USS Fitzgerald: Massive Search Operation Underway For 7 U.S. NAVY Sailors

Dean James III% AMERICA’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS –

A massive search and rescue mission is underway for seven U.S. Navy sailors lost at sea after the USS Fitzgerald destroyer collided with a container ship four times its size off the coast of Japan.

The Fitzgerald was back at its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by early Saturday morning. The Philippine-flagged container ship is docked nearby at Tokyo’s Oi wharf.

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Officials are questioning the Filipino crew members about the cause of the crash which happened in the middle of the night.

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After stabilizing the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer

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The USS Dewey destroyer joined several other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.

The seven sailors are thought to have been thrown into the sea or could possibly be trapped inside damaged sections of the destroyer, Japanese coast guard spokesman Yoshihito Nakamura said.

 

The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room. Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the pre-dawn crash, Fox News reported.

Nippon Yusen, the Japanese shipping company that operates the container ship, said in a statement it is collaborating with the ship owner and fully cooperating with the investigation by the coast guard. The 29,060-ton ship is Philippine-flagged and all the crew are Filipinos.

The USS Fitzgerald’s captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted early Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition with a head injury, the Navy said. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated. It was unclear how many others may have been hurt.

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The Navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles (103 kilometers) southwest of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet.

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

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though Yutaka Saito of the coast guard said the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

The names of the missing sailors were being withheld pending notification of their families. U.S. Navy personnel set up support and counseling services to help families as they sought updates on crew members.

“Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. He’s okay. Thank you all for the prayers,” Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted after speaking with her 23-year-old grandson, Jackson Schrimsher, via Facetime.

“It could have been worse, so we’re grateful,” she said by phone.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to our Navy heroes and the families.

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