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Rescuers Search for 7 Sailors as Damaged U.S. Destroyer Reaches Port

The Japanese Coast Guard said it had received an emergency call from the Crystal around 2:20 a.m., reporting the collision in a busy shipping lane.

Coast Guard officials were questioning members of the Crystal’s crew, and were treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, Masayuki Obara, a regional Coast Guard official, told The Associated Press.

The Fitzgerald had recently participated in military exercises with two American aircraft carriers and ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as the country’s navy is known. Ships from the force and the Japanese Coast Guard were aiding in the search and rescue effort, the Navy and the Japanese government said.

“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors,” said Adm. Scott H. Swift, the commander of the United States Pacific Fleet.

Photo

Damage on the starboard side of the American destroyer Fitzgerald on Saturday. Credit Iori Sagisawa/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

“Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families,” President Trump posted on Twitter on Saturday. “Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance.”

The Seventh Fleet said the collision occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time, about 54 nautical miles south of Yokosuka, Japan, where the United States maintains a large naval base.

A woman in Virginia whose boyfriend was on the Fitzgerald spent a tense day waiting to hear of his fate. The woman, Kylie McLendon, a college student in Virginia Beach, said that about 12 hours before the collision, her boyfriend, a gunner’s mate on the ship, had texted her that he loved her. After she heard of the crash, she texted, called and tried to contact him through FaceTime, to no avail.

Finally, on Saturday morning, she got a call from her boyfriend’s cousin that he was safe.

“I am so very relieved,” Ms. McLendon said by email.

There were no injuries aboard the Crystal, according to Nippon Yusen, a Japanese shipping company that was chartering the ship. The Crystal had about 20 Filipino crew members on board, the company said in a statement.

Sea of Japan

Area of

detail

Yokosuka

Naval Base

Approximate location

of collision

Pacific Ocean

The Crystal was heading toward Tokyo at the time of the collision, after making a stop on Friday at Nagoya, Japan. With a displacement listed at just over 29,000 tons, the Crystal is close to four times the size of the Fitzgerald.

“We hope the missing seamen will be rescued as soon as possible,” Nippon Yusen said in a statement.

The Navy set up telephone hotlines for the families of the Fitzgerald’s crew members. The ship, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, normally carries about 300 sailors and officers.

The Navy said the collision inflicted significant damage to the Fitzgerald above and below the water line, flooding two berths, a machinery area and the radio room.

Whether the missing sailors had fallen into the sea or were trapped on board was unclear. Most of the crew would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the collision, and the Navy said some damaged parts of the ship were still not accessible to rescue teams.

Source: NYT > World

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