US Navy identifies all seven sailors killed in Japan collision

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The U.S. has called off its search for seven missing sailors after finding bodies in the sleeping compartments of the USS Fitzgerald, the Navy destroyer that collided with a massive merchant vessel off the coast of Japan early Saturday.

"There was a big gash under the water", Aucoin said at the Yokosuka naval base, home of the USA 7th Fleet.

The remains of seven sailors initally reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments after divers gained access, a statement from the Navy said. Aucoin, speaking at a news conference at the 7th Fleet's home base in Yokosuka, Japan, wouldn't say how many bodies were recovered, pending notification of next of kin.

USS Fitzgerald, aided by tug boats, returned to Yokosuka at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday.

The crew fought to keep the vessel from foundering or sinking so they could make it back to base.

The skipper, who was injured in the head and airlifted to shore, was also in his room resting, Aucoin said, adding that he was lucky to have survived.

The ship, which handles general cargo, is manned by a captain and a crew of 20, NYK said.

The Navy said the collision inflicted significant damage to the destroyer above and below the water line, flooding berths, a machinery area and the radio room. "There was a big gash under the water".

The U.S. Navy said the collision happened at about 2:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT Friday), while the Japanese Coast Guard said it was 1:30 a.m. local time. Many scratches were also seen in the frontal area.

It completed $21 million in upgrades and repairs in February and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the service said.

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Aucoin was asked if damage on the starboard side indicated the US ship could have been at fault, but he declined to speculate on the cause of the collision. Bryce Benson, were injured in the collision and were transported by helicopter to a naval hospital in Yokosuka.

Aucoin would not speculate on how the accident occurred, but said there would be multiple investigations into the collision, including one by the Navy's Judge Advocate General and one by the US Coast Guard.

The damaged USS Fitzgerald is being towed by a tugboat in the waters near 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 Peninsula Saturday, June 17, 2017.

He thanked "our Japanese allies" for their swift assistance, and said the Navy will full investigate the cause. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage.

I t was unclear how the collision happened.

The Fitzgerald limped into port on Saturday evening, listing around 5 degrees, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Yokosuka said.

Japanese media outlets were earlier reporting that all seven missing sailors had been found dead. Nippon Yusen said all of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew members were safe.

The coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and is treating the collision as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a sympathy message Sunday to President Trump.

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