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Several Sailors' Bodies Found on Stricken Navy Destroyer

19 June 2017

The bodies of several U.S. sailors who were missing after a United States navy ship collided with a container vessel in the busy sea off the coast of Japan, have been found inside the damaged ship, according to the USA navy.

The USS Fitzgerald suffered major damage in the crash with the much larger Philippine-flagged merchant ship off the coast of Japan on Saturday.

A 7th Fleet statement said the collision did "significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room".

The Seventh Fleet statement said the sailors were being transferred to a US naval hospital where they would be identified.

The navy said that the families of those who were found were being notified and provided the support they need during "this hard time".

"The names of the sailors will be released after all notifications are made".

Sixteen hours following the predawn Saturday collision, the destroyer was pumping out water as it limped back to its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday, its crew lined up on deck.

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Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the US Seventh Fleet, told reporters on Sunday the navy had ended its search and rescue efforts for the missing sailors.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

The other two were being treated for lacerations and bruises and others injured were being assessed aboard the ship.

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). The damaged USS Fitzgerald, center, arrives at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, after the U.S. destroyer collided with the Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal in the waters off the Izu Peninsu.

The bodies were taken to a USA naval hospital in Yokosuka.

The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a high speed.

Japan's Nippon Yusen KK, which charters the container ship, ACX Crystal, said in a statement on Saturday it would "cooperate fully" with the Coast Guard's investigation of the incident. He said he would order a thorough investigation.

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They were not injured and, apart from dents and scrapes on the left bow, there was little sign of damage to the ship.

"This has been a hard day", Aucoin said before the announcement that the bodies had been found.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK showed aerial footage of the destroyer, which had a large dent in its right, or starboard, side.

All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, according to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the ship.

"It could have been worse, so we're grateful", she said by phone. Ron Flanders, a spokesman for US Naval Forces Japan.

"The only other day I have been so overwhelmed with joy to hear my son's voice was the day he was born", Adkison said.

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