US sailors who died in destroyer-container ship crash

The U.S. Navy and Japanese coast guard reported seven missing Navy sailors and at two -up till now- were injured after a U.S. battleship collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan on Saturday's dawn. Seven crew members were unaccounted for after the collision flooded berths with seawater.

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25 of California; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26 of Texas; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25 of Connecticut; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr. of OH, 37; Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19 of Virginia; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23 of California.

This incident was the greatest loss of life on a U.S. Navy vessel since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen's Aden harbour in 2000, when 17 sailors were killed and 39 injured.

Sykes said her son told her that four men in his berth died, including those sleeping in bunks below and above him.

"My daughter showed me something on Facebook, and she said 'Did you see this?' and I said 'No, what's going on?'" said Luna. They had been married for almost all of the fire controlman's 19-year Navy service, Braniff said.

"There was a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline" along the bottom of the ship, Aucoin said. "They had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface".

"It was a catastrophic event - a collision at sea", he said of the incident.

The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.

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Adding to the confusion, a U.S. Navy official said it is sticking with the 2:20 a.m. timing for the crash that he said had been reported by the Fitzgerald. "This was not a small collision".

Several other USA crew members were injured in the accident and had to be evacuated by air to hospital, including the vessel's commanding officer Bryce Benson. Aucoin wouldn't speculate on the cause of the collision and would order a thorough investigation. Several sailors aboard also disappeared after the collision, suspected of having fallen overboard.

Damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen at Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

Although weather conditions were clear at the time of the collision, the fast currents and high-traffic area could make it tricky to navigate. The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer.

Container ships like the Crystal have bulbous bows under the waterline and that portion of the cargo vessel plowed into the United States warship. But an investigation of the Japanese Coast Guard has revealed that it took nearly an hour before the ship-to-ship collision was reported to them, a critical amount of time that may factor into the course of event that led to American sailors dying on their ship. But the Philippine-flagged container ship, named the ACX Crystal, didn't alert Japanese authorities until at 2:25 a.m. Data from the ACX Crystal also shows that for some reason, the ship made a U-turn sometime between 12:58 a.m. and 2:46 a.m. The Crystal reversed and returned to the scene of the crash at 2:20 a.m. NYK Line, the Japan-based transportation company operating the merchant ship, agreed to the revised timeframe.

"We have found a number of the remains. of our missing shipmates, and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those shipmates", he said.

"I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this hard time", he wrote, praising US servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact.

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