US Navy: Bodies of Missing Sailors Found Inside Damaged Destroyer

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka, Japan, on June 17, 2017, following a collision with a merchant vessel. (U.S. Navy photo/Peter Burghart)

Military.com | 18 Jun 2017 |

The U.S. Navy said the bodies of seven missing sailors were found aboard a destroyer damaged after colliding with a merchant ship near Japan, officials said.

The service late Saturday said the sailors were discovered in flooded berthing compartments on the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), according to a statement from 7th Fleet.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer suffered extensive damage above and below the waterline on the starboard, or right, side of the vessel after colliding with the container ship Philippine ACX Crystal from the Philippines around 2:30 a.m. local time Saturday.

Three sailors — including the commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson — were medically evacuated from the scene and a massive search was conducted involving U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft to locate the seven sailors who remained unaccounted for.

After the collision, crews raced to dewater the Fitzgerald, which experienced flooding in two berthing spaces, a machinery space and the radio room. The destroyer, aided by tug boats, limped into the Yokosuka port around 6:15 p.m.

The bodies of the sailors were being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka to be identified, according to the 7th Fleet statement.

“The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time,” it said. “The names of the Sailors will be released after all notifications are made.”

The Fitzgerald had been conducting routine operations in Sagami Bay, about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, at the time of the incident.

The accident is under investigation.

11 responses to “US Navy: Bodies of Missing Sailors Found Inside Damaged Destroyer

  1. What a shocking event. I know who I think was the guilty party. The British coastguard once found a dog driving a ship up the English Channel while the crew all slept.

    • It is definitely shocking. And incredibly sad for the families of the injured and dead sailors. I shall be interested to read the report on how this happened. The Arleigh Burke-class has some of the most sophisticated sensors on board, container ships tend to be enormous. How on earth did nobody notice it coming towards the ship?

  2. Just like the situation with the Challenger tank, this is something that should not be happening in the 21st century with all the technology at the disposal of not just the US Navy but the Phillipino ship too. This will not help US-Phillipino relations which have been strained at best in recent years.

    • Agreed Tony. I just got a report that the Captain sustained a head injury. I just don’t get how an Arleigh Burke-class can get so badly damaged by a container ship. Unless it was a similar event that occurred in 1970 when the Ark Royal hit the side of a Russian Koplin-class frigate. But the Ark Royal certainly didn’t have the sensor technology that the USS Fitzgerald has. The Fitzgerald is 8,300 tonnes and the ACX Crystal container ship is 39,565 tons. You’d think someone would see that coming. Cheers for your comment mate.

  3. My heart goes out to the families. I was so afraid this was the case when I couldn’t locate any information on a sea search and rescue.
    Do you have any idea why the merchant ship made a u-turn just 15 minutes before the crash?

    • It is a mystery. The Arleigh Burke-class is an anti-air destroyer with an extremely sophisticated radar system designed to look for aircraft. I guess there isn’t a similarly sophisticated system designed to look out for other ships. It was 2am and many of the crew were asleep. I will be interested to read the report when it is available.

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