As the Navy family grieves, both it and the wider world are asking the same question: How did this happen? Official inquiries into what led up to the encounter could take months or more.
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland. "This was not a small collision", US 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin said, the New York Post reported.
The U.S. coast guard, which is undertaking the investigation on behalf of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, will gather electronic data and ship tracking information from the USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal.
The $1.8 billion Fitzgerald is one of the most modern and technologically advanced warships afloat, capable of using its powerful sensors to look up into space, if necessary, and reach up to hit targets there with its battery of missiles.
The ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald off Japan's coast early Saturday morning, killing seven of the destroyer's crew of almost 300. There was no moon over the waters south of Tokyo Bay, according to local accounts, and the channel there is frequently crowded with ships on their way into and out of the Japanese capital.
"He grew into what we would consider a good man", Assistant Fire Chief Jean Campbell said at a press conference Sunday, as reported by WVIR.
It happened more than 50 nautical miles South of Tokyo which was supposed to be the crystal's destination but according to marinetraffic.com, the cargo ship made a U-turn shortly before the crash and was headed in the other direction.
Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families. "They had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface". The cause of the collision at night and in clear weather is not known.More news: See behind-the-scenes teaser for "Pitch Perfect 3"
Adding to the confusion, a U.S. Navy official said it is sticking with the 2:20 a.m. timing for the crash that he said had been reported by the Fitzgerald.
The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, and accident investigators from the Japanese transport ministry found further damage below its waterline. It may have been trailing the smaller destroyer at a perpendicular angle that stayed relatively the same even as the distance between the ships closed: "constant bearing, decreasing range".
Under maritime law, the container ship had an obligation to avoid a collision if it was trying to overtake the destroyer from behind.
Another similar possibility: the Fitzgerald wanted to sail east, say, and its course crossed over that of the Crystal, heading north.
"The Fitzgerald made it's way to port Saturday night under its own power". Or was it a quiet night with so little to do that the crew became bored and complacent? Bryce Benson, was trapped inside the cabin and survived.
"Japanese Coast Guard ships and helicopters were the first on scene and our first medevac, the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr".
The mother of another sailor on the ship said her son kept diving in his flooded berth after the crash to try to save his shipmates until it began running out of air pockets, while other survivors - believing their ship was under attack - hurried to man the guns. One of two shafts were locked.
He said the vessel could have sunk were it not for "heroic efforts" by crew members, which prevented the flooding from "catastrophically spreading" to other parts of the warship.