areas of the 154-metre-long USS Fitzgerald.

The warship was now headed to Yokosuka with limited propulsion but under its own power.

The ACX Crystal container ship, which carried a Filipino flag, weighs 30,000-tonnes, around three times more than the Fitzgerald.

The Crystal suffered light damage on its port bow.


How did advanced US Navy warship fail to avert collision?

The collision occurred in an area which is an extremely busy shipping lane.

"However, the USS Fitzgerald is one of the most advanced warships in the world - with highly sophisticated radars systems," notes the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

He added: "There will now be lots of questions about why its crew failed to avoid collision with a 200m (700ft) long container ship."

US Navy gives statement

US Navy operations chief Adm John Richardson said: "As more information is learnt we will be sure to share it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public… All our thoughts and concerns are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families."

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