At least three crew members were injured while seven others went missing after a US navy destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel in the south of Tokyo Bay in Japan on Saturday, June 17. According to the Japanese Coast Guard, while the US ship was experiencing some flooding and was not in any danger of sinking, the merchant vessel was able to sail on its own power.
Calling it a rare incident on a busy waterway, it added that the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant vessel at about 2:30am local time, some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.
Three people aboard the destroyer were evacuated, including the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson. While the commander was reportedly in a stable condition after being airlifted to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, the other two injured are being treated for lacerations and bruises.
The Fitzgerald, Maritime Self-Defence Force and the Japanese Coast Guard are still searching for the seven missing sailors.
The full extent of damage to the US navy ship and injuries to its crew are yet to be determined. "The USS Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline," the navy said in a statement. The Fitzgerald was operating under its own power and her propulsion was limited.
The spokesman for the US 7th Fleet said the ship was heading back to Yokosuka under its own power at 3 knots. "Once an investigation is complete then any legal issues can be addressed," the spokesman added.
Japan's Coast Guard said that none of the 20 crew members aboard the merchant vessel was injured.