Kyodo / Reuters
Seven US sailors were missing early Saturday after a destroyer collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan, the US Navy said.
The collision happened at 2:30 a.m. local time and involved the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and a "merchant vessel," according to the US Navy. The Japanese Coast Guard was at the scene assisting.
In addition to seven missing US sailors, two were injured in the collision, requiring helicopter transport for medical evacuation. Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald's commanding officer, was transferred to US Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition, the Navy said.
The USS Fitzgerald.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly / AP
The ship and Japanese Coast Guard launched a search for the missing sailors. Others injured on the Fitzgerald were being evaluated. Neither Japanese nor American authorities immediately clarified what might have happened to the missing sailors.
The US 7th Fleet tweeted that the other ship involved was the ACX Crystal, a 29,000-ton container vessel from the Philippines. Reuters described the ACX Crystal as three times the size of the Fitzgerald.
It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.
In the aftermath, however, the Navy said the Fitzgerald suffered damage on its starboard side, above and below the water line. The ship also experienced some flooding, but was operating under its own power, albeit with limited propulsion.
The US deployed a ship and tug boats to assist the Fitzgerald after the collision, and was preparing aircraft as well.
According to the Navy, the Fitzgerald is one of eight destroyers "forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region."
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