UPDATE @ June 18, 12.30pm: Seven missing US Navy sailors have been found dead after their ship collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan.
The sailors were found inside the damaged ship’s flooded berthing compartments, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.
“As search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision this morning, the missing Sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments,” the statement reads.
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“They are currently being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified.”
The U.S. 7th fleet said the victims families were being notified and being provided support “during this difficult time”.
EARLIER @ June 17, 4.00pm: Seven US sailors are missing after their destroyer collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan.
A statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet said the USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time on Saturday while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.
Three sailors, including the destroyer’s commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson, were evacuated from the ship and rushed to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka.
The commander is understood to be in a stable condition, while the other sailors injuries are still being assessed.
A major search is now underway for the missing sailors.
“There are seven Sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them,” the U.S. 7th fleet said.
“U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship.
“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors,” Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said.
“We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.”
Heavy damage of the U.S. Navy destroyer after it collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan. 7 missing-NHK pic.twitter.com/Mv8WwmJPrb
— Yumi Asada (@yumi_asada) June 17, 2017