Early Saturday, the U.S. Navy destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel south of Tokyo Bay in Japan as a result, seven american sailors were missing and atleast three were injured including the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, who was reportedly in stable condition after being airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, the Navy said. Other crew who are injured were brought to the hospital for treatment while the Fitzgerald, the Japanese Coast Guard and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force were searching for the seven missing sailors. Meanwhile, all 20 Filipino crew members are safe on board a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel that collided with a US Navy destroyer.
The U.S. ship was experiencing some flooding but was not in danger of sinking, while the merchant vessel was able to sail under its own power. According to Japanese Coast Guard, the Fitzgerald which weighs 9,000 tons when full and carries guided missiles—suffered extensive damage both above and below the waterline as a result of the collision. The ship it collided with was a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, the ACX Crystal, about three times the size of the Fitzgerald.
Navy said that the USS Dewey and two Navy tugboats had been sent to assist the damaged destroyer and left the base in Yokosuka for its routine operations on Friday.
In the Marine traffic records showed that the ACX Crystal was passing between the Japanese cities of Nagoya and Tokyo when it made an unexpected U-turn about 25 minutes before the collision and was traveling at 14.6 knots (15.8 mph) at the time, BBC reported.
In the meantime, Manila, Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs stated that it was closely monitoring the incident.
“We are coordinating with the relevant authorities including the governments of the US and Japan to determine exactly the extent of damage and the number of casualties, especially if any Filipino nationals are involved,” the foreign office said in a statement Saturday afternoon.