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.
The US guided-missile destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.
Their bodies were found a day later when the ship returned to port and divers scoured damaged areas of the 154-meter (500-foot) USS Fitzgerald, which was commissioned in 1995 and deployed in the Iraq war in 2003.
The response of the crew of the severely damaged USS Fitzgerald was swift and effective, and I want to point out - as we stand by the ship - how proud I am of them, Navy Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the USA 7th Fleet, said today at a press conference in front of the stricken ship thats now moored in Yokosuka, Japan.
Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.
Gov. John Kasich tweeted, "We mourn the death of seven sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan, including OH serviceman Gary Leo Rehm Jr. of Elyria".
The sister of a U.S. Navy sailor from CT who was killed in a collision between a destroyer and a container ship off Japan is describing her brother as "selfless".
The U.S. Navy has identified the seven sailors who died when their destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan on Saturday.
A significant portion of the crew on the USA ship was asleep when the collision occurred, tearing a gash under the warship's waterline and flooding two crew compartments, the radio room and the auxiliary machine room.
Aucoin said the Fitzgerald's commanding officer's cabin was also directly hit, trapping Navy Cmdr.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley promised an investigation into the incident. "He went back down to where the other ones were at to save them.The ship was flooding so fast they had to close the hatch to save the ship".
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The coast guard initially said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m., as the Philippine ship had reported it at 2:25 a.m. and said it just happened.
"The damage was significant".
But if the container vessel was approaching from the U.S. ship's right side, the destroyer had the obligation to give it the right of way, a Japanese coastguard spokesman said.
"The water flow is tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea...", he said.
The Navy said the incident was under investigation.
Aucoin refused to speculate on how long the investigations will last. He was released from the hospital, the 7th Fleet said in a post on Twitter on Monday in Japan. "They are known as the 'Fighting Fitz, ' and the crew lived up to that name".
The Japanese Coast Guard has reportedly finished questioning the 20 Filipino crew members of the cargo ship, who were unharmed.
Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows the merchant ship chartered by Japan's Nippon Yusen KK, made a complete U-turn between 12:58 a.m. and 2:46 a.m. on June 17.
Japan's Transport Safety Board also started a probe Monday.
"Our deepest sympathies are with the families of these sailors", Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said in a statement Sunday. "I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this hard time", praising US servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact.
She said the ship was "operating as usual" until a collision took place at 1:30am, as seen on a ship tracking service used by the company.